Out songstress Mary Lambert is making a special appearance on tonight’s episode of Faking It, performing at Hester High’s prom, and we had the opportunity to catch up with her not only about the show, but what we can expect from her new album, book and music video for her new single “Ribcage.” Plus, we find out if she ships Karma and Amy.
AfterEllen.com: Very exciting that you are on Faking It. Tell me a little bit about how that came to be.
Mary Lambert: Faking It used “Secrets” for a promo they did, I think, their first season. I was so excited because it was one of the first syncs I had gotten for the song and It was exciting to have my friends like, “Oh my gosh, we heard your song on the promo for Faking It!” I was like, “What is this show?” So, actually, I started watching the show because “Well, they’re cool enough to use my song so…” and I ended up really, really liking the show, and so when they offered the guest appearance, I jumped: “Please, please let me do it!” And it ended up being perfect because it was so nice of them not to just have me playing in the background, but to also use me somewhat as a figure and say my name and have me be a part of their prom in that way.
AE: There have been so many awesome TV and movie proms with live bands and musicians playing, but I never had that growing up, did you?
ML: Never. Never. I think it’s like the duty of media and cool TV shows and movies to make you feel like your gym prom is inadequate. Like they have this really amazing live band and we all had weird CD DJ.
AE: Do you have any acting ambitions?
ML: Yeah, actually, I just did my first feature film audition. I was actually, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I was the lead in my high school’s Cinderella. I was Cinderella in high school. When I applied to the college I went to, which was Cornish College of the Arts, I wanted to double major in acting and musical theater, but the programs were so rigorous that you kind of had to choose and writing music was an early love so it was a no brainer. So I continued studying on that path and even now as I’m working on the next album, I know that the things I learned in my bachelor’s degree are much more applicable than an acting degree. So I am able to compose a lot of the stuff I want to accomplish. But it’s really neat to be able to—I have a great agency and they’re just constantly pitching me for stuff so that’s cool.
AE: When you are sent scripts or projects to work on, are you sent anything with queer themes or characters or does it range?
ML: It ranges. I mostly, what I’m finding a lot of larger companies are looking for and at least, I could be totally wrong—these are just the parts that I’ve been sent—but they’re mostly looking for plus size women and if they’re looking for a plus size woman for a feature film or an HBO/Showtime show or something, that is already really comforting that I’m being considered for a part. That to me says that there’s more people saying, “OK, I think we need to have more diversity in terms of what we’re portraying, especially when it comes to size.” When I get those parts, it’s neat to know people are looking out for that.
AE: Living in LA, I have a lot of friends who act and they will sometimes complain about receiving scripts that describe a character as “dowdy, overweight, unattractive but nice” or something with similar negative connotations that are not the most flattering. Do you ever get any of that and does that affect whether or not you want to audition for that role?
ML: Oh, I’m very grateful that I think my agency hides it. But one of the parts I auditioned for, I sort of did some research because it was based on true story. If you’re going off of a real person and the documentary sort of style, it makes sense to try and find someone who looks like that person. But if it’s a fictional character that they made up that is like “stout and ugly looking, weird mark on face”—I think that’s why I have a hard time being in LA because the insecurity is just abound. It’s everywhere and feels almost palpable. You’re so reduced in casting to what you look like and I think what I try to do in my work is remind people that it’s not about what they look like, so it feels like two very different dynamics.
AE: So much of what you do—music, poetry—is not necessarily visual, but then there are the aspects of performing, music videos and other components that are. I assume you are very much in control of the kinds of images you put out there and wouldn’t ever participate in something you don’t fully support.
ML: Absolutely. I would say the only music video that I didn’t at least co-direct was “Secrets,” and that’s because I really trusted Declan [Whitebloom]. I edited quite a bit of it, at least the storyline and what we were doing and I improvved in some ways, but the “She Keeps Me Warm” video was, conceptually, my idea and the video that’s about to come out, “Ribcage,” was completely conceptually my idea. So my goal is to provide visibility for a strong, female, lesbian, plus-size woman in media and these places where we we just see so much of the same thing and see this one standard, one idea of beauty perpetuated over and over. And it’s become the calibration of what’s good and beautiful and I think it’s so damaging because there’s so many different kinds of people. This is obviously all “duh” stuff, but you can say it and as soon as you start seeing more diverse characters in the media, it doesn’t begin to change. Your psyche doesn’t actually change.