We first discovered Miriam Shor when we binge watched several seasons of TV Land’s ‘Younger’. Haven’t heard of it? You just found your new favorite show. Created by Darren Star of Sex and the City fame, the show follows 40-something divorcee Liza Miller as she re-enters the workforce. But there’s a catch. In order to get the job, she lies about her age. Miriam Shor plays Liza’s boss, the scene-stealing, smart, and unstoppable Diana Trout. We talked to Miriam Shor about everything from her first time directing an episode this season to what she can’t stop reading.
Did you always know you wanted to be an actress? How did you decide to go for it?
I’m going to say luck. I was so extraordinarily lucky. I don’t want to take away from my talent but there are so many great actors who aren’t doing this.
You play Diana Trout, a mercurial woman who runs marketing at a high-end publishing house. How do you think she relates to the cultural conversation about women, work, and being “too emotional”?
I think she is a very hard worker and very good at what she does, and came into her workplace at a time when there wasn’t the same conversation happening now. She had to operate in a set of rules that were dictated by the men in her industry and society. She benefited from the first wave of feminism and really thought those were the rules. But there’s a new set of rules now. She’s at an interesting time of her life. She’s a little bit older, and the experience and wisdom that comes with age isn’t given much value. She’s fighting against that. She was fighting against misogyny and now she’s battling ageism, so she can’t win! Diana doesn’t back down from a fight. She really illustrates what a lot of women are facing right now. She keeps her cards close to her chest. She’s never one to show her emotions and she never holds back what she thinks.
The plot of Younger (at least when it started) revolved around Sutton Foster lying about her age to get a job. This is such a conversation we have about ‘let’s own it’. Have you ever lied about your age?
No! I haven’t. I have seen a job slip away when I say my actual age. That’s definitely happened. I was right for the job, and then I told my age and I wasn’t right. I play pretend for a job, so as long as I can portray that it shouldn’t matter. I was recently asked to play the love interest of a man in his 70s. I asked if it was part of the story and they said no. So I passed, because I’m not interested in telling that story.
You made your directorial debut on season five of Younger. Congratulations! Why did you decide to go behind-the-camera?
Playing someone who was so unapologetic about asking for what she wants and sure of herself, that kind of seeped in that I can be powerful and a boss. There’s this cultural conversation happening right now about a woman asking for a place at the table, asking for certain experiences. That all converged. I had a lot of friends who are actors that move into writing or directing, and there are more of them who are men. What is that saying and what did that say about me? It all pushed me to ask to get behind the camera. It’s interesting that it took pushing to just ask. The worst they can say is no, and I’ve been told no so many times in my life. It’s not out of the realm of the ordinary to have an actor who’s been on a show for a long time direct. Looking around, I had to ask myself why. I’m very grateful that I was able to and that Darren Star said yes so quickly.
Culturally, aging is viewed as this sad thing. In reality, I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t feel bad or sad. I feel better than ever. What’s the key to changing the conversation about aging?
Who gets to tell the story? Who’s perspective are we seeing it from? If it’s told from the perspective of someone who doesn’t value women or older women, then we’re never going to see the value of it. We need people to tell stories with different perspectives, which we’re starting to see now. Certainly on television, there’s more platforms. When you’re a woman or you’re a mother or you’re older, there’s a sense that we should just go away. We’ve been told no one is interested, but that’s just not true.
What’s the best thing you’ve read lately?
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. Those books are incredible. Always reading a couple of different books. My whole family spends a lot of time in the bookstore.
The Overstory by Richard Spencer. Normal People by Sally Rooney. St. Mark’s Dead, nonfiction.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Lily Tomlin would have to play me.
What’s the last thing you bought online?
I’m going to be in the Pride parade for world pride, so I bought rainbow stuff. I think we need to be a little more conscious about the Amazon thing, I want to be more supportive of the small stores in my neighborhood.
What would you put on your menopause registry?
If you could have one superpower what would it be?
To fly. There’s something about it. The extreme of it.
If you had a warning label what would it say?
Warning: will express her opinion. I’m still kind about it, though. That’s the difference between me and Diana. That’s the fun of acting.