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Exclusive Interview with Jessica Jones’ Susie Abromeit

MV5BMjI5MTcwNzY0MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTY5ODgxMjE@._V1._SX333_SY500_Susie Abromeit was known as a formidable athlete before resetting her goals on music and acting.  Susie was a number 6 rated tennis player who received a full scholarship to Duke University for Tennis where her team won the NCAA indoor championship.

She began working in film and on TV in 2007 with an appearance on the series Burn Notice and Susie has been working steadily ever since.  Her most recent project has been a recurring guest starring role as Pam on the Netflix Original Series Jessica Jones.  Pam is both sexy and ambitious, more than a match for her boss and married lover Jeri Hogarth (played by Carrie-Anne Moss).  Susie was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to speak to us at Talk Nerdy about her work on the popular series.

Please be aware that if you haven’t watched the entire series that there are spoilers below.

I just loved Jessica Jones and I think that your role is one of the more difficult ones on the series in terms of having to come across as both the “other woman”, so a little bit conniving in many ways, and then at the same time very vulnerable. 

Right!  Yeah, at the end of the day, she’s still a person and you want to be likable even though you’re doing some not so kosher or shady things (laughs). Despite going through this affair and everything, there was this underlying integrity where she wanted to do the right thing.  I think initially she didn’t want for this to happen… just the way the writing was, just the way that Pam was… I think that it was something that she really just got caught up in.  She really just wanted to be with Jeri, that was it for her.

I can see the attraction of Jeri.  She’s such a powerful force to be reckoned with both at the firm and in the courtroom.  Jeri is just larger than life in many ways.

Absolutely, there’s just no getting around her.  I mean she wins all of her cases and is one of the best lawyers in New York City and almost the whole world.  Her power is a very attractive quality for Pam but beyond that I think that there was real sense of sense of security, a real love there so that she was willing to go through some really tough, difficult things, but not wanting to continue going down that path; not wanting to put up with any bullshit.  At the same time, I think, I think at the end of the day that she just wanted to be happy.

There was a previous script, that didn’t make it, where Pam’s voice was ‘I just want to be with you, be us, not worry about anything, be happy and in love’. She wanted a family, all the simple things in life, family, career all with Jeri by her side.  The way Pam was envisioning this I think she thought that they would ultimately be a power couple.

I kind of saw Pam as a humanizing factor for Jeri, particularly at the end when things came tumbling down around them.

That is so wonderful!  I feel like my job is done. (Laughs). If you can make the other woman be sympathetic and vulnerable in some way, to people… that’s what I found really interesting.  At first I was like wow, playing the other woman is tough; how do you make this woman likeable and I was just trying to find a way to be a real person in that situation and you know, you don’t set out for that. 

I think Pam was in proximity with Jeri and it was one of those office romances where they’re close, they talk about everything, they probably go to lunch together and the next thing you know she’s (Jeri) sharing all the details about how terrible her life with Wendy is.  Then you have Pam taking all that information in and trying to be like ‘you don’t deserve that, you’re so much better’, giving her an ego boost since Pam is looking at her like she’s just the most amazing person in the world. Pam’s like ‘you deserve something so much better’. That’s probably how the whole thing unfolded with Jeri having problems in her marriage and then looking over at Pam and thinking ‘oh my God, this seems like less of a headache, why don’t I just go for you’.

Yes, you totally understood where Jeri was coming from, plus, you’re definitely shown as the much better looking of the two.  It seems like they tried to portray Wendy as not as concerned with her looks as Pam, you know, maybe a little dumpy.

There was actually an episode where she had some pretty awesome purses and dresses and I actually was thinking that I wanted to raid her closet.  (Laughs). I love this outfit, and this Gucci purse!  So I can totally see the contrast literally because Pam’s character was very much sexualized.

The femme fatale!  You had to be sexy.

Yeah, so I guess it’s like, how do you make the femme fatale character likeable and humanizing?  I’m glad that you said that because it could have not turned out that way and everyone would be like ‘booooo Pam sucks!’ (Laughs).

I won’t say that there weren’t a few times where the audience might be thinking, ‘wow, Pam, really, whoa’, but by the end you’re left thinking, ‘oh my gosh, she totally didn’t bargain for any of this’, since she’s watching someone who she loves just totally fall apart and ends up having to actually kill someone to save her lover!

The scene where you’re standing stunned after you clock Wendy and she’s lying there bleeding out…. you just seem terrified and horrified by your actions.  That is when you (Pam) became this really vulnerable, human person that you want to reach out to and comfort.

Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting because I’ve been getting into this show The Affair (on Showtime) and it’s so well written and well done with amazing performances. There’s this episode where this one character’s going ‘well what did you expect?  You had an affair!  Did you really expect this thing to turn out well?’  So that was sort of like, you can’t go into that kind of a situation thinking that everything’s going to be peachy-keen and all fairytale. For Pam I think she was hoping that it might turn out to be the case (of fairytale) but when stealing somebody else’s partner, well you know, the other partner is certainly not just going to give up without a serious fight.  All that hurt and pain is going to come out as revenge.  That’s usually what that’s going to look like.  I mean I feel like if someone is feeling hurt and betrayed that they’re probably going to want to make that other person feel the same feelings.  I think that Pam may be a bit naïve coming into this and then, I mean, somebody I guess, had to die.  I mean that is a tale as old as time, you know?

Any time you get two women fighting over the same person, those two women are going to fight hard.  Women can be mean in that kind of a situation, much more so than men, and women fight dirty.

Yeah, you know, I imagine guys would just duke it out and then be like, ‘what’s up, bro?’ (Laughs).  I’m not really sure why that is, maybe women are more sensitive?  I’ve always noticed that, just being a bystander of life and my own experience watching men… there was, in college, there were these two guys on the baseball team who did not like each other and we’re all at a party.  The next thing you know, the two of them are arguing and they go outside, fight it out and then they come back in like nothing ever happened and now they’re best friends.  Everyone was like ‘how does that work?’  You know, men are from Mars….

It does seem like men are able to put things behind them much easier, whereas women hold on to things and sometimes will end up stabbing you in the back!

I guess it depends on the woman.  The women that I surround myself with… some of my best girlfriends they’ll get angry, say what they need to say and then turn around and be like, ‘yeah, how you doing?’ (Laughs). Maybe it’s fire signs or whatever, but they just say their piece and there’s no flirting around the issue, they just get their issues out and then they’re done.

So maybe that’s what it is… maybe if we just expressed our anger, probably in a healthier way and not using our fists, if we just really express it, then we can just let it go.  Like, ‘there I expressed it; I don’t need to hold on to this or revisit this anymore.’  

Again, it really depends on the person, but overall I think that women are more sensitive and we probably should be because I think we have to speak a different language when we’re raising children and the baby’s crying.  We have to understand what it’s trying to say, ‘I know it’s crying but it’s not this type of cry, however it’s crying because it’s sad or needs to be held’. So men don’t really, are not well equipped with those sorts of innate qualities, generally speaking.  Some men of course are very gifted in that area, but us women we’re like out of the womb, boom, done… we’re sensitive.

I think women are more intuitive.  We trust our intuition, our gut more easily than men will and it does turn your focus to the inside a little more, it ramps up your sensitivity.

Yes, and roles are certainly changing where men can experience more sensitivity and women can be more masculine and hardened.  This is why the character Jeri is so interesting.  I feel that she has a lot masculine qualities whereas Pam, she’s very polarizing, she has a lot of flowy, feminine wiles/qualities that kind of counters her (Jeri’s) hardness, stiffness and precision.  Where Pam is like ‘hey, I’m flowing in this beautiful dress and I’m just feeling it’. (Laughs).

But that’s the appeal of Pam for Jeri.  I think that’s true in any relationship where one partner is someone who goes all out, needs to get things at any cost, often they have partners who are the polar opposite and very soft, very feminine.   But not in a way that forces them to give up the power of their femininity.

You know what’s interesting; I was reading this book by David Deida, and he was saying the divine feminine is actually more powerful than the man.  Women don’t go to war over a man, you know, but men go to war for women.  Look at Helen of Troy, they started a war over her! I think when women are able to tap into that divine, wild, feminine energy that it’s incredibly powerful.  I think the interesting dynamics between the two characters and the masculine energy is really more focused on the consciousness and so the book I was reading was saying that the masculine energy, the consciousness, wants to penetrate god, so theory is amazing.

The book, The Way of the Superior Man, is just such an interesting read.  I find that when we’re all tapping into this higher energy that I think we allow men to see god, apparently.  They get to experience emotions that they’ve never felt; they get to experience all the things that weren’t available to them when they were just hanging out with dudes because we are able to show them a different side of themselves that they don’t really get to explore.  In the dynamic between Jeri and Pam I think that she’s able to have Jeri access her softer side, be more in touch with her emotions, see the beauty of love and all that wonderful stuff.

Talking about the strength of women makes me think that this show, beyond Jeri and Pam, very much characterizes strong women.  Even Jessica; yeah, she’s got her super strength from whatever was done to her, but she’s got to be very strong emotionally in order to be able to handle everything that’s gone down with her.  Even with her drinking, this is a really strong, capable woman who’s not going to let anybody get in her way. 

In fact, all the women are drawn as strong.  Even the upstairs neighbor was strong in her own way, weird as it was.  It’s nice to see on TV women in roles of responsibility with an attitude of I’m going to just go and get what I want/need, instead of just being the soft side of relationships.  I think that Pam is not just soft, not just an arm piece.  She is a really strong woman and she has to be because Jeri isn’t really going to up with anyone who can’t be her equal when it’s necessary.

You’re right, that wouldn’t work for Jeri.  We really do have a wonderful group of characters.  There was an interesting quote from Lana Del Rey, I’m not going to get this right, but they asked her are you a feminist or are you not and she mentioned that she’s more into space and Telsa and I think that was an interesting conversation.  It was a really controversial comment that she made, but I think we’re getting away from women no longer having rights, women no longer have to be seen as… like now I really feel that we’re such a… with Orange is the New Black and Jessica Jones I really feel like we’re on way to no longer needing to have this conversation of being equal. 

I think more and more that’s going to be less of a thing, everyone will be equal which is just really, really amazing.  I can’t wait to see how things develop.  Obviously we may not be around then, but just think in maybe, in 100 years this won’t be a thing anymore and people will be like, ‘remember that time when we were racist and sexist’ and it will be sort of like a funny thing of the past. I think what’s really cool is that women are really being seen more and more as strong because we are strong.  It’s no longer ‘we didn’t realize we’re strong, we are strong, we’re incredible, we’re doing some amazing things.’ 

We potentially have a woman president, we have showrunners – our showrunner was a woman with a hit show and an amazing cast of women.  What an amazing time… we have Obama as president, we have gay rights.  I think the platform of social media is bringing us closer together and we’re able to have a voice whereas before it was pretty much just the people in power who controlled who got to be seen and heard. Now if you’re tech savvy enough you can figure out how to get your voice seen and heard and anyone can do it, which is really great.

That’s part of what shows like Orange is the New Black and Jessica Jones and a show on Netflix called Sense8 with just fabulous female characters as well, are helping to get across.  As these shows become more of an everyday occurrence, and let’s face it, with Jessica Jones being part of the Marvel Universe you know it’s attracting huge attention from the whole Marvel fan base; as you bring this into people’s homes as a form of entertainment, it becomes almost desensitizing because as they watch these characters and they become more familiar with them, they are going to expect strong women in life.

Right, it’s no longer going to be a thing like we didn’t know women could be strong, it’s going to be of course women are strong, we expect it.  So I think the gist of what Lana Del Rey was talking about is, ‘I think we are really talented, strong and amazing so let’s move the conversation along towards are we going to have enough water in California, are we going to be able to move out and live on the moon or find out if there’s any life outside of our own planet’.

It’ll soon be the expectation, I mean obviously not diminishing anyone’s struggles because there clearly are things that are still going on, but I think we’re really in a great place moving forward and I think that continuing to have more shows like Jessica Jones and Orange is the New Black and then Supergirl… I guess my mom… she was part of those conversations when I was growing up, she would attend those protests she would be a part of that and really helping moving women’s rights forward. 

I really feel fortunate to have the mom that I did.  Both my parents treated me as if there was no difference.  So when I was growing up it would be I’m going to be one of the best sports players. Basically I’d be in gym with the other kids I thought I was a really great athlete and sure enough, I would always get chosen.  I didn’t see any difference, I felt the same, and we just had different body parts.  Then as you grow up, men do get stronger, taller, but then women are pretty damn flexible so there’s a give and take to all sports.  To say whose better or whose worse… remember like the Battle of the Sexes when Billie Jean King played Bobby Riggs and all that stuff back in the 70’s?

Now with this show Jessica Jones it’s not even a thing like ‘oh you’re a chick’ it was just she’s powerful, being a woman didn’t define her, it was just who she was.  They just accepted her for who she was regardless of (her being) a woman or a man. That was just really awesome that a lot of stereotypes for this show were sort of broken.  There was a lesbian couple, she was dating interracially, and there were just so many awesome opportunities that were showcased and kind of moving the conversation forward a bit.

It is a really interesting melting pot.  You have Jessica Jones, not somebody in the Marvel Universe that your casual comic reader will necessarily know about; of course the hardcore Marvel readers all know Jessica Jones, but for your average readers, they may only know the bigger names in the pantheon.  Jessica Jones seems to humanize the super hero experience so much more so than some of the larger than life characters because she kind of comes off as an every woman.  Her power isn’t so visible, so overt that it necessarily defines her.  She defines herself and then she uses her power. 

Right, like Superman…

Or Killgrave.  In the show Killgrave defines who he is by his mind control powers and his control over others while losing himself, his humanity.  Then you’ve got Luke Cage and Jessica who are… they could be anybody on the street.  They are these examples of living with these extraordinary circumstances and yet still staying true to yourself, your own person. 

It’s a powerful message for all of us, but particularly teenagers who are often trying to force themselves to be something they’re not rather than accepting and spotlighting who they are.

Man that is so interesting.  I think that wanting to fit in dates back to caveman days where if we weren’t included in the tribe, that would equal death because we would be abandoned.  We’d be left in the arctic or the desert somewhere fighting for our lives, trying to hunt, trying to find shelter and it would equate to death.  Nowadays I think it’s still within us that we don’t want to be excluded from the tribe; we want to feel accepted and loved.  I feel that when we feel shunned from that, I think it still has that lingering effect of ‘oh my god, I’m dead’, but now it’s more of a social death, it affects your ego.  But to be disconnected from people is usually the source of all pain, of not feeling loved and so…  

I remember looking back, I mean I was so focused on tennis – I was a professional tennis player – I didn’t really have time to, I wasn’t even aware but there would be moments when I would catch myself and be like worried about not be being pretty enough, not being smart enough, fast enough, enough, enough, enough.  After doing a lot of intense work on myself it’s only recently that I am feeling that self-love for myself.  You’ve got to look at all the parts of who are, the light, the dark, and the things you don’t really want to look at and then you find out that it’s not so bad.  You think, ‘wait a minute, I’m kind of awesome’ and it’s totally fine.  I guess you kind of have to sit with yourself and ask the tough questions, see yourself and meditate on that and there can be this amazing kind of just transformational moment where you go through all that pain and then you’re like ‘how did I get to where I am? why do I think the way I do?’ 

The beautiful thing that I got from Jessica’s story was that there were a lot of those real questions.  Jessica Jones is always thinking ‘I’m a terrible person, I’m a bad person’ because of the things that she did.  She was in a way wanting to not be a victim but sometimes still feeling like a victim, which is just so real and human.  We are able to see that it wasn’t her fault and that she was under this mind control, but her being in it she kept thinking ‘well what if I did this, what if I had tried harder, if I just…’

I think as human beings we all go through real trauma and what I love about this show is that every single person has gone through some real very heavy stuff but they’re still moving forward, wanting to get past it and be better people.  I feel like it’s kind of like life.

We call ourselves Talk Nerdy With Us because, well, we all proudly consider ourselves nerds.  Will you share with me one of the things you’ve done that you consider nerdy?

(Laughs) I do a lot of things that are nerdy; I don’t even know where to begin.  I love watching the History and Discovery channels.  I love learning about nature, being in nature.  I love anything with creatures or animals.  As a kid I was really good at math.  I had a teacher who often used me as the example for the class – she was trying to spur me on to be a mathlete and I was like, ‘no, I’m not going to do that!’ (Laughs). My best friend and I would compete on who would get the better grade in math.  Diana would be like ‘I got 94’ and then I say ‘I got a 95’.  Then my best friend who is a genius and didn’t even have to study would say ‘oh, well I got 100’.  Whatever!  We were total math nerds.

I didn’t have much of a social life growing up because I played tennis.  I wasn’t forced to do this; I wanted to do this… I thought that if I got up at 5 o’clock and was on the tennis court at 6 am then I could better achieve my goals and getting up early was my worst thing.  I hated it so much.  My boyfriend and I like to watch the Voice which is kind of nerdy and we love Game of Thrones.  I love all the Christopher Nolan Batman (movies) and whenever a Harry Potter movie would come out I would be like one of the first people to see it.

You are totally a part of the Talk Nerdy tribe.  You are welcome at any time!

Great!  I didn’t even realize all these nerdy things I do.  My dad was a total nerd too and now I’m thinking, ‘man, I’m a total nerd!’

I’m reading this book called The Mind That Changes Itself.  There was this woman who had forgotten how to walk and it explains the things that she did in order to create a new pathway to learn how to walk.  So your brain works like a highway and she made a new road.  I love all that science stuff. Yeah, I’m a nerd.

 

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