Bright Young Things: Kerry Bishé

Photography by Javier Ortega
Words by Marcel Dagenais

“I would really describe myself as kind of a nerd. I get too excited by things to be cool.”

The first time I met actress Kerry Bishé was at a rooftop party in South Williamsburg. I was kinda blown away by her from the second I met her. She has this presence that I think anyone who she meets will find captivating. When she talks to you, you really feel like she’s listening. A trait I find rare in this big city.

Bishé sat down with Working Class to give some insight into who she is and why she’d rather be a river otter.

WC: When did you first move to New York?

KB: A few years ago. The day after I graduated college my mom and I packed up the car and drove here from Chicago. I’ve lived in various places around Williamsburg ever since.

WC: You recently moved back to Brooklyn from L.A. after filming season nine of Scrubs. How was that whole experience?

KB: I made some good friends and I learned a lot working on the show. Every day was like a master class in comedy style. I also got to spend time with the crew learning what they do behind the camera, which is fascinating in itself and helped me be a better actor for sure.

WC: How often are you back on the West Coast?

KB: I’m back and forth a lot these days. I’m an East Coaster by nature and I really tried to resist the bicoastal lifestyle, but there’s no kidding myself anymore. I’ve got a lovely relationship with the record store dog in Echo Park and when I’m in the East Village I keep trying to find that juice place, before I realize it’s actually in Silver Lake. It’s difficult though, wherever I am I always feel that part of my heart is someplace else.

WC: What do you prefer, New York or Los Angeles?

KB: I could spend days and days obsessively considering the differences between Los Angeles and New York. I know this because I have. Ultimately, I find Los Angeles to be a very comfortable place and in New York every day is a struggle. I’m always off balance and facing something unexpected—I think I prefer the struggle.

WC: It really intrigues me how you can just turn on your emotions when the director calls “Action.” I wish I was more in tune with that kind of stuff. If I need to cry I have to watch Homeward Bound or something sappy like that. Where do you go mentally when you have to shoot a scene that calls for major emotion?

KB: When I need a good cry I also turn to Homeward Bound. I just watched it like 3 weeks ago! But when work is concerned I try not to think about my feelings too much. They seem unruly and unreliable to me. I tend to think if I do things the right way and the material is good, the feelings will come, or they won’t. And then every rehearsal or every take is an experiment to find a new way of doing things, and seeing what happens. That’s how I feel about it now, someday I might think that’s too cold and practical and change my mind completely.

WC: Besides being this beautiful, young, talented actress, how would you describe yourself?

KB: Ha! I would really describe myself as kind of a nerd. I get too excited by things to be cool.

WC: Do you have any other passions besides acting?

KB: I would love to write and direct my own projects one day. Theatre and strange little movies that have no plot. I became obsessed with the art of film editing last fall. I was a set designer in college and I’m really interested in sustainable architecture and design and I read a lot. The best day job I ever had was working in the university library in the conservation lab refurbishing old books. Certain kinds of science really get me going. I definitely geeked out one time at a lecture I went to when my favorite physicist walked on stage. There was a moment of “Oh my God I’m three rows away from Brian Greene right now!”

WC: How is it working in an industry where a lot of your career is based not only on your talent but also your looks?

KB: I struggled a lot at the beginning. I felt there was this expectation that I’d be frivolous and adorable and unchallenging and I thought maybe that’s what I was supposed to be. But I’ve realized that people really just want you to be aggressiveley yourself, so that’s what I try to do. It’s frustrating sometimes to be judged by your appearance and hard not to take it personally, but it’s ultimately something I can’t change and growing to accept that is a good lesson for life as well as work.

WC: What’s your dream role?

KB: Oh, I want to play all sorts of roles. I’m usually drawn to the character I hate most when I first read a script. It’s a great challenge and the best opportunity to learn something about myself.

WC: Who inspires you?

KB: Steve Reich, Sarah Polley, Michael Ondaatje, Anne Bogart. Little kids, when they’re still uninhibited enough to run around inside their skins.

WC: Do you see yourself starring in these huge Hollywood blockbuster films or going the more independent route?

KB: I hope I’ll be doing a lot of theatre. And yes, where movies are concerned, I think my heart is in the little ones. But I also think it’d be fun to do a big summer popcorn movie where I get to be a kung fu surfer cop or something.

WC: Ha! Totally. Any exciting projects you’re working on?

KB: I recently did a movie with Ed Burns that turned out to be really touching and funny. It’s called Nice Guy Johnny and you should check it out when you get the chance, which will hopefully be soon. Eddie’s great, he’s like the most charismatic human on the planet and he really made me feel like a collaborator in the process—that’s a rare and wonderful thing.

WC: If you could be anything else in this lifetime what would you want to be?

KB: A river otter. Or an architect.

WC: What’s the most influential relationship you’ve had in your life?

KB: I had a teacher when I was 12 who directed Macbeth with our 7th grade class. I can’t imagine what my life would look like now if I had never met him. He taught me how to recognize what I don’t know and how to go about learning it—what a big, beautiful thing to teach someone.

Styled by Jessica Soga
Hair Marcel Dagenais
Makeup Mandy Bisesti

Look 1: Head piece by Ashley Cheeks from Its Ok My Dear
Locals Only shirt by Sophomore NYC
Knit bra top by Opening Ceremony
Fracture Dress by Mociun
Knit Tie Cardigan by Steven Alan
Look 2,3: Below the knee knit dress by Opening Ceremony
Blue fringe cardigan by Rebecca Taylor
Outland necklace by Deka Ray
Trouser socks stylist own
Wedge shoes by Jeffery Campbell from Shoe Market
Look 4: Reversible Multi-colored silk dress by Howitzweissbach
Look 5: Grey Cupro shirt by Howitzweissbach
Pintuck Pant by Opening Ceremony
Multi-colored suede thin vest by Howitzweissbach
Le Rivoli headpieces by Roarke NYC
Look 6: Uni red silk top by Howitzweissbach
Pure Merino New Wool Trouser by Howitzweissbach
Multi-strand textile necklace by Alas Del Sur from
Wedge shoes by Jeffery Campbell from Shoe Market
Trouser socks stylist own
Look 7: Head piece by Ashley Cheeks from Its Ok My Dear
Pass Shirt in windows print – georgette by Mociun

Reader Feedback

3 Responses to “Bright Young Things: Kerry Bishé”

  1. Katia Seifer says:

    scrubs was hilarious with zach braff…what is he working on these days? is he directing any new movies?

  2. kelly says:

    what a wonderful piece on an inspiring, smart, articulate young actress, something I don’t come across too often…and the photography is gorgeous!!

  3. tim says:

    this is a good artical and her role in red state she nailed it ! sadly i never actully remembered who she was untill that movie ! but she has potential

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