Chubstr Crush features profiles of and conversations with women who inspire us. Most people know Chrissy Metz from her role as “Ima Wiggles” on American Horror Story: Freak Show, but she’s really a slashie – an actress/singer/comedian. With new singles out from her band Chrissy and the Vapors, we got the chance to get the story behind the Freak Show-stopper.
Let’s talk about your band Chrissy and the Vapors. How did the band first come about, and what has been the best part of making music?
I was working with a fellow artist singing hooks and bridges here and there when he nudged me to start seriously pursuing my own music. As I started to write and find studio musicians for particular tracks, a vibe organically fell into place to start a collective known as the Vapors. The best part of making music is that tapped-in feeling and the serendipitous mistakes [that can happen].
Your song “Ladies Love Cool J” is a reinterpretation of LL Cool J’s “Round the Way Girl” and “I Need Love.” Why a tribute of sorts to Mr. “Doin’ It Well” himself?
To this day I love me some LL! I have two older siblings who were into hip hop and those two songs happened to always be my favorites of his. I wanted to pay a little homage, while reliving a bit of my childhood and musical influences. What can I say? I like the softer side of hard edges.
Where “Cool J” is more playful, the video for “Trouble With the Winners” has a sultry film noir feel. What is the story behind this song?
This was a personal narrative about our society as a whole. The stories we are made to believe – that if we look this way, drive this car, live in that zip code, we will ultimately be happy. We constantly compare and compete with one another—and for what? We all want the same thing. We all just want to be respected and admired. That all boils down to love. We end up sacrificing who we truly are, just to get back to the place that we originated from, which is love.
We always hear stories about actresses trying to lose weight, but the roles that you’ve played on shows like AHS and My Name Is Earl have revolved around being plus size. What are the pluses to being a curvier woman in Hollywood?
Maybe a smaller talent pool is the advantage. I think it’s challenging for anyone in this business, in front of or behind the camera. For the record, I’ve lost weight, have been told I was too heavy for roles, and too pretty to play the big girl.
I would like to think talent “weighs” out, but plus size actresses are still typically the butt of the joke in the story line. What was especially wonderful in Freakshow was that not only was “Ima” accepted into the freak family, but she accepted herself, first. It was also really refreshing to see a big girl who was attractive, and dare I say, sought after. Hair/Makeup and Costumes really made me feel pretty, no matter what size I was. Can I get an Amen?
You know we have to ask you about the fat suit you wore for American Horror Story. What was your first reaction when the show told you they needed you bigger for the role?
I knew casting was asked to find a larger woman as they wanted the role as authentic as possible, so there was this thought of potential prosthetics and special FX, but I had no idea what I was getting into! It was wildly wonderful and challenging. I am all about diving into the role completely.
You’ve said that wearing the fat suit helped you prepare for the role of “Ima Wiggles.” Were there any things about her character, whose real name was Barbara, that you felt you related to on a personal level?
Absolutely. I think Barbara and I were misunderstood growing up. The idea that she and I were/are more than just a number on a scale. We both faced/face constant discrimination. We both yearned for that honest, sincere human connection.
Being in the public eye means that not everyone is always going to be supportive or nice. How do you deal with critics and bullies?
It can be tricky and I do wear my heart on my sleeve. I have to remind myself that what people think of me is not my business. Their perception is their reality. I also believe that if you truly loved and respected yourself, there is no way you’d want to be hurtful toward another being.
Also, art is so damn subjective. I need to remain objective and focus on growth and hone my craft.
Obviously, there’s a life for you outside of the stage and screen. How would you describe your own personal style?
I think it would be flirty and fun. I am into dresses with chucks. I love simple, quality pieces you can dress up or down. Oh, and does an obsession with makeup count? I think I own over 45 different shades of lipstick.
We stumbled across this awesome video of you singing a live mashup of Usher’s “Oh My God” with Adele’s “Hometown Glory.” What’s your go-to song to belt out at karaoke?
That was the brainchild of the gent I was singing with and coincidentally my karaoke bud, J Omer. We do love a good duet, but I would have to say this little pick-me-up by the incredible Whitney Houston, “Where Do Broken Hearts Go,” or “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill would be the knee-jerk reaction songs.
What’s next for you? Is there an LP from Chrissy and the Vapors in our future?
Yes, we are finishing the EP, playing gigs and in between it all I am creating a one woman show!
Don’t forget to check out American Horror Story: Freakshow on NETFLIX.