How could you possibly not love Olivia Munn? What’s not to love about her? She is extremely talented, absolutely gorgeous and never seems to take herself all that seriously. If you don’t love Olivia Munn you are probably one of those fools who doesn’t love Ice Cream or Tom Hanks—you aren’t a fool are you?
I’m definitely no fool (at least when it comes to appreciating Munn) and I have been a big fan of hers since I first saw her work on Attack of the Show as a host. She was so naturally funny and charming on Attack that she was able to earn a huge following. Attack of the Show was a live program that aired on the G4 channel for close to a decade. The show focused heavily on popular culture interests like video games and movies. Munn shined in the various sketches and comedy bits she performed on the program.
“Attack of the Show was a very special thing. It was truly lightning in a bottle. Me, Kevin Pereira [her Attack co-host] and our producers really tried to entertain the audience the best way we could. We took big comedic risks and we did things that weren’t politically correct because we knew our audience was smart enough to get that it was a joke. We tried to make it a The Daily Show for geeks,” said Munn during my interview with her. The AOTS team was amazingly successful in their attempt to appeal to a “geek” audience. Munn became every male geek’s crush and Attack of the Show became must see TV for every fanboy and fangirl out there.
During its on air run, Olivia and the AOTS team would promote the program every summer at the Mecca of geekdom—Comic-Con. Munn is practically Comic-Con royalty and her popularity at the convention rivals any superhero or movie property. I personally stood in line one year for hours to get Munn’s autograph at the world famous convention that is held each year in San Diego. When I informed her of my past “dedication” to acquiring her signature, she sweetly and earnestly replied—“Was I nice to you?”
AOTS played a major role in elevating the convention to the cultural phenomenon it is today. It isn’t just a haven for geeks anymore—it has become a mainstream spectacle that focuses far more on Hollywood promotion rather than fan and celebrity interaction. The changes are evident to Olivia and she isn’t exactly thrilled about it.
“Everybody goes to Comic-Con now. Things that have nothing to do with geeky interests are there now. A legal themed TV show will be there and I am just like ‘what are you doing here?’ The most annoying thing is when you talk to celebrities now—most of them tell you they are the king or queen of Comic-Con. They don’t get that everyone with a little bit of fame is the king and queen of Comic-Con. My mom is the queen of Comic-Con—you know what I mean? Anyone with a little bit of fame will get their picture taken by fans there. Comic-Con is a place for fans and when celebrities go there and refuse to have their picture taken…that is so asinine. So you are going there to ignore fans? To me, it has changed, but things like Comic-Con change when they become more mainstream.”
It’s quite easy to assume that Munn has always been the center of attention and adored by all those around her. She assures me that all the relatively recent adulation she receives is in no way something she was familiar with as a young girl. Munn grew up moving from military base to military base with her family. She spent most of her formative years growing up in Tokyo, Japan and eventually found herself in Oklahoma at the age of 16.
“Going from Tokyo to Oklahoma at the age of 16 was such a huge change. When you grow up in that military world you meet new kids every 3 years or so. When I moved to Oklahoma it was different culturally and everyone around me had sort of established their social groups. I came into this new setting and there weren’t a lot of warm welcomes. The high school I went to was in a community where everyone knew each other since kindergarten. I sort of blended into the lockers—nobody really cared that I existed,” recalls Munn.
As soul crushing as her teenage years sound—Munn looks back on the experiences she faced with a surprising amount of gratitude. “I am so happy that I had those difficult challenges. I learned how to be okay with being alone. I learned how to handle rejection. I learned how to build a really strong self-worth. I don’t let my worth be based on the thoughts of others. I realize how insignificant popularity and fame are.”
All of those life lessons prepared her for her eventual trek to Los Angeles in the pursuit of a career as an actress. “I didn’t go to LA thinking people would accept me or like me. A lot of actors face their demise because they go to LA thinking they will be loved and that can break people down when it doesn’t happen. When I came to LA I had no expectations about how I should be treated. I understood that just because you want people to like you—it doesn’t mean that they will.”
She faced the usual struggles that confront any actor or actress when they first arrive in Hollywood. Those battles lasted for a few years before she landed her big break on Attack of the Show. “I never went out and partied. I never went home during the holidays. I never felt like I deserved to go visit home or go out and party. I wasn’t making money and I wasn’t working. I went out on auditions for things I knew I would never get. I submitted myself to rejection everyday so I could get used to it,” she says in regards to how she handled those first few years in Hollywood.
Her eventual work on Attack of the Show turned her into a star and she is very grateful for the show. But, because she was a host on the show, people felt like they knew who she was. She believes that familiarity harmed her chances of finding serious acting roles for a long time. In many ways her natural presence in front of the camera hurt her acting pursuits. “You have to do the best with the opportunities you are given and that’s what I did with Attack of the Show. I do wish my first job was working with Martin Scorsese—or even just a show on The CW—then people would have looked at me as an actor. I did the best with the opportunities I was given. I never compromised who I was on Attack of the Show and we created something that the audience really responded to.”
Munn’s persistence and talent eventually landed her a role on the Aaron Sorkin television drama, Newsroom. Sorkin is an Academy Award and Emmy winning writer and producer who has achieved one of the most distinguished reputations in all of Hollywood. His cinematic writing credits include The Social Network and Moneyball. He also wrote and produced The West Wing for television. His projects usually attract the biggest and most talented names in Hollywood. Munn was determined to work with Aaron Sorkin and land a role on Newsroom.
“I had offers for television shows, some were really great shows. It wasn’t even guaranteed that I would get a chance to audition for Newsroom. Everyone advised me to not wait for the Sorkin show and to take those other offers. There were a lot of people who wanted a role on Newsroom. I was really happy that I turned out to be the person I hoped I could be. I hoped I would be the kind of person who would turn down guaranteed work for a chance to work with Aaron Sorkin.”
Her work on Newsroom has proven to the entertainment industry that Munn is a lot more than the funny girl that hosted a show for geeks. “The perception of me has altered within the entertainment industry and what is offered to me has really changed,” she says about her current career.
Like I said before, you have to be a complete fool to not love Olivia Munn. It’s extremely rare to find a person as talented as her who can articulate their hardships so well without sounding self-absorbed. She can be inspirational and at the same time never lose the qualities that make her easy to relate to. If all that wasn’t enough, she is also extremely appreciative of the people who helped to make her what she is today.
“The fans are really important to me. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about how much they have done for me. I am so thankful that they have supported me. They have changed my life and their dedication means so much to me—I truly think about them everyday. My fans are my friends and they have helped me make all of my dreams come true.”
How could you possibly not love Olivia Munn?