Toby believed in her. And now, so does Lady Emmy.
This Is Us star Chrissy Metz received her first nomination on Thursday, in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category. The 36-year-old actress earned raves in season 1 of the NBC family drama for her portrayal of Kate Pearson, a sweet, insecure, and vulnerable woman who’s trying to make changes in her life while handling a romantic relationship with a handful of a guy, Toby (Chris Sullivan). EW caught up with Metz in the afterglow of the nomination news, which included 11 nods for This Is Us.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congrats! What was your very first reaction?
CHRISSY METZ: I said, “Oh my god, guys!” [Laughs] And then I said, “Are we sure that’s correct?”
And what was your third reaction?
My mom’s going to be so relieved.
What does this nomination mean to you at this point in your career?
It’s one of those things where you think that you know how it’s going go to feel, and you’re like, “What if? What if? What if?” But [deep sigh], I hate to say that I’m seeking validation, but it’s so rewarding to receive recognition from your peers, especially when it’s been a long road for me. I know nobody is but, an overnight success I was not. It’s still very surreal but it’s also like, “Okay, maybe I’m doing something right.” And maybe — because I question myself every scene, every day — it is a testament to being true to yourself and being authentic and staying present. It’s such a wonderful feeling, that it’s really hard to describe.
When you went to bed last night, were you feeling nervous? Anxious? Like you had a good shot? Actually, did you go to bed last night?
I try not to read anything, and then people send me stuff, and then I’m like, “Guys!” And then I think, “Okay, regardless, we’re all doing such beautiful work. So let me not attach to the outcome but the work.” And today’s actually my first day back for season 2. So between Wimbledon, the Emmy nomination announcements, and the first day of working on season 2, it was a very big day. So I woke up around 2:30 a.m. and I was like, “I don’t know if I’m nervous or hungry. What should I do?” And then I was like, “I gotta set the alarm because I have to watch the semi-finals because Venus was playing.” So I just tried to distract myself. It’s true that you have to manifest what you want and what you desire, but I was like, “Well, it is what it is at this point. There’s nothing else I can do.” [Laughs.] I guess I was nervous. I didn’t want to think about it.
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Not only did you nab this nomination, but you’re considered a serious contender to win the Emmy in this category—
Okay, good-bye! [Laughs.] Honestly, to be nominated is really the honor. Really. And so I can’t really wrap my head around winning, also because everyone is soooo freakin’ good! I mean, Handmaid’s Tale. I literally pulled my fingernail polish off my fingers watching it! It’s just incredible.
It’s a tough category: Samira Wiley, Ann Dowd, Thandie Newton, Uzo Aduba, Millie Bobby Brown—
Come on! I mean, like, hello? But even just to represent the network television show that has gotten some love, it’s like, “Alright!”… I can’t even think that far. I don’t even know which earrings to put on right now. I don’t know! [Laughs.]
Maybe the hoops?
Oh! I put the hoop on! I was just trying it out. I think I’m going to go with the hoops then — per your suggestion.
This Is Us was nominated in the Outstanding Drama Series category — and although five of the seven were new shows, it was the only broadcast one. How do you like the show’s chances in that category? How tough is that battle?
I love all the shows in the category. I think they’re special in their own way. But again, the fact that we’re doing what we’re doing on network television is just really special. It’s so much more than just a television show. And I always say that. But it’s true. It’s truly changing people’s lives, and I think that’s what people want — and what they need right now, especially. I’d like to think that we have a pretty good shot. I’m just so, so, so proud to be a part of something like this that I’m rooting for us.
This Is Us scored seven acting nominations, with you, Sterling K. Brown, Milo Ventimiglia, and Ron Cephas Jones in the lead and supporting categories, and Denis O’Hare, Brian Tyree Henry, and Gerald McRaney in the guest categories. How surprised were you by the number of a nominations, and which one was the biggest pleasant surprise for you?
Not surprised at all, to be honest. Bummed that they snubbed Mandy [Moore] because I think she’s extraordinary. Although I know that that’s a very tough category with women who have been here forever.… When I heard Sterling and Milo’s name, I can’t even tell you – I was like, starting to tear up… I think Milo for me was just like… It really meant a lot. And Gerald meant a lot because — I mean, Gerald has never been nominated for an Emmy and I think that’s a travesty, so I’m elated for both of them.
What were your expectations when you signed on to this show?
Never this. I was always just like. “Umm, is somebody going to find out that I’m not that great of an actress and they’re going to fire me?” [Laughs.] I’m like, “The jig will be up and they’re going to recast me.” [During] our first, second, third episodes, I was like, “Oh, my god, this is my absolute dream job and I don’t know if I belong here!” I have to give the credit to [series creator] Dan Fogelman, to the writers, to the executives, because they really took a chance on this character and on a network show. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them, so it’s overwhelming. There’s so much gratitude.
At the beginning of season 1, you talked about how refreshing it was to see a plus-size character properly and prominently represented on TV. This nomination takes it to the next level. What does the phrase “Emmy-nominated” for that performance represent to you?
It means that people are wanting a change and they are recognizing the shift and just real stories about real people. That means so much to me because when I meet women or men on the street who are like, “I’ve never seen my body shape on TV,” you’re living a life that I can so relate to. I’m like, “Oh, that’s the whole point of why we do this.” So to be recognized on such a grand scale is like, “Whaaaaaaat?”
When you look back at season 1, what is the scene that you are most proud of?
I think it might be the break-up scene between Toby [Chris Sullivan] and Kate because it was a really challenging day. It was really challenging material. And there were a lot of distractions. I was like, “You know, I’m just going to keep my head down and keep working and it will all fall into place.” Because also, the writing was so well-done, in that as people, we’re so afraid to say, “This isn’t working for me. I love you, but it’s not working for me.” And so the material was really important. So that would be my favorite.
You said that today is your first day back to work. How will you squeeze in a celebration?
The celebration really is that I still have a job, right? And I get to go back such an incredible show with people I love, and that really is honestly the best way I would want to celebrate.
Can you give us a one-word tease for season 2?
“Rollercoaster” is good.
The 69th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Stephen Colbert, will take place on Sunday, Sept. 17, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and will be broadcast live nationwide on CBS.