harlene Amoia plays Thomas Ian Nicholas’ wife Ellie in the new American Reunion movie. Before joining the cast of American Reunion, Amoia was best known for playing Wendy on How I Met Your Mother, and has also appeared on Glee, The Finder, Castle, iCarly, House, Criminal Minds and a number of other television shows.
Q: Why did you want to be an actress?
A: I was doing some local modeling in Las Vegas when I was younger and through that they had me come in for an audition one day, and I got a real high off of it and . . . it just stayed with me. I took a college acting class, and as soon as I was done with school I decided to move out to LA and try it. Everyone in Vegas was like oh, you’re gonna be back in three to six months, but it just really stuck. The thing that I felt in that first audition never went away... it’s like a high — when I was a little girl I loved roller coasters, and still for me acting is like going on a roller coaster — it’s just this thrill that I want to experience over and over again. Nothing really compares to it.
Q: You have had so many roles from your stint on How I Met Your Mother to Glee and now American Reunion. What has the amazing journey meant for you?
A: It has confirmed my belief that if you find what you love and work diligently at it, the right jobs and people will continue to show up in your life.
Q: What is your favorite part about your role on How I Met Your Mother?
A: I love playing flawed characters. Wendy is so genuinely sweet and guileless to a point that she doesn’t realize she’s being taken advantage of. Being able to take on these characteristics in a way that is funny and harmless is always so much fun!
Q: How did you like working on the set of Glee?
A: Working on Glee was one of my favorite jobs because of the amazing children I got to work with that week. We shot a very moving episode where Sue Sylvester and Mr. Schuester came to the hospital I worked at. The group of kids that we worked with were such incredible souls. It was a truly enriching experience.
Q: What project do you think has been your greatest accomplishment so far?
A: It’s really hard to pick just one role as my favorite since I fall in love with every character I play. Most recently, I did a really great guest star on Fox’s show The Finder that I am really proud of.
Q: How would you describe your character in American Reunion, the latest American Pie movie?
A: I play Kevin’s wife. Ellie is Kevin’s “bringing home the bacon” wife. She is sweet and devoted and loves that she and Kevin can enjoy watching reality TV shows and chick flicks together. You see him and I together, and he goes back and gets reunited with all the original cast. Some stuff comes up with him and Tara Reid and we all figure it out. Its got a great cast and really fun directors, and it was a really good time.
Q: What was it like working with the entire American Pie cast in the fourth movie of the series?
A: It was a little bit like being the new kid in high school. Except this high school was a super fun, raunchy-joke-playing one. It was pretty much awesome, in every way possible.
Q: How do you stay grounded in Hollywood?
A: It’s not always easy. To avoid the hoopla and phoniness of it all, I find myself getting lost in whatever project I’m involved in at that moment, and with that it’s easy to forget where you are. My longtime friends are good for that as well. Even if it’s just a phone call or random email, having those roots and connections with people I love and trust make it easier. I also stay sane by being physically active. It’s a great release, whether it’s jogging or yoga. In fact, I recently started playing golf. I’m learning it’s the ultimate mind game and I can relate to that as someone whose always in her own head about everything.
Q: What advice do you have for actresses starting out?
A: Be fearless and stay true to who you are and the path you want to travel. Also, say “yes” to things. It’s not a part-time thing. That’s important to remember. Oh, and get used to rejection, which is hard for all the pretty people since no one has ever said “no” to them before, but it’s gonna happen. A lot. And that’s what’ll make you stronger and a better actor.
Q: Five years from now, do you hope to continue to act or do you have any other aspirations in the industry?
A: I hope to continue to act forever! But I’ve been coaching friends for a long time for auditions and things like that, and I feel like I definitely have a director’s eye when it comes to certain things, so at some point I would like to direct. It’s not a priority just yet, but its something that I think I will do.
Q: Are there any directors that you would really like to work with?
A: Clyde Geronimi, who directed Lady and the Tramp, because it was my favorite movie as a kid. I always wanted to do “the spaghetti thing” and I figured if anyone could make it happen, it’d be him.
Q: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned thus far?
A: I feel like we all have the right answers within us if we get quiet long enough to sit and listen and not be influenced by what other people may be saying or doing. That’s something that I always come back to. And I think for acting especially, there is no straight path and there are a million ways to get to the same place. And really the only way you’re going to get there is to listen to what is the right path for you. Trusting your gut on [what’s right] . . . so I’m in a place that’s receptive and open.