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Break a leg: Baltimore actress Liz Chuday talks 'VEEP'

Liz Chuday
Liz Chuday - courtesy of Liz Chuday
Liz Chuday felt like a hopeful contestant on “Project Runway” when talent agency Wilhelmina Models told her she had made the cut in its division that represents actors

It was the latest achievement for Chuday, who in the last few months has landed roles as an extra on the HBO, Emmy-nominated comedy “VEEP” starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and as an ER nurse on NBC’s medical drama “Do No Harm.”
“VEEP” returns to HBO for its second season April 14. The Maryland Film Office estimates that the show has hired 978 Maryland cast, crew and extras during its first season and had an economic impact of around $40 million.
Chuday, a resident of Baltimore's Homeland neighborhood and a PR pro, talked with BmoreMedia about her recent success and how she made an impression at Wilhelmina.
BM: What do you like about working on the show "VEEP"?
Chuday: The show really resonates because of the intellect behind it. It’s funny because it hits close to home. I worked on Capitol Hill. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the writers are abreast of current trends. They’re putting me in different roles and so in one episode I played a senator’s wife. I was amguest at a ballroom event. I was assigned to Ben’s staff [played by Kevin Dunn, the president’s chief of staff].
BM: Had you done much acting prior to this?
Chuday: I did musicals in high school. You have to have a support system at home and a flexible job [to make it a career]. You have 18-hour and longer days. I made sacrifices [to raise my daughter]. Now that my daughter turned 18, I feel like it’s my time to get back on track.
BM: What’s the crew at “VEEP” like?
Chuday: The cast and crew are just amazing, including the other background actors, some who’ve come from as far away as New York City, Pittsburgh and Richmond.
BM: What is Julia Louis-Dreyfus like?
Chuday: All of us have this work because of the incredible talents of one amazing woman: Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She is naturally pretty, very petite, and has great hair that stylists have crafted into a veritable work of art for Season 2.  After 15-plus hours on set, she still looks great, remains calm, focused, and treats everyone around her with consideration and respect.
The show is partly scripted, part improv, so you really have to have considerable acting chops, which she has in spades. Every time I’m on set and watch her in action, I learn how to be a better actor myself.

BM: What else are you doing?
Chuday: I’m a member of the singing group “The Larks,” a choral arts group that operates under the Junior League of Baltimore. The focus is singing in nursing homes or senior centers. Some of these people are catatonic and some of them come out of that state for a brief moment in time.

When I joined "The Larks," I realized I needed to step up my game so I got a music theory teacher, Herman Meyer and a voice coach, Phyllis Burg, and they have been so encouraging.
Heery Casting, in Philadelphia (my hometown) gave me the work as an ER nurse on the [NBC] medical drama “Do No Harm" that made its debut Jan. 31.
BM: Tell us how you go the attention of Wilhelmina Models.
Chuday: Wilhelmina had told me to "dress casually, but reflect your style." I wore a pair of tight, black stretch pants, black boots and a long-sleeved silver metallic jersey and a quarter-sleeved fox fur and knit wool "jacket" from the Lori K Boutique in Stevenson Village.
When I got to the end of the runway I stood there for a second, smiling brightly, then screamed "ouch! Apparently this thing bites. Oh, the hazards of being a model." With that, I slung the jacket over my shoulder like a pelt.
BM: So you threw in some comedy?
Chuday: Absolutely. Something to stand out from the pack. It was a big risk. It would either work, or backfire. You know the ending of that story: As Heidi Klum would put it, "You're in!"

Photographs courtesy of Liz Chuday 
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