Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for
August 25, 2011

Demonstrating the power of a good advertising campaign, actress Angela Sarafyan first came to the attention of many TV viewers thanks to a phone commercial in which she captivated audiences with her gorgeous eyes as she decried the injustices of call-dropping networks on a rainy day. Since then, the affectionately-dubbed "Cingular Umbrella Girl" has put together a solid lineup of acting credits, including guest appearances on shows like In Plain Sight and The Mentalist; a comedic run on the outrageous web series Hot Sluts, playing a tough and sexy cocktail waitress whose closely guarded heart of gold compels her to take Community's Alison Brie under her wing; and the recurring role of Samantha Evans, an adorably quirky and skilled crime scene investigator, in the Bradley Whitford/Colin Hanks comedy action series The Good Guys. She'll be gaining even further visibility in both installments of Twilight's Breaking Dawn, in which she portrays vampiric beauty Tia, a member of the Egyptian Coven that allies itself with the Cullens in their fight against the Volturi.

We had the opportunity to speak with Angela while she was promoting her film A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, an ensemble comedy about a group of friends that, faced with the impending loss of their summer party house, decide to throw an orgy as their final blowout celebration. The extensive cast also includes Jason Sudeikis, Tyler Labine, Leslie Bibb, Lake Bell, Lindsay Sloane, Martin Starr, Michelle Borth, Nick Kroll, David Koechner, Will Forte, and Lucy Punch.

In this exclusive interview, we get to know a little about Angela as she discusses her background and her decision to pursue a career in acting, recounts some of her memorable roles, and speculates on our fantasy showdown with the T-Mobile girl.

A Good Old Fashioned Orgy is now playing in theaters. When did you move from your native Armenia to the U.S.?

ANGELA: I was 4 years old when we moved over, and I've lived in Hollywood ever since.

You mentioned earlier that you're classically trained on the piano. Which was your first passion for performance: music or acting?

I grew up playing the piano classically and dancing ballet, and singing in a choir and acting onstage. So I did all of those things until I was 17, 18. And it was either go to USC and become a classical pianist, become a ballerina and join the New York companies, or pursue something completely different. So at 18, I decided I wanted to pursue acting. And it's very difficult when you don't know anybody in this business, where you're starting off from nowhere...I mean, people think that if you live in Los Angeles, all you know is show business. But there's a part of LA that has nothing to do with it. It [can be] just as far as somebody who lives out in Ohio.

What would you consider your first "big break"?

I had one audition for a Coke commercial a while ago, and I got picked as an extra. [laughs] And then I got upgraded from like 3,000 extras that day of work...That's how I got my SAG card, and that's how it all started!

Often times, a major commercial can give you more exposure than a movie or television show, as was the case with your campaign for Cingular...

Yeah, it was a few years after I started. I mean, I didn't think anything was going to come from that commercial--I [never] think anything's going to come from any commercial. It just so happened that that got a lot of exposure. I had done other commercials before that, and I've done a few after that. Like there's a State Farm commercial that I did, and that, for some reason, is getting a lot of attention as well. It just happened over time.

Given that so many commercials feature memorable or recurring characters, does it often feel like telling a story in 30 seconds?

Yeah, absolutely. For example, the State Farm commercial, they gave us a scenario of one particular movie...I remember thinking about ghosts, and something really dark...So I just went in there with this one experience I had created, and kind of created this character based on the other two characters--just improvised the whole thing. And then for the Cingular commercial...Oh, I created a whole background about a boy and a girl... [laughs] This was just waiting in the audition room before you go in.

[jokes] That's when the umbrella gets its own backstory, too...

Oh, the umbrella wasn't supposed to be there! It rained that day.

Wow, that really worked out...It became such a signature part of the commercial.

Yeah, they had to have the umbrella.

Think you could take the T-Mobile girl?

[gives a sly grin] Oooooh, yeah!

At what point did you do the web series Hot Sluts?

I did Hot Sluts after A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, actually. So the movie was done three years ago, [and] I did that about seven months later.

How did you approach your character Alena?

I learned about that part a day or two before shooting, and we shot that over a weekend, all of those episodes. I had no idea who I was working with. Like I didn't know [creator] A.D. Miles or any of those guys. But I learned about them over the course of the work. [laughs] And it was so much fun because we were doing things just in that moment and creating this [character]. I had an idea of what the character was and they sent me some ideas, so we were playing around with it. And I had a good time working with good people.

Alena had a sweet, awesome dream of opening her own pet store one day. Any similar aspirations of your own, aside from obvious career goals?

[laughs] Well, I always have dreams. Like I would love to go live in France and have a vineyard and a donkey. And I would love to ride a horse... [laughs] I love to paint. But I love acting, I love telling stories.

I loved your character Samantha on The Good Guys. Given that she became such an integral part of the series and how they solved crimes, how is it that the show existed for like two-thirds of its run without her?

[laughs] I think they had done the season without [originally] imagining this character. And I think they maybe wanted something else in the show that they didn't have. They created the character for three episodes initially. And then they were really happy with what I was doing, so they wanted her for the remainder of the season.

To me, if you take a pretty girl and put a pair of glasses on her, you still have a pretty girl--the only difference is that she's wearing glasses now. But on the show, it seemed like that was an affectation to make Samantha a little socially awkward. As an actor, do you think the glasses really help define who she is?

[laughs] Well, I really do wear glasses. Those were my glasses that they used. And this is how I created that part: I didn't look at her as socially awkward--I thought of her as somebody that probably was the middle child in the house and didn't get enough attention from her parents. So she had these abilities, but they weren't always positively reinforced. And so she would do things really fast to impress them, and she was always fast--she was always on her toes, she was always going forward with what she wanted in order to get their attention. And she's always on top of [the situation] going to the next thing, and then the next thing, and then the next thing. She never stops, because that's like breathing for her, in a way--curiosity. And she's like, [speaks quickly] "I know how to solve that, I could solve that for you, it's not a problem, it's really, really easy!" And that's where the drive comes from. So it becomes socially awkward in a way because her goals become, ultimately, how she survived throughout her life.

You mentioned that you paint. Can we count drawing amongst your talents, seeing as how Samantha was such a skilled sketch artist?

She was. Yeah, I think she has a lot of talents. I think she definitely had a talent for drawing. I think this is a girl who could do anything because she has a drive force. But me? Angela? I don't know. This is how I paint: if I'm painting a picture, it better be done in a half an hour. I don't have the patience to work on it any more than that.

Thanks so much for your time today, and best wishes going forward...

Thank you, lovely to meet you.

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