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Vella Lovell: 5 Things You Should Know About The ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' Star

Hands up if you thought the actress who plays Heather was Indian.

 

You’d probably recognise the New Mexico-native on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend where she plays Heather, Rachel Bloom’s wisecracking neighbour and perpetual community college student. (She finally graduates in Season 3!) “I would love to be a little more like Heather in my everyday life,” says Lovell in an e-mail. “She’s acerbic, blunt, and says exactly what she thinks without filtering herself.” Before Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Lovell appeared in sketches on comedy website CollegeHumor and in plays (“my heart is always in theatre”). “I’m a little more bubbly and people-pleasing than her and I think I could use some Heather in my life.”

Girl Power: Vella with (from left) Donna Lynne Champlin, Rachel Bloom, Gabrielle Ruiz  in the 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' ​​​​​​​ep, 'Who Needs Josh When You Have a Girl Group?'

 

1. She thinks Rachel Bloom is a creative tsunami.

“I truly don’t know how she does what she does,” says Lovell of her multihyphenate co-star. “She is either acting, writing scripts and songs, in editing, doing press, or some combination of all those things. I’m tired after a long day [at work], but when I look at Rachel, I [need to] buck up. If she can do it, and with a huge smile on her face nonethelss, the rest of us have no excuse,” adds the Juilliard-trained actress who also looks up to Viola Davis and Mindy Kaling. “[They are] women who forge their own path.”

 

Retro-active: Lovell with her Crazy Ex-Girlfriend mates (from left) Donna Lynne Champlin, Rachel Bloom and Gabrielle Ruiz in the Season 3 musical number ‘Let’s Generalise About Men’.  It was a tough shoot, recalls Lovell. “I was super-sick that day from either a bad migraine or a 24-hour bug. And because it was an ‘80s-themed number, there was so much bouncing! During all the breaks, I’d have to just sit down, take a breath, and drink water and, when it was time to shoot, I would jump up and start bouncing again. Look back on it, it was a pretty ridiculous”


2. The show’s musical numbers are tough. 

Good thing Lovell is a classically-trained pianist. “[Those lessons] really come in handy; I probably don’t even realise how much I’m relying on that muscle that was formed [when I was four],” says the devout Cats fan.“[The musical numbers] are all challenging in different ways.” Singing-wise, she gets nervous if she had to do a power ballad. “Donna Lynne Champlin [who plays Paula], Gabrielle Ruzi [who plays Valencia] or Rachel would slay that. I’d probably be more comfortable with a more up-tempo song or rap.”

 


3. Her first musical number for the show was... 

 ‘California Christmastime’ number from Season 1 ep 8, ‘My Mom, Greg’s Mom and Josh’s Sweet Dance Moves!’ “I was so nervous to sing in the recording booth, but our awesome music producers Adam Schlesinger and Steven Gold  made me feel so at home and comfortable that I immediately felt at ease and welcome, even though I’m not a Broadway singer. Similarly, Kathryn Burns, our incredible Emmy-winning choreographer, made shooting the dances so much fun. So even if you start the day nervous, by the end you’re laughing and sweaty, and proud of yourself.”  



 

4. Her favourite Crazy Ex-Girlfriend song is... 

‘The Math of Love Triangles’ from Season 2’s  ‘All Signs Point to Josh... Or Is It Josh’s Friend? “I think it’s brilliant across the board: the lyrics, the music, the choreography, the concert, and the performance,” says Lovell. While she rules out writing a song for the show, she doesn’t mind penning one for one of the characters. “If I could write a song for anyone, I would love to write for Donna Lynne on one of the many instruments she plays, because she can truly do no wrong.”


 


5. She’s ethnically ambiguous.

Lovell, who’s of African and European descent, is often mistaken for Middle Eastern and Indian (“several times a week, in fact!”) and is frequently cast as characters of different ethnicities, including a Pakistani woman in the rom-com The Big Sick starring Kumail Nanjiani. “I auditioned several times for the movie and feel very lucky to have been a part of it. As someone who is mixed, I feel lucky that I can represent all kinds of characters, all different types of women of colour. It’s a responsibility and an honour that I don’t take lightly, and especially with this film, it feels incredible to be a small part of something so personal and heartfelt.”

 



Main photo: Ryan West Photography


Crazy Ex-Girlfriend airs Sat, FoxLife (Singtel TV Ch 301 & StarHub Ch 501), 9pm. You can also catch the first two seasons on Netflix.

 


 


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