The nearly 50-year-old soap opera One Life to Live gave actress Melissa Fumero her first credited role, but that didn’t stop her from branching out into comedy. Hence her character Amy Santiago on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the neurotic police detective who splits her time between being a badass cop and making out with Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) in the evidence room. With the show’s Die Hard-themed Christmas episode set to air Sunday, Dec. 13 at 8:30 p.m. EST on FOX, Fumero chatted with Uproxx about what it’s like to work with such a great comedy ensemble. She also admitted that she’s deathly afraid of stingrays.
Everyone asks you about your soap-opera days, but what about comedy? Was that something you’d originally set out to do?
It wasn’t a conscious choice. I was a drama major in college, and the soap opera was my first job — I hadn’t even been auditioning that long. After it was over, I told my manager and agent that I wanted to audition for comedies. It was something I loved doing in college, and it was definitely on my actor bucket list. So that’s when I did Important Things with Demetri Martin on Comedy Central. Then I bounced back and forth between comedy and drama jobs.
Being in an ensemble comedy was always a dream of mine. One of those far-fetched dreams where you think, “This will probably never happen but it would be so amazing if it did!” So when I got Brooklyn Nine-Nine, my mind was blown.
You’ve previously mentioned soaking up as much as you could from the cast in the first season. Now that you’re halfway through season three, does the comedy come easier?
Definitely. It’s also that thing where we’ve been doing this for two and a half seasons and everyone is locked into their characters. I know Amy so well at this point, as I should. We’ve all fallen into a real groove and rhythm with the way we work and approach scenes. So it’s definitely easier in that sense, though I’m still learning all the time. I love watching Andy, Joe Lo Truglio (Charles Boyle) and Chelsea Peretti (Gina Linetti) do their thing with improv. Season three has been the most fun because there’s so much freedom now. We’re so much more dialed into the work and the characters than we’ve ever been.
Amy is a woman of many faces, and you’re very good at making them for comedic effect. The paperwork scene with Joe from episode eight still cracks me up.