For actress Hannah Zeile, her life completely changed when she landed the role of teenager Kate Pearson on NBC’s drama This Is Us. In fact, she was building burritos for customers before her life turned upside down.
“I was working at Chipotle, and I hadn’t acted in four years. I kind of put it aside and went to high school, and when I turned 18 and all the labor laws changed, I was like, ‘I’m really passionate about this. This is what I want to do,’ ” she told The Hollywood Reporter In Studio. “So I had to get my headshots redone, called my manager back, and this was actually my first audition back.”
It only took one audition and a private meeting with the show’s creator, Dan Fogelman, and Zeile was in. Since then, she’s portrayed Kate’s emotional journey as a teenager dealing with her weight and insecurities, which has resonated with millions of viewers.
“I think it’s really cool because the storylines, although they’re tough, they’re sometimes dark and not easy material, but it’s really powerful,” she said. “I meet women all the time on the streets that are crying. Not just like, ‘I like the show.’ They’re really like, ‘I was Kate in high school. I had that experience in the dressing room. I’ve been through this.’ ”
As for how Zeile deals with those heavy, emotional scenes on This Is Us, she told THR that positive affirmations and quietness help get her back into the right mindset.
“It’s kind of funny; after I have a really intense, emotional day, I actually drive home in silence,” she said. “That sounds really weird, but I kind of just do self-affirmations, and I reflect a lot and talk to myself and just get back into positivity. And then probably go home and watch a comedy movie or something. Something to brighten the mood.”