As both digital comedy series and awards show tolling, An Emmy For Megan is a delight. Created by and starring Megan Amram — whom you might know as a writer on Parks and Recreation and The Good Place, from her book Science… For Her!, or from her daily “Today was the day Donald Trump finally became president” tweets — the six-part series, which you can see at AnEmmyForMegan.com, shows Amram trying to game the TV Academy’s system in order to win an Emmy in one of the categories for short-form comedy or drama series.
It’s as silly as it is self-aware, with constant references to the categories’ eligibility requirements, as well as Amram’s friends (including The Good Place‘s D’Arcy Carden and Westworld‘s Shannon Woodward) pointing out how increasingly irrational she’s become about the whole quest. And in my favorite episode, she attempts to pander for votes by showing off her musical talents:
I emailed Amram some questions about the series, her desire to win an Emmy at any cost, her musical training, and a lot more. I leave it to you to gauge the sincerity of each answer.
When did you first become aware of these Emmy categories?
I was watching the Emmys last fall from the comfort of my own non-nominated home and saw that there are now short-form performance categories. And I thought to myself… Wow. I can do that. I’m a good actor but I’m really good at short-form stuff in particular, so I think this category really worked out well for me.
How sincere is your desire to win? And how much of that desire, if any, is driven by the silliness of these categories and the rules about them?
My desire is overwhelmingly sincere. As sincere as anything I’ve ever set out to do. It’s less about the category and more about the award. I would really love an Emmy award. A lot of my friends have them, and they seem great. The awards, not my friends. I think my friends from home would think it was really cool if I won. I don’t have any major awards and I think me winning this Emmy would make up for Steve Carell and The Wire being snubbed.
The episodes make frequent reference to the eligibility rules for these categories. How conscious were you of them in both writing the show and in commenting on the rules within it? Did you ever think of making episode 4 even shorter?
I was extremely conscious of the eligibility rules (minimum of 6 episodes, each episode has to be less than 15 minutes, must be uploaded and submitted by April 27, 2018) and was very nervous that I’d forget about one and subsequently be disqualified. It was really important to get the rules exactly right, since the reason I was making the series was to win an Emmy and if I got disqualified, I couldn’t win the Emmy. I am prepared to do a sequel series if I’m disqualified for any reason, explaining the pain it will cause me. I don’t want to give away very much but it will be a genre series.
I considered making episode 4 only ten seconds long, but the fact that you could see the runtime before watching the episode seemed to ruin the joke. Also the celeb cameos fit perfectly in that episode. Also, I didn’t really think anyone would get that far into the series.
How long did it take to film these episodes, and how big a crew did you have?
We shot everything on April 7, 2017. The deadline of April 27 was really at the forefront of our minds the whole time. I’m just so relieved we got it in under the deadline. My crew was so fantastic, and I really could not believe they’d work so hard on a weekend to make my lifelong dream come true. We had three fantastic producers, a DP, a camera op, a sound op, two PAs, an editor, a graphic designer, a website designer, and all the wonderful actors. They did such a great job with the scripts I wrote. When I win the Emmy, I will be thanking them all by name. I am planning on giving a long enough speech that they have to play me off and maybe call security. This will be my night, and I will make the most of it.
What, if any, vocal training do you have? Did the Anthem performance require more than one take? Do you have any hopes that this might lead to more singing opportunities in the future?
I am a classically trained soprano and have been singing in classical and musical theater productions my whole life. Shout out to my voice teacher Jimmy Smagula who has given me the confidence and artistry to hit those notes. We did two takes of the anthem, but I think we ended up using the second take in its entirety. I had not told anyone on the crew how high I would be singing, and I think they were all very surprised. I most definitely sang the national anthem in this series in the hopes it would lead to more singing opportunities. After I win the Emmy, I’d like to transition out of television and into stage vocal performance so as to win a Tony. If they have a short-form Tony award, I think I could do a great job.
When you reached out to the celebs who provide their endorsements in episode 4, what did you ask them?
I contacted a bunch of my famous friends and explained that I was going to be giving an excellent performance in the hopes of winning an Emmy, and that I’d love for them to be a part of it. They all seemed to immediately grasp the concept and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that it was the most gratifying creative experience they’d ever been a part of. None of them had seen the web series when they gave their accolades but I think they grasped how good it was going to be from afar.
What would you guess your odds are for both being nominated and winning? And if you should win, would you expect the Academy to change anything about these categories and the rules governing them?
Before the rollout of my series, I didn’t think I’d get the spotlight I deserved. I figured it would be another snubbed piece of art. But now that the series has had such a warm reception, I’ve really gotten my hopes up. I feel like now there’s a pretty big chance I’ll get nominated. I’ll be very upset if I don’t. I don’t think they should change the rules because the rules were one of the things that really inspired me in the first place. It’s clear that the rules are very motivating to people and I think the Emmys got them just right.