Aya Cash Is Breaking Out Of Leo DiCaprio's Shadow

This actress is suddenly all over the place. First and foremost, Aya Cash is starring in FX's You’re the Worst. But she's one of those faces that's shows up in more and more places, looking more and more familiar each time she takes a small movie role or guests on a TV series. If you're suffering from "That Girl From That Thing" syndrome, I can't judge you for needing a refresher on some of her bigger roles.

If you watched The Wolf of Wall Street closely, you’ll recognize Cash as Jordan Belfort’s assistant. With her impossibly elaborate updos and skirt suits, she was one of the few women under forty in that film who wasn’t reduced to a sexual object in the eyes of the piggish misogynists Jordan Belfort collected to populate his financial firm. Instead she held her own with the boys of Stratton Oakmont, trading profanity-laden insults with Jonah Hill and screaming alongside the rest of the brokers while on the office floor. She isn't given much to do with the character, but if you're paying attention, she's delivering a consistent performance.

Cash has always played characters like that, peripheral, small parts, but imbued with an often angry, intense energy and humor. She was a regular in the much-better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be Traffic Light, a FOX sitcom that sunk because of its terrible ratings and its clunky title. Her character, Callie, was a pretty bland girlfriend, but the performance came to life every time time she could imbue some edge, in a confrontation or a blowup.

She also appeared as an Occupy Wall Street not-quite-leader on the second season of The Newsroom. Her character was simultaneously talked down to simply because she's a woman (typical Newsroom gender politics), and dismissed because all the regulars had a clairvoyant sense that the Occupy movement wouldn't amount to much. But while the character is set up to be an idiot who gets steamrolled by Will MacAvoy, Cash doesn't play her that way. Her righteous indigence seems genuinely different than the embarrassed emotional reaction the script seemed to be reaching for. Ultimately, it doesn't do much to save Newsroom's season, which once again is all about how hard it is to be Will MacAvoy. But Cash is there, trying to elevate her material.

She's a great choice for You're the Worst, which is all about characters fighting against their vulnerability with hardness. Just look at the way she blazes into the trailer:

She's lonely, bitter, funny, and sarcastic. You know immediately that she has feelings under her tough exterior, but that watching it get chipped away is where the fun is. Even though she seems like a "newcomer," she knows what she's doing here.

While You’re the Worst will be Cash’s “first” big role, like most actors, she’s spent years working steadily before breaking out. In addition to all the roles above, she's done theater. She starred in Ruby Sparks screenwriter Zoe Kazan's romantic play, Trudy and Max in Love.

She’s even narrated audio books. Not a joke.

Cash seems incapable of playing a character who isn't strong, funny, witty, and a little bit of a jerk. As that is the perfect mix of qualities for a great comedy antihero, she is more than enough reason to tune into You're the Worst.

Image: Aya Cash/Twitter; Youtube