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Aubrey Plaza Biography


Home > Actresses > P > Plaza, Aubrey > Biography


Birth Name: Aubrey Plaza
Born: 06/26/1984
Birth Place: Wilmington, Delaware, USA


Aubrey Plaza was born in Wilmington, DE on June 26, 1984. Puerto Rican on the side of her father, a financial planner, and Irish on the side of her mother, an attorney, Plaza was named for a song by the band Bread. She began performing as early as age eight at the Wilmington Drama League but developed her skill for instigation at the private, all-girl Ursuline Academy, staging a day of fake mustache-wearing and once following her principal home by concealing her presence inside a cardboard box. In 2002, Plaza enrolled in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and was studying improv with the Manhattan-based Upright Citizens Brigade by age 18. Prior to her 2006 graduation from NYU, Plaza worked as an NBC page at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and as a set design intern during the 2004-05 season of "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ). She also appeared in Susan Buice and Arin Crumley's "Four Eyed Monsters" (2005), an ultra-low budget independent film marketed and disseminated successfully via the Internet.



Despite a lack of professional experience, Plaza began racking up an impressive list of credits, both on television and via web-based short form comedy series. She appeared in a walk-on as an NBC page in a first season episode of the sitcom "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006- ), wearing the very uniform in which she had once conducted studio tours. She also acted in two short films, as the "Girl with Massive Head Wound" in Dan Przygoda's sci-fi comedy "Killswitch" (2006) and in a leading role in Jason Musante Klein's award-winning "In Love" (2006). She played a chemically dependent teenager in episodes of the web series "The Jeannie Tate Show," a mock talk show set inside the rolling minivan of Liz Cackowski's New Jersey soccer mom. On the ESPN web series "Mayne Street" (2008- ), Plaza played against type as bespectacled network executive Robin Gibney, the dryly dismissive superior of series lead Kenny Mayne.



In 2009, Plaza enjoyed a breakout year when she joined the ensemble cast of the NBC sitcom "Parks and Recreation" (2009- ) for its limited, six-episode first season. Although she had never met star Amy Poehler at Upright Citizens Brigade or during her internship at "SNL," Plaza's apathetic college intern April Ludgate was presented in contrast to Poehler's manic Deputy Parks Director Leslie Knope, making them two sides of the same comic coin. By keeping April in the periphery through the first season, the show's creators prevented her mumbled asides and blank stares into the camera from becoming overworked shtick, allowing the character to evolve slowly. In the second season, April was given an ongoing romantic subplot and Plaza's chemistry with costar Chris Pratt helped establish the pair as one of television's most unexpectedly endearing couples in the vein of Jim and Pam of "The Office" (NBC, 2005-2013).



For Dan Eckman's "Mystery Team" (2009), Plaza traveled to New Hampshire for the screwball tale of a trio of former child detectives still attempting to chase down evil-doers as awkward, hormone-wracked teenagers. A vehicle for the web-based Derrick comedy troupe of Donald Glover, D.C. Pierson and Dominic Dierkes, the film sloughed Plaza off with the bland supporting role of the concerned (and perpetually aghast) older sister of an eight-year-old girl who retains the team to find out who murdered their parents. The film had its debut at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival but garnered unenthusiastic to negative reviews upon limited release and was quickly remaindered to DVD the following year. Plaza had a higher profile supporting role in Judd Apatow's "Funny People" (2009), as the love interest of Seth Rogen's up-and-coming comedy writer.



Plaza had submitted an audition tape to the producers of "Funny People," who suggested she try her hand at stand-up comedy. After giving the new medium a try-out in a comedy club in Queens, NY, Plaza posted a video of her performance on YouTube, where her impersonation of the more famous comedienne Sarah Silverman created a significant buzz and won Plaza the part of start-up stand-up comic Daisy Denby. To prepare for the role, Plaza wrote her own jokes and joined fellow cast members at open mike nights at various Los Angeles comedy clubs to hone her skills. Though she shared little screen time with "Funny People" star Adam Sandler, the veteran comic proved something of a mentor to Plaza, who used his estimable pull to have her added to the line-up at a star-studded evening at the famed LA comedy venue The Improv.



Even as she stepped up to a significantly enhanced role in the full second season of "Parks and Recreation," Plaza continued to make Internet comedy, such as the Funny or Die short subjects "Pete Carroll's Trip to Seattle Delayed" (2010), featuring the legendary pro football coach as himself; "Breakup in a Noisy Diner" (2010), directed by her fellow UCB trouper Jeff Garlin; and the premiere episode of "Terrible Decisions with Ben Schwartz" (2009), whose title character denies Plaza the proper degree of boyfriend-girlfriend intimacy in the moments before Earth is destroyed by an approaching asteroid. In Edgar Wright's "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" (2010), based on the graphic novel of Brian Lee O'Malley, Plaza brought her trademark deadpan delivery to bear as seething twenty-something Julie Powers, who plays the glowering antagonist to Michael Cera's eponymous slacker hero but has an uncommonly keen insight into his character.



Having made meteoric strides only four years out of college, Aubrey Plaza continued with a diversified career path. She turned up in episodes of the satiric IFC series "Portlandia" (2010- ), created by former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Fred Armisen and executive produced by Lorne Michaels. She also remained active in the creation of original comic content for the Internet, most notably in the College Humor Original series "Troopers," an ongoing spoof of "Star Wars" (1977) for which Plaza donned a unicorn horn hairpiece to reimagine Carrie Fisher's virginal Princess Leia Organa as a churlish grump.



Plaza's first leading film role came in the indie comedy-drama "Safety Not Guaranteed" (2012), in which she starred opposite Mark Duplass and Jake Johnson. The film, in which Plaza plays a magazine intern who gets drawn into a peculiar story about a mysterious man who claims to have built a working time machine, won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and received strong reviews. Smaller roles in Roman Coppola's oddball comedy "A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III" (2013) and the blockbuster Pixar sequel "Monsters University" (2013) followed. Also in 2013, Plaza carried a film by herself for the first time with the teen comedy "The To Do List," in which she played a high school valedictorian who attempts to lose her virginity before she leaves home for college.



By Richard Harland Smith





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