At 7 a.m. last Friday Morning, Aubrey Plaza was in a leech-filled Canadian lake. 13 hours later, she was onstage at Strong Auditorium in front of hundreds of eager Rochestarians, an improvement according to Plaza.
The actress—known for her performances in widely-liked television shows and movies such as Parks and Recreation, Safety Not Guaranteed, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World—was the headline event of this year’s Yellowjacket Weekend.
The moderated conversation lasted an hour, with Plaza sharing fun moments from her time filming various shows and movies, her college experience, her multiple Joe Biden encounters, what acting means to her, and some pranks—including the toilet goblin.
“You suction cup the goblin’s hands to the bottom lid of the toilet and then you close it so that when someone opens it, it pops out,” Plaza told the audience to laughter. “I did it to Adam Scott.”
The hour-long talk was moderated by junior and Students’ Association Vice President Sybilla Moore and senior and Student Programming Board President Jenny Jordahl. The moderators asked many questions and pressed Plaza on her alleged thievery.
“I usually try to take at least like one or two props from everything that I have done,” Plaza said before chronicling some of her spoils, which include Burt Macklin’s aviators, various costumes, and a lifesize Joe Biden cut out. “I could fucking make money off of this stuff if things don’t work out for me.”
If acting didn’t work out, Plaza envisioned herself as a little league softball coach or credit card skimmer, but acting did end up panning out and offered her fulfillment.
“There is something about acting that’s like an escape or something,” Plaza said, “I’m happiest when the camera is rolling and I’m [acting] and it just feels like everything in my life is just trying to get to that moment, and it doesn’t last very long but to me that’s what I like about it. There’s something exhilarating about only having a couple chances of doing the takes.”
When discussing her favorite moments on set during the filming of Parks and Recreation, the scenes that involved a large portion of the cast stood out.
“I definitely think April and Andy’s wedding was like one of my favorite days on set because at that point, we had all gotten so close that it actually felt real in a weird way,” Plaza told the audience. “Amy was actually crying and I had to be like, ‘I’m not actually getting married’ and she was like, ‘I know but, it’s just like you are.’”
Plaza also discussed her quarantine apprenticeship experience with Dandelion, “a fourth generation witch from Tennessee,” who often left ritual objects like egg shells and twigs at her door. Later, moderator Sybilla Moore asked Plaza, “if you could choose someone to haunt for eternity, who would you haunt?”
“I don’t know, people that I hate? I don’t know! I dont know, right now I literally can’t get Pete Davidson out of my head because I know he was just here and I just keep thinking of his stupid face and like I just, I don’t know,” she told the audience to cheers.
Pete Davidson, the headliner of last year’s Winterfest, was mentioned twice unprompted by Plaza. Later, after something fell backstage, Moore asked, “Why are you being haunted?”
“It’s like Pete Davidson is still here,” Plaza responded. “I don’t know why I’m coming for him right now, I don’t know him. I’ve literally never met him.”
When discussing her first Biden encounter, Plaza said they basically had a standoff. Their meeting happened at the Joe Biden leadership Conference when she was 16. Later, she also met Biden while filming a Parks and Rec episode in the White House.
“There was a piece of paper on his desk, an official vice presidential paper, that had my name, Aubrey Plaza, underlined, and it had bullet points which said, ‘From Wilmington Delaware, you met at the Joe Biden Leadership Conference.’”
Students who spoke to the CT at the talk’s conclusion were happy.
“It would have been funnier with [audience questions] but I think with the people up there ran it more smoothly than it would have if it was like people in the crowd, I don’t think it would have been as funny as the conversation that got flowing,” first year Marry Jerred told the CT.
“The interviewers seemed really prepared for it. They knew, they researched all of their questions beforehand,” first year Gabe Hoag added.
Not all students thought the moderators asked perfect questions.
“It was like just these comments that, like, didn’t necessarily sound genuine or it’s like you aren’t getting a good reading on the situation,” second year Isabella Rocha said. “There were some questions where it felt less about her and more like, ‘this person you met.’ […] She’s definitely interacted with people who are probably more well known than her, but it’s like, you are inviting her to an event. Ask her about her, don’t be like, ‘oh my god what was it like being around this person?’ Because now you are no longer asking about her, you are asking this person.”
At the end of the talk, the moderators asked Plaza if she had any advice to give to the UR students in the room.
“‘Yes and.’ I guess that’s my advice,” Plaza told the audience to an applause. “I think it’s helped me to get where I am today. It’s just being open, not knowing what will lead to what and just ‘yes and.’ I don’t know what’s going to happen with the world, but I feel like all we have left is the dark arts so I’d say connect to nature.”