Zoe Lister-Jones Q&A: ‘Life in Pieces’ and ‘Confirmation’
Zoe Lister-Jones chatted with us via webcam (watch above) about her two very different roles this past TV season: as new mother Jen in the CBS comedy “Life in Pieces” and as Joe Biden‘s adviser Carolyn Hart in HBO’s docudrama “Confirmation.”
“Life in Pieces” ended its first year as one of the season’s highest-rated new shows, and the official announcement of its renewal came on May 11. “It was very exciting. My co-star came over and we danced to Beyonce for a good hour,” she admits on learning the good news.
When we first meet Jen in the pilot episode of “Life in Pieces,” she’s already in the delivery room giving birth to her first child. Lister-Jones loved that “ballsy” introduction to the character: “To start in the throes of labor, defecating on a table, and then having to deal with [Colin Hanks] sticking a frozen glove up my hoo-ha — it was hilarious and very real and very raw, and for network television was pushing a lot of amazing boundaries.”
What’s more, “It’s such a relatable character for so many women in this country and around the world who are dealing with similar issues: what it means to have your first child and to really see the nitty-gritty and behind-the-scenes of what that means rather than the picture-perfect, cookie-cutter life that we often see on screen.” In the “Life” season finale it was revealed that Jen is pregnant yet again, so Lister-Jones hopes to push more boundaries in season two.
As for “Confirmation,” the actress’s interest in the story of Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas hit close to home. “I had a very vivid memory of watching Anita Hill‘s testimony on television with my mom. I was nine when it happened in 1991 … I was really sensitive to my mom’s focus on this particular hearing,” she explains. “It has stuck with me throughout my life because I have, through my mother’s lens, been able to always recall [Anita Hill] as an unsung hero in this country.”
Now 25 years after the confirmation hearings, the film is especially important as a reminder of how far women have come and how far they still have to go to achieve equality in the workplace and in Washington’s halls of power. “I think as history has progressed the real nature of what this confirmation hearing and her testimony brought to light, and how it shifted a paradigm in this country around sexual harassment and gender equity, has kind of been lost.”