You’ve got a degree in journalism. Do you ever get to apply what you learnt in college to your work? “I was overjoyed when I got the part [of reporter Sloan Sabbith in The Newsroom]. I really wanted this role and I took a big gamble by passing up a lot of other opportunities. Before I got the part I was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where I pretended to be a fake reporter, and then I moved over to The Newsroom, where I pretended to be a real reporter, so being a journalism major has definitely helped in many moments in my career.”
What can we expect from your character in the new season of The Newsroom? “Sloan is the economist on the show and this year she gets to take on more news stories on administration and anti-terrorism policies. She also has this great ‘big brother, little sister’ relationship with Will [McAvoy, anchor of the fictional News Night show, played by Jeff Daniels]. We get to see more of what she’s confident in and what she’s not. It’s different to any character I’ve played before because I get to do more things with her. She’s a strong, smart woman who is also very awkward and socially inept, and she’s a really loyal, protective friend.”
What do you bring to the character? “I wanted to bring an inner strength that didn’t need to be shouted from the rooftops. Sloan isn’t somebody who is always trying to prove she’s smart. She knows she’s smart and that she’s a great journalist and that she’s strong and she just focuses on existing.”
What do you find most challenging about doing the show? “I do so much work beforehand that by the time I’m on set I can just throw it away and it becomes part of me and my consciousness. The hardest thing is a lot of people don’t operate that way. Dev Patel [who plays Neal Sampat] and I are always joking around and laughing in between takes and I think the hardest part is knowing that a lot of actors aren’t really looking for a laugh in the middle of a hard [the show’s creator, Aaron] Sorkin day.”
What do you think makes The Newsroom a hit? “I think The Newsroom has been so successful because we’re in a situation that everyone, no matter what part of the world you’re in, is connected to. We all need the news. It’s the window to the world for everyone no matter where we are.
So I think it was that connection we all feel with the news, Sorkin’s choice in taking real news events and placing them into our newsroom that attracts a lot of people. It inspires us to ask questions.”
The Newsroom is now showing on HBO.