×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Pamela Adlon on Learning From Tracey Ullman and Seeing Her Daughters Become Actors

“Better Things” star and showrunner Pamela Adlon has done scores of TV guest shots over the years, but one gig in particular made a big impression on her just as she was about to enter the world of parenthood.

Adlon was a guest player in a 1996 episode of Tracey Ullman’s HBO sketch comedy series “Tracey Takes On …” She doesn’t remember much about the role other than she played a staunch feminist type at a rally. But she does remember what she observed off camera from how Ullman ran her show.

“She had two little kids at home. There was trouble shooting that day and I remember her telling all of us ‘I want to get home by or before dinner because otherwise, what’s the point?’ ” Adlon, speaking to Variety for her cover story, recalls.

Ullman famously goes to great lengths to bring to life her wide repertoire of sketch characters. Adlon watched with admiration as Ullman moved through the day making quick decisions right and left. It was clear to all that Ullman was in command of her set and the day’s schedule.

“I watched her stop and price out how much it would cost to make a long catwalk or a roundabout for one scene,” Adlon recalls. “I watched her make all of these decisions. That was imprinted on me when I became a new mom. I watched Tracey write, direct, star, and showrun and do her character’s makeup and prosthetics, all in a one-day span. That was imprinted on me. I think she is the greatest.”

Adlon has now reached the stage of seeing two of her three daughters follow in her footsteps as actors. Gideon Adlon, 21, was seen in the Universal comedy “Blockers” last year and has logged guests shots on such series as CBS’ “Criminal Minds” and ABC’s “American Crime.” Odessa Adlon, 19, had a recurring role on CMT’s “Nashville” and is a regular on the new CBS sitcom “Fam.”

Adlon never pushed her daughters into acting. Nor did she discourage them.

“I’m thrilled for them,” she says. “I’m not one of those f—— hypocrites who would be like ‘No, not my child’ and I’m doing all of this acting.”

As she explored in Season 3 of her acclaimed FX comedy series, Adlon feels that a primary job of a parent is to help steer kids onto the path of figuring out what they want to do with their lives.

“I feel like that greatest thing that we can have them hold on to is the idea that kids need to have a passion. I don’t care what it is,” Adlon says. After a beat, she adds: “OK, I would draw the line at Nazi porn. But anything above or below that, if you like it, do it. You just want your kids to be engaged and to be passionate about something. If our kids lose faith (in themselves), we’re doomed.”

More TV

  • 60 Minutes" reporter Lara Logan takes

    Lara Logan Says She's Been 'Targeted' for Her Claims of Liberal Media Bias

    Former CBS News foreign correspondent Lara Logan appeared on “Hannity” Wednesday evening to expand on her recent remarks characterizing the media as “mostly liberal.” “It’s obvious, right, because you get targeted,” she said, explaining her earlier comments that she was committing “professional suicide” by criticizing the media. “It’s the same group of people, they’re already [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    'Empire' Producers Consider Suspending Jussie Smollett (EXCLUSIVE)

    Fox is considering removing Jussie Smollett from production on “Empire.” Sources close to the production told Variety that producers are weighing whether to suspend the actor after he was charged Wednesday in Chicago with filing a false police report. A spokesperson for 20th Century Fox Television, which produces the series, declined to comment. Smollett’s status on [...]

  • Game of Thrones Final Season: Best

    The Best 'Game of Thrones' Merch to Get You Ready for the New Season

    We’re just weeks away from the premiere of the final season of “Game of Thrones,” and whether you’re a die-hard fan, on the hunt for a novelty gift, or a serious collector hoping to nab some memorabilia before the series signs off for good, we’ve found 10 pieces of merch that pay tribute to one [...]

  • Ryan KadroPaleyLive NY: The News Is

    Ryan Kadro Will Join Quibi to Oversee News Programming (EXCLUSIVE)

    Ryan Kadro left CBS News several weeks ago, but he isn’t leaving the news business. Kadro, the former executive producer of “CBS This Morning” is set to join Quibi, the company led by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman that is devoted to short-form  content. Kadro is expected to oversee news programming for the subscription-based service, [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Charged With Filing False Police Report

    “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with filing a false police report, the Chicago police said Wednesday. “Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter. Smollett is due to appear in court for a bond hearing at 1:30 p.m. [...]

  • Coast Guard Lieutenant Hit List

    Coast Guard Lieutenant Targeted CNN, MSNBC Anchors and Democrats for Attacks

    Anchors at CNN and MSNBC and prominent Democrats were targeted for attack by a Coast Guard lieutenant arrested Friday on a firearms charge, according to federal prosecutors in Maryland. In court documents revealed Tuesday, prosecutors describe the firearms and controlled substance charges Christopher Paul Hasson is facing as “the proverbial tip of the iceberg.” CNN’s [...]

  • TV News Roundup: HBO Releases 'The

    TV News Roundup: HBO Drops Trailer for 'The Case Against Adnan Syed' (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, HBO released the first official trailer for its upcoming docu-series “The Case Against Adnan Syed,” and Freeform announced three new cast members for its upcoming comedy series “Besties,” starring Jordin Sparks. DATES Netflix’s upcoming docu-series “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” is set to premiere March 8 on the streaming platform. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content