Presidential scandals are always shocking, but none more so than when they involve sex – just ask Bill Clinton.
Ryan Murphy takes audiences back to the 90’s for the latest installment of his acclaimed FX drama series, “Impeachment: American Crime Story.”
The story revolves around a retelling of the sex scandal that plagued the 42nd President of the United States. This time, the point of view comes from the women involved, including the young White Intern Monica Lewinsky, her supposed confidant Linda Tripp, and the harassed Arkansas State employee Paula Jones.
Actress Stephanie Keefer
appears in the episode “Do You Hear What I Hear,” to take notes on all the juicy and sordid details Paula Jones is revealing about her harassment experience with Bill Clinton before he became the President.
The show is just the latest for Stephanie, who previously surfaced in NBC’s "Superstore" and Netflix’s "I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson." She also had roles in the sci-fi comedy feature "A Girl, A Guy, A Space Helmet," the celebrated indie series "Judgement Call," and her recurring role in the series "Old Dogs & New Tricks." Stephanie also creates her own projects, including the rom-com short, "One Dance," which broadcast nationally on CBS and FOX, and the festival short film award-winner, "Craving Greatness."
Stephanie Keefer recently answered some questions for FanPop:
Tell us about your role in “Impeachment: American Crime Story”.
STEPHANIE: In "Impeachment: American Crime Story” I play the court reporter who swears in Ms. Paula Jones (played by Annaleigh Ashford) and takes down the transcript of her deposition.
How was it to work alongside Annaleigh Ashford?
STEPHANIE: Watching Annaleigh Ashford work was fantastic. She wore prosthetic makeup and fake braces to more closely resemble Paula Jones. Mad props to the amazing hair, makeup and wardrobe departments. It was interesting to see how the makeup supported Annaleigh’s beautifully grounded character choices for Jones. Not only is she an incredibly gifted actor, but so kind and generous on set.
Did you approach this project any differently since it’s a topic that people were already aware of?
STEPHANIE: Because the subject of this show is a matter of public record, and is fundamentally a story of power and sexual abuse, I did approach this project a little differently. There was definitely a sense of responsibility—of witnessing history and also commenting on it at the same time. My character is a witness. She witnesses the testimony being given, and also the abusive questioning Paula Jones received from the Clinton lawyers. As a woman, listening to that, I was aware that the character’s opinion matters to the audience. And the director, Laure de Clermont-Tonnere, featured my reactions and the reactions of the actress who plays the judge (Maury Morgan) to help tell the story.
Any interesting stories from the set you can share with us?
STEPHANIE: Despite shooting in the middle of a pandemic, I felt so safe on set. The production assistants who helped the actors constantly put on and take off our masks and face shields were incredibly helpful. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many people after being strictly quarantined, and still feel so safe. The moment we got to take our masks off for shooting felt like this wonderful freedom.
Why do you think this story is important for people to watch right now?
STEPHANIE: I think “Impeachment: American Crime Story” is an important story to watch right now because as a country, we are still struggling to identify and eradicate sexual abuse and gender discrimination. Seeing what abuse looks like, bringing it into the sunlight, is crucial to better understanding it. The fact that Monica Lewinsky is a producer on this show matters to me. I really respect Ryan Murphy and the team for telling her perspective of the story. We are so close to having an Equal Rights Amendment in the U.S. Constitution—I think we only need five more states to ratify it, and women would have constitutionally guaranteed equal rights. We need to keep telling these stories. We need to see change.
What’s the biggest lesson you learned from working on this project?
STEPHANIE: The biggest lesson I learned from this project is really more of a reminder that every character on set builds the world. So, if I’m sitting in the room, and have no “lines,” as an actor the vital inner world and strong point of view I create for the character manifests in my physical work—the looks, the reactions, and helps tell the story.
And, now just for fun:
Who’s your favorite actor/actress?
STEPHANIE: The two performers whose work I deeply admire are Meryl Streep and Viola Davis. The way those two artists physically and vocally inhabit their characters is a master class in acting.
What role from the past do you wish you could have played?
STEPHANIE: The beautiful thing about theater is that you can play roles from the past, but if there were a film role from the past that I would love to have played, it might have to be Myrna Loy’s role of Nora Charles in “The Thin Man” films. The witty repartee is so fun!
Favorite movie or TV show from your childhood.
STEPHANIE: I grew up watching re-runs of the TV show “M.A.S.H.,” and, gender issues aside, I think it had a powerful effect on my world view. And my love of dark comedies.
Tell us one thing that would surprise our readers to learn about you.
STEPHANIE: A couple things that might be surprising to learn about me are that I love growing edible flowers in the yard and play in a weekly D&D game.
How can fans keep up with you?
STEPHANIE: Folks can find out what’s going on with me via Instagram at @stephanietkeefer link
Actress Stephanie Keefer on set of "Impeachment: American Crime Story"