By Tyler Calder
If you don’t know Simone Missick, you’re going to know her really soon. On September 23, she’s making her debut as Judge Lola Carmichael on All Rise, a new courtroom dramedy centered around a change-making woman of color judge ready to make a difference. In her own words, “All Rise goes behind the scenes in the LA court system and looks at the real men and women – the judges, the lawyers, bailiffs, and the clerks who keep our legal system running. It’s not a ‘case of the week’ show – it’s more about the people, and I love that this show has a character everyone can relate to.”
When we caught wind that Simone was a TV-binging homebody jumping into this role, we knew we had to speak with her. Just 30 minutes into our chat, I found myself deeply in the actress’s corner, rooting for her success as she enters the greatest role of her career. The care she took with each answer reflects an empathy and discipline she’s honed over her years in Hollywood. We couldn’t be any more excited for her as she takes on her first lead role and (arguably) her busiest season of life yet.
Simone, we’re so excited to watch All Rise! What about Judge Carmichael’s story makes you most excited to tell it?
Simone Missick: Lola is a deputy district attorney [who becomes a judge]; she has a really successful career in LA and she’s very committed to the people of the city and to making sure that justice is served. I love that Lola is deeply creative and thinks outside the box. She’s spent years watching people use the judicial system as a rubber stamp assembly line, where poor people and people of color are given the short end of the stick. What excites me is watching this woman who is very smart and very capable figure out how to work within the system but also change it in whatever small ways she can.
It’s fun to play a strong female character that has a lot of humility and also heart. She’s a person that’s committed to making a difference.
How do you separate yourself from an intense role like this? Do you find it hard or are the lines very clear?
SM: It can affect you. If it’s a character that’s far from who I am or what I believe, it’s easy to say it’s just a character, and then it’s all in good fun. Other times, finding distractions (TV shows!) that make me laugh and keep my spirits up allow me to not fall into that too much.
Spending time with my husband, who’s also an actor, helps me decompress. I play with my dog, I talk to my friends, and I make my life outside of work my primary focus when I’m not at work. That allows me to not let roles consume me in that way.
What shows do you like to watch on a night in? What’s inspiring you right now.
SM: I watch a LOT of television and I don’t know where I find the time to do it. I’ve spent my Sundays these last few months just obsessed with Euphoria and Big Little Lies, two shows that are very heavy but are so well done that every time an episode would end, I wished there was more to binge. I’m sad Jane the Virgin is getting ready to wrap up. I just love things that make me laugh, but I also have such an appreciation for the darker things. It’s how you as an actor stay up on the really powerful groundbreaking art that people are making.
Every now and again, I’ll let myself watch fun TV, or what I like to call “brain candy,” so I can check out. I love Lil’ Kim’s reality show on VH1, Girls’ Cruise, but my husband thinks all reality shows bleed into my real life and [when I watch] I start acting like the Real Housewives (Editor’s note: could she be any more relatable?! 😂).
Who do you look up to in life and in work?
SM: My mom, first – she’s of course my greatest inspiration. And I’m inspired artistically by artists like Viola Davis and Kerry Washington, who are phenomenal film actresses that were able to carry huge shows for years. It was such a beautiful thing to see them break barriers we hadn’t seen in the past. Those two women are icons in my book. Phylicia Rashad would also be on my list I’ve seen her on stage, in films, and on TV. I grew up with her every week in my living room!
There are also independent singers, like Carmen Rogers, who I admire so much. There’s this idea in our society that if you aren’t at a certain level by a certain point, you should just give up. And yet, I’ve watched friends of mine who are just now coming into their success and had they given up, they wouldn’t be the leads on TV shows and they wouldn’t be putting out there own independent albums or co-authoring books. It’s an exciting time to see these women who are my peers doing things that ten years ago none of us thought were possible.
How do you balance long days on set? Do you have practices or taking care routines that help you balance it all?
SM: I try to limit my social media when I’m at work. It doesn’t matter how great you feel about where you are in life – if you go on social media, you’re going to ask yourself why you aren’t doing that thing that you’re seeing someone else do. Even if you’re living your dream. For instance, right now, I am literally living my dream – I am the lead on a CBS show that I think will make a difference in a lot of people’s lives. This is my first lead role! And yet, I could go on social media and look at someone on vacation in Italy and start thinking about how much I wanted to go to Italy this summer.
Instead, every morning, I start out my day with prayer. I take some quiet time to pray for the day to go well for not only myself, but the cast and crew, my family and my friends, our country, and all the people that I’ll come into contact with throughout the day. I listen to a Christian podcast that gives me new perspective throughout the day.
Then I have a chain I’m on with about 30 married women, and that is something that [keeps me centered]. In the middle of the day you’ll get a text with scripture to keep in mind or directive or call to action to pray for someone. It’s a good reminder to think less on self and more on others throughout the day.
Also when it comes to long days, I pace myself. I’m a HUGE fan of naps. When it’s a 12-, 13- or 14-hour day, I’m sleeping during my “lunch.” I’ve found that helps me stay mentally ready and physically rested and active. I think other countries have it right with a mid-day siesta, so I take a European approach here. Oh, and I facetime with my husband and my dog. 😊
What does an ideal night in look like for you?
SM: Right now, I am drinking gin and tonics to celebrate the end of summer. My husband cooks and so I’ll let him do that and I’ll lay out. The snuggle is real! I LOVE staying in the house – it’s generally hard to get me to go out if I don’t have to. If he’s not there, I’m taking a bubble bath and doing some stretches and lighting some candles and, again, eating some good food and watching some good TV.
What lessons in taking care or work would you share with your younger self?
1) Drink more water! Take your vitamins. Exercise. Moisturize.
2) I’m now a vegan and I’ve watched my energy levels just skyrocket from that. For a very long time, I struggled with small little health hiccups. Had I really focused on the fact that what you put into your body is 90% of what comes out, I would have spent a lot less time struggling with energy and fatigue and sleeplessness and acne and weight fluctuation. I would have told my younger self that what I eat is more important than exercise [for my body].
3) A really good friend of mine recently said to me, “Don’t should on yourself.” And what she was saying was that so often we think about what I should have done or what I should do – it’s important to be gentle with yourself.
4) My dad used to tell me that I was trying to fit 26 hours into a 24 hour day. I was trying to do it all, but if you don’t should on yourself, you realize you can only do what you can do. Tomorrow is a day to be better.