While many will know Ana Gasteyer from her six years on Saturday Night Live or her countless appearances in series and films such as The Goldbergs, Lady Dynamite, and The Happiest Season, where you may not recognize her being in the driver’s seat.
That’s just where the very funny comedy actress lands, as she takes on the a starring role in the new NBC workplace comedy, American Auto, the series from Superstore creator Justin Spitzer is a comedic look at the automobile industry.
As described by NBC: “Set in Detroit, the corporate executives of Payne Motors are at a crossroads: adapt to the changing times or be sent to the junkyard. Shaking things up is the new CEO, whose leadership, experience, and savvy are only slightly offset by her complete lack of knowledge about cars. Luckily, her team has some of the best minds in the business — when they aren’t fighting or trying to outwit each other. From the corporate office to the factory floor, the crew of Payne Motors is driving home the laughs.”
Gasteyer stars as Katherine Hastings, the new auto manufacturer CEO, who ironically does not know how to drive or much else about cars… besides maybe calling an Uber. It is a role she does not think would have been available to her just a fews back. “I’ve been waiting my entire career to be in my 50s. I’ve been waiting for this part since I was 30,” reflected Gasteyer.
“Frankly, 10 years ago, this role wouldn’t have existed,” she continued. “Just the opportunity to play a female CEO was really exciting to me because I like characters who are, sort of, lost in moral dilemma, and Katherine definitely personifies the aspirations to do right by the company, but maybe not always — there can be a human sacrifice in that. And it’s just fun. It’s a fun gray area, comedically.”
Also starring in ‘American Auto’ is a list of talented actors including Harriet Dyer, Jon Barinholtz, Humphrey Ker, Michael B. Washington, Tye White and X Mayo. Working with an ensemble was the perfect fit for the series star. “NBC has developed this ethos of a workplace comedy as the sense of the ensemble and the workplace being the star. For me, that was part of the attraction,” said Gasteyer.
“Not having to carry something so much all by myself. I love working with other people. So many of us come from improvisation and, you know, ensemble backgrounds, that it’s critical that you work as a team. That’s actually what ends up being the most fun.”
What does the American Auto star credit her success to? “Saturday Night Live is an insane launching pad, as my mother would say. Meaning, you know, the visibility is just nuts. I mean, you get recognized pretty quickly just for being in that cast,” she answered. “And then, just, honestly, hustling a lot of different angles. I mean, I’ve worked on Broadway; I’ve worked on television; I’ve worked, you know, wherever I can work. And I like working, so I’ve kept my nose to the grindstone, if you will.”
American Auto will have a two episode sneak-preview on Monday, December 13th starting at 10:00 p.m. EST, returns in January in its normal 8pm Tuesday time slot. Check out the series trailer below.