Growing up in Alexandria, actress and writer Casey Wilson spent her high school years playing field hockey, going camping with her Girl Scout troop and dabbling in T.C. Williams’ theatrical productions every chance she got.
“I was in all the musicals, they even let me direct one,” she said Friday in a phone interview from Los Angeles to talk about her new TV show, “Happy Endings.”
In the show, she plays Penny, a single gal looking for Mr. Right. “Penny is single, yet hopeful,” Wilson says with a laugh. “Lots of characters are single but jaded, but she’s optimistic. ‘He’s got quirks, but he’s sweet.' "
With its ensemble cast (it includes Elisha Cuthbert who played Jack Bauer’s daughter on “24”) of six unmarried friends, some critics are comparing the new show to “Friends.”
“It’s an edgy comedy,” Wilson said. “It’s about how close you become to your friends, and how they’re like your family at that point in your life.”
Wilson, who graduated from T.C. Williams in 1998, has enjoyed a career that spans TV, films and theater. A featured player on “Saturday Night Live” for two seasons, her film roles include parts in “Julie and Julia,” “Killers,” and “Bride Wars,” which she also co-wrote.
Her love for comedy comes from her family and in particular, her mother Kathy, she said. “My mom had a wild sense of humor, very dry.” She died unexpectedly in 2005, from heart failure, when she was 54.
To honor her memory, the family created the Kathy Wilson Foundation, which donates thousands of dollars to area preschools and daycare centers. Wilson served for many years as director of the Abracadabra Child Care and Development Center, a non-sectarian school for children ages 2-5 affiliated with Baptist Temple Church (now Commonwealth Baptist Church).
“My dad [Paul Wilson] had a board meeting just last night,” said Casey, who serves as a vice president for the foundation, along with her brother, Fletcher. Casey attended the meeting via speakerphone. “We gave out grants to 13 different childcare centers this year in Alexandria,” she said.
Wilson also shares her family’s love of politics (her dad is a political consultant and her mother chaired the National Women’s Political Caucus), leading her to volunteer for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign.
“It was my first year of ‘SNL,’ and I went on the road with Hillary Rodham Clinton,” she said. “I spent almost two weeks in Iowa. I told them I’d love to volunteer and suddenly I was introducing her and her husband at rallies. It was a surreal kind of experience, speeding along with them. I was very much in support of her as I know my mom would have been.”
In addition to having a new TV show debuting, Wilson will perform in “The Realest Real Housewives" next week. It's a show she helped create at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles. The show’s dialogue comes straight from the mouths of the real “Housewives” on Bravo.
“Live performance is the most fun," Wilson said. "It's so immediate."
“Happy Endings” airs Wednesdays on ABC beginning April 13, at 10 p.m. ET.