Keeping Surprises Alive with Monica May and Aubrey Plaza
Before Aubrey Plaza appeared on Parks and Recreation she had done some TV and film work, but nothing that prepared us for her turn as April Ludgate that would go on to solidify her as one of the most exciting young talents in comedy. Her unique ability to combine biting sarcasm with openhearted generosity has caused millions to fall in love with her. She’s accessible, compelling, and riotously funny, making her a unique but inspired choice as a model for high fashion. Monica May met up with Aubrey at a comedy club in Los Angeles for a Yahoo Style shoot with rich Hollywood inspiration. “The ladies at Yahoo Style come up with some loose concepts about what they’re doing, and they wanted to shoot in the comedy club with her and wanted to try and get a sense of her being on stage,” says Monica. “So some of their references were an older, like a 1970s look for comedy performances, and also looks that felt cinematic in nature.” It was a natural creative line, but as soon as Monica arrived there was a bit of a surprise.
“The one thing I didn’t expect, which was cool in the end, was that everything in that entire place is painted black,” says Monica. “The floors are black, the ceilings are black, all the walls are black. Other than that one small dressing room and the stage, everything was painted black. It worked for the mood. It played in the cinematic inspiration so within that I could kind of mess around.” The darkness of the images make Audrey pop, turning the photographs into a play of texture and light. It makes each composition feel consistent from one to the next. The two exceptions were the bright red curtains on stage and the graffitied walls of the dressing room, adding just the right mix of visual variation.
The one thing you won’t be able to tell from the photographs is that during the shoot Aubrey was recovering from an injury. She had just gotten surgery on her ACL and as a result had limited mobility. But for Monica, that was just a small obstacle to work around, and together they found a way to succeed. “It was just about making sure that I could be as quick as possible and make her feel as comfortable as possible, but it was a really positive experience,” says Monica. “She’s totally awesome. It was a good day.” Every project presents surprises, but what matters is how the people involved approach them and let them shape the results in a positive way.