EXCLUSIVE: Shiri Appleby on ‘UnREAL’ Moving Past Season 2 and Taking a Risk on ‘Lemon’

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You directed another
episode in season three. How was getting behind the camera this time around?

I didn’t really have as many of the insecurities that I had
the first time because I had done it and I proved to myself that I was capable
of it. So, in my second time at that, I really wanted to take big swings. I had
a nine-and-a-half-page scene with 25 actors and I was like, “I’m going to shoot
this in one take.” So, I staged it and I did it. I really accomplished it.
Again, it was like, “I want to get bolder. I really want my filmmaking to have
a real strong point of view and create real challenges not only for myself but
for the actors and the crew, which I know are ready and up for it.” It was
really about that and at the same time, finding moments in the script that I
could really settle in deep with the characters and show the characters in a
different light. That’s one of the things that is so wonderful about being a
director: You know the show well as an actress but you also know what’s missing
and what you haven’t been given the opportunity to do and what the other actors
haven’t been given the opportunity to do — especially for Quinn’s character. How
do we show her vulnerable side? How do we build this moment out so we have
empathy for this woman? Those were the things I really relished and felt
excited about doing. It was about turning the dial to show these characters in
a different way. 

Now, having made your
directorial debut and helming a second episode, has the industry looked at you
differently? Are you getting noticed as someone who can direct and produce or
are you finding new opportunities to do more of that?

Yes. I also have an overall deal with A+E and I’m really
taking it seriously and really trying to tell stories from the female point of
view. When I’m going into meetings now with the studios and networks, trying to
get television work, I think people are really seeing me as someone who has a
vast amount of experience and that I have a voice and I know how to fill these
roles. The door really has been opened. I did get offered a job to direct on a
new Netflix show, but it conflicted with UnReal‘s
shooting schedule for the new season. So in due time, I feel confident that
these things will start to happen. It’s really exciting to me, having been in
this business my whole life and now feeling like I’m starting over in many
ways. I feel more passionate and more excited about it than I really have ever
been. 

MORE: Denée Benton Goes From ‘UnREAL’ to Tony-Nominated Broadway Debut

What’s it like
knowing that you’ll film season four almost entirely before season three comes
out, without any reaction to what the team has created?

It’s odd. There are some great things to it. It’s like a vast,
creative experience — like, you’re not thinking about the commentary. The last
commentary we’ve had was from season two, and I know we’ve really moved past
it. But at the same time, you don’t have the commentary of season three to take
into account of how you shape season four. You’re kind of going off of what’s
on the page and what you felt and what your impression has been of how the
third season came together. It’s kind of a leap, which is just what making
television and putting yourself out there always is. 

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