She plays Ivy Lynn, an ambitious Broadway actress, on the NBC hit series Smash. It’s something actress Megan Hilty knows a little about. She starred as Glinda in Wicked and went on to play the Dolly Parton role in the musical 9 to 5, also on Broadway. The multitalented 31-year-old will debut her first album, It Happens All the Time, from Portrait and Columbia Records March 12. Smash airs Tuesdays.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q. Have you ever been hit on by a casting director, or is that a thing of the past?
A. No, never. (Laughs) I mean, you always hear stories of things happening, but I really can’t speak to it. All I know is that it’s really never happened to me. And I guess I don’t see Ivy and Derek (characters in Smash) as a casting-couch thing because they actually have a relationship. It wasn’t about getting a job for either of them. I know it can be taken that way, but it wasn’t.
Q. How do you cope with the anxiety before a big audition or your first performance on Broadway? Can you sleep?
A. Oh yeah, I can sleep at night. I never have any problem sleeping. (Laughs) I guess I am just constantly going over things in my head, but I try not to freak out about it. I’ll always be nervous before anything, but I try not to let it totally control my life. I’m always nervous, so I don’t want it to sound like I’m this super-confident person, but I think you just have to learn how to channel that energy.
Q. Have you ever been fearful during a performance such as when something goes wrong?
A. This is going to sound really weird, but I almost look forward to the mistakes because they are inevitable. I mean, it’s never going to be perfect. That’s what keeps it exciting. When things go wrong, you have to figure out how to get back on track.
Q. When did you decide that you wanted to be a performer?
A. It was probably in middle school shortly after I started taking voice lessons. I was always obsessed with music, loved the theater and the opera. I was just constantly surrounding myself with it. I always knew I would be in the arts in some capacity whether it was on stage or screen or behind the scenes.
Q. How much influence did your parents have on your path?
A. My parents were of the mindset that I’m going to figure out life for myself and they were just very supportive of all the things that I chose to do. They didn’t introduce me to anything or make me go into the theater or ask me to try any of that stuff, but anytime I had a show they were the first people there. There was never any question. There was never the backup plan, you know?
Q. When you are taping Smash, do you get to sing a song all the way through, or are they calling cut?
A. We do it all the way through. We very rarely do pieces of songs. Even when we switch into fantasy, we usually do a whole song, and we do it live. Even when we are quote-unquote lip-syncing, we are singing full out so it doesn’t look like we are just moving our mouths. So we are singing full out all day long.
Q. Now that you are so recognized, did your personal life change? Is it harder to date?
A. (Laughs) I luckily don’t have to worry about that because I have the greatest boyfriend in the whole world. So I don’t have to worry about all that madness.
Q. What about the other side of it, being recognized?
A. Oh, it’s great. The reason why we do this, the arts in general, is to spark conversation, to spark ideas and thoughts about life, to put it very generally. That’s not a private thing. I view it as a very public thing, so I love talking to people on the street about Smash and about my character. Whether they hate the show or Ivy or they love her in the show, it doesn’t matter. It just means they are invested somehow, and they have opinions. I mean, that’s what the arts are for, so I love it.