Carla Hall of "The Chew" on ABC
Q: You seem to recognize that mistakes happen all the time in the kitchen. What's the secret to fixing them?
A: In catering, something would happen, and I would say, "I hope it is OK." We would flip the script, change the plan and make it into something else. You have a disaster, you do not have time to thaw. Go to Plan B, and just say no one knew what it was going to be; they don't know what it is supposed to be. Like when you are onstage, no one knows and you improvise, and no one is the wiser.
Q: You seem comfortable in front of an audience. What was your first time onstage?
A: I remember my first play. One of my first newspaper clips said I looked like the Queen of Sheba. I was playing the Little Red Hen. I was 12 or 13.
Q: When did you know you were a chef?
A: After culinary school I still was not a chef. I was working; I had been a sous-chef, and two years later I got this job as chef, and still didn't feel like a chef. I always feel like a cook. Chef, I feel, is a management position because you are managing others. When I was creating, I felt like a cook. It was a Valentine's menu for a restaurant I was working with. You ask yourself, "How will this menu represent me?" Years later it was "Top Chef" that made me realize what my voice is.
Lake Bell of "How to Make It in America" on HBO
Q: Do you see your character Rachel on "How to Make It in America" as an indicator of what seems your preference for offbeat roles?
A: Ever since I was a little girl, I've had this journal that would make you think the person had multiple personality disorder or was an actress or storyteller. I've felt attracted to different cultures, languages, accents ... literally different ways of life and standards of living. Before I could understand them, I picked up on the tapestry of what was interesting about them. In terms of what I do, it's vast for a reason.
Q: Since you easily could be cast in more conventional roles, has it been a battle to get the parts you want?
A: I always wanted to experience different genres. Within comedy, there are a thousand different types of comedy ... but with something like (the NBC series) "Surface," I'd never gotten to be a relentless a...-kicker in an extraordinary situation, having to suspend disbelief and buy into this science-fiction plot. As long as there are opportunities that challenging and different, that will satisfy my journal.
Q: How is "How to Make it in America" servicing that?
A: I'm very grateful that the behind-the-scenes team dedicated this season to being funnier and a little more daring and playful. My character benefits from that tremendously by getting kind of a restart, and I think it's relatable for people in their 20s and 30s, where they are in that position of arrested development.
Connie Britton of "American Horror Story" on FX
Q: What's it like working with producer Ryan Murphy, who, with partner Brad Falchuk, is known for the plastic surgery drama "Nip/Tuck" and the high-school musical show "Glee"?
A: When I told people I was going to working with him and doing a show with him, they were like, "Are you going to be singing and dancing?" That was the first question. Either that or getting my skin peeled back. It's none of the above.
That was the thing that was really intriguing to me. It's not just the dark side; there's something underneath it all. He's a visionary. He's got this extraordinary mind, and he's really adept at translating that into something that is really unusual and entertaining. That's a really dynamic energy to be around.
Q: In "American Horror Story," you play Vivien, who has a troubled marriage to psychiatrist Ben (Dylan McDermott). They've moved to Los Angeles for a new start but have wound up in a haunted house. Aside from the horror aspect, how are the two of you playing the relationship?
A: It's easy, sometimes, particularly in television, if you're playing a marriage gone bad or a relationship where there's been a betrayal, it's so easy to play that level of it.
So, for me, what's really fun is actually finding the things that are there and were there in that relationship and letting that exist, too, because that's where the conflict comes in. I'm having a blast finding all these layers and doing it with Dylan.
A few words with ... Carla Hall, Lake Bell and Connie Britton