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BWW Interview: Sara Bareilles Hopes LITTLE VOICE Speaks to Its Younger Audience

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BWW Interview: Sara Bareilles Hopes LITTLE VOICE Speaks to Its Younger Audience

Today, July 10, Apple TV is debuts its highly-anticipated new drama series, Little Voice, from J.J. Abrams and the award-winning team behind the global hit musical "Waitress," Sara Bareilles and Jessie Nelson.

"Little Voice" is a half-hour coming-of-age drama series that features new, original music from Grammy-winner and Emmy and Tony Award-nominee Sara Bareilles and marks her first foray into television.

A love letter to the diverse musicality of New York, "Little Voice" is a story about finding your authentic voice-and the courage to use it. The series follows Bess King (played by Brittany O'Grady), a uniquely talented performer struggling to fulfill her dreams while navigating rejection, love, and complicated family issues.

We spoke with Sara Bareilles about the series, and what she hopes audiences take from it! Read the interview below!


[What was it like creating Little Voice?

This show has been one left turn after another, from the invitation of JJ [Abrams] to consider working in television at all, which was not something I had been pursuing or even thinking was possible, to getting to continue my collaboration with Jessie post Waitress, to just dreaming up a world that loosely inspired by my life. There's lots of anecdotal stories and moments that live in Bess' world that feel very familiar to me. Getting to create the world for a young woman, finding her voice as an artist and as a person in New York city was a tremendous opportunity and a gift dream up some creative ways to tell a story about a person finding their way. One of the shows that I loved when I was a freshman in college when it came out was Felicity, which is one of JJ's early shows, and so that was one of the inspirations to me, was thinking about how much that show meant to me at that time to see a young woman trying things and failing and falling in love and making mistakes. I loved getting to watch at that age, so it was really fun to create this world for Bess. I hope that it really speaks to an audience out there.

BWW Interview: Sara Bareilles Hopes LITTLE VOICE Speaks to Its Younger Audience

I love how the series doesn't shy away from showing the hardship and struggle that comes with trying to make it as a creative person in New York.

I love the messiness of being a young person and how scrappy you have to be and how relentless your ambition has to be. You can't lose sight of what you're aiming for, and there's so much hardship to get through. And it's a really romantic time, everything feels possible, but just out of your reach, so there's just all this grasping and reaching and trying, and it's so hopeful.

As you said the show is loosely based on your life, so what was it like reliving those moments for the show?

It's really interesting. The things that really stick with me are the times where I felt like I was having to question the difference between compromise and collaboration, the times where I felt like, "Am I sacrificing too much? Is this what I want?" There's so much noise in this industry, there's so many people who are willing and ready to share their opinion of how you should be and how you should live your life, especially if you're pursuing an artistic endeavor, everybody's an expert on what you should do. So, I think it's really interesting to explore the themes of a young person grappling with that for the first time and having to kind of quell the noise of the chaos to find their own true voice in all of it. I love watching her try and fail and realizing that like, "Oh right, failure is a part of this journey too." It's not glamorous, my memories of that time of my life were of me being a staggering mess, but I had the best time.

After working on Waitress, what was it like transitioning from making music for the stage to the screen?

It was interesting. I was so grateful to have had the background of working on Waitress, in the sense of getting to examine how to make music fit within the narrative. Jessie and I also had such a nice rapport and an easy language that developed between the two of us in that regard. It was ambitious, when I look back, we, we just stacked the show with music because we both love it and we have tons of ideas and things we want to see happen on screen and realizing we took some big swings and I'm really proud of how it came out. The main challenge to me with with capturing things on screen is that you can't do as many things live as I thought you could, simply because of ambient noise, interruptions, and continuity. With the number of times you have to shoot something in order to get all the angles, you can't have somebody sing something 65 times, it's just not fair. I'm having to learn how that works, but we got a ton of live performance, I was so proud of that, because we really pushed for that. Everything about making a TV show was harder than I thought it would be. So I got schooled.

BWW Interview: Sara Bareilles Hopes LITTLE VOICE Speaks to Its Younger AudienceWhat was the process for casting the characters for the series?

We really were on the hunt for just the right people. Jesse said it beautifully, how this show was really born out of our love for New York City. We both had moved here primarily to work on Waitress. This is the most diverse city I've ever been in my entire life, so you can't make a show about New York and not make it a diverse one. The challenge with some of the casting, like Bess, for example, we saw thousands of girls and when Brittany arrived, which was very, very, very late in the process, there was just sort of a recognition of like, "Oh my gosh, hello, hi, Bess." You're looking for that thing that you're waiting to see, and you almost can't even put words to it. She had this beautiful searching quality about her, she's just so open, so ready, so kind, and she's a mess in her own ways that are very endearing. She also has a beautiful voice and is a beautiful actress, and those are tough combination to find. The show naturally created organically, this really beautiful, diverse representation of what the world really looks like here in NYC.

What do you hope audiences take away from watching Little Voice?

One of the main things I hope people take from it is that life is messy and it's okay to fail. It is a part of the journey and the more we can embrace the fact that we're all kind of in this one massive free fall together. There is nothing, but groundlessness in this life, we can't be sure of anything, so the bravery and the courage comes by just walking into the unknown together to face what it is. You look at the moment we're inside of historically, contextually, politically, our consciousness as humanity, we're facing incredible challenges and we don't know what it's going to look like, but we have to keep facing forward and walking into the fire.


Sara Bareilles most recently was starring in Waitress in the West End. Sara composed the music and lyrics for Waitress, and made her Broadway debut in the role of Jenna in June 2017. Sara received her first Tony Award nomination for Best Score and a 2017 Grammy Award nomination for Best Musical Theater Album.

Bareilles first achieved mainstream critical praise in 2007 with her widely successful hit "Love Song," which reached No. 1 in 22 countries around the world from her debut album Little Voice. Since then, Sara has gone on to receive six Grammy nominations, which include Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Love Song" and one Album of the Year for her highly acclaimed third studio album, The Blessed Unrest. Her book, Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song, was released in the fall of 2015 by Simon & Schuster and is a New York Times best seller. "What's Inside: Songs from Waitress," her most recent solo studio album, is out on Epic Records.

Photo Credits: Courtesy of Apple TV+


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