Aubrey Plaza on Auditioning and Why UCB Was the “Best Time” of Her Life


Aubrey Plaza in Black Bear

“Auditioning always felt like this… game that I was playing with life. Like playing the lottery or something. I think I’ve always been very fueled by rejection.” – Aubrey Plaza

Parks and Recreation star Aubrey Plaza has shown that she has the ability to perform in a variety of different projects, including her 2020 independent film Black Bear, a film that tells two distinct stories about the relationship between three characters. Speaking about the film to NME, Plaza reflected on how her background in improv has influenced her acting in both positive and challenging ways.

Plaza points to Jim Carrey‘s performance in the 1999 biopic Man on the Moon – in which Carrey portrayed comedian Andy Kaufman and Carrey’s on-set behavior was reportedly disruptive to his castmates (and was documented in the 2017 documentary Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond) – as the type of performance that inspires here. She explains, “Those kinds of performances are the most inspiring to me. I’m all for it. I love the drama. I love when things get crazy on set and people start acting insane and people get too into their characters and they’re fighting. I mean, of course I don’t want any fighting and negativity but it’s all very exciting for me – because it’s art. You want art to be intense. You want people to REACT.”

That outlook relates to her experience as a member of the Upright Citizens Brigade, which she remembers fondly. she recalls, “It was the best time of my life, looking back on it. It just truly felt like: ‘We are in an underground – literally, underground – theatre doing an art form that is so f—ing hard, and just so fun when you get it right.’ It was intoxicating, and I was intoxicated.”

However, Plaza admits that her skills in improv did not always translate to her being good at auditioning. Nonetheless, the many rejections that she faced didn’t dishearten her. She says, “Auditioning always felt like this f—ed-up game that I was playing with life. Like playing the lottery or something. I think I’ve always been very fueled by rejection. It only made me want it more, because I think I just had that thing inside of me that’s like: ‘I wanna be in the club that I’m not in’ or whatever that is; ‘I want the thing that I can’t have, or the thing that I don’t have. And if you tell me that I’m not good enough, I’ll just find a way to prove you wrong somehow.”

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