Lennon Parham interview: ‘Minx’

For actor Lennon Parham, it wasn’t hard to get a grasp on her “Minx” character, Shelly, a stay-at-home mom who begins to embrace her inner longings in the debut season of the HBO Max comedy. “It was immediate,” she tells Gold Derby in a new webchat about her instinctual response to her character. “I read the [audition] sides first, then followed by the pilot… I was like, ‘Oh, I know who this woman is, I know how to make her funny’ — I connected to her immediately.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

Created by Ellen Rapoport, “Minx” is set in 1970s Los Angeles and follows Joyce Prigger (Ophelia Lovibond), an earnest young feminist who joins forces with a low-rent publisher (Jake Johnson) as her last resort to get her anti-patriarch publication onto the world. Together with said publisher, named Doug, she creates the titular erotic magazine for women, which also features essays from a progressive female perspective. As Shelly, Parham plays Joyce’s older sister, a Pasadena housewife and mother of three who is initially the representative of mainstream American womanhood. But as the season presses on, it becomes clear that she is due for an awakening of her own.

SEE our interview with ‘Minx’ star Ophelia Lovibond

This trajectory is hinted at as early as in Parham’s very first scene, in which Shelly, titillated by the opportunity for Joyce after watching her spin her wheels for far too long, pushes her sister to accept Doug’s offer to create the erotic magazine. When Joyce expresses her dissatisfaction with the idea of Doug as her collaborator, Shelly uses her husband (Rich Sommer) as an example of not getting everything you want but still being generally happy. “She isn’t the happiest she’s ever been, but that’s the deal, that’s where we are,” explains Parham, who also touches on how the magazine opens up a whole new world for Shelly once Joyce asks her to help out. The actor continues, “That was enough for her — or so she thought until she was introduced to this amazing new, titillating world. And she realised that oh, no, other people are doing it in very different ways and [are] very fulfilled on multiple levels, and [that] you don’t have to do it the way that you’re doing it.”

Even though Shelly appears at first to be a platonic ideal of a ’70s housewife, she proves to actually be more open-minded than her sister when it comes to, for instance, discussions about (naked) men and self-pleasure. “It feels like Joyce has been reading the books but hasn’t had the actual practice,” says Parham about her onscreen sister, a textbook feminist and Vassar College graduate. She expands, “So, she didn’t have the street smarts, whereas Shelly has been on the streets of motherhood and wifehood and [been] keeping a house together and everything. So, [Joyce] is actually the one who is most in need of these feminist, these equitable changes. And I think for Joyce, that feels scary in practice… We can talk about equity and we can talk about sexual liberation all we want, but when it actually comes to being sexually liberated, that’s, I think, terrifying for her, whereas for Shelly, I mean, she’s been doing it just in secret as a survival mechanism, really.”

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UPLOADED Jun 5, 2022 3:00 pm