The actress will star in a new film called “Breakthrough” and is working behind the scenes as a producer on an upcoming movie project. She’s also teaming with Turbo for a new initiative sparked by her own past financial struggles. Called Real Money Talk, the partnership aims to break the taboo of talking about money.
Meanwhile, Metz’s “This Is Us” character, Kate Pearson, is having a life-changing season. She and her husband, Toby, are expecting their first child together, and in the latest teaser, we see Kate in the hospital. The scene has many fans wondering: What’s the fate of Kate and the baby?
Metz recently stopped by HuffPost to catch up on all things “This Is Us,” along with her personal finances, her acting journey and more.
In 2017, you opened up about your own financial struggles and challenges. Were you surprised by the reaction you received from so many people and fans?
Absolutely. I think what we’re always afraid of is when we’re honest, that we’re going to be ostracized or that nobody’s ever gonna relate. I’m never gonna be able to show my face and it’s always the opposite. It’s oh my gosh, you’ve been feeling this way, too? Oh my gosh, you’re in this financial situation, too? … We’re all feeling these same things but just huddled in our own little corner lamenting. And even anything that I’ve done, it’s always brought people who are interested in my journey or my story or the characters I play, brought us closer together even if I’ve never met them. I’m able to correspond with them and hear all the really nice things or feeling like you’re not alone. Oh, if this girl on a TV show feels this way, I can be honest too about it.
Take me back to your story. There was a time when you had just 81 cents in your checking account. It’s hard to believe that, seeing you week to week on such a successful show. We think, she’s got it made. But it wasn’t always that way.
No, and it wasn’t that way forever. I didn’t come from money. We struggled financially after my parents divorced and it never really stopped until I booked the show. Even when I was on unemployment and living with a friend and had 81 cents, I didn’t have enough money to get gas to go to the audition. It was always hand to mouth … I never had a real vacation until last year, which is because when either you don’t have money or you never feel like you’re going to, you’re not worried about saving it ’cause you’re like how? Why would I even think about that? I’m just trying to buy groceries for this week or trying to get enough money for my car payment and insurance. It’s so crazy to now think that there’s some stability. I didn’t even really know what that concept was.
You were legit worried about the gas for your car on the way to the audition for “This Is Us”?
And having my best friend bring me in and say, you can pay me back when you have money, I know you’re gonna be good for it. I’m like, OK. I hope so, girlfriend ’cause we’re racking up some debt here!
What do you do to make sure that you’re in financial good shape? Because you weren’t for quite some time.
I like to be very particular with what’s coming in, what’s going out. What are my bills for the month? Is there wiggle room? And if there is, should I invest? Should I think about opening up my own business or what is that gonna look like if I wanna do that in five years? Or if I wanna open up a production company, what is that gonna look like? How can I make sure that when “This Is Us” is over, that I’m going to have still peace of mind through a steady income and stability, because that is the scariest thing to me, ’cause like I said, I’ve already been broke. I don’t wanna go back there. I just really make sure that I’m diligent about what it is I’m spending. And we have to spend money to make money, especially in our business, so I just try to be very cognizant of all of that.
During that time when you were sort of down and out, trying to figure it out, you could’ve easily given up and not pursued acting or singing. What kept you going during that time?
I think it really was I don’t wanna go back home, I don’t wanna start over, I really wanna do this. I really think that if I step out in my belief in myself, the universe will conspire and I kept trying that for so many years. I was like, OK, I’m delusional. It’s not happening, it’s just not happening. OK, it’s not gonna happen, I’m gonna go teach preschool again.
I think it was just that I wanted to make sure that I gave it my all, blood, sweat, tears, 12 years. I was like, OK, this is a substantial chunk of time to invest in yourself, in a career you want. I was this close to going back home twice right before the show, and I don’t know at the end, what really kept me going aside from something inside that I couldn’t explain. I just knew that I couldn’t give up yet. It was just too soon, just hold on for a little longer. I can’t really explain that. I just know what the feeling was and I think because I knew by the 12th year of pursuing it, it was never about fame and fortune. It was really like I want to relate to somebody and I want them to relate to me. I just wanna tell stories and I love people, I want to engage with them. And it’s like everything that happened prepared me for it.
How often do you hear that you’re an inspiration or a role model to people who are trying to break into the business or people who just see you as someone like them?
Yeah, I do hear that, which is still very surprising to me, but I’m impressed and I’m inspired by a working mom, and I’m inspired by somebody who has to take seven subways to get into something that they love, no matter what it is. You can find inspiration and motivation through anyone and everyone who is just doing the extra. I guess I did extra things and I did things I didn’t want to do and I sort of paid dues in some regards, but I also know that it’s how you treat people. It’s also do you really love what you’re doing? All of those sort of factor into that. When I would meet people and they were like, “Why aren’t you on TV?” And I’m like, anyway. Long story. Every time that I was about to give up, I would hear something or somebody would say something or someone’s like, “Oh, you should come to this show.” Then I’d meet an acting coach or I’d meet somebody who gave a little nudge and a little push. I don’t know, I find inspiration in sort of everything and everyone. But it’s still very strange.
Which part of it is strange?
That people think that. But I understand, in that I’m a regular girl and on paper, all of this doesn’t make sense. It’s like, if she can do it, I can do it too, and if that is what they take away, I’m like you’re damn skippy!
Your character Kate is having a huge year this season. We didn’t see you last week because the show was bumped for the “World of Dance” premiere. Everybody was up in arms ― like, “Where is ‘This Is Us?’”
Berating me! I’m like guys, I don’t plan the schedule.
Well, people are on the edge of their seats because of what we saw in the latest teaser.
This episode when we see Toby rushing after Kate on the stretcher, what we don’t see, through the trailer, is the two scenes that happen prior to. Those sort of really set up what it all means for Kevin and for Kate and for what could potentially be wrong medically. I know everybody is like, if Kate doesn’t have that baby ― I will lose my mind. It’s definitely unexpected but I think a lot of people will learn from it. And I think it will move people and I definitely have been moved in these last few episodes as an actress. Like, whoa, this was given to me, OK. I better honor that. You know, I think it’ll be cathartic to many people.
If you had to sum up this whole experience on “This Is Us,” how would you?
I mean, I … The tears are right here. They’re right here [points to her eyes] just talking about it because it has created opportunity, it’s paved way for women of a certain size or not of a certain size, it’s creating a new narrative. It’s creating dialog about so many different things, whether it’s men battling depression or anxiety or addiction, weight issues that never seemingly were our own, that we sort of hold onto the guilt and the shame and torture ourselves for it. In that release of what Kate’s gone through with her father’s death, there’s so many things to learn from, and I could not feel more privileged to be a part of a show that’s, yeah it’s a TV show, but this is changing people’s hearts and their minds and their lives, and I see it happen every day when I talk to people about what they’ve battled and what they’re going through. I’m like oh, that’s why we create art. This is why we do it and I know in my heart, it might be close to happening again, but I don’t think so. I don’t think so, and I’m really gripping to every single second, morsel, every moment because I know that it’s lightning in a bottle and so, so, so, so, so special.
It just seems like there’s such a love on the set and love for one another. Can you kind of expound upon that?
Yeah, I would have to say it’s all Dan Fogelman, our creator, because it starts with the creator and the writer and how do they wanna shape and mold their particular art? I don’t know how in the world that casting and through all the process that every single one of us ended up together and genuinely care for each other and are there for one another and really friends.
It is like we’re family. As cliché and ridiculous as it sounds, we’ve become that also, through of course these last three years, but I respect and revere every single one of them from the writers to everyone who’s so amazing at their craft that I often feel like … Am I supposed to be here? But I also have to remind myself … Just enjoy this and quit comparing and learn from these masters and take with it what you will. I’m constantly just in awe.
And then Dan says to me the other day, he’s like, “Chrissy, some of your best work I’ve ever seen is coming up.” And I’m like, don’t say that, Dan. Don’t say that.
He means in the upcoming episodes because he’s seen the final version. You haven’t seen them yet?
No. I try, sometimes I like to watch them, but sometimes I like to just be an audience member on a Tuesday night. But yeah, I was like, Dan, you’re just being nice. He’s like, “No, Chrissy, no really.”
You’re growing as an actress, really.
Even as an actress, that I’m growing and I’m getting better, I’m showing up for myself and working through the fear and just processing it all and still there to learn hopefully as I always do every day. But I’ve learned so much, so much and I do every day.
You don’t seem like Kate.
Thank you, because sometimes people think I am her … My friend likes to say that I’m much nicer than Kate. She’s like, “Kate’s a bitch!”
I am complicated but in a different way … I used to be Kate. I was super insecure and just holding onto everything and wound up so tightly that I just, at some point, you kind of implode and that happened on my 30th birthday when I had this crazy panic attack and was like ahh. And everything just sort of hit the fan. I just realized that I’m not always gonna be tough. I wanna be vulnerable. I want everything to seep in and not always have it together and not worry. She’s much more Type A than I think I’ve ever been. But yeah, she’s got a bit of a Judy attitudey sometimes, but it’s because I think that she’s really misunderstood. She had been holding on to such shame and guilt for so long and, not that I don’t hold onto my own, but we do it in very different ways. Very different ways now. I like to say thank you because maybe I’m an OK actress.
I know that some of the scenes from the final, final episode have been shot. Were you privy to any of those … Not that I need to know but are you just privy to … Were you in any of the scenes that were shot for the final, final episode?
We do know what’s going on.
Does that mess you up a little bit knowing that, or does that help you?
Sometimes it helps and sometimes I’m like, I wish I didn’t know. You can’t un-ring the bell. I don’t know. Sometimes I don’t want to know. If they don’t have to tell us, I’m like keep it to yourself. But sometimes it does help. It’s a Catch-22.
Now that you have some time off and you have some money to spend, are you going on vacation?
No, girl … I’m going on a press tour for the movie “Breakthrough.” The thing is, luckily things have been coming up, and I’m producing a movie with one of my dear friends who’s having a directorial debut. That’s gonna be really cool to do and learn from a different perspective because it’s a small part that I’m playing but I wanna know really from a director’s perspective and writer. I just want to learn, I just want to know things.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
“This Is Us” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.