BLAST: How did you first get involved with The Newsroom? And how did you go on to play Tess Westin?
MJ: While I was working in the news division, Aaron Sorkin came in to do research on a new pilot he was thinking of writing. I was in charge of him the day he visited, which was awesome because he’s a great guy, and also, I’m a big fan of his work. After he came in he started writing the first draft of the pilot and would ask me questions about the technical newsroom stuff as it came up. He sent me the first draft of the pilot, I fell in love with it. I knew then that I had to be as much a part of the project as I could. Despite never having acted before, something made me ask him if I could audition.
He was very honest in his response and basically told me that that’s now how it works—just because you work in a newsroom doesn’t mean you can play someone who works in a newsroom on TV. Nevertheless, when auditions came around, he gave in and said that since I’d been a big help to him and hadn’t asked for any sort of compensation, he would let me come in for an audition. He also reiterated that I shouldn’t expect anything and that real actors who had trained their whole lives would be the people they were choosing, but I decided to challenge myself and give it a shot. And the rest is history…
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