Before playing a dippy gallerina on Girls and a drunk chef on Inside Amy Schumer, Greta Lee was toiling on and off Broadway and looking for a change. “I never fell out of love with theater, but I didn’t want to keep doing things for old white people,” she says.
Yet it was during a 2012 staging of the Off Broadway play 4000 Miles that Lee caught the attention of Girls creator Lena Dunham, who called her for a second-season role. “I was [supposed to play] a slutty yoga instructor who was dating Jeff Goldblum,” Lee explains. But then Patrick Wilson signed on for an episode, shaking up the season and relegating her to a small (but hilarious) role as Booth Jonathan’s (Jorma Taccone) assistant, Soojin — who later returned to steal scenes in season 3.
Around the same time, Lee met Amy Schumer at an audition for a Noah Baumbach movie and went on to star in some of Inside Amy Schumer‘s most popular sketches — playing a woman who can’t take a compliment and a gerbil-squishing cannibal, among other characters. Lee rode her newfound momentum into this year’s pilot season, landing a role on NBC’s Old Soul, produced by Amy Poehler and starring Natasha Lyonne. Whether or not Old Soul — on which she plays the best friend of Lyonne’s former wild child — makes it to series, Lee says she’s just happy her race isn’t at the forefront of every career conversation anymore. “The turning point was when people started writing for me. You can only audition for that Chinese nurse or lab technician so many times,” she says with a laugh. “I wasn’t getting those parts anyway. I’ve been told I have too much personality.”