A Q&A with Zoe Lister-Jones

Zoe Lister-JonesPhoto Credit: Leslie Hassler

Zoe Lister-Jones is a woman who knows what it’s like to wear many hats. The New York native isn’t only an actress, she is also a playwright, singer, producer, and screenwriter. The star’s latest role on the new hit CBS show Life In Pieces explores what it’s like to be a new mother. In a large family where everyone seems to be approaching different milestones, Zoe adds a humorous twist to the everyday struggles that come with being a new parent. If you haven’t tuned into Life In Pieces yet, you probably know Zoe for her comedic roles on New Girl and Friends with Better Lives. We simply had to know more about how the ‘multi-hyphenate’ entertainer got her start, and where she’s going from here.

What does being an entertainer mean to you?
I think it’s about bringing a certain amount of joy to an audience. And joy can take many forms. I think there is joy in feeling challenged or moved just as much as there is joy in laughter. But being an entertainer to me is really about that uniquely special dynamic between performer and audience, regardless of the medium.

Did you always want to be an actress? How did growing up as the child of two artists inform that path and your craft today?
I had a lot of interests growing up. I liked to write poetry and fiction. I liked illustration and I liked dance. I definitely liked performing, but I was also quite shy, so outside of my family and friends I was kind of terrified of putting myself out there in that realm. I think to help combat my shyness, my Mom put me in acting classes when I was 10, which I enjoyed but it wasn’t until my Junior year in High School that I worked up the courage to audition for a play. And after that I was hooked. My senior year, I was accepted early admissions with a scholarship to NYU Tisch School of the Arts for Drama, but I was apprehensive to attend because I was afraid of putting all of my eggs in that basket. I think seeing first hand from my parents how painful it was to live the life of an artist, the financial and emotional tolls it could take, really made me take pause. But my Mom encouraged me to pursue the opportunity, so for that I am forever grateful!

You’ve really done it all from acting to writing and producing. Is there a certain role you resonate with most?
It’s so hard to choose! I think I enjoy the multi hyphenate too much to highlight just one. Writing and producing is incredibly challenging work, tireless and draining in a very different way than performing. So in that sense, I’ve been very fortunate to be able to act in other people’s creations while making my own, because it allows me to breathe a small sigh of relief in wearing just the one hat.

What was the proudest moment of your career thus far?
Oh man, you’re asking tough questions! I think our first profile in the New York Times was a really big moment for me. My husband, Daryl Wein, and I had just made our first feature film, Breaking Upwards, for very little money, wearing every hat, and it was an incredibly personal story. So, a full page in the New York Times Arts and Leisure section borne of the fruits of so much hard work was beyond gratifying. And as a native New Yorker, just such a seminal moment for me.

What has you most excited in 2016? Tell us about your upcoming projects!
I’m incredibly proud of our latest film, Consumed, which I co-wrote, produced and starred in. It is about a subject that I am very passionate about, which is food safety. I play a single mother in Iowa whose son gets ill, and thus spawns an investigative journey about the food we are eating in this country. It is essentially a dramatic thriller set in the complex and controversial world of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). It has a great cast including Danny Glover, Victor Garber, Anthony Edwards, Taylor Kinney, Kunal Nayyar, Griffin Dunne and Beth Grant. It, like all of my movies, has been a true labor of love, and one that we have been working on for over seven years, so to finally share it with the world is beyond exciting.

If you could tell people one insider secret about the reality of the Hollywood life that they might not know, what would it be?
All the glamour and glitz takes hours and hours and hours!