Q&A with Homecoming Grand Marshal Ana Gasteyer

Tyler Pager, Breaking News Editor

Ahead of Homecoming Grand Marshal Ana Gasteyer’s return to Northwestern, she spoke with The Daily about some of her most memorable times in Evanston. Gasteyer (Communication ’89) is well-known for her roles in “Mean Girls” and on “Saturday Night Live,” as well as for her recent jazz album titled “I’m Hip.”

The Daily: What are you most excited about for Homecoming?

Ana Gasteyer: I don’t even really remember Homecoming from my days of yore. I was a Willard girl and I think I went to a grand total of two football games the entire time I was there. So I’m strangely excited to recreate this situation that never existed for myself and I’m going to bring my kids to the game, and I’m very excited to see a bunch of old friends that I’m going to be reuniting while I’m there.

The Daily: What is your favorite Northwestern memory?

Gasteyer: Definitely Mee-Ow show. Without a question. It was a completely formative experience. Honestly, it changed the trajectory of my entire career and life. I feel like it was just such good fortune to go to school in Chicago in a place that was so close to the birthplace of improvisation and improvisational comedy, in particular. It just was the first time I felt like I had found the thing I inherently loved doing and connected to some really talented and amazing performers and colleagues that I’m still friends with. People that have totally impressed me.

The Daily: The movie “Mean Girls” has a lot of Northwestern and Evanston connections. What was it like to act in a movie that is set in your college town? Were you able to offer any advice because of your knowledge of Evanston?

Gasteyer: Not really, to be honest to you. I always sort of forget that it was set at Northwestern. I think there’s a groundedness to the story and that probably felt more resonant because it was set in Chicago. Tina Fey was a Second City performer and had a real connection to the Chicago area as well so maybe it felt familiar in an academic way, but that’s really about it.

The Daily: What was it like to play a Northwestern professor in the film?

Gasteyer: It felt very straightforward and very identifiable. It’s hard to describe, but when you’re playing something that you know that well, it doesn’t require a whole lot of effort. You kind of fall into a type or a familiar pattern of people you know.

The Daily: What was it like to work with Lindsay Lohan? Are you still in touch with her?

Gasteyer: No, I’m not still in touch with her. The movie has had such a long trajectory in terms of its popularity, but we shot it very quickly and we shot it 12 years ago. So it’s funny people always ask me about it and I’m like “it was fun and I did it a long time ago.” I’m glad it’s still resonant to people.

The Daily: What is one piece of advice you would share with current Northwestern students?

Gasteyer: I really wanted to go to a conservatory, and I actually started as a voice major and the reason that I did that was my parents very firmly believed that I had to get an undergraduate degree, which always had that underlying “in case you don’t make it” message, which is a little bit negative, but I do have to say for completely different reasons not because I had a back up career because I went to Northwestern, but because I had such a well-rounded education and because my writing was so well-refined there and because I was exposed to so many awesome, incredibly motivated, interesting, diverse students. I feel like it really impacted the kind of performer I became and I have an incredibly sort of what they call multi-hyphenate career. I mean I have my first album out last week and I have a comedy career and I’ve done a lot on broadway. So it spans really broadly and I think that’s a direct reflection of having gone to Northwestern and not gone to a very specific, highly specialized conservatory program like I thought I wanted. I think I got a really broad range of experiences by going there – in every way.

The Daily: What is your favorite Evanston hangout?

Gasteyer: You know it’s so funny. I don’t think anyone goes there anymore. We lived at – we called it Sherm’s – it was a diner, but I don’t even know if it’s on the corner there anymore across from Willard basically. I think it’s called Sherman’s Restaurant. It might be gone. When I get back, I’ll walk around and check everything out. I’m amazed that Steven Papageorge is still there because that’s where I’m going to get my hair done, but we would go to Sherm’s Restaurant. We lived there. We ate like a thousand omelettes and a thousand bowls of Greek soup. It was an old school Greek diner. It was fantastic.

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