In The Bustle Booth With Angela Kinsey
When celebrities hang out with Bustle editors, we want to give them the chance to leave their mark. Literally. So we hand them a pen, a piece of paper, a few questions, and ask them to get creative. The rest is up to them. This time, Haters Back Off star Angela Kinsey is leaving her mark in the Bustle Booth.
Angela Kinsey loves the kind of comedy that makes you recoil in discomfort. She first made a name for herself as Angela Martin, Dunder Mifflin's severe, cat-loving accountant, on The Office. Now, Kinsey can be seen in the second season of Haters Back Off as Bethany, the mother of Miranda Sings. The Netflix adaptation of Colleen Ballinger's fame-hungry YouTube persona can be as painfully funny and hilariously painful as Kinsey's first big TV success. And though the actor couldn't be more personable in real life, she takes some pleasure in throwing an audience off their game.
"I find [Haters Back Off ] is the type of comedy that I love, which is the cringey comedy," Kinsey says. "Where you’re laughing and then you’re like, “I’m uncomfortable," and then you’re like, 'Oh my god, I might cry. What’s happening?' And then you laugh."
Like Angela, Bethany has some domineering personality traits, but Kinsey's goal as a performer is never to let those more prominent characteristics totally define her characters. So though Miranda's mother in the series appears meek and desperate to be loved, there's much more to her than that.
"[Characters] have to be real people," the actor says. "I have to make them real. And what I mean by that is, like Angela Martin — she wasn’t just the bitch. I don’t paint her with one broad stroke. She was also shy, she was also nervous, anxious, she wanted better for herself in life but maybe that’s where she was, so she had disappointment. She was also suspicious of people and not trusting and fearful."
Kinsey tried to explore the same depths with Bethany, who, despite her issues, "can still have fun" and "still flirt with a man, even if it's awkward," the actor says. And discovering this character started with Kinsey zeroing in on one big point of overlap in their lives.
"I'm a mom now, and that filters how I look at life and how I look at characters," she says. "And Bethany is a mom, and she’s a single mom and that was relatable to me because I was a single mom for a long time. And she has kind of lost herself in her kids, I think that’s really relatable to moms. We can lose ourselves in our children. You have to look at yourself sometimes and say, 'Wait, where am I in this?'"
And while it's not particularly common to, say, fake an illness to get a date, Bethany is one of the more down-to-Earth characters in Haters Back Off. Kinsey, who got her start in improv comedy, does get to have her "little moments" of determined humor. ("Emily, you know very well what a bag of salami is," was an ad-lib, she says.) But otherwise, she looks at Bethany as part of the foundation for Haters Back Off to be as bonkers as it sometimes needs to be.
"I think about characters like Pam [from The Office] that were very honest. And that allowed the Michael Scott craziness or the Dwight or the bigger characters, because you have the ones that ground everybody," she says, drawing a comparison to Bethany. "There are more real moments that pull it down, kind of get it back grounded a little. And then give it permission to go crazy. Because I feel like your audience is like, 'You know what? Suck me in with the grounded stuff and I’ll go with you to the crazy place, because I buy it.'"
It's no surprise that someone with an affinity for both Looney Tunes and Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus has strong opinions about the art of comedy. Keep reading to find out what else Angela Kinsey is loving these days.