Natalie Morales Says Her Painful Camping Experience Inspired A Story On 'Abby's

Justin Lubin/NBC

Despite the pretty ordinary premise of Abby's — a woman runs a laidback speakeasy in her backyard for friends and locals — Abby from Abby's isn't based on a real person. Yes, the character shares a few characteristics with actor Natalie Morales, who plays her: they're both of Cuban descent, and they're both queer. But Morales says that the similarities end there, and in fact, she and Abby have "a lot of differences."

For one, Abby is a veteran who served in the United States Marine Corps. "I have no idea what it's like to serve in the Marines," Morales tells Bustle. "The writers did a lot of research and talked to people and were really informed about it, so I'm really happy to be portraying that, but I have no personal experience with that."

And while Abby herself is a heavy-drinking bartender (which kind of comes with the territory, no?), Morales isn't such a big drinker herself. She says she'll sometimes drink while hanging out with friends, like any other person, but she certainly wouldn't want to open a bar at her actual home. "I would never, ever want to have a bar in my house," she explains. "I don't want people anywhere near my house except for my friends. Like my friends can come hang out, but that sounds like a nightmare to me. I would love to go to someone's house, but not me — that sounds terrible."

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All of that being said, there are real stories that helped inspire Abby's experiences on the show. Morales says the writers and producers took stuff from their own lives as well as the lives of the cast and infused them into the story. For instance, there's an episode where Abby burns her hands, which led to Morales embracing her love of physical comedy for an extended mojito-making scene. While the mojito part isn't real (although Morales has worked in a bar before), the burned hands came from an incident that happened to her in real life.

"I was in Joshua Tree camping and I tripped and fell in a fire and then the next day had to go to South by Southwest and everybody tried to shake my hands and I couldn't. And after I had burned myself, I turned to my friends and I was like, 'I need to pee. I need your help,'" Morales says, laughing. "I was like, 'Can you pull my pants down? Can you wad up that toilet paper?' I was like, 'I can wipe!' But I couldn't hold anything."

Justin Lubin/NBC

Morales says that as soon as the writers heard the story, they were like, "'OK, we're gonna put this in the show,'" and when it came time to recreate it on-screen, she "understood [what Abby was] feeling."

But beyond comedic anecdotes like that — whether culled from Morales' life or someone else on the Abby's team — viewers can expect Abby to pretty much be her own person. Morales is just the one bringing the character to life.