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Not Dead Yet's Lauren Ash Peels Back the Layers on Her New 'Pretty Part'

'I was in those khaki pants for almost six years. It was great to get to do something so polar opposite.'

Amy Amatangelo

[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the series premiere of Not Dead Yet. Read at your own risk]

Lauren Ash stars opposite Gina Rodriguez in Not Dead Yet, a comedy about a newspaper obituary writer who can talk to her deceased subjects.  In the new ABC series, which premiered Wednesday, Ash plays Lexi, the wealthy daughter of the paper's owner who is now in charge. The glam role is quite a departure from the last time viewers saw Ash on TV. She spent six seasons of NBC's Superstore almost exclusively in khaki pants and a blue polo shirt as the no-nonsense Dina. 

"I got the new blond hair and I bought myself a nice purse and look what happened," Ash said about landing Not Dead Yet. "I keep calling it 'a pretty part' which is kind of diminishing of the level of layers to the character. But I was really excited to get to do something different. I mean I was in those khaki pants for almost six years. It was great to get to do something so polar opposite. It's been so fun getting to play someone who is high status, who is a jerk at times, who is also very complicated and has lots of conflicting emotions about why she is the way the way she is."

Ash spoke further with TV Guide about landing the role and relating to her very out-of-touch character.

What was the audition process like for this role?
Lauren Ash: The offer was pending a chemistry read which was so funny because chemistry reads were being done over Zoom at the time. I did a chemistry read with Gina over Zoom and it went so well. I literally had all my manifesting crystals around the laptop and then I found out afterward that she's also a crystal gal and it was just meant to be. 

Lexi seems so confident but she has a surprisingly vulnerable moment at the end of the pilot when she's on the phone with her dad.
Ash: I think the most interesting characters arcs are the ones that have layers and that was something in the pilot script that really interested me because by the end she has that moment on the phone where her dad hangs up on her. Hurt people hurt people. All those kinds of themes are so prevalent in this character and it really made it more interesting to me than something that is just one note, one joke. I was always saying that on Superstore. Let's remember that Dina is three dimensional. We all have how we present ourselves publicly and then who we really are and what are the things that happened to us that made us the way that we are.

Lauren Ash, Not Dead Yet

Lauren Ash, Not Dead Yet


How else do you connect to Lexi?
Ash: While I did not grow up in opulence like she did so that's not something I can relate to, I definitely can relate to the dynamics you experience in life behind the scenes and how they can shape who you are. For me it's really tapping into that vulnerability and going to a feeling place. Everyone I think has the feeling of not belonging or not fitting it or wanting someone to love really bad who doesn't love you in the way you need to be loved. It became a really fun acting challenge when I had those moments to really find where that line was that still felt authentic to who she was and that's exciting.

Obviously the newspaper business is in quite a bit of flux right now. Did you do any research into the current state of things?
Ash: I didn't because Lexi wouldn't have. She was coming into that job really having no knowledge of the industry, no knowledge of how it works, no real knowledge of what her position is and I was like I want to come in as blindly as she did. But then as she learns, I learn type thing. You see her at the end of the pilot talking to her dad, you see her scrambling. She doesn't have a plan. She doesn't know what she's doing at all. She's been given no guidance. She's been set up to fail arguably. I thought it would be really fun to come in as blind as she does to what it is that she's up against. Then, as the season goes on, we definitely see more of what that will mean. 

Can you tease a little bit about what the rest of the first season holds for Lexi?
Ash: There is a dynamic going on in that family and with her dad that is obviously going to be a challenge and an added layer to everything she's doing and then you really kind of see why there's stakes for her. Because on paper you go well she has all this money, why would she care to even do that job? There's little sign posts along the way where you see the reasons why and it's not about the job. It's about her relationship with her father. It was a really great color to have and to get to play. Because that informs so much about the thing that she isn't saying in other scenes but are obviously right at the surface for her the whole time and what kind of motivates her in moments of desperation, in moments of  tenacity, in moments of failure. It's great to have that in you actor bucket to pull out. I think that's universal. As humans we are looking for an understanding and ultimately some level of validation and approval. With her story and what you start to learn about what her childhood kind of looked like and what the realities are and how she grew up it just starts to make more and more sense that she is the way that she is and that she leads the way that she leads because it's tied to her childhood.  Therapist make a lot of money for a reason. If I could give her any advice, it would be just try seeing somebody maybe just once.

Not Dead Yet continues Wednesdays at 8:30/7:30c on ABC.