Meet the Real Aubrey Plaza: The Nicest Mean Girl On Television

Her new roles are very different than April Ludgate from 'Parks and Recreation.'

August 2, 2017 9:57 am

Aubrey Plaza may play sarcastic, antagonistic or mean characters on TV, like April Ludgate in Park and Recreation, but a new profile in New York magazine calls her “the nicest evil girl in the world.”

“In person, Plaza is less deadpan, less caustic, less sarcastic, maybe even goofier, than the onscreen persona that made her famous,” writes Allison Davis, who spent the day with Plaza, 33, playing tennis — badly — and eating lunch.

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Plaza says that she knows that people think she’s going to be mean to them when she meets them for the first time. It has been almost a decade since she first played April but people still believe she is like the character in real life. She told New York that she is too much of a “people pleaser not to do it.”

She would, however, like people to stop assuming that she will do that “Aubrey Plaza” thing on screen. Because instead of sticking to characters like April Ludgate, Plaza has taken on an array of roles since Parks and Rec, “which range from off-the-wall to unhinged to totally crazy” according to New York. 

Plaza grew up in Wilmington, DE and attended an all-girls Catholic school. Afterwards, she went to New York University and studied writing and directing, and took improv classes at Upright Citizens Brigade. She got a role, which got her an agent, which landed her the role in Parks and Rec, as well as roles in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Funny People. 

Aubrey Plaza
Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (Twentieth Century Fox)

All three roles were “disaffected intern” or “disaffected love interest” which led her to be forever known as the “anti-manic pixie dream girl.” She then found herself playing the type offscreen too, almost as a defense mechanism.

It is nothing new for TV actors to have trouble shaking the roles that they’ve become known for, and Plaza played April for seven years. She tried to break the mold with Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and Dirty Grandpa, but now, she is drawn to roles that “embrace darkness in a way that goes far beyond sullen April Ludgate.”

She plays Lenny Busker, essentially a parasite pretending to be a woman, in Legion, a comic-book show. But the biggest role she has coming up is playing Ingrid in Ingrid Goes West. She plays an unstable and lonely woman who forms unhealthy attachments and therefore starts to stalk a woman on Instagram.

Aubrey Plaza Legion
Aubrey Plaza as Lenny “Cornflakes” Busker on FX’x Legion (Michelle Faye/FX)
Michelle Faye

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