Chelsea Frei moved to Los Angeles six months ago to begin production on a YouTube Premium show called Side Swiped, her first big project. Frei, who has interned for Late Night with Seth Meyers and SNL, talks about co-starring with Rosanna Arquette, life at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and creating her dream movie.
Tell us a bit about Sideswiped. What was it like working with Rosanna Arquette and Carly Craig?
CHELSEA FREI: Sideswiped is an original comedy series that is premiering on YouTube Premium. It’s about dating in a digital society and romantic and familial relationships. In the show, Olivia, who plays my sister, is really frustrated with her single life on her 35th birthday and so I convince her to get Tinder and we end up getting her a bunch of matches. My character is Mary. She’s been married for seven years and she has a baby and is experiencing that seven-year-itch and living a little bit vicariously through her sister. Our mom, played by Rosanna is widowed and she is also online dating. There are so many awkward moments and first dates. I feel like it’s very relatable. Working with Carly and Rosanna was the most amazing experience ever. I feel like they’re both so accomplished and so talented. I feel like I was so lucky and learned so much from them both. Carly is also a writer, creator and executive producer. When she walks on set she knows exactly what she wants. It was a trait I hope I gain from watching her do that. Rosanna is just so amazing. Working with her I was a little nervous at first but she was so sweet and taught me so much and was such a joy to have on set. I couldn’t have asked for two better people to share the experience of one of my first big projects with.
You create a lot of your own roles and stories. Why do you think that is so beneficial in today’s entertainment world?
CF: When I graduated college, it was a necessity for me to be making my own work because I wasn’t getting any work. I was in New York City and started writing stories about side jobs I was working and things that I experienced on a daily basis that either frustrated me within our culture and industry and political things, basically things that bothered me I wanted to write about. It started as something to build up my own work and reel then it later became my passion. I think I learned so much about myself as a writer and an actor by doing that. I started to form opinions on everything. I became a smarter actor and well aware of strength and weaknesses. To be able to make something where you are the voice of it and have an opinion that’s your own is insanely helpful in growing as an artist.
Having graduated from the Tisch School, what would you want to tell young creatives about why education is so important?
CF: I think education is really what you make it. Tisch was so amazing because they have so many outlets to other programs. In school I got to intern at Late Night with Seth Meyers and SNL. It was crazy to be there and learn about the production side. Being able to be there and see how the late-night comedy world works was so helpful and I feel like I learned so much from it. I’m also such a Shakespeare nerd. That’s where I got my start, I was in the classical program. Junior year I got to go to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London and study Shakespeare there for a semester. It was a dream. I think not only the education itself was important but the people I met are people I still work with all the time. It’s cool to see other people succeeding from school too. I found a great community for me.
How have you managed to stay true to yourself in Hollywood?
CF: I just moved here for the show in December. I am very new to LA. A couple friends of mine have recently moved here from New York. They were my foundation there and having them out here have been so helpful with the process of meeting new people and making new friends. I love LA. I don’t think it’s insanely different than what the industry is like in New York.
If you could create your dream movie or TV series, who would star in it and what would it be about?
CF: I’m a Boston girl at heart [Frei grew up there] and always dreamed of making something there. I just saw a short film that takes place in Boston but we made it in LA and we tried to make it very unconvincingly. I’d love to shoot something in Boston that brings me back there for a while. In terms of actors, I feel like some of my favorite comedians also hail from Boston. Being able to make a comedy in Boston with Amy Poehler would be an absolute dream.
Being on a YouTube Premium series, do you think this is the future of television?
CF: Absolutely. I think it’s really cool to see how YouTube Premium has blown up in the last few months, with Cobra Kai being so successful. I personally watch most of my shows online. I don’t even have cable, nobody has it anymore. I’m always on Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube Premium. There’s just so many places you can go now.
What’s next for you?
CF: I just shot a short film called Listless based on a true story of a realtor in Boston. It’s in post-production right now and I’m really excited about it. Besides that, I am still creating sketches and getting my footing in LA. I’m so excited for the show to come out in July. They’re launching all the episodes at once so you can binge watch it.