'Glee' Producer Moonlights as Indie Band Member of Kissing Cousins
Alexis Martin Woodall—whose producing credits include "Glee" and "The Normal Heart"—plays keyboard and tambourine, and sings back-up vocals for the L.A.-based indie rock group.
When she's not juggling between producing duties on Glee, American Horror Story and The Normal Heart, which Ryan Murphy directed for HBO, producer Alexis Martin Woodall can be found "adding sparkle" to L.A.-based indie band Kissing Cousins.
"I play the keyboards, tambourine and the background instruments and also sing the back-up vocals," Woodall tells The Hollywood Reporter. While she always intended to be a producer, being in a band was never on her radar. ("Since I was six, I've been telling my parents I was moving to Hollywood to make movies," she says.)
"Beth [Ziegler, Kissing Cousin's drummer] always said that she was going to learn how to play drums. I joked with her if she did, I'd learn to play the xylophone; it was the most obscure instrument I could think of! Of course, I never thought there was actually going to be a band," recalls Woodall. "Then Beth learned how to play the drums, and at Christmas I opened up my present from Heather Heywood [the band's lead singer and songwriter]. It was a baby-blue Glockenspiel which is, essentially, a xylophone. She said, 'Start learning how to play it because we're starting a girl band.'"
That same spirit —curious, adventurous, determined—has jet-propelled Woodall's producing career. Landing in Los Angeles after film school in Colorado, she picked up a gig waiting tables while she looked for a job. ("A BFA in film production, a minor in economics, where else was I going to go?")
"I probably sent off 400 resumes a week," says Woodall. Her persistence paid off. "One of the producers on Nip/Tuck called me and asked me to come in and interview. I did and he hired me on the spot. I worked as hard as I could. I was the only girl in the postproduction department, and I showed up every day wearing heels, dressed for the job I wanted." Show creator Ryan Murphy noticed, and when his assistant took a leave of absence, he asked her to jump in. "Ryan and I just clicked. We have very similar aesthetic sensibilities and a similar sense of humor."
In fact, they got along so well that he asked her to stay on as his assistant. "I said 'Thank you so much. I love working with you, but at the end of a year with you, my skill set won't have increased.' " Murphy appreciated her candor; a week later, he called her up to offer her the associate producer job on the show. "It was sink or swim." she recalls, "And I was definitely not going to fail."
Despite the fact that the pressures of the job left her crying every night, admits Woodall, she held her own, moving up to co-producer and then producer with a front end card. Ryan Murphy Television grew, birthing American Horror Story, The New Normal and Glee. The band was also starting to heat up: They cut a record and made a video. Other people, feeling overwhelmed, might have quit. Not Woodall. She thrives on being busy, sharing, "My mother says I've been overbooked since I was six."
Jamming with her friends at night and on the weekends was just what she needed to relieve the stress of her day job. "I love the release of playing music," she confides. "It's so much fun to get up there and shake what you got." And things show no sign of slowing down in Woodall's world: Kissing Cousins are now in the studio, prepping another record set for exit on Velvet Blue Music in early 2015. On June 19 at 9 p.m., they'll be broadcasting a live performance via ConcertWindow.com, an online music venue, and there are plans for her to direct the music video for one of the album's singles.
As if producer and rock star aren't enough to keep her on her toes, she's also adding restauranteur to her resume; her husband Dave Woodall is a chef who's manned the kitchens at Blair's and Melisse. Their new restaurant, tentatively called Red Herring, will open sometime this fall on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock across from Casa Bianca.
What does the future look like? "Basically, I'm going to try and become your entertainment and nightlife guru," she says. And what's her secret for getting it all done? "It's easy because I love what I do."