Actress, ABC’s The Middle
“Some very rich, powerful people pay me to wear braces, act like a loon and fake-run into glass sliding doors.”
Actress Eden Sher was still deciding where she was going to go to college after she got waitlisted at her dream school when she found out the pilot she shot got picked up. Four seasons later, you now know her as the hyperactive, adorable brace-faced Sue Heck on ABC’s The Middle. (There she is enjoying a not-so-active moment on set above.) Eden went on four nerve-wracking callbacks and braved two grueling screen tests for the role, which is basically like six interviews for one job. Woof!
What does Eden think got her the job over her (much younger) competition? Her idea to wear fake braces to the audition, which she thought were perfect for the character—a helpful tip for your next job interview! (Okay, maybe not braces, but perhaps spring for that awesome pencil skirt.)
Let’s talk about college. In high school, it was my dream to go to Barnard (in addition to my life long dream to be a Celebrated Hollywood Actress, obviously). So when I found out I got waitlisted at the school, naturally I spent the following week crying about the horrific injustice of the world. UNTIL—my manager called me to tell me the pilot I had filmed in February had gotten picked up for 13 episodes! At which point, my sad tears turned to happy ones—I’m the cheesiest, sorry I’m not sorry—and I have been working ever since!
What was your first job? Technically my first job was a Sprint commercial I did when I was 10. (Remember those ones with the man in the trench coat who went around helping people who had ridiculous things happen to them due to bad reception?) I got to miss school AND spend a week in Palm Springs. I made sand angels and had “craft food services” for the first time. It was one of the best weeks of my life.
But I got my first non-acting job when I was 17. I worked as a nanny for some rich people in Santa Monica. I worked for them for about four months, and while they were all very sweet people, I was not at all equipped for the job and I hated almost every second of it.
What about your worst job? Definitely the nanny job. I was finishing my last semester in high school through independent study, so I was free to take a job that worked pretty much any hour of the day. I had babysat lots and tutored a bit in the past, but I realized almost immediately that I possessed exactly zero qualities needed for nanny-hood.
My days started with waking up at 5:45 a.m. five days a week, driving 23.7 miles to their house and preparing food for the kids’ lunchboxes. Then I would go upstairs, wake the kids up (ages 8 and 4), get them dressed and ready for school. (WORD TO THE WISE: DON’T GIVE 4-YEAR-OLDS CLOTHING OPTIONS.) I’d feed them breakfast, drive them to school, come back to the house, do their laundy/any other task they needed me to do in that vein, pick the kids up, feed them an after-school snack, help with homework, make sure they practiced piano, take them to piano depending on the day, and then drive home juuuuust in time for rush hour traffic! That job was the best birth control I ever took.
What’s your dream job? Probably to be a permanent co-host on The View SLASH writer, producer, occasional director and cameo maker for a show I created and film in NY— I’d get to be young & wild & free in The Big Apple. I’d get to yell about all my opinions about pop culture and current events and talk about myself ON NATIONAL TELEVISION and meet cool people every day for an hour. Then, I’m done by noon, and I’d jet over to the studio in Queens and tell all the amazing people I employ what to do.
A job you would never want? Personal publicist. God bless mine. I don’t know how she does it. Actors are crazy people.
So, how did you get this job? I went on an audition for a pilot in November of 2008. I was then told I received a “callback” for this audition. I show up to this “callback” only to be greeted with more girls than were at the initial audition—a callback typically implies a narrowing down of the contenders. I read again. I am told that I have another callback! This time I’m wary, but my manager assures me that they like me and that’s why they keep calling me back. I go again—more new faces. I was not only confused, I was pissed. Did they have any memory of seeing me TWICE already? Alas, I read the same sides in the same way I had before, I get no notes once again. I get a FOURTH callback, and by that point, the whole thing was hilarious to me so I was kind of excited to go and see all the new competition. Turned out, this one was an actual callback—there were only seven or eight girls waiting. I feel vindicated. I go in, STILL NO NOTES. Disheartened and confused, my manager tells me I am going in for a screen test. I figure I’m being Punk’d.
SCREEN TEST 1: Two other girls are testing. They are 10 and 11-years-old—I was 17. The only note I get is to “simplify” and to turn my t-shirt around because the front makes me look too old. I would have figured that was the end of the road, but I had wised up by then.
SCREEN TEST 2: Only one of the child competitors returns. I wear my backwards t-shirt and do my best. I read once and received zero notes. Now I want this job SO badly, solely so I’d have this story to tell with a redeeming happy ending. Also, they fucking owed it to me. It was the least they could do.
I go home, am completely paralyzed, in agony staring at my phone for LITERALLY A MILLION HOURS (about 45 minutes) until my manager calls me and takes LITERALLY TWO MILLION HOURS (probably a minute) to tell me the news is good. It was the weirdest, most confusing, most roller-coastery audition process I’ve ever had. But in the end, I got my story, so whatever!
I should add: I went in to every one of these readings with my own set of fake braces. To this day, I believe the only reason I booked this job was because of them.
Follow Eden on Twitter, and check out her fun word nerd side project, The Emotionary.