INTERVIEW by DANIELLE OLIVER |PHOTOGRAPHY courtesy of MOLLY McALEER
From an early age, today’s BR!NKer knew what she was headed for; all the subsequent growing up was just the “getting there” part. Molly McAleer, known more commonly as “Molls,” is in the middle of a success explosion. First, there’s this little ol’ blog of hers called MollsSheWrote — the popularity of which (in combination with her work on Gawker and Defamer) made her e-famous, and definitely a recognizable face around town to many Los Angeles locals. Second, she’s recently teamed up with Zooey Deschanel and Sophia Rossi to create HelloGiggles.com, a site dedicated to all things hilarious (and female-friendly). And last (but omgholycowdefinitely not least), she’s now writing for the new CBS series, 2 Broke Girls. Needless to say, BR!NK predicts world domination in the not-so-distant future. Perhaps the most impressive thing of all, however, is who Miss McAleer seems to be as a person. Her writing is unique, her honesty is refreshing, and her thoughts are engaging. Clearly, a BR!NKer in the truest sense.
When you were eight, what did you want to be when you grew up? And what were you like as a kid?
When I was around that age, we studied the human body in school and we had to make these life-size human bodies and on one half we had to make anatomically-correct skeletons and on the other half we had to draw what we thought we’d be when we grew up. My picture had the caption “Humerus Actress.” My entire childhood, from as far back as I could remember, I knew that I needed to be a notable person and that my notoriety needed to be connected to humor in some capacity.
In school I was always on the nerdier side. I was chubby and bookish, yet had an insane need for attention. There was more than one year in elementary school where the teacher would block off special times for me to perform for my class so I could get it out of my system and not be a distraction throughout the week. Three years in a row I came to school one day dressed as an “exchange student” and would spend the entire day acting as the character I’d made up. I remember one year pretending to be an LA girl and another year pretending to be a Southern girl who’d just moved to Massachusetts from a plantation town. I often came to school dressed as Paul McCartney. I was always getting caught reading books under my desk when I was supposed to be paying attention to a lesson.
By the time high school rolled around, I was just concentrated on my nails and my eyeliner and making sure that my curly hair stayed on point throughout the day. I was still a spaz and super creative, especially in writing and drama classes, but I also was kind of boy crazy.
If someone asked me who you are, I’d probably dub you a writer/blogger. But you seem to wear a lot of hats. If someone asks you what you do for a living now, what do you tell them?
I’m a writer. I’ve always been a writer before anything else I’ve ever done. It took me a long time to realize that, even when I was performing sketches in college and video blogs on the internet, I was writing everything that came out of my mouth and therefore I was a writer first. And blogging, in the era that I came up in, is very much writing before it’s reblogged photos and music.
I also view myself as a brander, which I suppose is a modern term for an entrepreneur/marketer hybrid. I’ve created a marketable world on my blog and alongside my partners at HelloGiggles that readers and viewers have invested in emotionally.
I first heard about you a couple years ago on the night that, appropriately enough, someone told me what Tumblr was for the first time. When you started your blog, MollsSheWrote, what did you want to come of it? Were you hoping it would jumpstart your career, or was it more of a personal project that blew up?
I started blogging when I was eleven years old. I always just enjoyed writing online. I definitely didn’t intend to “blow up” writing about my life, and actually, my switch to Tumblr came after I started to build a steady fanbase on the now defunct Vox. That’s a big misconception that kind of drives me nuts. People think I’m a “Tumblr celebrity” but in actuality, it’s the work that I did with Gawker and Defamer that sent me my initial readership on Vox and it’s many of those same people who have stuck around throughout the years and spread my name around. Before that, I thought that any notoriety I would get in my life would come from acting, which is something I don’t even pursue anymore. I really didn’t plan anything that’s manifested except for my recent switch to television writing. I kind of let the rest of the world tell me what I was good at over and over again until I believed them.
Part of the appeal of MollsSheWrote is that you’ve basically opened a window into your life and said to the world, Have at it. I’m curious whether or not you ever regret things you reveal – content you post. And furthermore, despite your honesty, is there still a level of guardedness with which you write that readers might not realize?
I am extremely guarded, actually. I don’t just have at it and I don’t know if anyone would read my blog if I did. I have very strict boundaries for myself when it comes to writing about my personal life and I use whatever is leftover to cobble together a picture of my life. “Molls” is almost like a character compared to who I am to myself and my family and my dearest friends. I suppose I do it well, because despite rarely discussing my dating life, family life, and most of my personal struggles, I have convinced people they’re seeing a full picture.
I’m open about my monetary situation, portions of my romantic life I have long moved on from, and career struggles. I blog occasionally about friendship, partying and shopping at secondhand stores. I talk about my dog a lot and my thoughts about growing up and pop culture. That’s really about it, but just about anyone will admit that they have a lot more going on in their brain than that stuff.
You’ve got some incredible stuff going on right now. You’re currently a staff writer for the new series, 2 Broke Girls, and have recently launched HelloGiggles.com with Zooey Deschanel and Sophia Rossi. Huge congrats on both. Can you tell me about how you became involved with both of these projects?
2 Broke Girls came up when I decided to write a TV sample and then read all of last season’s pilots. From the start, this show was the only show that I wanted to write on. Kat Dennings is basically my favorite actress and someone who I’ve always gotten amazing vibes from. MPK’s work on Sex and the City was a huge part of my development as a college student and young woman. The idea of them working together with Whitney Cummings, who is a powerhouse and a force and someone whose business sense and relentlessness I admire incredibly, just blew my mind.
Thankfully, after sending my script to Whitney, who I knew socially, and then meeting with her and Michael Patrick King, I got the gig. My whole life has changed because of this job and I can barely think about how fortunate I feel without being overcome by emotion. It’s insane. It’s insane that I tried and it worked out. I’ve tried a million things and gotten a million “no”s. Never did I think that something I wanted to be a part of as badly as this show would ever work out.
HelloGiggles is similarly mind-blowing. Sophia and Zooey are girlfriends of mine and we came up with the idea for the site last October. Six months later we launched, and our family of contributors and readers has grown every week. I am so proud to have co-founded this site with two of my dearest friends and that so many people seem to be enjoying it.
HelloGiggles claims, “Everything hosted on the site will be lady-friendly, so visitors need not worry about finding the standard Boys Club content that makes many entertainment sites unappealing to so many of us.” As much as I think many women would applaud this comedic platform… could this be a sort of counterintuitive effort? In other words, in a society where many men claim to find women “unfunny,” isn’t it dangerous to imply that feminine humor is a separate beast all together? Why the need for HelloGiggles? Isn’t funny… just funny?
It definitely should be, but think about it: How many comedy sites do you go on where the punchline to a joke is a man is trying to convince his girlfriend to have anal sex with him or where a woman is put down in the workplace or treated like a punching bag for some off-beat male character’s brutish behavior?
Online comedy is generally skewed toward a male audience, and we wanted to make a site where we knew we could go for a laugh and not be visually assaulted by an article entitled “Top 10 80s Breasts” or something. Trust me, I’ve freelanced for over 25 sites in the last five years, and I’ve had many an editor tell me that, while my idea was good, it was alienating to the “male audience.”
We don’t alienate our male audience at HelloGiggles, but we don’t cater to them by degrading women or treating people like animals who can only laugh at fart and masturbation humor. We have no problem with being sophomoric at times, we don’t demand that we be the picture of sophistication 24/7, but we do strive to give people a place that’s airy and fun while smart and respectful. And we love chicks. I’ll own it. We love being women and the perks that come with being women, whether it be getting your nails tricked out or the right to carry a Hello Kitty credit card in your wallet past the age of thirty.
Personally, my favorite thing about your blog is your confidence. Your voice is your voice, and you aren’t apologetic about your choices or how you present yourself. How has blogging affected you finding your way in the world, and how have you gone about finding such a strong voice?
My life has sucked. The majority of my life has sucked. I’m a dyslexic bastard child from suburban Massachusetts and I’ve never had anything going for me except for my will to live and be heard. Somewhere along the line, my ego grew arms and legs and took over the rest of me. There are days when I hate myself, and I’ve definitely talked about my struggle with depression publicly before, but deep down I’ve always known that I had to, absolutely had to, make something of myself. If I didn’t do things like wear leopard print every day or refer to myself as “Cool Lady Boss Queen” or acknowledge that deep down I’m a chained up pit bull with a raw steak sitting directly outside of the cage that I’m trapped in, I would have died. I can only imagine I would be dead. I puff myself up to keep myself alive and it’s as natural to me as any other survival instinct.
My boss recently told me, “You have a voice, but more important than that is the fact that you demand you be heard,” and he was right. That’s it. I will not die without everyone who ever comes across my work knowing that I need and deserve to be listened to.
I don’t know how someone else can replicate that. I don’t know any other way. I never have.
Who are your comedy heroes?
Roseanne, Don Rickles, Phyllis Diller, Larry David and Louis CK.
For people who love your blog… what are your personal favorite blogs or sites (besides HelloGiggles, of course)?
What’s next for you? Is there something – career-wise – that you haven’t done but would like to?
Books and movies, of course. I have plans to start working on both in the very near future. Documentaries, too. There’s so much that interests me in this world and I’ve always loved truth more than fiction. Then maybe some more TV. I’ve also always wanted to work in radio. I could see myself spending my later years hosting a radio show. I kind of always hate this question because I can’t limit myself or declare myself one thing. I want it all and I’ll keep going until I get it.
Daily BR!NK’s mission is to connect the people we feature with things they need; is there something our readers can do to contribute to your success?
I’d really like Don Rickles to give me a hug some day.