Chrissy Metz is one of the breakout stars on NBC’s new drama series, This Is Us, but she’s also breaking stereotypes for plus-size actors. In a new interview with The New York Post, Metz, who plays Kate Pearson on the NBC hit, said she has been dealing with weight issues since she was a child, but she is now happy that she is able to use her struggles to help break down barriers for others.
“My weight is something I’ve been dealing with since I was little,” Chrissy told the Post. “In hindsight it’s been an uphill battle; it’s not always been easy being overweight or being judged solely on that… but I’m grateful because I now get to touch people’s lives in a way I couldn’t if I was average size.”
Metz said that when she read the character description for Kate, one of three 36-year-old siblings on the show, she knew she had to try out for the role.
“The [character description] literally said: ‘Kate, 30s, attractive, overweight, a woman struggling with weight issues,” Metz revealed of her This Is Us character. “There are hardly any plus-size roles and it’s usually as the butt of some joke. But as I read the script … it was so layered and was written so well … and I was like, ‘Oh my God, please let me audition.'”
Metz’s TV resume includes past roles as Chunk on My Name Is Earl and circus sidekick Ima “Barbara” Wiggles on American Horror Story: Freak Show—roles that focused on her weight—and she admits that she feels a little bit stereotyped.
— AmericanHS_Superfans (@AHS_Superfans) December 11, 2014
But Chrissy Metz has learned to embrace it because her weight is such a big part of who she is, and with This is Us, her character’s story really hits close to home.
“You might as well use what you have,” Metz told the Post.
“I feel a little bit stereotyped, but [This Is Us creator] Dan Fogelman has created such a multi-dimensional character who has something to say. Art imitates life. It is what it is. You accept it and go with it.”
Chrissy Metz previously told Us Weekly that she is happy to be on a series that shows there’s more to plus-size people than their size. Metz said she wants to bring to light the taboo issues and let people see that overweight people aren’t lazy and don’t just sit around and eat all day. Chrissy also said she’s ready for her character to break the stereotypes plus-sized people face in the dating world.
“There’s this preconceived notion that if you’re plus-sized, you don’t feel confident, so you sleep around,” Metz told Us. “And I know that that’s obviously a blanket statement, but … I like that [Kate] is going to be a little more deliberate in what she’s doing and waiting to find out does she really care about this guy and does he really care about her.”
Chrissy also spoke to Refinery 29 about her new role on the NBC family-themed drama. Metz said she has been told that she’s too pretty to play the “fat” girl.
“It’s interesting, because I’ve heard, ‘You’re too pretty to play the big girl.’ What? Wait, so plus-size women can’t be attractive?” Metz revealed. “But yeah, I’ve had people say either, ‘You’re too pretty to play the big girl,’ or ‘You’re too overweight for this particular role.'”
But Metz showed them all when she bared all in the This Is Us pilot. Chrissy’s character stripped down to step on the scale, and while the scene made her feel vulnerable, in the end she did it because it was important for both her and her character.
“Initially, I thought, ‘Damn, this is gonna be scary,'” Metz revealed. “I‘m not only gonna be mentally and emotionally exposed, but physically exposed, in front of a crew of 100 people. After I did it, it felt super liberating… And also it was liberating in that I know that I’m not just my body. I’m so much more as a woman, a human being, a soul — as opposed to just this vessel that we’re living in.”
While she doesn’t claim to be a pioneer in the TV industry, Chrissy Metz said her 11 years in the business has given her some great exposure, most notably with her role in Freak Show. But This is Us is set to make Chrissy Metz a household name.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.
Take a look at the video below to see Chrissy Metz talking about her role on This Is Us.
[Featured Image by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Audi]