Anna Konkle on ‘The Afterparty,’ Life after ‘Pen15’ and Her Memoir – WWD

It took Anna Konkle some time to adjust to simply being an actor on set. As the cocreator and star of “Pen15,” Konkle is used to wearing many hats while on a set — and, more importantly, feeling the weight of responsibility. 

So when she was at work on the new season of “The Afterparty,” the popular Apple TV+ series that returned for its second season this summer, she had to keep reminding herself that every problem wasn’t her own.

“There are definitely times of feeling the adrenaline of, knowing we were not going to make our day or we were taking too long on a scene and then realizing, like, ‘this isn’t my show,’” Konkle says. “This is not my problem. I can go get apples and peanut butter at the craft table.”

Konkle was a fan of the first season of “The Afterparty” and was tapped fairly late in the game for season two, having to jump right in. Hannah, her character, appealed to her as someone totally different from the roles she’s previously played. 

“I love that she’s not the person, and this is my taste in general, but is not the person that has to deliver the jokes that are funny — she’s funny. She herself is like the alien in the room and the reject and she’s sort of always on a different level than everybody else and not communicating super well.” That, and the fact that Hannah was an adult, having played a 13-year-old on “Pen15.”

Konkle describes coming out of “Pen15” and looking for what’s next in her career as another coming-of-age of sorts. 

Anna Konkle

Anna Konkle

Michael Buckner/WWD

“It was really a lot of discovery,” she says. “I was very open and was kind of treating it as an experiment and was just open to whatever came up. And so I just felt really lucky that it was something with really great people that I got to learn from.”

In this current pause in Hollywood, Konkle is kept busy working on her memoir, which was revealed in 2021.

“I’ve been lucky in that — I mean, lucky is a weird word for it, because I’ve basically been working on the book for longer than I anticipated. So it’s a double-edged sword, but it’s nice to still have a creative project that I have deadlines for,” she says.

The book, titled “The Sane One,” is about her “dysfunctional” family — “my mom loved that word in the logline” — and sees her in her most personal light yet. 

“It’s definitely very vulnerable in a new way than ‘Pen15,’” she says. “But  it feels like the right thing. There was a lot that happened the year that I pitched it. My dad passed very suddenly and there were a lot of mental health realizations in my family. It’s the story of my parents and their crazy relationship and me sort of disassociating from it and being like, ‘I’ll be nothing like them.’ And then at the end of the day, realizing that there was a lot of overlap. I didn’t quite get as far away as I intended.”

Some of the book’s material had been written first into “Pen15,” but Konkle would realize it didn’t quite fit in the show. 

“I remember in the first season [of ‘Pen15’] someone called it ‘tramedy’ and that felt right. So there’s definitely overlap with the book, but it’s probably darker, and a bit more experimental in terms of the way books can do that more than TV shows,” she says. 

That being said, she didn’t necessarily set out to write a memoir in her 30s. 

“It  just sort of unfolded in a way where I never thought I’d write a memoir and never thought it would be in my 30s. Like, that feels a little, you know, up your own ass,” she says. “But it was just the way that things happened. It was like, ‘OK, this is the right time to tell the story.’”

Interview was conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike.

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