‘Everything’s Gonna Be Okay’ star Maeve Press talks new season and stand-up

Photo Credi: Luke Fontana

Freeform’s Everything’s Gonna Be Okay is an undeniable hit, and draws you in almost instantaneously. The refreshing, and unexpected family dynamic between brother Nicholas (Josh Thomas) and younger sisters Geneveive and Matilda (Kayla Cromer) is one to watch. Despite its dreary start with their father meeting his untimely demise and Nicholas inheriting his eccentric siblings, the series not only has heart and soul, it showcases a hilarious yet emotional rollercoaster between a new parent and his teen subjects. 

Season two of the autism-friendly series follows the Moss family after their gut wrenching New York trip, where Matilda realizes that perhaps she isn’t quite ready to be on her own in the Big Apple, after all. Maeve Press, a rising star in the entertainment realm, who plays the youngest Moss, Genevieve, recently spoke with Fandomize about season 2 of the hit Freeform series. We spoke about playing this ‘beautiful mess,’ her IRL stand-up, and the movie she co-wrote with her mom. 

Let’s dive right in… 

MCKENZIE MORRELL: Hi Maeve, happy to have you. For people who haven’t seen Everything’s Gonna Be Okay yet aka the uncool people, give them a quick elevator pitch about the show and Genevieve, the character that you play.

MAEVE PRESS: Thanks for calling our show cool! Everything’s Gonna Be Okay is about an Australian guy who comes to stay with his American dad and half sisters in California and just when he’s about to head back his dad is dies of cancer and he has to be the guardian of his two teenage half sisters, Matilda, who has autism, and Genevieve, who is a beautiful mess but also the most mature person in the family. She has been taking care of Matilda since they were kids even when their dad was alive because their mom died when they were really young so she’s used to putting her own needs on the back burner and focusing on others. And guess what? It is a comedy. 

MM: Would you say you were able to fully connect with this character? Do you two share any similarities or major differences?

MP: Right away I connected to her awkwardness and uncertainty about how and where she fits in. Also I am a middle sister which means I am always back and forth between being the younger one and the older one in my own family. Genevieve is sort of like this, but with one sister. She is the younger sister, and feels like it at times, but also has to act as the big sister to her and take care of her. While I think I bring parts of myself to Genevieve I love that she is also very different from me. She is more concerned with a social life and friends than I have even been. She is a bit more in a place of searching for something to define herself. I am also doing that, I think everyone is, but I did find stand up comedy as a mode of expression when I was quite young and it has been so important to me. Also, one major difference in the very first episode; Genevieve could ride a bike. I could only ride the subway. That was an interesting experience when I had to ride a bike down a lovely country road and I hope my terror was somewhat hidden. 

Photo Credit: Luke Fontana
MM: What do you think gives the show that “it” factor, and why so many people are drawn to it?

MP: Oh I didn’t know we had the “it” factor!  I think people like to feel seen and like to feel safe and from the very first moment of our show it is clear that this is about people just trying their best and there is no judgement. I think our show represents more than just the big and obvious things, like the autism and LGBTQ communities, but also represents so many people who feel a bit like the world is moving around them and not with them. And also Josh knows how to create worlds that blend comedy and tragedy in a way that is so special, so that helps.

MM: It recently premiered on Freeform, and it’s great to say that the gang’s all back in full swing! Can you tease anything that’s to come for your character?

MP: Genevieve and the rest of her family all have moments this season where they are surrounded by other people away from each other. It leads to some really funny, wonderful and downright awkward moments. Genevieve has many moments of “firsts” this season, as do the other characters. It’s a great journey.

MM: If you could swap places with one of the characters for a day, who would it be and why?

MP: Maybe Luke the dog who plays Duke because he is so beautiful and calming and I feel like he is the most zen creature on this planet and I would like to be that. Everybody loves Luke.

MM: In addition to acting, you are also a stand-up comedian. Can you recall the very first material have you ever written? How did that moment come about?

MP: Two moments stand out for me. When I was in 5th grade I was put in the “special” group at school for kids who needed extra help. It was just called the Orange Group. But it was so obvious that the kids in the Blue Group were reading high school level books, the kids in the Red Group were doing Algebra and the kids in the Orange Group had chunky pencils. I knew what was going on. I was slightly upset and went home and told my mom about being in the Orange Group and instead of being sad she laughed. I realized in that moment that I may not be able to read, but I could be funny. That was the first actual piece of comedy material I think I spontaneously wrote. The first actual joke I ever wrote happened at a camp. We had an assignment to write about something that could improve the world. I wrote about how crazy it is that we don’t have a Make A Wish program for old people. It bothered me that just because they were old and had time to do stuff, it did not mean they actually did anything. We should have Make A Wish for old procrastinators. It was controversial material.

MM: Due to the pandemic, have you had to adjust the way that you test out new material? Have you been able to do any in-person stand-up comedy since COVID-19 hit?

MP: My sisters and pets have been my go to test audience since I started, so lucky for me we all live together and I’ve still had them. It’s been really hard doing any actual in person stand-up comedy since COVID hit. I did one show on a sidewalk in New York City. It was fun, but challenging. Everyone is wearing masks, so it was hard to get people’s reactions, the traffic was tough competition and then a passerby actually asked me directions to the number six subway stop in the middle of my set.

MM: You are the youngest comedian ever to perform at Boston’s Women in Comedy Festival, NJ’s Hoboken Comedy Festival and the Burbank Comedy Festival. I’m sure there have been some ups and downs over your journey, how do you approach challenges you might face being a young woman in an overall male dominated field?

MP: My first challenge was really my age. I was quite young when I started and that could really throw people sitting in a comedy club drinking beer and expecting a grown up show. I learned quickly that I needed to address the discomfort of the moment quickly. I would say something like, “I hear there’s a kid in the room, so I’m going to try to keep it clean.” The crazy thing is that the worst show I ever did was actually for other children. I was booked for a kids show in Boston once. My material was kind of dark I guess and at one point a small child started crying and screamed “I don’t want to die!” Being female is also a challenge because I think people don’t always trust that girls are as funny as guys. That’s so ridiculous. I’ve been lucky to be doing this at a time when there are so many extraordinary female comics working who inspire me. I believe it is important to keep true to who you are and know that humor is human. When someone makes me feel I do not belong I remind myself that comedy is all about not belonging.

MM: I like to add my signature question to every interview I do– if you were to construct a donut based off of Genevieve’s personality, what kind of donut would she be and what toppings would be on the donut?

MP: I think she would be like a donut that looks a bit misshapen and plain on the outside but when you cut into it it’s like swirly rainbow colored cream and in the middle of the cream are gold and silver sprinkles with some little tangy lemon drops mixed in. She has trouble opening up to people but once she does she is a magical wonderful person. Definitely sweet, but always a little sour too, so be careful.

MM: You are currently in post-production for a short film you co-wrote. Can you tell us a bit about that project and when we might be able to expect that?

MP: Sure. I co- wrote the film “Too Many Buddhas” with my mom, C Fraser Press. We were both inspired by a real life event from her childhood that I had grown up hearing about. I have always wanted to collaborate on something with my mom and this was the perfect opportunity. The story is about a girl, Nora who goes to a therapy session after doing a terrible flute solo in her school concert before learning that her flute teacher has died. While she deals with this humbling experience, we start to learn that there is more to this session than meets the eye. I got to act alongside the amazing comedian Maria Bamford (playing the therapist) and it was thrilling in every way. We just wrapped post production and are hoping people will get to see it at festivals and then it will find a home on a platform so that a wider audience can view it as well. Also we are having a great time adapting it into a feature film, so that’s something to look forward to too.

MM: How was writing a short film different from your stand-up material?

MP: I co-wrote the film with my mom so that was a different experience that I really loved. Alot of my stand-up comes out of improvisational moments, nagging obsessions I can’t get out of my head, or comments I say that someone laughs at and then I decide to expand on them. For the short film, we really sat down, came up with the characters and storyline, and mapped out the action and character development. I loved learning about writing dialogue through working on this film with my mom. Yet for me both types of writing include striving for honesty and looking for the human quirks that make life interesting.

MM: Do you prefer acting, writing, or stand-up more? What gives one an edge over the other? 

MP: I really love them all equally. Ideally it is fun to be able to go back and forth, keeping each one fresh. I guess stand up is really special to me because it is something that encompasses both writing and acting. I also think working on each one of these disciplines helps with making the others stronger.

MM: Is there anything you can share regarding next projects? Anything else you’d like to add? Thank you for taking the time to chat with fandomize.com, we can’t wait to see what’s next for you!

MP: I am currently working on a solo show that I am quite excited about, and also working with my mom on the feature version of our short “Too Many Buddhas”, as well as working on a few other feature ideas. Also, I am hoping to somehow bring my original superheroes, The Lame Eleven, to life soon. Thanks everyone for watching the show you are all so cool and amazing! Yay You!