You may have heard about this little musical called Fun Home. After winning over hearts and minds, the show (based on Alison Bechdel‘s graphic memoir of the same name) also recently took home the Tony Award for Best Musical. If you have been considering “Changing Your Major to Joan,” it’s not hard to see why: out actress Roberta Colindrez plays the Joan in question, Alison’s first girlfriend and confidant.
Wonderfully laid-back and funny, Roberta first grabbed our attention when she played played Adam’s best friend Tako (“with a K”) on Girls. We chatted with Roberta about her experiences in Fun Home, if she might appear on Girls in the future and her hidden talent for carpentry.
AfterEllen: The bar scene with Hanna and Tako in Girls is one of my favorites. My teeth still hurt from watching you try to open that bottle. What was your experience on the Girls set, because I hear it’s a pretty fantastic place to be.
Roberta Colindrez: The rumors are true: Lena [Dunham] is amazing. Lena is like the dream director you never had when you were discovering who you were as an actor. She’s incredible. She’s not precious. You know, a lot of times when you work with writer/directors they are kind of precious about the material that they’ve written, and Lena has like this policy—I don’t know if it’s intentional or not—but I think she works on this subconscious or maybe totally purposeful policy of hiring actors who she trusts. I mean she’s really, really kind and liberal with what people need to do with her writing. If you have a question, she’ll answer it. If you have an idea, she’ll absolutely go with it. Like, “Let’s try it.” She’s open and very cool.
AE: Do you think you might show up on Girls again because we’d love to know more about Tako. I feel like I’ve dated a few Takos in my life.
RC: Yeah, I think we’ve all dated a few Takos in our life. I hope that I’m on the show again, I had a really fun time. I don’t know, I play Adam’s best friend so whatever that leads to in the writing then, I’ll be there. I mean, if they called me in tomorrow I’d be there.
AE: I always research people I’m interviewing, and you have managed to keep yourself very mysterious.
RC: Yeah, that’s my thing.
AE: Did you study acting or were you just a natural?
RC: I did study acting. I studied acting in university in Texas for the full four years. I got my BFA in acting. I started doing theatre when I was in seventh grade and I just kind of stuck to it. I didn’t really know that I wanted to do it, and all of a sudden, I did. My brother and I wanted to be in the same class, because we were best friends, and the only thing that was available for us to take together was theatre.
AE: I love that!
RC: Ironically, the shop class was the only one that we were interested in and that was full, so we had to do theatre.
AE: [laughs] Typical lesbian story. Shop class is filled.
You play Joan in the Tony Award-winning Fun Home. In the musical, your character Joan is Alison’s first lesbian experience, and her muse. I love your character because her she’s calm and laid-back which is a perfect juxtaposition against Alison’s awkward, neurotic tendencies. What do you love about playing Joan?
RC: I love that she’s supportive. She’s not going to, like, Perez Hilton you out of the closet. She’s not going to expose all your shit everywhere. She’ll calmly walk you through the fact that you’re blatantly gay even if you’re the only person who’s not aware. She’s patient and understanding, and I think that she’s just really supportive and the ideal first girlfriend for someone to have. Someone who will take care of you and make you nervous at the same time.
AE: I think that’s exactly true. Joan is kind of the perfect first girlfriend.
RC: I do get—a lot of times after the show, older women will say, “I wish I had a Joan, that my first girlfriend was a Joan.”