Chelsea Peretti on her directorial debut in "First Time Female Director"


Chelsea Peretti, best known for her role in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” has taken on the triple threat of starring, writing, and directing in her new film, “First Time Female Director,” released Friday on Roku.

The comedy follows a woman thrust into the unexpected role of directing her own play, mirroring Peretti’s real-life venture into the realm of directing.

When she first signed onto the project, Peretti initially doubted her ability to juggle writing, acting and directing.

“I definitely tried to back out at certain points,” said Peretti.

But Peretti was convinced to stay the course, thanks in part to encouragement from her friend and producer Amy Poehler.

The film’s production, described by Peretti as a “high octane summer camp,” took 23 days. In the film, “Sam” finds directing her play more challenging than expected. Peretti faced her own challenges as a new director including screening a three-and-a-half-hour first cut of the movie for friends and family, only to find them asleep by the end.

Beyond the laughs, Peretti opened up about her personal connection to comedy, calling it the closest thing to a religion that she has. This perspective is rooted in her perspective of comedy as a survival mechanism born out of a chaotic childhood. Peretti’s parents divorced while she was growing up in Oakland.

“It’s the only thing that routinely makes everything feel like its gonna be OK,” said Peretti. 

She went from being labeled “weird” in school to becoming a respected voice in comedy. From her college days in New York to her first open mic at the Parkside Lounge, Peretti said she “just got more funny as the stakes of survival got higher.”

Her work on shows like “The Sarah Silverman Program,” “Parks and Recreation,” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” further solidified her position in the industry thanks to the support she received.

“You just need one person, who has a name, to be like, ‘I believe in you.’ And then other people are like, ‘Maybe I will, too,'” said Peretti, who is married to director Jordan Peele.

Reflecting on her breakthrough role as Gina Linetti in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” Peretti appreciated the connection fans had with her character.

“I did have a lot of teenage girls like, ‘How is Gina so confident? I wanna be like that.’ You know, and I’m like, ‘Don’t pull back the mask,'” said Peretti.

The show also reunited her with childhood friend Andy Samberg, marking a full-circle moment in her career.

“There was a production of Annie,” Peretti said. “I feel like he was Daddy Warbucks and I was like orphan No. 7. So, some things never change.”

Peretti called Andre Braugher — her co-star on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” who died of lung cancer last year — a “brilliant person and a brilliant actor.”

“I loved Andre,” Peretti said. “I really did. He’s just a special person.”

As Peretti contemplates future projects, including more directorial work and developing her own TV series, she remains both her harshest critic and biggest fan. 

“I’m like either, ‘This is terrible’ or, ‘I’m a god.'” Peretti said. “So like with my movie, I’m just trying to be really proud that I did this.”



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