Check our interview with Devin Sidell as we talked about her recent role on BROOKLYN NINE-NINE.
A few years ago, Devin found out that she has the BRCA-1 mutation — the one that leads to breast and ovarian cancers. Her older sister, who also has the mutation, and her discussed the fact that we might have to undergo preventative surgeries one day. They figured they could wait until their 40’s to make these big decisions. Then, in October of 2016, her 38-year-old sister was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. She immediately scheduled surgery to have my ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and cervix removed. Soon after, she also had both of her breasts removed after watching her sister go through painful rounds of chemo. Devin is working on bringing attention to this “strange procedure”.
Devin has also appeared on TV shows such as: THE MIDDLE, THE OC, NUMB3RS, RAY DONOVAN, HENRY DANGER and NCIS.
Hi Devin, please tell us a little about you?
Hi there! I’m an L.A. native, a Princeton alum, and a film/television/theatre actress. In addition to recent appearances on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “NCIS,” I appear in Rob Zombie’s horror film “31” (Official Selection, Sundance Film Festival), and I recur as a sketch performer on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!.” As a carrier of the BRCA-1 gene mutation with a family history of ovarian and breast cancers, I decided in 2017 to undergo both a preventative double mastectomy and a preventative hysterectomy/oophorectomy, earning me the label of “previvor.”
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Enthusiastic, silly, trustworthy
How did you get involved in acting?
I grew up in Los Angeles, but neither of my parents was in the entertainment industry. My older sister decided one day that she wanted to be on television, so my parents got her an agent, and she started going out on auditions. One day, I had to go along with my sister to an audition, and the casting director called me into the room. I ended up booking the job—a McDonald’s commercial! I was five years old.
Who is your favorite Actor/Actress and why?
Definitely Cate Blanchett because she disappears into every single role she plays. I completely forget that I’m watching her and fully believe she is that character.
Who you would love to work with?
Before his death, I had always wanted to work with Stanley Kubrick. Now, because I’m such a lover of “The Lord of the Rings,” I’d have to say Peter Jackson all the way!
Tell us about your character in “BROOKLYN NINE-NINE?”
My character is Gwen, a woman who goes to the precinct to identify her brother’s murderer out of a lineup. The only issue is that Gwen has not seen the perpetrator’s face, but has only heard his voice. Jake (Andy Samberg) ends up asking the criminals to sing The Backstreet Boys’ song “I Want It that Way” so that Gwen can determine which one killed her brother. Shooting the scene actually went quite quickly, and I became friends behind the scenes with the five guys playing the singing criminals. We were all extremely excited when the scene got so much attention and went viral!
How was working on such a great projects as THE OC, NUMB3RS, RAY DONOVAN?
I always have so much fun on set! Working with Liev Schreiber on “Ray Donovan” was a dream. We both have theatre backgrounds, and I think we were truly able to connect and create great work together. “Numb3rs” and “The O.C.” were also fun, but I was still new to professional acting as an adult at that time, and I remember being pretty nervous around everyone.
What are your favorite TV shows?
Right now, I love season 2 of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Atlanta.” Some of my past favorites are “Fargo” and (sorry, this is reality TV :P) “Face Off.” I have always loved “Futurama” and “South Park.”
Your favorite song? Why?
Radiohead’s “How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found.” I’ve battled with depression and anxiety my whole life, and I think the lyrics encompass feelings that I’ve had when I’ve been in my depressive states. I cannot listen to the song without experiencing a catharsis of crying.
Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life?
My mom is the biggest inspiration in my life. She grew up around alcoholism and violence, yet became a loving and compassionate mother. She has endured and survived ovarian cancer, and now in her retirement, she volunteers as a baby cuddler at a downtown hospital.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully, making and acting in my own interesting, challenging, and fun projects.
What music do you like?
If someone puts on a Golden Oldies station, I will sing and dance to that until I can no longer stand up! 50’s and 60’s music was all that my parents listened to when I was a kid, so I pretty much know all of the lyrics to all of the songs.
Your idea of a perfect Sunday is?
Taking the dog for a long walk, going for a dip in the jacuzzi, and then napping on the couch with my husband.
Any future plans you want to share with us?
I will soon be appearing in the first episode of the new season of “20 Seconds to Live,” an internationally award-winning horror/comedy web series. I am also currently working with a fantastic screenwriter to craft a dark comedy feature film about the preventative surgeries I have undergone as a result of my BRCA-1 mutation. Our hope is to spread awareness of the difficult choices women are forced to make when they are carriers of the genetic mutation.
What is your favorite healthy food?
And your favorite cheat food?
I don’t like to think of food in that way. All food keeps us alive!
Do you support any charity?
I love MEND Poverty (mendpoverty.org), an organization whose mission statement is “to break the bonds of poverty by providing basic human needs and a pathway to self-reliance.” Some of the ways they do this is through donating food, providing dental check-ups, and offering career training. I have volunteered as a tutor with the youth at MEND, and I love the people and what they are doing for the community.
Who is your biggest beauty inspiration?
Meryl Streep. Nothing fake. Just gorgeous.
What is your own definition of happiness?
My 11th grade English teacher proposed this exact question to us as we began the school year. After reading many classics of American Literature, we all agreed that true happiness is being exactly where you want to be, doing what you want to do, without wanting to be anywhere else. Finding a situation like that is rare, but I am lucky enough to feel that way when I’m performing.
3 things you can’t leave home without?
My cell phone (of course :P), Burt’s Bees lip balm, and a kiss from my husband.
Best advice ever given?
“If not now, when.”
If you had a time machine what year would you go back to and why?
I would go back to visit 13-year-old Devin in the year 1994 when my mom was in the hospital with stage 4 ovarian cancer. I would comfort her, let her cry in my arms, and let her know that being scared was okay.
Any advice for upcoming actors?
Pound that pavement and don’t give up! Let every rejection wash off of your back and move on to the next thing!
Where we can follow you?
Book: “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov
Quote: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” –Gandalf from “The Lord of the Rings”
Drink: Power of 7 juice from Trader Joe’s
Movie: “Shaun of the Dead”
Tv Series: “Futurama”
Holiday Destination: New Zealand (because Lord of the Rings was filmed there and because it is probably the most beautiful place on earth!)
Sports Team: I’m not a huge follower of sports, but I’d have to say the Lakers. I’m an L.A. girl after all!