Naomi Grossman: Out of Character

Naomi Grossman played the fan favorite on the most lauded television show of 2013, but you wouldn’t recognize her on the street. Thanks to two Emmy-nominated makeup artists and thousands of dollars in prosthetics, Grossman (C97) transformed into Pepper, the incredibly popular and disturbingly disfigured character on American Horror Story: Asylum. It was a role that changed her life. “All of a sudden these ‘Pepper for President’ posters started popping up around Los Angeles,” says Grossman. “Someone even tattooed me on his leg." Pepper was a dream role in so many ways, she adds, “like a two for one. She was complex, full of dichotomies: she was sweet, yet murderous; dim, yet smart; feeble, yet strong; ugly, yet cute; playful, yet all business; naïve, yet all-knowing.” Pre-Pepper, Grossman spent years working the sketch comedy and solo performance scene in LA. She was part of the Groundlings Sunday Company, which she describes as “a stimulating place, almost like a comedy version of Northwestern.” She then starred in her self-produced 2009 solo show Carnival Knowledge. The show, a chronicle of Grossman’s dating misadventures, enjoyed rave reviews in LA before playing at the New York and Edinburgh fringe festivals, as well as on London’s West End. Grossman thrives on larger-than-life characters and aspires to do something like “The Carol Burnett Show, only without Carol Burnett. I see myself doing really outrageous characters in a series ... or a series of characters in a series ... or a series of characters in a series of series. That’s the dream.”

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