In a career that spans just slightly over a decade, Aubrey Plaza has become a well regarded and popular actress on the Hollywood scene. In between taking up many internships (including one as an NBC page), she started working as an improv and sketch comic while working at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. From there, she started doing stand-up comedy in 2008 and shortly afterwards made her film debut in the serio-comic Adam Sandler vehicle, Funny People, the following year. The same year that film was released, Plaza’s star was born when she unveiled herself as April Ludgate on the hit NBC comedy, Parks and Recreation. The show ended in 2015 and now that the show has reached its end, Plaza has been working nonstop to push herself up the ranks through Hollywood.
In 2016, she found herself in four movies, including two hit comedies in Dirty Grandpa and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. For 2017, she’s expected to appear in three movies, including a lead acting and producing role for the upcoming comedy-drama Ingrid Goes West. Clearly, Plaza is keeping herself busy and relevant in the constantly evolving world of cinema. It is not only remarkable to see where Plaza’s career is now because of how far she’s come since the beginning of her career, but also how far she’s come since her humble beginnings in life.
Aubrey Plaza has led a more interesting life than most of her fans realize. From living a poor childhood (though not “poor poor” as she once put it) to getting her first crack at the industry as an NBC Page to achieving superstardom with Parks and Recreation, Plaza has lived a life that is rather interesting and in many ways inspiring. Many of those life events from her past (both distant and recent) are worth talking about. So, without further ado, here are a few things about Aubrey Plaza that you may like to know.
15. Gave Her Blood/Hair to the Parks and Rec Cast
When you are about to depart from a job where you may never work again with the comrades you formed close bonds with over the years, it is understandable to leave a parting gift for everybody. This was the sentiment on Aubrey Plaza’s mind when Parks and Recreations was wrapping up the show’s final episodes after 7 seasons, though her gifts may have been a little, for lack of a better word, demented. Right before things had wrapped up, Plaza handed the cast vials filled with blood, hair, and toenails. Aziz Ansari confirmed this in an interview with Conan O’Brien by showing the crowd the vial with the heartfelt card that Plaza gave him. Ansari thought it was such a beautiful “Aubrey gift,” but was sorely disappointed to find out it wasn’t actually Plaza’s blood. It was just some jelly that was leftover in her fridge. No word on whose hair and toenails is in the vial.
14. She Was A Mascot…And Met Donald Trump
Every actor has to start off somewhere before hitting the big time. Before Aubrey Plaza got her first big break, she was a mascot for a cartoon character that our British readers out there will probably recognize as Noddy, a wooden puppet boy from Toyland. At age 19 and living in New York, Plaza would get paid to roam through convention centers in the costume, but her biggest task in the role was to take a picture with Donald Trump. Her boss knew that Trump would be frequenting an event where Plaza was already booked to appear as the character and her boss told her that she needed to get a picture with Trump or else she’d be fired. Even though Trump kept trying to shoe Noddy away from him, he reluctantly agreed to the picture after Plaza in costume wrapped her arm around the future President. Despite getting her pic, this was Plaza’s final job in the costume. She’s publicly stated that if she knew then what she knows now about Trump, she would’ve tackled Trump to the ground on sight.
13. Self-Proclaimed Worst Talk Show Guest Ever
Anyone who has seen Aubrey Plaza as a guest on any talk show may have noticed how she can come off as a tad bit awkward during interviews. Most viewers struggle to separate whether this is part of some comedy schtick or if she is just naturally awkward as a person. Plaza has attested to the latter notion. It is a reason why Plaza has declared herself to be the worst talk show interview guest ever. In an interview with Sam Jones, she went more in depth as to why she’s awkward during interviews. She says that she is at her best when she is working on a set when performing comedy that she’s actually planned out. She never has a plan going into her interviews and similar situations (like stand-up). Even when given pre-interviews, she finds it hard to go live in front of an audience and tell those same rehearsed stories as if she never told them before. It comes off as unnatural and it feels unnatural for her.
12. She Left Twitter Recently
It was only a few years ago when Aubrey Plaza first joined Twitter. For years, she graced Twitter with several tweets that forced her followers to question the blurred line between Aubrey Plaza the person and April Ludgate the character, if there was ever a difference to begin with. Her deadpan, nihilist sarcasm oozed through each tweet under her @evilhag handle and it made for some quality entertainment. That is until very recently when she deactivated from Twitter. Right before 2017 kicked off in style, Plaza left her Twitter account in the past along with her Twitter. Her final tweet read as so: “dear twitter: it’s been fun but I’ve realized you are wrong for me and maybe the world. i hope people spread only love here in 2017 ✌?✌?✌?✌?.” From the sounds of it, it was too much negativity that scared off one of Twitter’s most entertaining celebrities. It’s a shame, really.
11. She Dated John Gallagher Jr.
John Gallagher Jr. is best known as an actor recognized by his appearances in The Newsroom and 10 Cloverfield Lane as well as a Tony winning musician. Few people know that his first girlfriend was Aubrey Plaza. The pair’s first meeting was an admittedly romantic one fit for a Disney fairy tale. They met each other when Gallagher was 15 and Plaza was 13 and Gallagher asked Plaza out in the most grandiose fashion. With his parents by his side at an Irish pub, Gallagher got on stage and sang a song he wrote for Plaza. Immediately swept off her feet, Plaza had no trouble accepting his date proposal and the two sprout into a full blown relationship from there. Though the couple wouldn’t last as lovers, the two remain friends to this day. The two try to meet up whenever Gallagher is in LA or Plaza is in New York and Plaza cites Gallagher as her first love.
10. A Prison Inmate Painted Her Nude
There are a number of sincere gestures that we can give to those we love. Although, unless you happen to be Aubrey Plaza, some gestures lose their sincerity when they happen to be nude portraits that we give to strangers. David Choe is a painter who was arrested for stealing art supplies, books, and food when he was a struggling artist. During his stay in prison, he had time to craft a painting in Plaza’s likeness. Or so he says. Plaza doubts that it’s actually her in the painting given the painted lady’s Asian eyes and Choe’s footprints, but she was nonetheless flattered when Choe showed up to Plaza’s new home—barefoot, I might add—and gave her the painting as a housewarming gift. Plaza loved the notion of the gift so much that she hung it up on her wall in the dining room. Which made for an awkward Thanksgiving when Plaza’s mother sat smack dab in front of the painting.
9. She’s Half Puerto Rican, But Doesn’t Speak Spanish
Aubrey Plaza is Puerto Rican on her father’s side and Irish-English on her mother’s side, and yet she does not know how to speak Spanish. Despite half her ancestry being rooted in Puerto Rican descent, she is not quite fluent in Spanish as she would like to be. Likely because having being born and raised in Delaware, she didn’t have to be savvy to the language and therefore never had the chance to brush up on it. Though she is able to understand it perfectly, she cannot speak it very well. Whenever she is around family members who would speak Spanish to her, Plaza more often than not finds herself responding in English. This may be disappointing for any bilingual readers out there hoping to engage Plaza in a purely Spanish-driven conversation.
8. She’s a New York Film Academy Alumni
Anyone who has done even the most minor of delving into Aubrey Plaza’s life would know that she graduated from the Ursuline Academy private school in 2002. What is more of a little known fact is that Plaza also attended a summer semester camp for New York Film Academy a year prior. While participating in a 2016 Q & A at her former alma mater following a screening of Safety Not Guaranteed, Plaza said that the experience at NYFA helped her get into New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where she continued studying film. Although she did admit during the Q & A that she learned more at NYFA than at NYU’s program because NYFA is so hands on with teaching film knowledge and in the world of filmmaking, it’s best to learn by diving right into it and being handed a camera on day one. Any readers out there contemplating taking up filmmaking as a career should keep NYFA in mind if they want the same success as Plaza.
7. Funny People Helped Her Start Stand-Up
One of the many occupations which Aubrey Plaza is known for is that of a stand-up comic, but if not for her role in Funny People, she never would have tried it out. Prior to auditioning for Funny People, Plaza was only familiar with working on sketch comedy and improv comedy. Never stand-up. When she finally did audition for the part of Daisy Danby in the film, Judd Apatow and company adored her, but they had only one problem with Plaza: she never did stand-up. And seeing as her character is a stand-up comedian, the actress who played her needed to be well versed in that art. Plaza promised them that she would start doing stand-up soon and send a video to Apatow. So she wrote out her routine, performed it in front of a camera, sent it to Apatow, and she got the part. Afterwards, she had to keep doing stand-up acts for the sake of the film, but in recent years, she’s focused more on acting. Even if she never returns to stand-up, the skills she developed on stage certainly worked in her favor. Funny People proved to be a breakout role for Plaza and she hasn’t looked back since.
6. She Founded A Basketball Team
It may seem strange to associate Aubrey Plaza with basketball, but she is actually making some big waves in the world of Los Angeles recreational basketball, believe it or not. Along with a group of her comedy acting/writing buddies, Plaza founded an all-female recreational basketball team called The Pistol Shrimps. This isn’t for some comedy routine or some improv comedy schtick. This is as real as it gets and everyone involved is in it for the love of the game. Admittedly, the Pistol Shrimps will be the first to tell you that they’re not great basketball players (even for amateurs), but that’s the point of playing. Not out of competition, but to have an outlet to play a sport they love. The 2016 documentary titled The Pistol Shrimps goes into more detail regarding the ladies’ motivations for playing, the team’s humble beginnings, and how they took the recreational sports league by storm.
5. She Let Kathy Griffin Pierce Her Ears On Live TV
One of the things that Aubrey Plaza is not given enough credit for is just how brave of an actress she is. She has taken some high risks both in front and behind the camera. One example of her fearlessness is when she came on Kathy Griffin’s self-titled talk show, Kathy, as a guest and let the self-proclaimed D-list celebrity pierce Plaza’s ears. Plaza only had to mention that she hadn’t had her ears pierced since childhood for Griffin to appear on stage with a piercing gun in hand. Keep in mind that before piercing Plaza’s ear, Griffin had no experience with piercing anyone’s ears and letting Griffin pierce her ears probably wasn’t the safest thing that Plaza could agree to. It was abundantly clear that Griffin had pierced too high. In fact, Plaza later went on to Joan River’s In Bed With Joan and admitted that Griffin’s piercing had almost hit Plaza’s ear cartilage. Still, it only adds to the testament that Plaza is so brave as both an actress and a person to take such a risk.
4. Almost Married Michael Cera
Her? Her. And him. After meeting each other while working on the set of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Aubrey Plaza and Michael Cera quickly dived headfirst into a relationship that would last a year and a half. Fairly early on in the relationship, the two fell hard for each other and even contemplated getting married at one point. Shortly after filming ended, the two set out on a cross country trip from Chicago to Los Angeles and somewhere along the way, they ended up in Vegas where they almost got married. While neither party ever divulged details as to why they decided not to go along with the marriage, Plaza has explained that she and Cera are still good friends to this day.
3. She Had a Stroke
Young people are not usually expected to suffer from a stroke so early into their life, but that is exactly what happened to Aubrey Plaza. At the tender age of 20, Plaza had a stroke caused by unknown circumstances. Her doctors were never able to figure out what caused her stroke, but a popular belief was that it was caused by her use of birth control pills. Specifically Tri-Cyclen, which has been known to cause strokes. The experience left Plaza temporarily mute and paralyzed, commonly referred to as expressive aphasia. When she finally did recover from her trauma, she refused to let the experience hinder her success in life. If nothing else, she used the near-death experience to push herself further into living her dreams. Now, at the age of 32, Plaza is one of the most celebrated and idolized comedians currently working in Hollywood. She certainly is living her dreams.
2. Safety Not Guaranteed Was Made for Her
You know how some actors play certain parts so well that it feels like the role was made for them? Well, the role of Darius Britt in Safety Not Guaranteed was actually written specifically for Aubrey Plaza to play. As Plaza explained during an interview discussion at the New York Film Academy, she and writer-director Colin Trevorrow knew each other because they had the same manager at the time he was writing Safety Not Guaranteed. Having that contact connection and being a fan of Plaza’s work, Trevorrow and co-writer Derek Connolly wrote their script with Plaza in mind. As soon as the script was finished, they offered the lead part to Plaza who loved the character and the script. For the first time in her career, Plaza didn’t have to audition for a part.
1. She Swings Both Ways
For those not in the know, Aubrey Plaza came out as bisexual in an interview with The Advocate. When the interview started pointing towards past LGBTQ roles which Plaza has played—specifically in regards to roles she played opposite Natasha Lyonne and Marisa Tomei, respectively in Addicted to Fresno and She Said, She Said—a question was raised on how Plaza feels when women come on to her in real life. Plaza admitted that she doesn’t mind when girls hit on her or that they’re into her because truth be told, she’s into them too. Plaza confessed that she can’t help but fall in love with guys and girls. Knowing Plaza’s sexuality helps highlight her as someone the LGBTQ community can look up to and be inspired by, which is never a bad thing.