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Amber Nash talks the power of Pam cosplayers and the return of Archer
While most of us are currently sequestered in our homes right now, the arrival of a favorite television show is a welcome change of pace to our schedules. Truly — Archer, which returns for its 11th season (!) tonight on FX/FXX, is the dash of clever, witty, and forever raunchy humor we've all been in need of, and among its verifiable wealth of stars and voiceover talents, Amber Nash is the actor and improviser who has arguably been a series cornerstone throughout the length of its run.
Pam Poovey may have been introduced as the frank, unapologetically bisexual HR Director of ISIS — but over the course of Archer, Nash has had the opportunity to voice Pam in the incarnation of a male detective, a tall and muscular co-pilot, and an alien rock monster, among many other transformations that were eventually revealed to be a product of Sterling Archer's comatose dreamscape. At the start of Season 11, the titular protagonist finally wakes up to learn that the world has largely moved on without him. Ahead of the premiere, SYFY FANGRRLS had the chance to speak to Nash via phone about living and working in Atlanta (where she records voiceovers for Archer), what fans can expect in the new season, and what she — and Pam — are currently FANGRRLing over.
On a personal note, I was super pumped when I realized that you are also from Atlanta, because that's where I live.
Unless you live here, people don't get how awesome Atlanta is, so it's like a nice little secret.
What is that like, getting to stay close to your home roots while also still working on this show that has been on now for so many years?
It's so cool, because I think when I decided to quit my "real job" and become an actor full-time, I was fully prepared that I would have to move to L.A. or New York. But I kept working, I just kept getting work, and my thing was "As long as I can make a living doing this, I'm not going to change the doing." And so I was doing theater in Atlanta and I was getting work. And I was doing comedy and I was able to make a living. Then the industry blew up in Atlanta, but even before that, Adult Swim and Turner are all here. And so that's where I got started doing voice work, at Adult Swim with the same guys that make Archer, and then getting to keep working here. And to still be able to do shows at my home theater, Dad's Garage in Atlanta.
The other thing that I think is great is that Atlanta is a city where, if you're an artist of any type, you can make stuff happen. You have the ability to put together a group of people and make something happen, whereas in a lot of cities, I feel like it's so much harder to get that done. And I think that because we don't have anybody telling us what to do. Hollywood isn't looming over us, Broadway isn't looming over us. We are just totally free. I feel like there's this real sense of freedom for artists in the city.
What I love about Pam as a character is that she's so unapologetically bold. Do you find there's a catharsis in that for you, getting to say the things that she says, maybe things that you wouldn't in your everyday life?
Yes. I totally would not say it in my actual life [laughs]. There are some ways that I am like Pam and that I feel like maybe I have informed the character. But for the most part, I'm like, "Wow, I wish that I could actually be this unapologetic, this not giving a sh*t about what people think about me. This powerful and badass." She can just do so many things and has so much knowledge about whatever. Like you need a tractor to get fixed? Great, Pam can do it. She can just do anything, and I think that it's so cool. Because everybody discounts what she's capable of and everybody's always surprised by what she's able to do. But at the same time, she's like, "You want this body." On top of the fact that she can do anything she wants. That's just great.
That's another thing too, at least in terms of the fan reaction to her and how confident she is as a woman who's plus-sized, and how empowering that is. What's your reaction when you see people like dressing up as your character? Is that something that it never really loses its impact for you, even after all this time?
It's so special, and I'll tell you a funny story. We were at Comic-Con, don't know, probably four or five years ago. And everybody's lined up to ask a question, and halfway through the line, there's a Pam cosplayer. And she gets to the microphone and she's like, "Hey, I just need to tell you, I'm so excited that I get to cosplay this character, because before I would have to be a fat Leia or a fat Cinderella. And I just get to be regular Pam, and she's such a badass. And she's a sex symbol in her own way." And she was in tears, she was so excited that this character existed.
And that is one of the things that's so powerful about the character, and I don't think that that was intended. She just blossomed into this amazing sex symbol, and the fans are really a big part of that. They totally sank their teeth into that and made it a thing. And then when Pam was in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition! It was like, what? That's an amazing thing. That was the year that Ashley Graham was on the cover, and it was so amazing that that happened.
I think we're seeing more of that, more fat characters who are getting to exist and just be capable. It is a part of their character, but it's not a punchline.
It's not all that they're about. Totally, and I think that in the beginning, it was that with Pam. It was a punchline that she was the fat character, and then it became so clear that she was capable of so much more that now, it's not even mentioned. It's really cool to see over 11 years how the world's changed and how this character's changed with it.
Are there any storylines that the show hasn't tackled yet for Pam that you would love to do?
I always tell people that I really loved the "Edie's Wedding" episode, where we go back to Poovey Farms for Pam's sister's wedding. And we don't really get to see a lot of the characters' backstories, so when we get to see [that], it's super fun. I always joked with Adam Reed, the creator, that we should do a spinoff where we just are at Poovey Farms all the time, but I get to provide all the voices of all the characters. And he's like, "Yeah, Amber, great idea."
I know you probably can't tease too much about Season 11, but is there anything you can share?
One of the things I'm really excited about, which I think everybody's excited about, is that we're going back to the real world. Because we've seen all of these characters in Archer's coma dreams and what they've been doing, but that's not what's actually been happening with them over the last three years. So it's cool to go back and be like, "OK, so what has everybody been doing outside of Archer's brain?" And the real comedy in the season is that Archer is such a jackass that he just thinks that when he wakes up, the world's just going to start where it ended for him.
And everybody's moved on, and he's not great with humility. So him having to deal with everybody not needing him anymore really makes for a lot of comedy. But a great thing is, Pam's the heart of the show. She actually is genuinely excited to see Archer again.
What are you currently FANGRRLing over, and what do you think Pam is currently FANGRRLing over?
The thing that Amber is currently FANGRRLing over is Doom Patrol. I just found it, I didn't know about it, I hadn't watched the first season. And it's actually shot in Atlanta, so I have some friends that are on it. And I just am loving it so much, so I totally binged that and I'm sad that there's no more episodes for me to watch.
What I think Pam is FANGRRLing over right now is Cobra Kai, which I've also been watching and think again, I hadn't clocked it [before]. And it's just such a hilarious show, and the main character is such an Archer type. I just feel like it's a show that Pam would really, really be into.
This interview has been edited and condensed.