My Firsts: Tawny Newsome of “Space Force” | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, June 6th, 2023  

My Firsts: Tawny Newsome of “Space Force”

The Kid Correspondent

May 29, 2020 Photography by Robyn Von Swank Tawny Newsome
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My Firsts is our email interview series where we ask artists to tell us about their first life experiences, be it early childhood ones or their first tastes of their industry. For this My Firsts we talk to actress/comedian/musician Tawny Newsome, who is one of the stars of the new Netflix comedy series Space Force.

Newsome is a (hilarious) force to be reckoned with. Whether it be as the singer of band Four Lost Souls (a band led by Jon Langford), co-host of the podcast Yo, Is This Racist?, or as Chelsea Leight-Leigh on Bajillion Dollar Propertie$, Nina on The Comedy Get Down, and Angela Ali from Space Force, a new series by The Office veterans Greg Daniels and Steve Carell, Newsome has her toes dipped in a wide depth of pools.

According to her bio on Earwolf, Newsome’s band recorded their first album back in 2016 in Muscle Shoals, AL. She also once called Robert Plant “Dad” to his face on Father’s Day and he wasn’t exactly flattered, but we digress. Newsome is known for her improv comedy chops which helped her land a leading role on Space Force. The premise of the show is essentially if you took The Office, but placed in the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces. Newsome’s character, Angela Ali, is a helicopter pilot while her co-stars, Steve Carell, John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz, Diana Silvers’ roles range from social media directors, scientists, and teenage daughters (played by Silvers, not Malkavoich). It’s safe to assume Newsome will become a household name in the near future, so we provided a list of her “firsts” to help you get to know her even better.

Read on as Newsome recounts smelling “the weed” for the first time, getting fired from a Chicago bar, and her brief stint as a kid broadcaster.

First movie you saw in the movie theater?

The first movie I saw in a theater was probably The Little Mermaid. I remember being SO excited. It felt like we were out shopping on a busy street in a big city (which isn’t possible, I grew up in a small suburb in northern California that for many years was famous only for its Onion Festival), when my mom suddenly turned to me and asked if I’d like to go to the movies. The MOVIES. You mean like where TEENAGERS go? I levitated off the busy, metropolitan sidewalk (okay the sunbaked, onion-proud sidewalk) and floated the remaining 10, bustling city blocks (we got into a 1988 Toyota Tercel and drove past the Pizza Hut) to the theater. Dream come true.

First record your parents played for you?

Lionel Richie, self-titled debut. When I was born I was rushed to the NICU and my mom wasn’t allowed to hold me. The first time she was, “You Are” was playing. She would always sing it to me as a baby and I still love Lionel.

First favorite band?

I’m gonna get dragged for this, but, Weezer. What can I say? I like shreddy guitars and introspective-sounding tenors!

First favorite song?

“Lovesong,” The Cure. I would put it on repeat and listen over and over and over. The lyrics are so simple, but something about all those lush instrumental layers and the melancholy vocals—and it’s all somewhat uptempo? Sign. Me. UP.

First concert you went to?

Hootie and the Blowfish. My mom took me. I was a huge fan. She was not, despite everyone there being her age. I believe this is where I smelled my first “the weed.” Rock and roll, man.

First music festival you went to?

Lollapalooza. I think it was 2007 or 8? The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were there and Karen O had smeared her forehead with blue paint and I was like “THAT’S AN OPTION?” I’m running around in regular makeup and normal clothes like a damn chump and here she comes, from the future, basically, just like “Blue.” That’s it. That’s the look. Blue. Mind altering.

First time you got drunk?

Selling margaritas at the Suisun Art Fair to advertise our new season at the local community theater. What better way to get people interested in classics like Hedda Gabler or Streetcar Named Desire (as performed by teenagers) than $5 booze? Now that I’m thinking back, I don’t understand why I was allowed to work that booth.

First time you got fired?

As soon as I turned 21, I went straight to this sweaty, drunken part of Chicago to get a job in a busy sports bar called Butch McGuire’s. It was the sort of place where we weren’t allowed to carry trays but were expected to transport 10-15 drinks at a time, as we pushed and slid our way through the dense crowd to deliver them. We had this complicated, Tetris-like stacking system to get all the pints and tumblers and wine glasses to balance in just our two hands. We had one of those internet jukeboxes, where rich dudes fresh off their finance jobs could put 20s in and fill your next two hours with “Living on a Prayer” and “Friends in Low Places” and the like. I think I’d hit a limit with “Sweet Caroline.” It was a wildly packed Friday night, and nobody seemed to care that it was playing every 20 minutes. No offense to the song, but I’m trying to get through the crowd with towers of car bombs and whiskey sours with everyone throwing their heads back and scream-singing, punching the air and whatnot, (Bum Bum BUMMMMM) and it was just… too much. Anyway, we had a skip button in the back and every time it came on I started skipping it. My boss found me mid-skip, and asked if I’d like to give everyone their money back for skipping their songs, and when I declined, he told me not to come in the next day. Still think it was worth it.

First car you owed?

I VERY specifically requested a blue two-tone Chevy S10 Blazer for my first car. And boy did I get it. It was 14-years-old and didn’t seem to have a second gear, so it would do this scary loud revving noise in first like it was scream-gasping for air before hurling forward with a jolt and quieting down as it struggled and gurgled along in a too-slow third.

First professional audition?

I don’t know if this counts as professional. But when I was about 9 or 10, my dad agreed to stand with me in line at the Downtown Plaza in Sacramento so I could try to be a Kid Correspondent for this local news piece called “Kids Wanna Know.” We stood in line for four hours, inching forward until we got to the front and I got to audition with the one and only CHRIS EDDY. This was the only celebrity I knew at the time. He was a fun, funny, local news dude with a cool haircut and seemed like the absolute gateway to Hollywood, to me, anyway. They chose me and three other kids and I got to wear my favorite floral pants suit (which, yes, I had in TWO colors so I could wear it twice) and give a report on, I dunno, ostriches or something. I’ve been a real nose-in-the-air Hollywood-type ever since.

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