Lilah Fitzgerald is incredibly busy. She’s currently starring as Bob Odenkirk’s daughter in the new AMC series, Lucky Hank and just wrapped filming on the sequel to Monster High, where she plays Ghoulia. Not only that, but she’s also about to release her first book, a young adult novel called, Stars and Swashbucklers. Thankfully, she found time in her schedule to chat about all three projects.
Here, she talks about her experience working on Lucky Hank, the lengthy process of putting on her the makeup for Monster High and how she booked both roles off self-tapes. These are edited excerpts from that conversation. For the full interview, check out the video above or watch it on YouTube.
There’s a ton of things I want to talk to you about, but I think the most important thing, at least in my house with two little girls is Monster High. It’s got to be so cool to have these little kids look up to you and your character, it’s got to be the best feeling in the world.
Lilah Fitzgerald: It really is, especially because I was that little kid who loved Ghoulia. When I was growing up, I was obsessed with the Ghoulia doll, she was my favorite. So to be that person for little kids now is something that still doesn’t feel 100% real to me, but just the crazy best feeling. It’s why I got into acting in the first place is I wanted to tell stories, I wanted to entertain people, especially for me now, I wanna help kids. And so it’s really a dream come true for me.
How long does it take to get into all of the make-up and the stuff that you have to put on every morning?
Lilah Fitzgerald: It takes about two hours, when we have it down to a science. I think there was one time it stretched up to three hours just because things were going wrong and we had more time, but it kinda takes 2 to 2 1/2 hours to watch myself slowly transform into a zombie.
The make-up takes the longest, it takes much longer than hair. But I’m lucky that my makeup artist is super fun to talk to, and usually there’s actors all around me, so usually we’re chatting a bit. If it’s a super early morning, sometimes I find myself fully zoning out and falling asleep. I had a 2:00 AM pick-up one day, and so that was a bit of a sleeping in the make-up chair while I’m getting the lashes put on.
When everything is done, the hair and make-up, does that help you get into the character?
Lilah Fitzgerald: Yeah, big time. With Monster High, we don’t have to really delve too much for me, because I grew up loving Monster High. I didn’t have to delve too much into character work or anything. I’m not great at that and I’m not big into that because I like things to feel super natural. When I put too much prep on top of myself, I lose my naturalness.
So with Monster High, what’s really lucky is that I don’t have to do emotional work or anything to turn into like a zombie and feel like it and figure out like, “What would she feel like? What would you do?” Because when you’re bright green and in the Monster High clothing and you’ve got blue hair almost down to your feet, there’s no way to not feel like the character.
I’m a very physical person, so I find even for auditions, I have to feel like the character to be able to play the character, that’s the biggest thing for me. As soon as I’m in costume, I’m like, “Cool, I’ve got this, I’m done, I’m ready.”
And congratulations on the second movie.
Lilah Fitzgerald: Yes, very exciting. We just finished in February. Everything has been elevated. We all know our characters better, so we were able as actors to elevate the story, but the dancing and singing, I would say, is the biggest elevation. I’m very, very lucky that I have a dance background because there were some fast steps in there.
I was going to ask you, do you want to try musical theater? Even Broadway?
Lilah Fitzgerald: That’s a huge dream of mine. I did a year of musical theater training before diving back more into trust vocal training and focusing on ballet instead of commercial dance, which is… I love commercial dance, obviously, because I do Monster High, but I’m big into classical ballet, so that’s where my training stems from. And I’m lucky that I have that technical base to bring to Ghoulia and Monster High to be able to pick up the moves and turn into a dancing monster.
So Lucky Hank, congrats on that. I would imagine your audition was on self-tape?
Lilah Fitzgerald: Yeah. So, the world of self-tapes as actors now, it was just do my tape and send it in. It was a Bob Odenkirk show, and I was like, “Wow, there’s no way they’re gonna hire me for that.” I find that humbleness sometimes turns into not believing in myself, which is something I’m working on. But I think a lot of actors never believe that we’re gonna get that role we really, really want. So, when I saw the material for Lucky Hank and how amazing the writing was, plus the cast it had, I was like, “Yeah. That’s a long shot.”
So, when I got that email saying, “Hey, you’re on hold for it,” and then, “Hey, you booked it,” that was one of the greatest moments in my career. It was just like a quick self-tape, I hope they like me. And that turned into one of the best roles I’ve ever gotten to do.
It was one self-tape? You sent it in and booked it?
Lilah Fitzgerald: That was it. Same for Monster High. Didn’t have to do a Zoom chemistry read which was the hardest thing to do, in my opinion as an actor. Our struggle as actors now is to make a screen feel like real life so that we can get comfortable with it and still book roles.
This cast is just great, tons of veteran comedic actors. What’s it like working with them? Are you getting tiny bits of advice, especially with working with somebody like Bob Odenkirk?
Lilah Fitzgerald: I’m gonna be so honest, I was terrified walking on to that set because not only do we have Bob Odenkirk, but we’ve got Oscar Nunez. I love The Office. So, working with him, I’d never expected I’d get to do that. But everyone on set was so nice. And I mean, if someone like Bob Odenkirk can walk in and introduce himself to me and ask how I’m doing, that was a crazy experience for me. My mind kind of went blank because I think I made a bit of a fool of myself, because all I could think was that’s Bob Odenkirk.
But watching them all act and watching them perform… Oscar Nunez is always doing a bit, getting to see how they turn into their character so flawlessly is the best class you can take as an actor. As actors, it’s hard to get on a set because we do so many auditions, but the best way to learn and the best way to grow as an actor is working on a set. And then when I got to work with people that established, that just elevates my work that much more.
What was your very first scene with Bob like? Were you nervous?
Lilah Fitzgerald: I was a little bit nervous because in my head there’s always this thought of, “What if they hate me and fire me?” [laughter] Which I think a lot of actors feel that. I feel comfortable saying that we’re all a little bit scared we’re never getting another job or get pushed off set or something because when it’s your dream, it’s something you care about so much. And this was a role that I definitely cared about so much. So, I was really scared. I had to just kind of push through it in my head when I’m on set and I get nervous, I’m like, “Well, I don’t have to watch this if I don’t want to, so it doesn’t really matter. I can pretend that this never happened.” And then I find I’m able to get over my nerves a little bit more.
What’s great about Lucky Hank is it’s just human beings. The characters are so grounded and real. And since I was playing a college student, I’m college-aged, I was able to just be a person and get over that hurdle of nerves and just be there saying words. And so that was a little bit surreal to be doing that with Bob Odenkirk, but I tried to treat it just as if I’m here to create a story for people.
You have been doing this for a while now. When you get on set, how prepared are you? Are you able to walk on set that morning and just look at your scenes and get to work, or do like to prepare at night? What is your process for that day?
Lilah Fitzgerald: I always like to learn my lines frontwards, backwards, upside down, inside out. I love the Viola Davis quote… I’m not going to say correctly, but she basically says, “Learn the lines and then throw them away.” You have to be so flexible on a set. I do like to have an idea of what I bring to the character and what I’m going to do and some fun ideas, but if I’m filming an audition, say, with my mom versus if I was filming it with you, you’re gonna give me a completely different read. So, I have to be able to adjust my performance to what my scene partner is giving me because I might have thought they were going to play it in a completely different way. I can’t still give the scene exactly what I thought it should be if my scene partner is going in completely different angle, it won’t make sense. I don’t like to over prepare in the sense that I can’t be flexible.
If they were like, “Oh, we’re rushing, we’re gonna go rehearse on set right now,” then I’m not like, “Oh, I didn’t learn the lines yet because I was planing to do that in make-up.” I like to know my lines all the way through and then just be kind of clay for the directors to do whatever they want with.
I can’t believe how many things you have going on in your life right now. You have a book that’s about to come out. I’m exhausted just hearing all the things you’re doing. What’s the story about?
Lilah Fitzgerald: Stars and Swashbucklers is my debut young adult Sci-fi fantasy novel, and it takes place in this futuristic world where earth has shattered into islands floating between the stars. It follows Anya Marcos, who’s 16 years old, and she’s an average girl who would do anything to not be average, and that includes getting drawn into the under belly of rebels and royals searching for a relic that could change the fate of the islands. So she has to contend with first love, royals, rebels, evil monsters lurking in the mists between islands and her own nightmares that are more real than she may believe.
It’s also about mental health, because although I wasn’t 100% aware of it while I was writing, when I went back and read the book, I realized that I had written OCD into the magic of my book and turned this monster in my mind, as I call it in the book, I turned it into a tangible monster on the page that can be slain and dealt with if you have the right sword and the grit to do it.
Finally, what’s been your worst audition?
Lilah Fitzgerald: [laughs] I’m going back to the time before self-tapes. It was in LA during pilot season when pilot season was still a thing, and I walked into that room and I was, I think probably about 12 or 13 years old. And this man had two piles of headshots. This was back also in the days when you brought your headshot and resume in. So, he had a pile of about maybe five or six headshots, and then at least 50 in the other. So obviously already the 50, they’re the people he’s cut, and the five or six headshots, that’s people he’s considering.
Before I did anything, I hand him the headshot, looks at it, looks at me, throws it in the big pile and says, “Okay, go ahead.” And I’m like, “You’ve already decided you don’t want me. What am I doing here?” That’s one thing I like about things being digital… I never have to have that experience again.