SUPERSTORE's Lauren Ash: 'You Get to See a Little Crack of Vulnerability' as Dina Handles Her Big Promotion - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

SUPERSTORE’s Lauren Ash: ‘You Get to See a Little Crack of Vulnerability’ as Dina Handles Her Big Promotion

January 28, 2021 by  

Superstore Lauren Ash interview

SUPERSTORE — “Biscuit” Episode 607 — Pictured: Lauren Ash as Dina — (Photo by: Tina Thorpe/NBC)

SUPERSTORE’s Cloud 9—once again—has a new managerial team!

After Glenn (Mark McKinney) had to stay home due to exposure to COVID-19, Dina (Lauren Ash) stepped in during his absence…making her realize that after years of not being particularly interested in having the top job at Store #1217, she did want to be boss.

So the duo came to a compromise: Glenn and Dina will now co-manage the store.

Of course, nothing can exactly happen at the store without some kind of speed bump, and they were thrown for a loop when they found out that Carol (Irene White) was suing the store.

What comes next for the co-managers? Ash teases how Dina will be handling her promotion, reviving the Dina/Garrett (Colton Dunn) relationship, and shares which show she’s dying to guest star on post-SUPERSTORE…

Even though this wasn’t something Dina was actively chasing, it felt like it was a long-time coming. How does her promotion to co-manager change things for Dina at Cloud 9?
[In the past,] she had gone through this crisis about do I want to be manager, is that the path I see myself on? [At the time,] she was like, no. But I think it’s really interesting, because when she was given the opportunity to split it and do it with Glenn, that that was really appealing to her. It was not the same kind of workload and not the same kind of responsibilities, in terms of the people skills that maybe she lacks. It’s nice to see her get to thrive and to continue to grow.

It really gives us a lot of fun opportunities. I think that a lot of viewers—and obviously I love playing scenes with Mark—really liked the Dina-Glenn relationship. It’s fun to see how it’s continuing to evolve. Obviously, of course, she still has animosity towards him, but I think that they both have grown over the course of the series, into seeing and understanding what the other person affords them. And why they do need each other in a sense—that they both can serve a purpose in terms of things being able to function in the best possible way.

And obviously last week we had the big reveal of her new managerial look, which the internet has been blowing up about. Certainly, I’ve been getting a lot of messages about Dina’s new look, which I love. So it’s really exciting, you know? It’s cool to get to see her continue to grow, especially now that Amy’s not there…it’s nice to see maybe that [relationship] had an impact on her, too. Seeing how Amy had ambition and what that’s done for her, I definitely think Dina was inspired by that. Maybe that made her re-evaluate, as well. So it’s been a really fun storyline to get to play this year, for sure.

Dina hasn’t always had the most patience for her colleagues’ shenanigans. How does her relationship with her subordinates change now that she does officially have the most power she’s ever had in the store?
As you alluded to, it felt like it just made sense. I kind of feel like she’s been doing this job all along, just unofficially. In many ways, I think a lot of the employees viewed her as more of the muscle, the kind of managerial position, than Glenn, because Glenn obviously has a hard time with consequences and punishments and those kinds of things. So I definitely don’t think any of the employees were surprised by this move.

In some ways, it hasn’t necessarily gotten her to loosen up, but I think it has given her a real view from the other side. She has gotten to see, more than ever, like, wow, Glenn really does have to deal with a lot more than I realized in terms of the deep dealing with corporate and and all that [stuff] maybe she wasn’t 100% privy to until now. She has more perspective. So, in terms of like nitpicking, she doesn’t necessarily have the time anymore. So it’s really more just about trying to keep things running as [smoothly] as possible.

But she wants to do a good job. There’s some fun stuff coming up later in the season where you get to see a little crack of vulnerability, that it’s like, oh wow, she’s concerned about what corporate thinks of her. She wants to do a good job and she doesn’t want to let them down and she is being challenged; there’s big challenges coming this season, for sure, that will also come down on her.

So it’s kind of nice. We aren’t really seeing as much of her as being like a hammer on the rest of the employees, as much as it’s her trying to figure out what the new role [is], and then how does she spin all those plates the same time.

On that note, it was revealed at the end of the last episode that Carol is suing the store. How is that playing out going forward?
Obviously that’s a very large issue to come into play, which is right on the precipice of her getting this co-managerial role and title. Dina is very invested in that whole problem, and wanting it to go away as quickly and swiftly as possible. [Laughs.] Will that happen? Probably not as quickly and swiftly as Dina would like.

But there’s some really fun stuff, actually, with that storyline that is coming. There is a lot of pressure on her—all eyes are on her, she’s been given this position after having worked in that store for a very, very long time. We have to remember she worked there long before the series started; so she’s been there a very, very long time. She’s had these opportunities, potentially, to try and move up before, and she didn’t take them. Now she finally has, so I do think she feels like the spotlight is kind of on her, in the eyes of corporate. So she’s very excited to try and get that issue resolved, no matter what it takes.

That’s the other thing that’s really cool about getting to see her in this job, [since she’s] someone who is an extreme rule-follower—it’s the first time that she sees, man, I have to bend some of these rules for the greater good. And I think it’s fun getting to see her discover that. It’s like, man, these very strict kind of guidelines I’ve lived by for the past however many years in the store, now I’m realizing I have to massage a little bit into this new position, because it doesn’t always work that way. You can’t always go by the book 110% to get the outcome that you want that benefits everybody in the best possible way. So, it’s fun to see her try and navigate those waters.

How is she handling Carol, specifically, who has been known to be a bit of a live-wire?
You can’t fire her at this point, because that would be that would be retaliation. The funny part is that Carol wants to continue to work there, which I think is pretty hilarious. [Laughs.] I think a lot of people in that situation would be like, “I think I’m gonna move on,” but she’s like, “No, I want to face them every single day.” There is a very funny episode coming up that deals with all of these things we’re talking about. I just think that those choices for Carol are so funny.

But that’s a huge issue, and of course that raises the issue of what other employees are going to want to work with her? She had this issue before; now she’s suing them, trying to take down the entire store, potentially the entire corporation and chain—that’s a huge deal. That’s not exactly somebody that a lot of people are going to want to be scheduled to work with in housewares. That is an issue that’s going to come up and Dina’s going to be involved in that, too, because she’s a part of scheduling now more than ever. And when issues escalates past the floor supervisor’s wheelhouse, then it goes up the chain to Dina and Glenn. So Dina does have to kind of get into that with different people in the store, for sure, and chaos ensues. That’s all I can say. [Laughs.]

Superstore Dina Garrett

SUPERSTORE — “New Initiative” Episode 407 — Pictured: (l-r) Lauren Ash as Dina, Colton Dunn as Garrett — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

The writers have been teasing for months that they’ll be revisiting Dina and Garrett. How is their relationship being addressed this go-round?
At this point in the story, Dina is, of course, in a relationship with Brian, the veterinarian. She’s very happy; she’s really happy in that relationship. But, obviously, she and Garrett have a very involed past. There was a lot of drama that ended their relationship before: him accidentally setting the birds free, her burning every pair of sneakers he’s ever owned—a lot of high drama there.

But some time has passed, and you know the heart wants what the heart wants, all of these things. I believe in this episode, this is when we start to see that, perhaps there is still a connection there, which no one is denying. Listen, everybody knows it, everybody wants it. And of course the main obstacle right now is that she is in a relationship and what does that look like to her?

Dina is, as we all know, impossibly loyal. That’s one of her biggest traits and one of the things she really values. So we’re definitely going to get to see her tested and see like what does that mean to her. And how is she going to kind of feel about, perhaps, seeing him in the light that she has seen him in for so long, but [while] being in a relationship with somebody else.

I think it’s a really interesting journey that they’ve written for them this season. I’m excited for fans to see it, because there’s some very interesting choices that are made, and I think that it’s something that is, I think, first of all relatable…there’s lots of times in life that we can find ourselves in that kind of situation. But there’s lots of different ways that people handle that and Dina is really pushing herself and we see her handle it in a way that feels very Dina. [Laughs.]

That’s exciting and terrifying.
Those are the exact right adjectives, for sure.

With the series coming to an end, will you be penning another episode?
I am not writing one this season, unfortunately. I would have loved to, especially now that we know that it is unfortunately going to be our last season. You know, there’s a lot that went on this season: we were picked up for 18 [episodes], we got cut back to 15, so there’s been a lot happening. So it unfortunately didn’t work out; it was just a lot of logistics, more than anything else. But I would have loved to. Writing an episode was like such a huge, exciting, creatively fulfilling experience for me, so it’s too bad. But, as always, we improvise a lot on the show, so there’s still the Lauren Ash sparkle on a lot of episodes coming up.

Prior to the cancellation, the writers were clear there could be room for Amy (America Ferrera) to return before the show ends. Given the impact of the absolutely gorgeous Amy/Dina final scene, which was an episode highlight, if there was to hypothetically be a reunion between the friends, what might that look like?
And a lot of the social media feedback I got [about “California Part 2”] from fans was the same. What I said at the time, too, and I know this is such a cliche thing to say, but I was like, I know that people love Jonah and Amy, I get it, so do I. But I think the real love story of the show is Dina and Amy. I think that that’s a friendship that you really saw go through a journey and blossom.

Season 1, if you go back to rewatch season 1 Dina-Amy, Dina can barely stand her. And then you build to kind of like “Golden Globes” where she eats meat—she’s a lifelong vegan who eats meat for Amy! And then see Amy go to bat for Dina in different times, too.

To me, yeah, that moment with them, I agree, it was so beautiful. And when we shot it, the two of us were sobbing, as ourselves, as the characters, the lines were completely blurred. It was such an emotional thing for us to play as friends, as well as, as characters and feeling what that would feel like for those characters.

SUPERSTORE Season 5 Finale: 'California Part 1' Photos

SUPERSTORE — “California Part 1” Episode 521 — Pictured: (l-r) America Ferrera as Amy, Lauren Ash as Dina — (Photo by: Casey Durkin/NBC)

The one thing I will say is that I think it affords us a really great opportunity [if there’s a reunion], because it was such an amazing moment. If she was to return again, I think it does afford us some fun opportunities because it was so powerful. Of course the fans are wanting to see what’s going on with Jonah and Amy, but it would be a really cool opportunity to see [Dina and Amy, too.]

I think the energy that we saw with Dina and her dad, I think would start to become an energy we would see with Dina and Amy. This is not canon, this is Lauren Ash’s own story, but I believe the real reason that Dina wanted to become a manager at this point—because up until now she hasn’t—is because in her mind she’s like, “I have to take care of the store for Amy. It was Amy’s store, and I cannot let it go to shit, because she did such a good job, and I want to protect it for her.” That’s what I think her, whether it’s conscious or subconscious, monologue is. And so to me, I think getting to see them again and getting to see Dina have a vulnerable moment of, “I did this for you,” could be really cool and fulfilling and wouldn’t kind of undermine what that other scene was; I think it could could just kind of like amplify it.

As the show approaches the end, what can you tease about what’s ahead?
We’re shooting night shoots this week, it’s chaos. Honestly, we don’t know [what’s coming]. We didn’t know that this was going to be the series end until a chunk of the way through the season. And so they’re kind of still retooling how the last run out of episodes is going to go. We only really know what’s happening kind of week to week. I don’t really have a long scope overview of what’s happening.

What I can say is the writers are not shying away from still doing very SUPERSTORE[-like stories]: relevant stuff, fun stuff, big stories. We’ve never shied away from really using the space.

There’s often a lot of action on SUPERSTORE, if you really kind of go back and think about it. There’s fun story stuff. There’s fun special effects-y/stunt-y stuff. There’s all kinds of things coming.

I will say, though, it’s a strange time. Six years is such a long time to be on a show, certainly in this day and age, and it’s just weird. A lot of shows shot everything and you get canceled, or you get canceled and they’re like pack your stuff and go home. Or the third option, at the beginning of the season, [you’re told,] okay this is going to be our last one. For us, [the cancellation] coming partway through the season, it’s an odd feeling. We all really love the show and value the show and we’re such good friends.

I’ll speak for myself, but it’s an odd feeling. Sometimes you’ll find yourself like, “I don’t know why I’m upset right now!” [Laughs.] But it’s another day done and we’re one step closer to it being over, which is so sad. And you know obviously, nothing can run forever unless it’s GREY’S ANATOMY—I love GREY’S ANATOMY that’s no shade. But it’s an odd time. It’s a happy time trying to soak up like the last bits of it.

I’m excited for people to see what we’re doing; I think people are really going to like it. We’re telling some really fun stories for all of the characters. You’ll have to talk to me again when it’s over, because I feel like it’s a little bit of a blur right now. There’s such [a feeling of] trying to be in the moment, trying to enjoy yourself…but then also feeling like petulant, because you’re like, “I don’t want it to be over!” It’s like a weird mix of emotions. But doing a week of night shoots with your friends that you’ve been with for six years, there’s still nothing that’s gonna bring you even closer than that, especially when it’s the coldest winter in LA I’ve ever had. [Laughs.]

On a fun final note, you’re clearly a huge television fan. Post-SUPERSTORE, is there a show you’re hoping to appear on?
100%, hands down, no question asked, MANDALORIAN. I want in that universe so f—ing bad. I want to be a space warrior. I want to carry one of the guns. That one, ideally, but like any of the [STAR WARS] universe they’re creating. I would love it.

And they have Amy Sedaris and Horatio Sanz, [series creator Jon] Favreau obviously loves to cast comedy people. I’m like, “This could actually happen for me.” This is all I want. I just want to be on the show so bad. I loved it so much. It’s so beautiful. I love it’s like every episode is like its own little film. I think it’s so smart and well done. Somebody make a call!

SUPERSTORE, Thursdays, 8:30/7:30c, NBC


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