9JKL’s Liza Lapira: ‘I’ve Been Living The Life Beyond My Dreams’

“9JKL” is a show about life in New York City and it’s filled with native New Yorkers like Liza Lapira. Lapira is from Queens and plays Eve on the CBS sitcom. Her character happens to live just footsteps away from her mother and father in law. “9JKL” returns to CBS tonight and the show gave Lapira an opportunity to work again with star Mark Feuerstein and executive producer Dana Klein.

Lapira chatted with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith about how she became an actress, why she wanted to be on “9JKL” and life in New York City.

DJ Sixsmith: How did you get your start in acting?

Liza Lapira: I actually started out with singing. Then I did a high school play that was a musical. Then after that, I just wanted to act. I went to school and started doing theatre and then I moved to Los Angeles in 2004.

DS: You’ve been in TV shows like “NCIS” and “Dexter” and movies such as “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and “Fast & Furious.” How would you describe your career up to this point?

LL: Lucky. A lot of people have given me chances when they didn’t have to. A lot of people thought outside the box, even though the part was supposed to be for someone blonder or with bluer eyes. All that aside, it’s been fun. I’ve been living the life beyond my dreams. It’s been great.

DS: When you were first approached about “9JKL”, what was appealing about the script?

LL: The people involved were the first thing that was appealing. I had worked before with Dana Klein on another pilot. It didn’t get picked up, but we did it two years before this one. I had work with Mark Feuerstein on his show, I had guested on “Royal Pains.” They were the first attractive things about the project. I read the script and it was super funny and that was it. I knew I wanted to do it.

DS: How has your character Eve grown on “9JKL”?

LL: She started out a little bit more timid of Judy. She was a little bit more reticent to say anything. Towards the end of this upcoming episode, they start to come together a little bit more. Also, Eve is super vain. I like to think of Andrew and Eve as the narcissistic, vain, but lovable couple next door. Eve less so, Andrew my TV husband thinks he’s pretty great. That goes episode to episode. I’m more vain and less vain depending on the episode. In tonight’s episode, we still think we’re pretty great. We’re going to a black tie event, but it’s is less about who we are and more about who’s going to take care of our child.

DS: Speaking of tonight’s episode Heavy Meddling. What can people expect when they tune in?

LL: They can expect Elliott Gould being really funny. The character that he plays is a lovable dullard. He’s smart clearly as a lawyer and was successful before he retired, but he’s clueless when it comes to everyday common sense. That worries even Andrew because there is no one to watch our child. We have to show up to this event and we have to train and re-train Elliott’s character about how to take care of another human life. Elliott’s character asks at one point if he should leave the baby alone in the bathroom. He claims the child will want privacy. The kid is six months old man. Also, the other storyline is around guest star Andrea Anders. She’s a new love interest for Josh and we find out later it was all a manipulation. Everyone will see tonight.

DS: What makes the experience on this show different from your experience on other TV shows you’ve done in the past?

LL: A lot of things. I love that this show is such a New York show. There are basically all New Yorkers on it. It’s a New York situation. I’m standing in a New York building talking to you now. I found out that I was going to talk to you today and I didn’t have time to go home, so I just ducked into a random building. I’m in the hallway of a random office building. Stuff like that happens. You move back home to where real estate is really precious and you don’t let go of things that you buy. Josh’s parents own the three apartments and their kids live there. I play someone who lives 10 feet away from my mother in law. Mark and David Walton play sons of an overbearing mother, who is footsteps away from where they sleep at night. That’s a very unique situation. It’s not that weird for New York actually. What I love about the show is the family. There’s something very family oriented about the show. Even if we fight, at the end of it all, we love each other. Comedy is delightful and hopefully people enjoy it.

DS: Finally, you grew up in Queens. What are you favorite things about New York City?

LL: Walk around. I live in LA now and if you want to buy a soda, you have to get in the car. My culture is to get up, roll out of bed, go outside and buy an apple, take the train and do your thing. I like the diversity. The city smushes you into people that you normally wouldn’t come into contact with, especially on the subway. The subway is basically a trip around the world. I love the food, although LA has game as well. I was seeing family in Queens the other day and I made a pit stop in another part of Queens where my family doesn’t live in Jackson Heights. Instead of going back to Manhattan, I got the good Indian food. It was the hole in the wall, delicious stuff I was raised on. Forget everything I said and just remember I love eating.

Watch “9JKL” tonight at 9:30pm EST/PST on CBS.

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