Interview: Angela Kinsey

Angela Kinsey is most famous for her eight-year stint as Angela Martin on The Office. In this get-to-know-you piece with Kinsey, I discussed motherhood, her Indonesian roots and her recent role as Zooey Deschanel’s co-worker on New Girl.

Angela Kinsey: Out of The Office

We’re all a little different away from the office. So it should come as no surprise that The Office’s uptight cat-lady cum accountant, Angela Martin, is very unlike her real life counterpart, petite blonde actress, Angela Kinsey, who played the role for nine years.

Born in Louisiana and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, Kinsey is a delightful comedy actress who knew she “wanted to be Carol Burnett” from the time she was four. At that time her sister wanted to be a truck driver, so her parents didn’t really take Kinsey’s vocational aspiration seriously. Throughout her childhood, they always stressed the importance of education first, something Kinsey says resulted in her pre-Hollywood pit stop at Baylor University and subsequently entering the industry “more grounded.”

After graduating from Baylor, Kinsey worked as an intern for Late Night with Conan O’Brien because she “specifically wanted to be around comedy and comedians.” As a true lover of comedy, two of her favorite experiences were watching the show’s writers pitch jokes and seeing sketches being rehearsed. Throughout, Kinsey retained the dream of becoming a fulltime actress. When asked her ultimate goal, Kinsey prepares me by gushing this is “so ridiculous,” but she’d love to play a “sassy, kind of weird girl that works in the morgue on one of these really serious hour-long dramas.”

These days, Kinsey is working on an upcoming Hulu series called The Hotwives of Orlando. She is also on the hit FOX show New Girl, where she plays Rose, a coworker of Zooey Deschanel’s character. Kinsey describes Rose as a “kooky gal” and admits the role is a pleasant departure from her last stint as an “uptight accountant.” “It’s nice for me to play someone a little wackier,” she shares. On the experience itself, Kinsey dishes: “that cast is wonderful…so welcoming and funny and warm and kind” and their camaraderie is similar to that which she experienced on the set of The Office. As a fan of both shows, that was lovely to hear.

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Kinsey tells me one of her New Girl highlights was filming her standoff with Deschanel. (Readers of this magazine will already have seen this, but when we talked, Kinsey added: “I hope I can share this.”) She explains that while filming these scenes of hilarity, she has difficulty not laughing. They often have to first “get the giggles out…and then [they] can try one for real.”

The giggles are infectious and Kinsey shared a few with me during our chat. She is articulate and comes across as genuinely delightful. Besides acting, she is passionate about motherhood, which she describes as a “buffet of great, wonderful moments that you could have never anticipated.” When I ask her about being a famous parent at her six-year-old daughter’s school, she explains that “the great thing about living in L.A. [is that] there is always someone a little fancier, a little shinier, a little bit more famous.” Kinsey also finds her daughter is too young to really be aware of her fame and is thankful for this respite. While on the subject of her daughter, Kinsey describes her as: “march[ing] to the tune of her own drum”. This independence works perfectly for her proud mother, who explains the best advice she could ever give her daughter would be to “be true to yourself…wear your own thing, be your own person.” She has experience in this department. Having moved from Indonesia to Texas as a young teenager, Kinsey “felt like a total outsider,” largely because she was a “beach kid” who was woefully behind on ‘80s fashions and pop culture. Ironic, given her current status as a fixture on the pop culture scene.

Though Kinsey hasn’t been back to Indonesia since her twenties, she would love to return with her daughter to show her Jakarta International School (which Kinsey attended), her former neighborhood and nearby destinations like Bali. Painting a charming picture of urban Jakarta, Kinsey explains that “the people there are so wonderful. In the evenings everyone…would be out on the street” sitting on their porches or playing badminton. This down-to-earth reminiscence is characteristic of Kinsey, who calls herself a klutz and is quick to recount her most embarrassing moment. She recalls this was probably walking up to Kevin Spacey at the Golden Globes the first year of The Office and saying: “hey, Kevin Spacey…I think you do good work.” She muses that Spacey had no idea who she was. She laughs this off, explaining: “I don’t have much of an edit button sometimes.” Other embarrassing moments include things like falling and tripping and walking into objects.

Kinsey comes across as a fun-loving actress and mom whose sense of humor and joie de vivre are apparent. And now she’s out of the office and red carpet ready, with plenty of success to look forward to.

Originally published in Luxury Report Magazine, Issue 26, May 2014.

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