Leslie Grossman On Which Real Housewife Inspired Her ‘American Horror Story’ Character


No, it’s not Bethenny

Leslie Grossman returns this season to Ryan Murphy's iconic American Horror Story franchise, entering as the elite Coco St. Pierre Vanderbilt. And so, what better time to talk to the fiercely funny, wickedly smart actress than now? Read our interview with Grossman, in which we talk about how Murphy is her guardian angel, why she loves Amy Schumer, and which Real Housewife of New York inspired her AHS character, below.

You've said before that you didn't think you fit into the mold of what it was to be an actress. Has that changed?
Absolutely! We have a long way to go, but I think we have absolutely come so far since I started in the game, in the mid-'90s. If I had Amy Schumer [to look up to] when I was in high school, I would've been like, "Oh, she's super-smart and funny, I can do this." Amy Schumer is gorgeous and lovely and adorable... but, Amy Schumer looks like a normal person. And, I look like a normal person. And that wasn't really reflected back at me when I was growing up on television. I mean, obviously, there are always exceptions to that rule. But, I do think that things are absolutely changing for women. The main difference is women having positions of power behind the camera. Being able to hire and direct and produce. And then we see more of ourselves reflected as opposed to idealized images. If Amy Schumer would've been a thing when I was 13, it would've changed my life. She's a genius.

Sixty percent of this season of American Horror Story was directed by women, including [AHS star] Sarah Paulson. How was it to be directed by her?
This season, it's a real love letter to the fans of the show. And, he [Ryan Murphy] knew Sarah was going to be incredible, and, of course, she was. She's talented in a way that is inborn and very rare. I had not one doubt, for one second, that she was going to be fantastic. And, of course, she's an incredible director. [She] had such an amazing eye and knows how to speak to actors, and has a very clear idea and vision of what she wants. She's also incredibly smart, and those things combined make for really good directing. I'm thrilled that she did it this year. It was really fun to watch that. 

What was the transition like for you to go from comedy-dominated roles to something so dramatic?
I mean, I've done little things here and there. I was on Scandal and Grey's Anatomy, where I had to sort of be more serious. But, this was definitely the most dramatic, serious stuff I had done. Obviously, you know, it still has humor, because Ryan [Murphy] always writes with a lot of dark humor. But I'd never done anything in the horror genre, and I was incredibly intimidated by it. I say this a million times, but it bears repeating: The genius of Ryan, and there are many, many aspects to it, one of them is that he sees things in people that they don't see in themselves. So you say, "I can't possibly do that," and he's like, "You're doing it, so you're going to figure out a way to do it, aren't you?" And then, you think to yourself, He really knows what he's doing, so I guess I should trust him. It's this incredible vote of confidence. 

It's gonna sound cheesy, but, I really am endlessly indebted to him... for many, many things. He gave me my very first role on a television show [on Popular]. I tested for a different part for Popular. I did not get it, but then he wrote the part of Mary Cherry for me. And, he really has been such an unbelievable gift to my career. There's no way I can ever repay him or thank him enough, and he continues to do that for me. Not just simply by giving me work, but giving me challenging, fun, meaty things for me to really sink my teeth into. He's like my guardian angel. As an actor, it's the hardest thing to try to get work. I don't know why he's been so good to me, but I just hope to make him proud and do the best that I can with the gift he's given me. As corny as that sounds, it's incredibly genuine on my part.

With shows like American Horror Story and Pose, he's really touched on things others haven't.
He discusses things and deals with things head-on. I loved Pose so much. It was the most special, unique, fantastic show. I always think about young kids that are struggling, and how important it is for young, transgender youth to see themselves reflected on television. To say, "Oh wait a minute, I can get through this, there's other people like me, I'm not alone, I'm worthy." I just think that's so important. And, it's too easy to be ironically detached and act like you don't care about anything, especially now. 

How important is the political aspect of AHS for you? 
I was raised in a family that if you didn't have an opinion to contribute at dinner about what was going on in the world, you just weren't part of the conversation. So, it's something that I was raised with, where I've always been a political junkie and a news junkie, and really cared a lot about what was going on in the world. I love that Cult tackled that head-on. I remember when it first started, people were like, "I'm sick of hearing about Trump and Hillary, I don't wanna hear more about it." And, [the show] really wasn't about them. It was really about fear, and how easy it is to use fear, to weaponize fear, to get people to do what you want. And, we're in such an insane crossroads in our country right now... [But] how can you not say something right now? How can anyone not see what we're seeing right now and not say something? I just can't be quiet about it. 

Twitter for me, for the most part, has been kind of nice to see that there are so many other people who feel the same way that I do, to know that we're not alone. That's why, you know, when people say, "Well, why do people go to marches, it doesn't change anything?" First of all, I disagree. Second of all, it's about the camaraderie that you feel. It's important to keep each other sane.

Okay, one more important topic: The Real Housewives of New York.
Oh! What is more important?

I know you're a fan. What are your opinions on all the women on the show?
These women are the gift that keeps on giving... I have to say: I'm Team Bethenny. I'm gonna be honest, I have to draw my line in the sand. I thought Dorinda's behavior was just beyond the pale. It really, really was—and I really love Dorinda! And I was sad to see how truly nasty she got. But, look, denial is not just a river in Egypt. 

I also thought what Carole did to Tinsley was so awful. She threw Tinsley under the bus... I was horrified. And, by the way, I like Tinsley. And, here's a little scoop I can give you: There are shades of Tinsley in my character this season, and there were moments where I thought of Tinsley when I was doing things. I think Tinsley is misunderstood; I think she is incredibly sweet and I felt terribly for her about what happened at that reunion.

Watch American Horror Story: Apocalypse on Wednesdays at 10PM on FX.

Screenshot via YouTube

And I need to see the rest ASAP

As excited as we already are for Olivia Wilde's directorial debut, Booksmart, to hit theaters next week, we just got even more desperate to see it. Why? Well, the first six minutes of the film were just released, and every minute is incredible.

The film opens on Molly (Beanie Feldstein) meditating and listening to a motivational tape telling her she's better than everyone else, and to "fuck those losers." Her room is decorated with pictures of Michelle Obama and RBG, so we know her head is in the right place. We learn she's the class president when she arrives at school with her best friend, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever).

It's there that we get a glimpse of the social hierarchy in which Molly and Amy exist—but somewhere down near the bottom, way below the popular kids, the theater nerds, the stoners, and even the annoying class clown.

The film officially hits theaters on May 23, but Annapurna Pictures is holding advanced screenings across the country today, May 17—we're actually holding two of them! So, if you're in L.A. or New York, check them out.

But also, you can watch the first six minutes of the film, below, and prepare yourself to watch the whole movie in a week.

BOOKSMART | Uncut First 6 Minutes

Photo by Rich Polk/ Getty

Her hypocrisy would be mind-blowing if it weren't so predictable

It's been just over two years since Tomi Lahren appeared on ABC's The View to assert that, despite her ultra-conservative bona fides, she holds one position more normally associated with the left wing: She's pro-choice. In that talk show appearance, Lahren made clear then that her pro-choice views were consonant with her self-identification as a "constitutionalist," further explaining:

I am someone that's for limited government. So I can't sit here and be a hypocrite and say I'm for limited government but I think the government should decide what women should do with their bodies." I can sit here and say that as a Republican, and I can say, "You know what? I'm for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well."

Back then, we noted the hypocrisy inherent to that position, since Lahren was an ardent supporter of President Trump—who made no secret of his desire to appoint anti-abortion judges to the Supreme Court and other judicial benches—and Vice-President Pence, whose anti-abortion views are even more ardent.

Since Lahren's appearance on The View, she has appeared in the anti-abortion film Roe v. WadeRoe v. Wade, which co-starred fellow execrable conservative troll, Milo Yiannopoulos, and, um, Joey Lawrence. Though the film has not yet been released, it is alleged to contain "several graphic scenes depicting aborted fetuses," and also the acting styles of Jamie Kennedy, so we're not sure for whom it will really be appropriate.

But while Lahren's role in that film would be enough to make anyone question just how committed she is to her alleged pro-choice stance, the recent news about de facto abortion bans in Alabama and Georgia has incited Lahren to speak out about her views once again.

On Twitter, Lahren opened herself up to "attack[s] by [her] fellow conservatives" and spoke out against the Alabama abortion ban as being "too restrictive." And, indeed, her "fellow conservatives" did quickly attack Lahren for not actually caring about human life, and for having too liberal a position on whether or not a woman should be forced to continue a pregnancy that resulted from rape. But then also, as Lahren must have known would happen, other people supported her for... not having one irredeemably monstrous position amongst her arsenal of irredeemably monstrous positions.

But, let's be clear: Tomi Lahren is not—no matter what she tweets—pro-choice, and neither is any supporter of the Republican Party. There is no doubt that there are Republicans who are in favor of safe access to abortion—particularly when it comes to themselves and their family members having said access. But by supporting the Republican Party, they are showing how little it actually matters to them, and showing what it is that they really prioritize over women's safety and freedom: namely, access to guns, bigoted immigration policies, the continued disenfranchisement of voters across the country. I could go on, but there's no need.

Lahren's tweet doesn't reveal in any way that she's an advocate for women's rights, all it reveals is her hypocrisy and that of anyone (Meghan McCain, hi), who would love to have a world created specifically for their needs, and who is willing to sacrifice the rights of the less privileged in order to secure their own. It is despicable and dangerous and incredibly predictable. But, at least, it might give Lahren something to talk about on the red carpet with her fellow anti-abortion movie costars, if that film ever gets more than a straight-to-video release.

If you want to find out how to help women have access to abortion, please visit here for information about donating and volunteering.

Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty also appear

Lil Nas X went all out with the visuals for his hit "Old Town Road," tapping all of his newfound collaborators and friends, like Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty, to star. The movie travels from 1889 Wild Wild West to the modern-day city outskirts, so saddle up and come along for the ride.

As the visuals start, Nas and Cyrus gallop away with a bag of loot, obviously having pulled off a heist. The trio of men on horseback that were in pursuit of them come to a halt, unable to catch up, and Chris Rock—the leader of the group—states, "When you see a Black man on a horse going that fast, you just gotta let him fly." Just as Nas and Cyrus think they're able to relax in stranger's home, it turns out the homeowner isn't so friendly. Nas jumps into a hole to escape, only to end up hundreds of years in the future on the other side.

Forget trying to figure out the logistics of time travel, and just embrace the hilarity of Nas' horse also having wound up there, and in peak racing condition. He impresses the locals not only in the race (with Vince Staples losing money in a bet against him) but with his sweet square dancing skills. Once he and Cyrus (yes, he time traveled too) trade out their old-timey duds for some fresh, rhinestone-adorned outfits, they enter a room playing bingo with Rico Nasty in it. Diplo is playing the washboard, I feel like I'm losing my mind, and this is probably the best music video I've watched this year.

Watch the movie for "Old Town Road" again and again, below.

Lil Nas X - Old Town Road (Official Movie) ft. Billy Ray Cyrus

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Screenshot via YouTube

They really "don't care" about how this was edited, do they?

Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber used the name of their song as inspiration for the "I Don't Care" music video, and have presented what is essentially a long blooper reel of the pair messing around with a green screen.

The visuals show how dedicated the two are to proving just how much they don't care, because I'm pretty sure they did the editing on this video as well. They dance around in costumes, as an ice cream cone, a panda, a teddy bear, and more. I have a clear vision of Bieber and Sheeran raiding a costume shop just an hour before setting up a tripod and going to town on this one. They also juxtapose their faces on top of a ballerina, a skydiver, and a corn inside the husk.

Blink, and you'll miss the funniest moment of all in the video: Ed Sheeran gets married to a cardboard cutout of a young Bieber with swoopy hair.

Watch the visuals for "I Don't Care" below.

Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber - I Don't Care [Official Video]

Photo by Jena Cumbo

Her new LP, 'Take Me to the Disco,' is her most personal work yet

Meg Myers isn't afraid to admit she's still figuring out who she wants to be. Originally from Tennessee, Myers moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19 to dedicate her life to her music career. In 2012, she released her first EP, Daughter in the Choir, which set the groundwork for the releases of Sorry (2015) and Take Me to the Disco (2018). Well-known for her poetic lyrics, crude vocals, and cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill," the honest singer-songwriter makes a point to tell me that self-acceptance is a process. After listening to her deeply personal LP, Take Me to the Disco, I know she's not wrong.

In the middle of producing her new forthcoming music, the star opens up to NYLON: "I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art. Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free." It's clear that it is this fearlessness to self-reflect that not only makes her body of work so authentic but also what motivates her to continue to grow.

Below, we speak with Myers about her new music, self-love, and her ever-evolving relationship with creativity.

The Great Eros Pants, Chae New York top, Schutz shoes, and Via Saviene rings. Photos by Jena Cumbo

How did moving to Los Angeles influence the artist you are today?
I feel more safe here. I've been tapping more into my truth and expressing myself on a deeper level here. Growing up, my family was very chaotic, and I never knew what was about to happen. I have four brothers and a sister, and we grew up basically as best friends, making fun out of the chaos and always creating some type of art from it. I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art.

Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free.

What are some of your biggest influences?
I think all the barbecue and shrimp and grits [in Tennessee] really adds a smokiness to my music.

My queerness gives me a lot of material to create with. It's allowing me to be more playful and not take every little thing so seriously.

Silk Laundry jumpsuit, Wild Vertigga T-shirt, and Nakamol earring.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Tell me about your new music. Why is it different than anything you've ever created?
This EP is going to have a lot of similar vibes to my last album, because I wrote it at the same time with the same producer about a lot of the same struggles and self-discoveries as my past music. I'll share more with you on my third album.

I'm such a fan of your cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill." Why did you gravitate toward that song to cover?
It's such a powerful song! Kate Bush is magic. It's almost like I've been being guided to cover that song for a long time. I don't know how to explain it in words, as they can feel so limiting, and this song is beyond words to me. It's just a deep inner knowing, and it makes my heart flutter.

Chae NewYork blazer; Saku top, The Great Eros bottoms, and Inch2 boots.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Are there any other songs you feel really connected to?
I would love to collaborate with Active Child. The songs "Hanging On" and "Johnny Belinda" are also otherworldly to me. I've been listening to this band called Walk the Moon a lot. I also love Phoebe Bridgers. I have a crush on her. I generally listen to instrumental music and classical. If you look up 432hz music, it's incredibly healing, and solfeggio frequencies have helped me with a lot.

What does self-love mean to you?
It's been a process for me. It's been quite the journey. Right now, I would say [self-love for me] is about accepting myself, and having love for all the experiences that have led me to where I am. It also means being grateful for growth. It's also been about learning to be in the present moment. It's been learning to trust myself and not listening to what others think I need to be doing. As I learn to do this, I also learn how to love others deeper. All this being said, it's a process.

Chae New York blazer and Saku top.Photo by Jena Cumbo

What advice do you have for someone struggling to find happiness right now?
Spend some time in solitude if you can, or with a really safe person who you feel you can express yourself freely with. Find someone who has no expectations of you and is supportive. In that present moment, ask yourself, What feels good to you? What do you feel like doing? Use your imagination. Daydream. Find what it is you enjoy doing. I promise you can unlock magic inside yourself. It just takes patience.

*This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.