Interview with Brittany O’Grady, Little Voice star
The new Apple TV + series, Little Voice, it’s a musical comedy with a difference. Composed of nine episodes, the series focuses on Bess, an aspiring singer-songwriter played by the radiant Brittany O’Grady, 24 years old, while the hit the immediate success she sings are signed by Sara Bareilles, already a Grammy winner. From the track of the theme song to the most intimate ballads that speak of lost loves and missed connections, the songs represent the ideal soundtrack for the complicated life of Bess, who is forced to juggle the needs of an unstable father (Chuck Cooper), a brother eccentric (Kevin Valdez) and a very private best friend (Shalini Bathina), all while chasing the dream of a career in music. Of course there are also love stories with Sean Teale, in the role of a charming director, and Colton Ryan, Bess’ guitarist, who encourages her not to give up.
O’Grady faces every challenge with a mix of charm, pure determination and a melodic voice. The result is a very convincing interpretation, especially considering that it is a still young actress who in the past starred in the musical series Star by Lee Daniels and Tom Donaghy (from 2016 to 2019) and in the film Slasher Black Christmas (2019) by Sophia Takal. The turning point for this Virginia-born actress came right with Star, where he plays a troubled teenager, Simone, alongside names like Queen Latifah. Then came a role in Phillip Noyce’s thriller, Above Suspicion (2019) with Emilia Clarke ma Little Voice it seems to be the project destined to give it fame. Thanks to a character with an interesting emotional path and the many opportunities to lay bare your soul on stage, the series is the perfect showcase for its myriad of talents.
On the occasion of the launch on Apple TV + on July 10, we met Brittany O’Grady for a chat via Zoom to talk about her musical aspirations, singing alongside Bareilles and the playlist that accompanied her during the lockdown.
Were you a fan of Sara Bareilles’ music as a child?
“I was definitely part of the Sara Bareilles fan team as a child. I loved Love Song  is King of Anything . I’ve always felt a certain connection with his music, so when I got to know about this project I was excited and curious to know how the story would turn out. Sara and Jessie [Nelson, autrice della serie] I’m a wonderful duo and it was fantastic to work with two such strong women. “
Was he anxious about auditioning for them?
“The audition included a couple of scenes and then I had to sing some of Sara Bareilles’ songs. I chose Many the Miles , Between the Lines  is She Used to be Mine  taken from Waitress [il musical di Bareilles e Nelson]. I was in New Zealand working on a horror movie set so the audition was conducted remotely. The first conversations with Sara and Jessie were via FaceTime. There are 17 hours of time zone and I remember waking up and realizing that I had to connect for the call. I thought ‘I can’t believe it, Sara Bareilles will see me before I even brush my teeth! What a shame! ‘Actually, they started by saying’ Oh my God, you’re adorable! ‘ [Ride]. I think they thought I was kind of like the character – Bess is a messy guy and I am a little bit too. They were very nice, they gave me suggestions on the performance and Jessie knew exactly what she wanted. “
What kind of suggestions did they give you at that stage?
“When I did it screen test via Skype, I had combed my hair backwards. Then, when we felt like FaceTime again, I had just woken up and my hair was curly and messy. They said ‘We like your hair a lot. Don’t change them. We want to use them as they are for the character. ‘ As a woman with bi-racial origins, it meant a lot. My curls represent an important part of who I am and they were asking me to be authentically myself “.
Bess sings but also plays the guitar and piano. How much did you have to learn for the role?
“It was a real whirlwind. I had never played the guitar before. Many of the other actors had had months of lessons, but I was one of the last to be hired so I had to learn as best I could. I play the piano but my knowledge was pretty basic so I had to exercise. As for the singing part, Sara helped me a lot. He told me ‘They all do vocal gymnastics. But it is not necessary. What you have to do is sing, believe in yourself and tune in to the lyrics. ‘ He guided me through those notes that I felt were too high for me or that put me in awe. She has been by my side throughout the process. “
Have you recorded all the musical part but also sing live in the scenes in which you perform?
“It’s a mix of both. The backing track was recorded in the studio, then we recorded the live vocal part over it and then examined what worked best for that specific scene. When I watched the series, I tried to identify the parts where they used the live voice. In the second episode, when Colton Ryan and I sing Valerie, the song by The Zutons and Amy Winehouse, are able to recognize that they used the live version because there is a moment when we start laughing after making a mistake. I said to myself ‘How cute they included that moment! “
Bareilles wrote original music for the series but there are also songs, including that of the theme song, which were composed years ago and never released. Was it special to hear them for the first time?
“The song of the theme song, Little Voice, was a recording that had not been approved for Sara’s album and Simple and True it was another track he recorded when he was twenty but never published. I don’t know how the record companies operate but when I heard them I could not help but comment ‘But they are wonderful! ‘I listened to them while I was shopping and it was a bit like being part of a secret. They were songs that no one had ever listened to before. “
The series captures the musicality of New York’s daily life, from subway buskers to bands playing in Washington Square Park. What was it like shooting in those places?
“I loved it and was able to understand the experience of a young woman in New York. There are so many open doors in this city. I really enjoyed being surrounded by so many people and now I miss it, especially that sense of community. We are not made to go through life alone. “
How does it feel to have a series that debuts in times of social distancing?
“Right now, I think people want to be able to identify with each other and heal, so in reality the moment is perfect. There are people who have told me that looking at the series you have the feeling of a warm embrace. “
What music did you listen to in order to survive the lockdown?
“I listened to a Swedish artist named Léon. Much of his music talks about relationships and I love listening to songs about unrequited loves because I’m a bit of a melodramatic and sensitive type [ride]. His music is wonderful and we find ourselves in the lyrics. The voice is truly unique. “
Can we expect texts written by you or maybe an album in the future?
“We see that doors open after the show airs and when it returns to normal. I delight in music and maybe I will be able to find mentors to guide me in such a project. “
Little Voice will air on Apple TV + from 10 July