EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW – Allison Gabriel Breaks Down Her Experience As Mary Vaughn on Sweet Magnolias!

allison gabriel sweet magnolias

Netflix will have Sweet Magnolias fans pouring it out all summer when the show’s 10-episode season 3 is (finally!) released on Thursday, July 20. We at Survived The Shows had the great pleasure of chatting with Allison Gabriel, who plays Mary Vaughn, about her role, and what we can expect from the series’ season 3. Check out the full interview below!

Credit: Emily Sandifer

What’s the main element in Mary Vaughn’s character and Sweet Magnolias in itself that fascinates you the most and convinced you to join the show?

ALLISON GABRIEL: I was most excited to play the villain! Type-casting is real and necessary at the beginning of your career, but I loved the idea of being big and loud and pushy.

One of the things the audience loves the most about Sweet Magnolias, besides romances and their twists and turns, is how relatable the characters are. Is there any particular feature in Mary Vaugh’s character you can relate to on a personal level? Where are you and Mary Vaughn most similar and where are you two most different as human beings?

ALLISON GABRIEL: We are so wildly different. I very rarely get recognized in public because of it. I’m such a people pleaser and usually dressed super-ultra-casual so generally people barely put it together that I play Serenity’s most disliked character. I will say I’m fairly ambitious and have really exacting taste when it comes to certain things and in that way, we are very similar. And I also think we all have a little devilish Mary Vaughn inside of us. That greedy, part of ourselves we generally hide away. That’s what’s so good about the writing.

On the acting level instead, what’s been the biggest challenge you experienced in portraying Mary Vaughn?

ALLISON GABRIEL: I think sometimes she feels so outrageous to me. As someone who worries too much about what people think, sometimes I literally cannot say the things she says… Like, she’s SO MEAN sometimes! And so outrageous with it, too!! The way through has always been to return to the feeling of being Mean Girled by the Sweet Magnolias. Feeling left out. It’s a very human thing to need community and (in Mary Vaughn’s opinion) she has been ousted and outcast by them. That kind of thing can drive people to do and say some pretty outrageous things.

Credit: Emily Sandifer

What’s been your favourite scene to shoot so far on Sweet Magnolias?

ALLISON GABRIEL: I think the scene where I request, nay demand, that Coach Cal put Jackson in as the starter in Season 1. There’s also a new scene in Season 3 that was really fun to shoot that involved a dog and that’s all I’ll say about that.

Speaking of Season 3, how would you describe the season for all the fans that have been looking forward to it?

ALLISON GABRIEL: Mumm’s the word. I’m not spilling anything!

How is it like for you to work and build the frenemy between Mary Vaughn and Maddie with JoAnna Garcia Swisher?

ALLISON GABRIEL: Jo is an absolute delight to work with. She’s funny and warm and just absolutely effervescent. It’s really a trial and a tribulation and a struggle to hate her so much as Mary Vaughn. But as an actor, when you’re blessed enough to be working, and working with such lovely people it really comes down to playing pretend. Just exactly the same way you did as a kid. So we can play mean and giggle afterwards. And that’s what it’s like.

Credit: Emily Sandifer

Mary Vaughn is undoubtedly one of the most stylish women in all Serenity. Have you ever been tempted to keep a few pieces of any of Mary Vaughn’s outfits from set?

ALLISON GABRIEL: Yes! I mean, she definitely has her own look that is not my own. But she absolutely has great taste. There’s a pair of green heels that the stylist and I love so much. We’d just throw them on as often as we can.

Speaking of your experience on the set of Sweet Magnolias, how can you describe it? How was it like to work with both the cast and the crew? Is there any one in particular you grew friendship and you’re still in touch with, even when you’re not working on the show?

ALLISON GABRIEL: I know it’s boring to hear when you read these articles, we humans love drama. But literally every single person on this show is so *kind*. It’s actually quite rare to genuinely enjoy every single person’s company. But that is the truth. Sadly we’re scattered all over the US so it’s hard to spend quality time together. I’m in LA and the show is shot in Atlanta… so when we’re all in town I love to grab a drink with some of the cast and crew as we are able. It can be a challenge when our schedules don’t match but it’s so fun seeing everyone out of costume and character.

Do you have any fun anecdotes from set to share with us?

ALLISON GABRIEL: My absolute favourite story coming up in Season 3 is the big reveal that Mary Vaughn has a dog. I know I know it’s a small reveal (and a smol doggo). But, as an animal lover myself, this delighted me to no end. I got to spend all night with a sweet pup who was such a wonderful actor. And best of all, his name on the show is Escrow. I don’t think it was ever said, so I’m happy to share it here. How great is that? The writing on this show is so good. Hilarious!

If you could choose any other character to play on Sweet Magnolias, outside of Mary Vaughn, which one would it be and why?

ALLISON GABRIEL: None. I love MV. She’ll always be my girl.

Credit: Emily Sandifer

Outside of Sweet Magnolias, you had the chance to join the 2016 movie Baby Driver, starring Ansel Elgort, Lily James and Kevin Spacey. What’s your favourite memory out of that experience and what fascinated you the most about the role?

ALLISON GABRIEL: I’d never worked on a bigger budget action movie before so a lot of it was very new to me. In fact, I don’t think I put it together that it was an action movie until well after it was released! HAHA. I just always saw it as a sort of musical drama. Anyway, my favorite part was shooting the action sequence when Jamie Foxx’s character shoots the security guard. It was so fun to have two crews shooting different sequences at once and all the moving parts being orchestrated so brilliantly. Plus I was already such a fan of Edgar Wright and just the feeling of working with him and being in one of his worlds was awesome.

What kind of advice would you give to those people among our readers who would like to pursue a career in entertainment (may it be in acting, writing, or directing), based on your own experience?

ALLISON GABRIEL: This business is long and winding and has such intense highs and lows, and so my biggest piece of advice is to stay connected to your art. That is the reason you started, hopefully, and it will carry you through the harder moments and ground you in the elation of the higher moments. Stay connected to your voice and your unique point of view. Explore other mediums, like paint, or photography or poetry or writing. But stay connected. Don’t lose the thread of your passion in the hustle culture or the achievement mentality. It’s about the art. Always.

Credit: Matt Kallish

Sweer Magnolias, which also stars Allison Gabriel, is back with Season 3 on Netflix on July 20. Get a preview below!

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