It’s hard to imagine the uptight accountant and cat fanatic Angela Martin from “The Office” being dynamic enough to host an awards show, but the actress who plays her, Angela Kinsey, is more than ready for the gig. The 40-year-old comedic actress will take the helm as host of tonight’s 2012 Gracie Awards Gala in Beverly Hills. Presented by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation, the event recognizes women who have been involved in outstanding programming in radio, TV, and digital media and, this year, will recognize ladies including Giada de Laurentiis, Sally Field, Niecy Nash, Rachel Maddow, and Angie Harmon. Kinsey talked to Yahoo! TV about her concerns about hosting the show (teleprompter trouble!), the challenges female comics face, and why “The Office” is better than ever for her Angela alter ego.
Why did you want to sign on as host of The Gracies?
They were looking for a host and I sort of really like doing this type of thing. I love getting out there and talking to people, and I really enjoy doing talk shows. I just enjoy chatting people up. And the Gracie Awards really is all about honoring women who are making a difference in programming in TV and film and women celebrating women. And that just makes me happy. I’m from a house full of ladies; I have three sisters, and it just makes me happy to know that some women who are behind the scenes, and in front of the camera are going to be celebrated and I get to be a part of it.
Yes, I’m super nervous. First of all, it requires reading from a teleprompter. I don’t even know that I know how to do that. I did it one time, and I only had like two lines. I mean, I pretty much memorized the lines beforehand. But there is no way I can memorize this much material, so I’m like, OK, there’s got to be at least, one mess-up right there. And I worry about making sure I get everyone’s information correct.
Is there anybody you are especially excited to meet?
I cannot wait to meet Sally Field. I’ve just been a huge fan of hers my whole life. I think I watched “Steel Magnolias” every day for like a month when it came out. I just love her.
The Gracies is all about celebrating women in the media, but as a woman in show business, do you find there are still double standards when it comes to gender?
Well without a doubt things have gotten better, but you do notice things. I mean after I had [daughter Isabelle, now 4], as far as like cast, and writers, producers … I was the only mom. The men have children, [but I was] the only mom, so I remember trying to explain how we were going to tackle breastfeeding on our shooting days, and no one else had done that on our show. I was nervous. I didn’t want to hold up filming. Being a working mom, I feel like sometimes you are the only lady in the room, especially in the comedy world. For a while, the only two women on our writing staff were Mindy Kaling and Jen Celotta. I think this year coming back, we’re going to have a few more, but definitely in the comedy world there are more men than women usually. I hope that continues to change, and women continue to have a voice in comedy.
Did you think “Bridesmaids” – which was dubbed “The Hangover” for women. – was a breakthrough for funny females?
The women in that are just incredibly funny. The one thing I remember when I went and saw it was I kind of hated that they were saying it was a female “Hangover.” I just wanted it to be “Bridesmaids.” I didn’t want it to be compared to anything else, and I thought it was hilarious. And I love that those women took chances.
Who’s a female comedian you really admire?
I think Ellen [DeGeneres] is incredibly funny because she’s smart and she’s honest. And she talks about her world. She doesn’t try to force or fabricate some kind of comedy that’s like “female” comedy. And that’s to me when I cringe.
This season was “The Office’s” first full season without Steve Carell, who played boss Michael Scott and the show had the addition of James Spader and Catherine Tate. How did that change things?
I mean people were very sad to see Michael Scott leave. He was such the center of our ensemble, but I think what we all learned is that we are a true ensemble. I felt like this season was awesome for the supporting cast because all of us got some pretty great storylines. It might not have happened if we had such a central figure. And James Spader coming was so much fun, I can’t even tell you. I was totally scared I was going to meet him, and then he was just odd, and weird, but delightful, and charming, and has like the best stories. Him and Creed Bratton, best stories ever on the set. And then Catherine coming, she is so funny. I think she would make me laugh if I watched her read the phone book. I love that these two people have such different energy from Steve. And I love Steve, dearly. He’s a good friend and has been a mentor to me, so I miss my friend, but I love the new energy on the show. We’re going into our ninth season, and it’s nice to have some new energy to mix things up. I think it keeps everyone on their toes.
What can you tell us about next season?
I can’t tell you anything because I have no idea. I mean, I know that [Monday] was the first day our writers went back. So I can’t wait. Like I kind of want to do a drop by, like, “Hey, look, I brought a basket of cookies. What you guys doing? What’s on the wall? What you doodling about?” So I’m very excited. I feel like we had a great season ending with Dwight and Angela, and this baby and the senator, so I feel like things are starting to heat up for my character a little bit, and I just love it.