Bridget Everett calls "Somebody Somewhere" her story. Photo courtesy of HBO
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Actor-singer Bridget Everett said her new show, Somebody Somewhere, premiering Sunday on HBO, is autobiographical. Everett, 49, plays Sam, a woman in Kansas who rediscovers the joy of singing with a choir group.
"This show has given me an opportunity to access some strengths and some vulnerabilities," Everett said in a Television Critics Association Zoom panel. "This is giving me the best opportunity I can to tell my story."
Sam moved back to Manhattan, Kan., to care for her ailing sister. Six months after her sister dies, Sam is struggling to move on.
An old high school show choir classmate, Joel (Jeff Hiller), invites Sam to his choir practice. Choir practice is not actually for a formal choir, but rather a weekly late night party, frequented by LGBTQ performers, though everyone is welcome.
Paul Thureen and Hannah Bos created Somebody Somewhere, which was inspired by Everett's life. Everett also is an executive producer.
"I'm not a trained actor, so for me it's easiest to tap into my resources that already exist," Everett said. "I happen to respond to stories of discovery and finding yourself."
Everett grew up in Manhattan, Kan. Like Sam, she performed in her high school's show choir, and also in high school musicals.
"When I was little, I would be walking around the playground, and we would sing, 'Hot Child in the City,'" Everett said.
After high school, Everett studied opera and vocal performance at Arizona State University. She said she thought her singing days would be over after graduation.
"I never dreamt I would end up here," Everett said. "It's just sort of a reminder you have to keep dreaming and dreaming outside of where you are."
Everett continued to wait tables as she performed standup and cabaret music. She only quit her day job around 2014 to 2015, after having opened for Amy Schumer and appearing on Schumer's TV shows and movies.
Sam works at a standardized testing office in Manhattan, where she reconnects with Joel. Everett said her real-life cabaret opportunities came when she was singing karaoke for fun.
"Jason Eagan from this theater in Ars Nova came and saw me sing in a karaoke bar," Everett said. "He was like, 'You should really do a show.'"
Everett's first album, Pound It, was released in 2013. She released another in 2015, and more singles in 2016 and 2017. The 2017 movie Patti Cake$ cast Everett as a singer and the estranged mother of an aspiring rapper.
Everett and the creators used Somebody Somewhere to give other performers the sort of chance Everett received. Everett was aware of Hiller's work. Murray Hill was cast as choir host Fred Rococo, and Mary Catherine Garrison as Sam's surviving sister Tricia, through casting sessions.
"We're all sort of the same age, and we're actually kind of having a parallel experience to Sam," Everett said. "We're finding something that suits us in our 40s."
Somebody Somewhere airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. EST on HBO.