Naomi Grossman

Naomi Grossman

Naomi Grossman

Naomi Grossman


Naomi Grossman walked into our Composure Magazine studio with comfort and familiarity of meeting an old friend on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Naomi enjoys being photographed, but more importantly, her ability to project dozens of emotions within one photoshoot is truly amazing to witness. Known for her recent role as Pepper in the American Horror Story, Naomi speaks of her audition for the role of Pepper, her passion for yoga, and her beginning years in the comedy world.

CM: How did you feel about the shoot and the styles of outfits?

NG: Oh, I loved it. There’s really nothing I love more than having my picture taken. So, I’m in the right profession. For styling, when I was a little girl, I remember going through a phase where I wanted to wear everything in my closet, at once. Yeah. I grew out of that. But I was having a flashback. I wanted to wear it all, all at once.

CM: I heard that you are a big yogi. Can you tell me a little more about that?

NG: I was going to say, are you sure you want to talk about this? I’ll start to proselytize, and you’ll get put in it. Yeah, I practice yoga. I have for about 15 years, about an hour and a half a day. At this point, it’s beyond exercise, it’s therapy, it’s a million things. Just having an hour and a half to just stop and turn off the phone, and just center.

CM: Do you have a favorite position or a particular practice of yoga?

NG: Well, I love anything that’s fancy. I know yoga’s supposed to be all non-competitive. I can’t help it. If I can show off, I’ll do Scorpion, or anything that will make people ache. That’s what I like to do. As for a particular practice of yoga, ultimately, they are all trees of the same forest. I love them all. I love Ashtanga, and Vinyasa flow. I like the pace, I like to move, I like to sweat. I don’t love hot yoga. Again, it’s just a different tree in the same forest. I have nothing against it, I just – not to flatter myself, but I’m kind of at a level where I don’t need the heat. I would rather give myself a workout, make myself sweat from the positions. Not from a crutch or gimmick like the heat.

CM: Now, going into your acting career. You started in theater, would you say that’s your first love?

NG: Yes, yes, absolutely. Yeah, it still is. I’ve got a boyfriend, but he knows that I’d leave him for theater any time of day. No. I got started as a little girl living in Denver, Colorado. I actually vomited at my very first acting class. It was a creative dramatics class. I couldn’t help it. The teacher had us paint with one hand, then paint with the other hand, then paint with your left foot, right foot, and finally the whole body! All of a sudden, I just fell to the floor and lost my cookies. I knew in that moment that’s what I was meant to do. Yeah. I feel alive acting. Yes, so from that point I did children’s theater as a little girl. I was singing and dancing and doing comedy in downtown Denver at the Comedy Works, from the age of 8 or 9. Pretty soon, I was doing anything and everything that came out of Colorado, which wasn’t a whole lot. Regional commercials, and Father Dowling Mysteries. Oh, my God, I was little. Yeah, I got my SAG card on my 15th birthday.

CM: We love watching you in the American Horror Story. Pepper for President! When you went in for a meeting with casting, did you know it was for that character?

NG: No. They are very secretive. The actual breakdown they put out was “4 to 5 feet tall, possibly mal-formed, and child-like.” You can imagine, there’s only so much I can do. There’s only so much I can prepare for that role. I obviously am 5 feet tall. I had that going for me. Child-like, I knew not to wear high heels, nor booty-licious shorts or a plunging neckline. Mal-formed? If they want someone mal-formed, they’ll find someone mal-formed. I’m not going to come in with my arms in my sleeves.

Anyway, I remember getting the audition, and it being just a sea of little people and thinking, “what? I can’t compete.” I was such a jerk. I remember actually trying to take pictures with my cell phone, just to send a friend. It’d be like, “do you see what I’m up against? This is my life. Welcome to my crazy life.” I’m glad those photos never got out, because that was so wrong. I remember actually going in and feeling like I nailed it. Thinking, “great, this is the audition that I nailed! The one I can’t possibly book.” I had no idea what I was going in for, to answer your question. They had me prepare a monologue of Jessica Lange’s from Season 1, which, obviously, was not the role, because let’s face it, it had already been shot by Jessica Lange. The other part of the audition was when they handed me a ball, and they asked me to try to get them to play with me. In retrospect, I understand what they were doing. They wanted to see if I could play the early, silly Pepper, and then evolve to a more subtle Pepper. They got all that. Ultimately, for the callback, it was actually a meeting with makeup. They took a bunch of photos of me, which they then later on manipulated to see what I would look like as that character.

From what I understand, they did this with several actresses. They asked me a bunch of vague questions. Would you shave your head? Have you worn prosthetics before? Are you claustrophobic? I don’t know, I don’t think so. Why does that matter? Now I know why that matters. At the time, I remember driving home like, “Did I answer right?” It’s so crazy, I literally think they liked the bridge of my nose best.

CM: When you finally understood that it was for Pepper, what were you thinking?

NG: Even then, I didn’t know who Pepper was. Pepper was whoever I made her to be. She was a “pinhead”, yet for all I knew, I was one of an army of pinheads. It really wasn’t until I was on set for the very first time that I realized, “Oh, no. I am the pinhead. I am the craziest, or at least craziest-looking one in this asylum. I didn’t even know what that meant.

CM: You come from a comedy background. Can you tell us more about that?

NG: Yeah, prior to American Horror Story, I spent a lot of time at the Groundlings, which is a comedy theater in Los Angeles. A lot of big comedians came out of there. Phil Hartman, Will Farrell, Lisa Kudrow. Sort of an SNL factory. I kind of always thought that’s where I would go, these big comedy characters. It’s interesting, I went quite a different direction. Ultimately, it’s the same kind of work. Which I think, again, is a good lesson. You put out there what you’re good at. In my case, it’s big characters. I thought it would be towards comedy, but now its towards horror or drama.

CM: You’ve moved on from American Horror Story and just wrapped The Chair. You want to share a little bit more about that?

NG: Sure. It’s a horror film. I’ve had friends say, “You need to stop doing horror?” It’s like, “Why? It’s still the hand that feeds me. I’m not going to bite that arm.” Ultimately, horror fans are a whole other league. It’s like Star Trek, if you get that, you just go there. That’s the golden goose. I play the mother, seen in flashbacks. Mother of the inmate on death row, hence The Chair, waiting for the electric chair. I’m also wildly unattractive in this role, although it is my own face, so there is that. I think it’s going to be scary. The trailer was on the Fangoria website for a while, doing really well, apparently. It looked great.

Find out more about Naomi on her Instagram, Twitter, IMDB, and on her website!


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