Sue Wilson doesn’t have a fake dog. She’s never used a connected boyfriend to get ahead in her career. There is no BlackBerry tethered to her wrists, no absurdly large bag perpetually strapped to her shoulder. And, perhaps most charmingly, her sole reason for living does not appear derived from the fact that she is—because of the current administration—now associated with the White House. (But oh, how we love you, Jonah.) As one of the characters in curious and sometimes moronic orbit around Vice President Selina Meyer in the hilarious HBO comedy Veep, Sue, played by the bright and affable Sufe Bradshaw (pronounced Soo-fee), is a master communicator, the character (besides the VP’s own daughter) most undaunted by the relative inconsequence of the veep’s lack of importance.
Yet Veep, created by the British comedy writer and director Armando lannucci, is taken to a new level with Bradshaw’s performance. As is so common in network and cable comedies, her race is not a quirk; she’s no more vulnerable by her lot in life than she is to snap her fingers, okay? She’s just real. And competent. So if Iannucci’s giving us commentary on the absurdity of American politics, the politics of race can be just as silly. Leave it to a Brit to lay that bare, intentionally or not.
Bradshaw’s views on her character’s race are also bit more complex than black and white. She talked about her craft with EBONY.com from Los Angeles. She dishes on the show, freedom to create her own material on camera, and a new documentary she’s working on to empower young people.
EBONY: You are pretty awesome on the show, by any standard. In what ways is this role different from the theater and stage work you’ve done?
Sufe Bradshaw: Doing this show reaches a higher demographic of people, a larger audience. Which is fantastic and why I love TV so much, you know? It can reach everyone around the world. As for theater, it’s really just in the town that it’s being performed in. That’s the great thing about the medium of television and film. We get to affect everybody around the world.
EBONY: Walk us through reading for the part and learning that you got it?
SB: Auditions took place about a month before we went to shoot it. The show is shot in Baltimore, Maryland. So my agent emailed me the audition, which is, like, standard. And I’m thinking, well, I have no idea what the show is, but I’ve been a fan of HBO forever, I love Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Armando Iannucci has a great track record [Laughs.]. So it sounded like a really great project to be a part of. And I go to the first audition, which was a Skype audition because the creators were in Baltimore scouting for locations.
A little secret about actors is that we never think we do a great job in auditions. We kind of just go in and do our work and leave sort of hoping for the best. It’s an interesting dynamic—acting is such an interesting job. You never quite know how well you do. So here I am. I tried to do as much research as I possibly could on the character. I went away not knowing how that went. The second day I got a call from my agent saying that I’d gotten a callback. I thought something must have worked out in the room! They must have liked something they saw. The next audition was also via Skype, but this time I was redirected to do the character in a different way. They wanted to see how flexible I was as an actor. After that happened, I thought, welp, I didn’t get that [Laughs]. ‘OK I’ll just put my head down here.’
I think about a week went by I got a call from my agent saying that they wanted to see me in Baltimore and have me do a chemistry test with Anna Chlumsky (My Girl), who plays Amy in the show. So I met Anna which was such a pleasure because I was a big fan of hers from My Girl [Laughs.] We read in Baltimore. They flew me out and put me up in a hotel for one day. I met everyone. And I walked out, thinking, ‘OK welp I didn’t get that [either]! [Laughs.] And then I got all packed up and out of the hotel. By the time the plane landed my agent called and told me that I got the job.
EBONY: Oh, wow. That was quick.
SB: It was such a great moment, I was screaming like a little girl [Laughs]. I was so happy because it was such a great milestone in my career and a great opportunity.
EBONY: What do you make of the fact that everyone in the office