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Exclusive: Rebecca Metz is the coolest Disney Channel mom, dishes on Better Things

Talented actor Rebecca Metz, center, gives Coop and Cami Ask the World an authenticity and great advantage in the Disney story. Pic credit: Disney
Talented actor Rebecca Metz, center, gives Coop and Cami Ask the World an authenticity and great advantage in the Disney story. Pic credit: Disney

Actress Rebecca Metz, known for her role in the ground-breaking and critically acclaimed FX TV show Better Things has taken a detour from her edgy character Tressa, Sam Fox’s manager (Pamela Adlon)  on the series and found a plum maternal role to play on Disney Channel this fall.

Rebecca stars in a new Disney Channel show, Coop and Cami Ask The World, which began in mid-October of this year.

Metz plays Jenna Wrather, a busy mother who for reasons unknown as of yet lost her husband a few years back. Jenna is plucky and very present vivacious widow with four high-energy children, two of whom have social media promotion savant-level skills with their own streaming channel show.

This bubbly, upbeat comedy with a well-cast ensemble shows just how she is handling the adjustment, along with her four children while keeping it together as a busy real estate agent.

There is a genuine feel to Jenna and her plight and what Metz brings in a resonating nuance to that character.

Coop and Cami Ask The World surprised me, as it is a very watchable and entertaining children’s TV series for the adults in the room. Especially with issues that they tackle, such as when to re-enter the dating scene when one has lost a spouse.

It’s interesting to note that Rebecca, who was hand-picked for the role of Tressa by Adlon, was shooting both the Disney and FX series simultaneously.

In recent years, Rebecca has had guest roles on This Is Us, Grey’s Anatomy, Maron, Bones, Lopez, Major Crimes and her recurring role on Shameless. Many also remember her work on Ryan Murphy’s FX drama Nip/Tuck as the paper bag-wearing masochistic lover of Dr. Christian Troy, which was one for the TV sex books.

Rebecca has a slew of plum TV roles under her belt. Pic credit: Rebeca Metz
Rebecca has a slew of plum TV roles under her belt. Pic credit: Rebeca Metz

We spoke to Rebecca about her busy year, her new series on Disney Channel and some scoop on the coming Better Things slated for an early 2019 release on FX:

Monsters and Critics:  It’s been such an exciting year for you. Your Disney Channel character is a widow, a real estate agent and looking to get back into the dating game. It’s an interesting kind of juxtaposition, how did this come about?

Rebecca Metz: My agents reached out and said, ‘hey, is this something that might be interested in?’ And I said, ‘sure, let’s see.’

It is a bit of a departure from what I had been doing, and that’s always interesting to me to mix things up a little bit.  So I went in for it a couple times.

It happened really kind of quickly and easily. I don’t think of myself as a Disney channel mom, I’ve never watched a ton of Disney channel and by the time I had cable, I was a little old for the programming. I sort of went into it thinking, ‘well, I’m going to do this in a way that’s authentic to me and if that’s what they want, great.’

I think that part of me kind of figured it wouldn’t be just because it’s not something I’d ever really done before, and then it happened! I thought, ‘well, that’s going to be interesting.’ And I’ve been really having a great time. It’s [shot] like sitcoms, these multi-camera classics kind of disappeared for a while.

It’s really fun to be getting to do it again.

M&C: Your character has four children. Do you have your hands full trying to keep them in line and are you involved in their show?

Rebecca:  Yep. Sometimes. Every episode is framed around the “Would You Wrather Show”. The family, the various members of the family and myself included getting involved in it to kind of varying degrees.

Coop is the one who has the hardest time letting his mother re-enter the dating scene. Pic credit: Disney
Coop is the one who has the hardest time letting his mother re-enter the dating scene. Pic credit: Disney

Sometimes we find Jenna sort of engrossed and focusing on her work life or her dating life and sometimes she’s kind of smack in the middle of the action with the kids. So it varies.

M&C:  Now do you put your foot down and say ‘listen there’s got to be some parameters and privacy’ especially now you are getting back into the dating game, and nobody needs to know your business on the Internet with possibly Principal Walker being a match?

Rebecca: Yeah, I put my foot down around safety and hygiene on occasion, but the kids on the show seem to have pretty good judgment in terms of revealing too much personal information.

I think I’ve raised smart kids so they don’t tend to go too far on that front. They embarrassing at work once in a while. They embarrass themselves once in a while, but nothing, they’re careful on the online privacy front.

I think Disney’s concerned with modeling good online behavior so they have them keeping within pretty safe boundaries and have.

M&C: What can you tell about your co-star Dakota Lotus who plays Coop?

Rebecca: He’s kind of the set prankster, he’s got tons of energy, he’s always bouncing off the wall. He’s always cracking himself up and the rest of us along with him. He’s got a great thing going.

All of these kids these days are like multitalented performers, they all have dance careers in music careers and are dropping singles all over the place.

M&C: It’s exhausting, isn’t it?

Rebecca:  It’s insane! That one of them asked me at one point, ‘Like Rebecca, what’s show were you on when you were a teenager?’ I was in junior high school and that’s it. There was nothing else to do.

But yes, he’s a little star on the rise our Dakota.

And Ruby Rose Turner (Cami), she’s already, I mean, she’s the social media legend, whenever we’re doing press and stuff…all the kids know her. She is a star already, quite polished at meeting her fans and stuff. I’m taking social media lessons from her.

A still from the newest episode showing Jenna and Cami goofing online. Pic credit: Disney
A still from the newest episode showing Jenna and Cami goofing online. Pic credit: Disney

And Ollie the youngest is Paxton Booth. He is hilarious. When we’re sitting around in a scene together and we have a little downtime, he wants to shop for shoes on my phone. Shoes for me.

To me, he is like the ideal child and has very sophisticated taste in music. He’s into old school metal and I think he’s just eight these days. I mean he seriously the coolest kid you’ll ever meet. He’s hilarious.

And Charlotte is played by Olivia Sanabia who is kind of like the other parent in the family, both on the show and I think in the cast… she is really incredibly sweet, incredibly mature. So Professional. So impressive in terms of, I was acting in high school shows at their age.

I just looked at them and think like, ‘I have the same job as these children’…it’s a different world. It’s certainly different from what I was doing at that age. It’s really impressive and I want to protect them from the world. I just want to shield them from everything, but that’s not my job.

M&C: How many episodes for the season on the network?

Rebecca: Twenty-one. We’re shooting the last one right now. It’s crazy. I can’t believe we’ve done that many. One a week with some breaks in there.

M&C:  When does Better Things start up again?

Rebecca:  We actually have shot it, so I was kind of doing them at the same time. Better Things wrapped I think about a week ago, season three. So there were a couple of weeks in there when I was doing both, which was a little hectic.

M&C: Bouncing between Tressa and your mom role, talk about that…

Rebecca: [laughing] I would be driving to one from one set to the other and going like, ‘this is the set I’m allowed to curse on and now I’m going to the set that I’m not allowed to curse on.’

Just to make sure you keep that straight. Very different. Everything. Everything about those shows. It was a great challenge to go back and forth.

M&C: What’s happening with Tressa this season on Better Things? 

Tressa counsels Sam on Better Things. Pic credit: FX
Tressa counsels Sam on Better Things. Pic credit: FX

Rebecca: Tressa has some good stuff this season. This season we kind of get into it with Tressa and Sam’s relationship and you know, some of the bumps, I don’t think I can go into it too much more than that, but, but Tressa has a really nice arc this season.

We get to see how she handles conflict… conflict between her and Sam. I am allowed to say that much. All based in love. They still love each other through everything, but you know, sometimes things are tough between longtime friends and colleagues.

M&C: What’s your favorite thing about working with Pam and on Better Things? What do you look forward to the most?

Rebecca: I just look forward to watching her juggle all those roles. I mean, I have never worked on a show and I think most people have never worked on a show with someone who is in every scene… has been in charge of running the writer’s room and has directed every episode and then goes off and edits every episode.

I mean, it’s just massive, the amount of work she does and she makes it seem so seamless that I just try and follow her around and watch what she’s doing because she’s really sort of presenting a model for a different sort of way to make television.

I think she’s described it as a craft project, it’s a huge undertaking, but it feels extremely personal and I think that is hard to pull off. And so I’m watching really closely because I love it.

M&C: Someone said to me that the show was a midlife crisis, but I don’t see it that way. She’s keeping her sanity and to persevere and not succumb to any of the curve balls that are coming her way. What is it like when you watch it?

Rebecca:  I don’t think it’s a midlife crisis. I think that she’s passed a midlife crisis. I think it’s about a woman who knows who she is, who has accepted who she is, who’s happy to be who she is. She’s not looking to change herself radically. It’s not, she’s not desperate to get into a relationship.

She’s not desperate to change her life in one way or another. She just trying to get through the day, like you said. She’s not in crisis. She is a woman who knows who she is, trying to get through all of her responsibilities in a world that wants her constantly to be 75 other things other than she is, and she’s not interested in seeing those things, you know.

She’s not a perfect mom. She’s not a perfect partner. She’s not a perfect daughter, and she’s fine with that. The world around her, maybe not so much, you know, which I think a lot of people recognize. I think that’s part of what resonates so much about the show.

M&C: What one particular show you’d love to go back and, and, and really work on and that you really were proud of, you know, or just loved to set or left the production.

Rebecca: I had a great time on this is us. And that job happens so fast. I mean, I, I think I auditioned for it on a Thursday and work the next day. It was so fast that I didn’t. I feel like I didn’t have time to get really excited about it and I only worked with Justin, which was wonderful, but I’m that character was so much fun.

I would love to go back to that. Somebody, one of the other characters needs to go back to the hotel where he was staying so that Martina, the maid can, uh, come and solved their problems too.

It’s just such a great show. It was a great set. Ken Olin was my director, who I’ve been a fan of for decades, so that will be really fun to go back to know.

M&C:  Is there any other nugget you want to share with fans of the Disney show?

Rebecca: I think we know we get to see her relationship with Principal Walker progress. It’s not all wrapped up tightly. I think it’s like real life, work and family take over. And so sometimes it’s in the front of the story and sometimes it falls to the wayside a little bit, but I think we’re going to see more of it.

And I think the important thing that I want people to know and then I’m really excited about is that obviously Disney channel is steered towards kids, but I think parents and moms particularly are going to find a lot to love about the show and about the character.

She’s not kind of in the background, sending them off to school with breakfast and then the story happened somewhere else. She’s right in the middle of it. And I think, like all of the moms who have had kids who work on the show and who have been around while we were working have come up to me and been like, ‘I love this character so much, I am so much excited for people to see her.’

And so I hope moms will give the show a watch while their kids are watching. I think they might find a lot to like about it. Like you said, you didn’t expect to like it and you did!

Coop and Cami Ask The World airs Friday at 8:30 PM ET/PT on Disney Channel
Better Things airs on FX and is back early 2019 according to Pamela Adlon.

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
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