By Megan Wadding, June 2017 Issue.
Mindy Sterling, who is best recognized as Dr. Evil’s loudmouth, right-hand lady, Frau Farbissina from the Austin Powers films, is starring in a new web series.
“secs & EXECS,” a six-episode comedy that debuted on tello Films in January, also stars lesbian comedian Sandra Bernhard, Olivia D’Abo (Karen Arnold on “The Wonder Years”), among other noteworthy names.
The series is set at Kathletics, a women’s wear company owned by Bernhard’s character, Kath Fairchild. The series follows four bosses and their assistants, shifting points of view between the two very diverse sets of coworkers.
Echo Magazine recently caught up to Sterling to find out more about the show and what else she’s been up to since we last saw her infamous Frau character, and here’s what she had to say:
Echo: How did you get involved in “sec & EXECS” and what can you tell me about your character on the show?
Sterling: I had worked with the writer, Stan Zimmerman. [He] wrote it and directed it. We’ve done several projects, mostly plays. When he told me about this, I thought it was a great idea and something different. So I said, ‘Sure, count me in!’
Echo: The show has an amazing writing team! How much freedom did you have to integrate your own ideas and was any improv allowed?
Sterling: No, I think [Zimmerman] kept it pretty much to the script. We also had a very short amount of time to get all of this done. It was kind of set up like a sitcom, in a way, where it moves pretty fast.
Echo: Did you get to work at all with Sandra Bernhard? If so, what was that like?
Sterling: We didn’t get to work with her. She did something separate. We didn’t meet her unfortunately. but I would’ve loved to!
Echo: You’ve done a lot of shows that would be of interest to children over the past decade or so, notably The Disney Channel shows, “iCarly” and “A.N.T. Farm.” Do you get a lot of recognition from children and teenagers because of your Disney roles?
Sterling: Big-time! The show “iCarly” was not only a hit with kids, but also with adults. Maybe the adults have watched it with their kids. Between [“iCarly”] and Austin Powers, those are the two biggest things for me. It’s really cool because I love when kids recognize me. They don’t know what to say or do, and they’re so sweet. And you can tell that I’ve been such a profound part of [shows] for them. It makes me feel so proud that I’ve done something that has been so well received. I love kids to death.
Echo: You’ve kept your career interesting by taking on a wide range of roles. Which has been your favorite?
Sterling: There are definitely several. Frau has been one of my favorites. I did a show called “Legit,” and I played a mother. And that was one of my favorite roles to do. I also did a show called “Con Man.” Those have been a joy. I’ve loved doing “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” too. I’ve been very lucky that I’ve had some great roles to play.
Echo: Was Frau, of Austin Powers, originally written as a lesbian or bisexual character? If so, did that change how you played her?
Sterling: I don’t think in his mind, when [Mike Myers] wrote it, that it was something he fleshed out. I don’t [know] if it was something I did or something he thought would be fun to play. He never came to me and said, ‘What do you think?’ I just kind of went along with it. Whatever Mr. Myers wants me to do, I do!
Echo: Frau seems like she was a career-defining character. Is she who you get most recognized for? Do people make you do the lines?
Sterling: Nobody makes me, but they always ask me to yell something. It just depends on where I am and the mood I’m in. Sometimes I won’t do it so loud, like, “Send in the Fembots!” or something like that. I do get that one a lot.
Echo: How often do you do improv these days?
Sterling: I do improv whenever I can. I’m still really connected to the Groundlings in Los Angeles. When they call me to do a show, I’m always happy to do that.
Echo: Who are some of your comedic idols? Who do you enjoy watching?
Sterling: Carol Burnett, was such an icon to me. And her show, I think just everyone on that show was. I was glued to it growing up. I really love watching stand-up. I don’t do it, but I really respect it and how people come up with stories. It’s fascinating.
Echo: I know your father is in the business. How did your parents influence your choice of career?
Sterling: My father was a singer, comedian and actor in Miami. I love doing dramatic stuff, too. I certainly got that bug. My mom is just a fun, outgoing, lovely human being. Hopefully, I got some of that, too. I was raised with laughter and acceptance. I just love to laugh and I love making people laugh.
Echo: Besides “secs & EXECS,” what other projects are you currently working on or involved in?
Sterling: I just did a play that was co-written and directed by [Stan] Zimmerman, called Yes, Virginia. We closed a couple of weeks ago and we are going to try to reopen it in December, I think. I do voice-over stuff, too. I’m always busy doing little things here and there.
Echo: You’ve taken on a few LGBTQ characters and been involved with a couple LGBTQ projects. What draws you to the community, and to certain roles and/or projects?
Sterling: I think being in the business, a lot of your friendships and a lot of the people are gay. I work with a lot of gay men. Some of my dearest friends are gay, and they’re lovely. I [officiated the wedding of] a friend and her wife and I’m the godmother to their son. I actually officiated their wedding. I just really love the community. They’re creative and talented, and I’ve always lived my life being open. It was never an issue for me. I just love people.
Echo: And I saw that you recently did a skit on “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” alongside Harry Styles. That was hilarious!
Sterling: Yes! I didn’t really know Harry Styles. I mean, I kind of sort of knew who he was. But he was so cute and so sweet. That was a lovely opportunity to kind of just go play a little part. They were all very lovely.
Echo: Do you have any idea yet if there will be more seasons of “secs & EXECS”?
Sterling: I’m not sure. I do know that they’re trying to get nominated as a web-series, which would be incredibly lovely and flattering. We’ll have to wait and see how that goes.
For more information on “secs & EXECS” and tello Films, visit tellofilms.com/series/secs-execs.