Hey, don’t make her career talk to the hand, just because she’s beautiful.
At one time, Katrina Bowden may have been voted Esquire‘s Sexiest Woman Alive, and is (so far) best known as Cerie, the vapid intern/Lemon foil on 30 Rock, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously and win some roles with a little meat on the bone.
This is happening. Ed Burns writes, directs and executive produces Public Morals on TNT, which follows the lives, trials and lip-biting temptations of New York City’s Vice Squad in the pre-gentrified New York City of the Sixties.
In it, Katrina plays a tried-and-true Noo Yawk stereotype, but screw that: She kicks that convention out of bed and turns the tiresome cliche on its head, reimagining that usually flat character type into two more additional dimensions.
“She’s a prostitute, which seems kind of simple on paper,” Katrina tells me, “but she isn’t typically like a prostitute character. She’s sweet and innocent and mysterious and you don’t know if she’s lying. She’s a full character. There are so many layers to her.”
Just like on 30 Rock, Public Morals allows Katrina to play against some serious heavyweights, including Burns, Michael Rappaport and Elizabeth Masucci. One of the co-executive producers is a name that turns almost as many heads as if Katrina just walked by: Steven Spielberg. So, no, this isn’t another SAG-card-renewal obligation to throw on the ol’ IMDb.
“I wanted to play her outside of what her chosen career path was,” Katrina says, making it totally believable “that a cop would actually like her and fall in love with her and pursue a relationship with her. She seems more like a real person than somebody who is trying to buddy up to a cop.”
The show delivers in the wake of the new normal for post-Mad Men/Breaking Bad cable television. The bat signal is projected in the sky for considerable superheroes like Ed Burns, whose knack for mixing both heft and lift can take traditional cable networks to a new plane.
“He’s a very inspiring person,” she says of Burns. “He wants to do what he wants to do, and he actually gets it done. At the same time, he’s just a very cool and normal guy. He’s really great to be around. He directed all of the episodes in the first season, so as both an actor and a director, he knows how to talk to you and get your point across. His whole attitude is wonderful. His story is based on a lot of what his father went through, who was a plainclothes officer in the Public Morals division in New York City in the Sixties. He would come to the set a lot and tell us stories. It all comes from a real place. It’s something that means a lot to him and his family.”
Always better to work with a genius talent, as a rising tide lifts all boats. The same magic happened with a boss from another job: Tina Fey on 30 Rock.
“I was so young when I started on 30 Rock,” she says. “I was 17. [Tina] was a great role model from the very start, very inspiring, especially as a woman doing what she has been able to do. She’s just a wonderful person. I just can’t say enough good things about her.”
Is Katrina really Cerie, and vice-versa? If so, say it ain’t so, Katrina/Cerie!
“I don’t think I am,” she says. “People are often like, ‘Wow, you’re not like her at all.’ Or ‘Wow, you don’t dress like [she did].’ The writing on 30 Rock was so perfect. My goal for every line was to make another character look stupid or old or embarrassed; but also, you wanted to like her at the same time. She wasn’t supposed to be mean. I just had to find new and interesting ways to deliver the lines so that you still liked her and just kind of laughed at her instead of thinking that she was mean.”
The New Jersey native started modeling early (dad would drive her into the city for castings and audtions), which led to the 30 Rock gig, and later, being voted Esquire‘s Sexiest Woman Alive.
“I only held the title for a year, but it was very, very cool,” she says.
Men the world over know and understand all too frustratingly well how and why Katrina is sexy, but what is sexy to her?
“Someone who is confident,” she answers, without hesitation. “I think confidence wins all in that department for me. The way you hold yourself. Just being who you are and being okay with that. Often we question ourselves and we’re not so positive. Being always so sure of yourself is hard to attain all the time. So I find it sexy when I find somebody being very confident in what they are doing. And I think humor is sexy too, being able to laugh at yourself and find humor in things. Life is so short, we can’t take it too seriously. I think all of those things create a very cool personality.”
Now that the career is in first gear, Katrina divides her time between coasts, but she’ll take Manhattan. Yep, the very same city that co-stars with her. Katrina’s New York cleans up real nice and is on its best behavior, unlike the milieu of Public Morals.
“I’ve been living there for nine years now, so I feel like I’m officially a New Yorker,” she says. “It changes you. And waiting in line at Starbucks takes more than three minutes.”
True, sometimes a New York minute seems more like a Starbucks three minutes, but it looks like Katrina is quickly making her way to the front of the line.
Find out more about Public Morals here.