Actress Molly Bernard is breaking barriers in Hollywood

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Molly Bernard at TV Land event for
Molly Bernard at TV Land event for "Younger"
Transparent and Younger star Molly Bernard is bringing her sensibility to TV Land

If there is anyone shattering glass ceilings in Hollywood right now, it’s the dynamic Molly Bernard. Between her roles on Younger (and the self involved Lauren) and the Young Shelly Pfefferman on Transparent, Bernard is bringing her progressive sensibilities to her roles. I caught up with her to chat about the new season of Younger. She is working with the gender fluid, and gorgeous, Nico Tortorella. I wanted to know what it’s like fighting the good fight while living in a modern day The Handmaid’s Tale.

Michael Cook: You have another season of Younger that just kicked off on TV Land. What is different for your character Lauren this season?

Molly Bernard: Oh, so much! My character is moving in with Josh (Nico Tortorella), which is both fun and strange. They have a super fun kind of living situation in a tiny apartment. There is a great episode where I get to school everyone in the cast on what it is like to be gender queer. And I get to say a funny line like “how important it is to represent the LGBTQIHJK community.” (Laughs). Lauren starts her own PR firm, that is also super exciting. And as usual, she is trying to take over the world. It is such a great season.

News: It can be terribly depressing

There are so many anchors on the show that run parallel to each other. But so many of them are rooted in super forward thinking topics like pan sexuality or being gender queer. What is it like being part of a show that is so incredibly forward thinking?

Molly Bernard and co-star Ben Rappaport on the new TV Land show
Molly Bernard and co-star Ben Rappaport on the new TV Land show

MB: It is one of the reasons why I love the show and it is so important to me. I think this kind of representation is critical to the world that we are living in. I was recently reading the news, and it can be terribly depressing. I am so thrilled to be on a show that is an antidote to the darkness that we are living through.

There was a time when people did not speak about their sexuality at all. Conversely with Younger you are giving people a true education on the entire spectrum of sexuality.

MB: I completely agree. That is what makes it so terribly important to me as well.

Your co-star is the gender fluid Nico Tortorella, what do you think you have learned the most from him?

MB: You know, in many ways I have based my character Lauren actually off of Nico. I think Nico is someone that loves himself unconditionally. That is just how he moves through the world. That is where his true ability to love others really comes from. That kind of generosity is very important. He is also conversely, one of the most self involved people I know. And he would be the first to say that (laughs). He is absolutely exquisite.

Molly Bernard from "Transparent"
Molly Bernard from “Transparent”
Is it hard to create something so revolutionary? 

You have played the character of Young Shelly Pfefferman on Transparent. And you are part of a remarkably diverse and absolutely amazing cast of people who have created a completely magical program. Is it hard when you work with a group of people to create something so revolutionary? … when it is marred by something like what has happened with Jeffrey Tambor allegedly on the Transparent set?

MB: Yeah it is. It certainly makes me sad. It is such a special and singular project working on Transparent. We have not started anything yet with the new season, but we will see…

Do you feel that having representation like what you are a part of on both Transparent and Younger is more important now more than ever?

MB: Absolutely! Definitely now more than ever. I think we are going to be combatting a lot of horribly bigoted people and real evil. It may be hyperbolic to say, but I think we are now up against people that have a voice and now suddenly feel vindicated. The same voice that has always been there that we have been trying to progress past. It is disheartening to see that so many people still have such horrible views about progressive ideas. I mean, the DACA issue for example, is absolutely devastating. The fact that ICE even exists, and simply shipping people out… the whole thing is very The Handmaid’s Tale.

“I think and believe that goodness is possible”

When you are immersed in the work that you do, is it hard to strip off the overly progressive characters that you play and go back into a real life that may not be as acceptable in some ways?

Molly Bernard from "Transparent"
Molly Bernard from “Transparent”

MB: Actually it isn’t. I mean, in regards to Nico’s feeling of “take it or leave it,” that is kind of the way that I myself move through the world. I can respect opinions that are different than mine. And it can be certainly depressing. But I think and believe that goodness is possible. Not in a cheesy way, but I do believe that it is.

You are making such a difference with the roles that you are playing. The characters you inhabit are letting younger viewers look at the roles you are playing and it is giving them the ability to sometimes see themselves in those roles.

MB: I think that I am helping them see that those people do exist, thank you. I think young people are also becoming so progressive on their own. Because they are now realizing that they have to be.

“I would just say that I am straight up — queer”

As Molly how do you describe your own sexuality as an individual? And is it hard to explain that to those that may not be as open-minded?

Molly Bernard at TV Land event for "Younger"
Molly Bernard at TV Land event for “Younger”

MB: I am definitely queer; she is doing it right! (Laughs). I guess it may require some explanation at times. But I don’t think I am definitely even fluid really. I would not define myself as bi, or pan or fluid, I would just say that I am straight up — queer.

If you had to say, five years from now, where you would want to be as an actress?

MB: You know, I want to be on “first of it’s kind” material, like Transparent is. I love Younger and I will be on it as long as it runs. I have really progressive hopes and dreams for my career. As long as I am on a television show where my ethics match the work that I am putting out into the world. That is what is most important to me. That fact that I am on two shows that are widely known for their representation speaks so much.

What advice do you think young Shelly would give Lauren?

MB: Honestly, I think Lauren would be the one giving Shelly advice (laughs)! I think the advice that Shelly would give Lauren would be to keep this up. As for Shelly to Lauren, it would be come out of your shell!

Younger airs on TV Land (check local listings)

Transparent wil air it’s final season on Amazon Prime (coming soon)