Kiwi actress Kimberley Crossman talks working with Shatner and Smith on E!'s Hashtaggers
The US network that helped create Kim Kardashian, Holly Madison and Chelsea Handler as global celebrities is now assisting one Kiwi actress in furthering her career.
To her and her parents probable relief though, Kimberley Crossman isn't the star of the latest E! Channel reality series, instead she's the female lead in the company's new "digital" comedy Hashtaggers.
The bubbly 26-year-old plays the bossy Nicky, one of four employees at a social media agency that aims to help celebrities with their Twitter accounts. The nine eight-minute episodes feature the likes of for former Beverly Hills 90210 star Ian Ziering, film director Kevin Smith and acting legend William Shatner..
Speaking during a recent "working visit" back to these shores, Crossman says it was "nice to have some of these legends come into our silly little social media show and really embrace it".
Singling out Clerks and Chasing Amy director Smith as her favourite, she describes him as a "ball of energy". "He was all about sticking around and trying different alternatives. He was a lot of fun and gave us some great advice in-between takes."
Crossman, who first entered Kiwis' consciousness by playing Shortland Street's Sophie McKay between 2006 and 2011, says it was her desire to "broaden her resume" and play "diverse and different roles" that attracted her to Hashtaggers.
"I wasn't completely sure about it being just a digital series initially, but I thought the premise was really funny and I knew that the people that were involved [production companies Protagonist and Stunt Creative] are focused on developing young talent and investing in them and leaving them to own devices. Plus, it was the lead in a comedy series, so it wasn't a long conversation."
Describing it as a "dream job", Crossman says she loved how the actors' input into the scripts was "really welcomed". "I felt challenged because the rest of the cast were very strong comedicly, but, at the same time, I felt like I was adding value, rather than just being cast as an actor who had to be funny."
So impressed were E! by the early results that they ordered an extra episode on top of the original eight they had commissioned and there's now talk that the show may be picked up for a second season by them or someone else and even turned into a more traditional half-hour sitcom.
"I think the characters are strong enough and the world is funny enough that it can definitely live in a half-hour slot," Crossman believes.
Not that she's got her career on hold awaiting any decision. Instead, this bundle of energy is pouring her talents into other projects, including pitching her own ideas to Hollywood executives. "My friend Katie [Wilbert] and I have started a production company called Happy Wife Inc. We're developing content and shows for other production companies and networks, as well as writing for the likes of Comedy Central.
"I do feel that in the world I'm in, you're shooting yourself in the foot if you can't write sketches as well as act in them. Look at SNL [long-running comedy series Saturday Night Live], the people in the most sketches are the ones who write them for themselves."
Acting wise, Crossman is looking forward to the release of her biggest film so far, American Football rom-com The Sixty Yard Line, later this year and she recently signed on for an action-orientated movie which begins filming in Montreal in August.
Don't think that means we won't see her in Kiwi productions in the near future though, in fact far from it. She plays the "psychotic" Lily in Terry Teo, the long-awaited adaptation of 1980s comic-books (which will finally begin airing on TVNZ on Demand later this month), and has recently been filming the second-series of Mediaworks' female-driven sketch comedy series Funny Girls.
Of the latter, she says she really loves the different characters she get to play in the sketches.
"It allows me to really stretch. But, to be honest, just to be with that cast is great. They are all household names and great comedic talents, so to be part of that family is a real honour."
Hashtaggers begins airing on TVNZ on Demand from July 1, with Terry Teo debuting on the same platform on July 12.