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Actress Pamela Adlon on New FX Series ‘Better Things,’ Sundance Movie ‘First Girl I Loved’

Pamela Adlon — who got her start on shows that included “The Facts of Life,” and went on to voice Bobby Hill in “King of the Hill” — is co-creator (with Louis C.K.) and star of the FX series “Better Things,” which debuts Sept. 8. She can also be seen — or heard — this year in seven animated series and a film that debuted at Sundance, “First Girl I Loved.”

What was your big break?

When I think about my “big break,” I don’t think about my first job, because I was a child actor. I feel like things started turning around for me when I did [the 1996 film] “Bed of Roses.” That was right after my dad had passed away suddenly, and things started shifting for me. That film was a big deal for my career.

Do you prefer live action or voiceover acting?

I love being in the recording studio, just because it’s easier. I love it all, and I love being behind the camera, but doing voiceover is like the Holy Grail. It’s the greatest.

Do you feel like the television industry has changed since you first began acting?

Massively. I think about when I was younger, and the ways we had to shoot and film and edit ourselves. Now, when people say, “I have this idea and I want to shoot it,” there is nothing stopping them. You can do whatever you want. All you need is a cellphone camera. We’re entering the digital world, and I’ve seen the format changing.

“Better Things” is semi-autobiographical. How do you feel about audiences seeing a more vulnerable side to you?

It’s a huge gift to share your stories with people. Not everything is my personal story; it’s more about things I see in the world. But that’s the way to write. I see things and I draw inspiration from them. I think it’s an important thing for people to share with each other, particularly when women share with each other.

“First Girl I Loved” is about a young woman grappling with her sexual identity. How has the representation of such topics changed in film over the years?

It’s changed tremendously. I always say that my family is the gayest family I know. In my professional career, I had a very masculine presence. I’m very comfortable with ambiguity and with people switching genders and not having to point it out.

All of my friends and I have grown up in a very comfortable environment. In terms of film and TV, it’s just not a big fucking deal anymore. The representation is a big deal, but the fact that you don’t need to say anything or proclaim it anymore is much more important.

What you didn’t know about Pamela Adlon
AGE: 50; Hometown: New York; FAVORITE BOOK: “The Color Purple”; Favorite Album: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

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