This interview was originally published on 9/29/21.
Emma Kenney and Ames McNamara are two of the stars of the popular television series The Conners! This series is a spinoff of the popular comedy Roseanne. Kenney plays Harris Conner-Healy and McNamara plays Harris’s brother Mark Conner-Healy.
Both stars are quite young but already known for multiple roles. In addition to his time as Mark Conner-Healy, McNamara is most known for The Dead Don’t Die and Intensive Care. Beyond her role as Harris Conner-Healy, Kenney is best known for Shameless, Epic and Bittersweet.
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with both stars on the fourth season of The Conners. Here is what they had to say about the show, their characters, acting and everything in between!
*These interviews have been edited for clarity.
Interview with Emma Kenney
Becca Stalnaker: What is the most special thing in your opinion about your character?
Emma Kenney: Um, the most special thing about my character, I think, is that she is basically just, you know, a teenage girl growing and learning about herself every day and the world at hand.
BS: Do you relate to your character in real life?
EK: Yeah, definitely. I mean, yeah, Definitely, um, in certain ways for sure.
BS: If you could play any other character on the show, who would you choose and why?
EK: Aunt Jackie is really fun to watch, but I don’t know if, I would not be able to live up to her character, so maybe I would not choose to play her, but I would love to at the same time.
BS: What has been your favorite episode to film thus far?
EK: We’ve really like, as cliche as it sounds, we’ve really had some fun episodes in general. Like we’ve done so many now too, I don’t really know how many, but we typically do like 22 episodes a season so there’s a lot to choose from. So I don’t even know if I have a specific favorite. I really liked when Harris was protesting, the sets were really cool and I thought the storyline was great and I liked that Harris was standing up for what she believed in.
BS: Okay. Is there a particular episode in this new season that you’re really excited for audiences to see?
EK: I think Dan and Louise’s wedding will be fun for her audiences to watch, and it’ll be fun for the actress to film as well.
BS: If the show were to end, what would be next for you?
EK: Um, the next gig. (Laughs)
BS: What would be your ideal role to play in the future?
EK: Um, an ideal role. I don’t know if I have a specific role in mind, I actually do have one in mind but I’m a little bit superstitious so I won’t say it out loud. But, um, I would love to do an action movie. I’ve always wanted to do an action movie or like a horror movie I love scary movies.
BS: What’s your favorite scary movie?
EK: Oh, my favorite The Shining. It’s so classic but it’s so freakin good I could watch it any day.
BS: What about action movies, if you had to pick a favorite?
EK: Oh, I like some James Bond. I like, I love a shark movie like a good shark movie where people are, you know, out, doing their thing on a boat and then the shark comes and attacks. Those are always fun to watch or like an end of the world movie. Oh, 2012 I like that movie.
BS: What has been your favorite thing about playing Harris?
EK: Um, my favorite thing about playing Harris, I mean it’s fun to do a series because you really get to like, have different phases of the character you know that you’re also going through on your own life, everybody’s got phases and next chapters, so it’s definitely fun to grow with a character and I’m, I’m really lucky and grateful that I get to do that, I have been able to do that in the past as well.
BS: What’s your favorite thing about being an actress in general?
EK: I mean it’s just so fun. Like, it really is just, it’s just a good time and It’s kind of, you know I don’t really know what else I would do. I’d figure it out, obviously if I wasn’t acting but I’m just really grateful that I get to do what I love every day and people get to watch it.
BS: Going back to the first time you ever played this particular character would you change anything now that you’ve got grown more accustomed to that character?
EK: Of course I think I mean if I watched any of my old episodes back of anything or movies or anything like I’d probably have some ideas that I wish I had done or changed but you know why live in the past, I guess.
BS: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to get into acting?
EK: I would tell them to be fearless, and to not take no for an answer.
BS: You already said you didn’t know what else you would do, but that’s my next question if you weren’t acting, what else would you be doing?
EK: Um, realistically I would probably be a veterinarian.
BS: A veterinarian. Okay. Do you look forward to future seasons, playing this character?
EK: Absolutely I definitely look forward to growing with the character and growing with the cast on and off-screen, and the crew as well everybody’s since honestly such a lovely set and everybody is so kind and hardworking, and just a very, very good environment.
BS: Okay. If there was one thing that you could have happened to your character, what would that be?
EK: Oh, one thing I would have done to my character… maybe she’s getting into being a tattoo artist this season maybe her looking to open up her own tattoo shop, that could be cool.
BS: Okay, and this is my last question. If you could change any one thing about your character, what would it be?
EK: If I could change anything about my character. I don’t know if there’s anything I would change. I like my character, and everybody’s a work in progress, I think, on and off-screen.
Interview with Ames McNamara
Becca Stalnaker: My first question is, what is your favorite thing about the character that you play?
Ames McNamara: Oh man that’s a question. So I think one thing that I really enjoy is what Mark represents and what Mark is to a lot of people, and I think you know having the representation of Mark as a character on TV is great. So I think that it’s an honor to be able to portray this character. That’s one of my favorite things. Also, I just think he’s the funny guy. I think he has some funny lines here and there that I really, you know I enjoy saying and I also just enjoy the things that he has with his family, you know, I think that’s really fun.
BS: Has there been a particular moment, while filming that has been particularly special to you?
AM: Well, so, last, last season, with COVID and all that Mark dealt with, you know, sort of anxiety about COVID, and personally, that’s something that I had dealt with as well. So I think it was very helpful, very almost therapeutic I guess in a way for me to be able to do that and sort of express my own feelings through Mark and I think you know that was, something that was really helpful for me. And I just was glad that because you know it’s not just me, it’s not just Mark, who’s dealt and is still dealing with these issues. So I think that was really not only helpful for me, I think was really impactful to show that on TV.
BS: Is there any aspect of the character that you really relate to?
Ames: I mean, I just think his what his relationship with his family and his, his relationships with Harris, for example, his sister. I have a younger sister and, you know, she’s definitely not getting up to all the bad things that Harris does, but I think that you know, any sibling relationship has some parallels to a real-life sibling relationship. So I think that’s something that I can definitely relate to and I hope that I’ll have more scenes where we can sort of explore the Mark/Harris relationship, this season.
BS: When it comes to this season that just started. Is there a particular episode that you’re excited for people to see?
AM: I mean really was the live show, I feel like that was, that was a great way to kick the season off, and a great way for the audience to sort of get ready for this season. And, yeah I just was, I think that’ll be great and, you know, that’s, yeah, and the wedding episode is another episode that I really cannot wait for. It’ll, it’ll be as we saw in the Live episode, you know, there’s, there’s some tension not real tense but some, some things behind going into the planning of that wedding episode how the wedding Dan and Louise’s wedding and how it all comes together. So I think that that’ll be fun, and that’ll be fun for the viewers to see and I’m excited to do that.
BS: What’s your favorite thing about being an actor?
AM: I think maybe getting to step into someone else’s shoes, and sort of creating your own separate world inside of your head, I feel like that’s really cool, and I think, you know, it’s, it’s like, it’s like reading a book, which I love to do you, you sort of step into this other world, this other place and it’s where you can escape from what’s happening in your real life. So, I think, you know, with an actor it’s slightly different because you, you can relate your real life, what you’re going through in real life to your character, but I think that that’s really cool to do.
BS: In the future, what would be your ideal character to play?
AM: So, there’s a few. One, the first acting thing I ever did was a school play, And so I love doing plays and musicals and all that so I think that I don’t know about necessarily my dream character, but I know my dream role would probably be on like a Broadway play. I just think that’s also why I really enjoyed the live episode, because, because it felt really like a play, it’s you know short you only have one shot at it. And there’s a live audience in front of you so I think that was, that was really cool because it felt very much like a play. And so, it was, I really enjoyed that. I mean, I always think, you know, it would be super cool if I played like a super spy role like, I feel like that would be super cool to do as well.
BS: Definitely. What’s your favorite Broadway play?
AM: Probably Hamilton, definitely Hamilton, yeah I just, I love the music I love the, just the story and I also love history so you know it’s a great aspect of it. That, I think it talks about history in a really cool way.
BS: What’s your favorite song from Hamilton?
AM: This is tough. This is tough, maybe My Shot. I mean, I feel like that’s like one that everyone likes but I feel like it’s a really good one.
BS: Back to The Conners. Do you look forward to future seasons?
AM: Yeah I mean I think, you know, I’m just along for the ride, I’m excited to see where Mark goes in this season or whenever, and I think that just where the writers will take the show and what will happen to the Conner family, I think, no matter if I’m on the show, or if I’m not, I’ll always be interested in that.
BS: If you could play any other character on the show, who would it be?
AM: oh I have to say, aunt Jackie. I mean it’s hard for me to say I want to play [her] because the way that Laurie, Laurie Metcalf plays that role is just hilarious. With her physicality and just her delivery on the lines I feel like it’s just such a funny role, and I mean, I feel like I would love to play that although I don’t think I could do nearly as much justice as Laurie.
BS: Well, I’m not sure exactly how much time we have left, but I do only have one more big question. And that is what would be next for you if this show were to end?
AM: I don’t know, I mean, really, it’s hard to tell. I don’t know I just feel like the main thing I would do is focus on school. I know that’s what I would do, I think. You know I love school, school is a big part of my life and so that would be, what I would focus on, I do right now, you know, but I would definitely make sure that that would be something that I would continue doing, pursue other studies but in terms of being an actor you know like, you never know what projects are going to come your way. So I think that it’s really difficult to tell.
The Conners season four premiered live on ABC on Wednesday, September 22. Be sure to look for new episodes every week at 9 p.m. ET Wednesdays. New episodes will be available on-demand as well as on Hulu the following day.
Check out the promo for the live episode of The Conners!
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