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Andrea Martin on NBC’s ‘Great News’ and the Secrets to Her Long Career

Variety logo Variety 4/20/2017 Debra Birnbaum
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At age 70, Andrea Martin is working as hard as ever, with roles across stage and screen. This year, she’s been spotted in Hulu’s “Difficult People,” NBC’s “Hairspray Live,” and CBS’ “The Good Fight” — and now she’s taking on the role of an overbearing mother, Carol, in NBC’s new sitcom “Great News.” “Everything is upside down,” says Martin, “the weather, the news. It’s great to be in the world of comedy. You feel like you’re doing something good.”

What made you sign for the role in “Great News”?

I found [showrunner] Tracey [Wigfield] to be disarming and enchanting. And when she talked about her mom, who the show is about, I found it to be endearing. And then I read the script. There was a lot of authenticity, a lot of heart, and big jokes.

Do you have anything in common with Carol?

I certainly understand the doting parent. I understand what it is to be slightly intrusive. I understand the devotion to my children. But I’m very indecisive, and she just goes for it. I would like very much to have that characteristic of just going for it regardless of what people think. That would be an amazing freedom.

What’s been the secret to your incredibly long career?

I honestly think some of it is luck, of course. I think the core of it is that I love what I do. I love acting. I love rehearsals more than anything. I love the collaboration with the cast. It’s always like another family. My first role was the fairy godmother in “Cinderella” when I was 11, and I have to say that same kind of enthusiasm has stayed with me.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known then?

That being anxious doesn’t help anything. Thinking you’re not going to be able do something doesn’t help. It’s just a defense mechanism for a fear of failing. Coming from a positive, optimistic place is a very contagious thing. I like being around people that are “yes” people. Now I’m on the yes train, and life is much better.

Looking back, which of your roles is your favorite?

A life-changing role for me was the part of the grandmother in “Pippin,” because I had to challenge myself in ways that I didn’t know I was capable of. Learning a circus trapeze act at my age — I didn’t know I would have the kind of stamina or strength or grace to be able to pull that off.

What you didn’t know about Andrea Martin

Favorite female comedian: Madeline Kahn Favorite Broadway show right now: Dear Evan HansenOn her nightstand: “The Rainbow Comes and Goes” Must-have app: Waze

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