Alison Haislip has done a bit of everything. She’s an actress, she’s hosted a ton of shows, she’s a gamer, she’s been to Space Camp, and she has a cat named Gandalf the White. How cool is that? After Alison’s appearance on Retro Replay where she and Nolan talked a little about her new project, ❤️ 👶 🍆 (Heart Baby Eggplant), I had the extreme honor of sitting down with her for a bit more in depth discussion about life, gaming and her new amazing show. Make sure you check out this hilarious show on Amazon Prime or YouTube. Seriously…go watch the show!
Brandy: So I watched your show (Heart Baby Eggplant) and I absolutely loved it and I know I’m not the only person that thought this show was fantastic. Do you know what the plans are for new episodes or a new season?
Alison: Well Rati (Gupta), Laura (Ortiz), and I have been talking about a second season. Our goal would be that someone would pay us to do a second season *laughs*. We got hit with bad timing because of the pandemic so we are considering doing another crowdfunding to get season two done because we have gotten really great responses to the show. It’s wonderful for people to come out and say, “I wasn’t expecting the show to be like this! It’s really shocking and wonderful and funny!” So yeah, we really want to make more so we are working on that.
Brandy: Sign me up! I will help crowdfund!
Alison: *laughs* Thank you!
Brandy: The Guild is actually one of my favorite web series and I happened to see a mention of Cheesy Beards in one of the end credit texts and I’m wondering if there is a connection there?
Alison: So, what’s really interesting is those end credit texts were one of the perks from our crowdfunding campaign for season one. At a certain perk level you got to choose a text that goes in during the end credits. So that actually came from one of the contributors and what’s really funny is, because we didn’t write that, when that episode came out there were a couple of people that commented and were like “OMG a Guild reference! A Guild reference!” and we were racking our brains wondering where in the episode did we have a guild reference? I’m friends with Sandeep and so I actually emailed him to ask him, “Hey weird favor, but can you watch this episode of this web series that I created and tell me where there is a Guild reference because me and my co-creators are losing our minds”. Then right after I sent it, I re-watched the episode and caught it in the text and I was like, “Oh my gosh of course, of course!” That’s what it was!
Brandy: I’m one of those people that’s hyper focused so I always pick up on weird little things. I saw that and got super excited.
Alison: And of course you would catch that! The three of us were so into the scripts Rati wrote that all the other stuff that came after that wasn’t drilled into our brains and, we were just like, what are they talking about? *laughs*
Brandy: That’s hilarious!
Brandy: Women talking so openly about sex has often been a taboo subject. Women are supposed to be “ladylike,” etc., so it was refreshing to see a female take on sexuality from three different perspectives. How important was it that the three of you were very open about sex and sexuality on the show?
Alison: Well, that was incredibly important because that was really the entire point of the show. We are three women in three very different types of relationships and the very grounded approach they took to them. Those relationships are very much based on our individual lives, so we weren’t just trying to do stuff for shock value. Either they are stories that actually happened to us or were inspired by stories that happened to us, which was definitely the crucial part of this show. You are right. These days we are seeing more women talking much more openly about their sexuality. For a while, you literally had “Sex in the City,” and that was it.
Brandy: That’s the thing; there was no shock value in it. It was just something that my girlfriends and I would talk about while out to dinner or drinks. It’s something we talk about but, it’s just not something openly discussed on TV and, it was so amazing to see that.
Alison: And that’s exactly how this show was created. The three of us were out to lunch, filling each other in on our lives. Laura was the one that said, “Wow, our lives are so different.” We were like, “this is a show” because there are groups of girlfriends just like us who sit around and have drinks with each other and talk about their relationships and their sex lives. It was like, why don’t we see more of that?
Brandy: Exactly! Most shows are so male-centric, and they talk about their sex and sexuality, and it’s okay. You rarely get to see that about women, and it was really refreshing. You already touched on my question about the beginnings of the show. Did you have an idea going into the show that there was something that every group of female friends could identify with?
Alison: That was definitely our hope. You always have that one friend that cannot stay in a relationship to save her life. Then finds herself in one and doesn’t know what to do, which was me. Then there was Laura, who was about to be a new mom and, like most first-time parents, have no idea what they are doing, stressed about everything, and trying not to lose grip on their own lives as well. Then, we have our friend who doesn’t want to be tied down and loves having multiple sexual partners. That dynamic was so important, and how we were all there to support each other, even if we might not understand what the other person is going through. I think it is just a very real female relationship.
Brandy: Oh absolutely!
Alison: And something we don’t shine a spotlight on in the series, but if you pay attention, the only three characters that have names are Alison, Rati, and Laura. Every other character is boyfriend, husband, and the unborn baby is “working title.” It’s not until the second to last episode when another character is given an actual name. Then it’s like, “Wait, this must be important because they just gave a character a name.”
Brandy: As I was watching the show I seemed to identify a lot with the character Alison.
Alison: Oh great!
Brandy: I also started a relationship with a great guy, and I have been waiting for something to end the awesome guy illusion. How much are the three of you like your characters, or how much of the characters are like you?
Alison: Oh, they ARE us. The person that boyfriend is inspired by actually made me breakfast in bed one morning early on in our relationship, and I was like, what do I do? What does this mean? I was texting my friends, and they were like, “it’s just a nice gesture!” I’m like, ARE YOU SURE? This has NEVER happened to me before!
Brandy: I’m exactly the same way. So many moments in the show I can seriously and uncomfortably identify with. Are there other uncomfortable yet funny moments in relationships that you have shared with friends that may be coming up in an episode? Do the three of you brainstorm this and then let Rati run with it?
Alison: We have a Whats App chain between the three of us. Whenever something happens in our lives, we will send it to the chain like, “SEASON TWO,” so we have a bullet point list of stories like, oh, this is a new thing that can happen! We are definitely keeping track of actual life events to add to season two.
Brandy: I follow a lot of what Alan Tudyk does, so of course, I watched his seriously hilarious show, Con Man. Did working on Con Man with all of those amazingly funny actors influence you to want to do your own show? Did you get any ideas from it?
Alison: Well, it was definitely inspiring to see that Alan and Nathan (Fillion) had this idea, and they were like, screw it, let’s make it ourselves. And then they had one of the highest funded crowdfundings of all time or something to make the first season of that show. I mean, I didn’t think Heart Baby Eggplant could aspire quite that high. But if you have a fan base and you have a good product, even if the industry doesn’t quite get it, why not make it on your own? We now have that ability these days and if people are going to support it, let them support it.
Brandy: All of those actors from Con Man are absolutely amazing. How did you get involved with that show?
Alison: Oh, this is actually interesting. Alan and I had met at a Comic-Con a couple of years earlier and had exchanged phone numbers and had stayed in sporadic contact but nothing consistent. I had been in San Diego for a wedding, and I was driving back up at 11 a.m. on a Sunday, and my phone rings and Alan’s name pops up. I was like, there is no way Alan Tudyk is calling me at 11 in the morning on the weekend, so I’m like, this must be a butt dial, and I just let it go to voicemail. A voicemail pops up, and I listen to it, and he’s like, “Hey Alison. I’ve got a role for you. Call me back.” I had no idea what this could possibly be about, so I called him back, and he was like, “We’re shooting this week and we’d love you to play this role. Are you available? We know it’s last minute.” I was supposed to go to New York for an appearance, and I was like, “Maybe? Let me get back to you.” I called my manager and she said, “No, you stay in LA and take the job. You don’t go to New York for the appearance” So in 12 hours, I canceled my trip to New York and called Alan to tell him I was in and showed up on set two days later. That’s where I got to meet PJ (PJ Haarsma was Executive Producer of Con Man and Co-Creator of Retro Replay) and just had the greatest time. I didn’t even know what I was walking into at first and I was like, “Oh this is awesome.”
Brandy: I can just imagine working with Nolan (North) and PJ is amazing and Alan. Just wow. I’m envious.
Alison: Nolan and I didn’t actually work together at all on Con Man. We didn’t meet until we all started to do press together. That was actually the first time I met Nolan and he and I just got along like two peas in a pod so I was like this guy…we’re keeping this guy around.
Brandy: Is there anything in particular that happened that was funny on the Heart Baby Eggplant set? I know you guys shot that in a week but there has to be something crazy that happened.
Alison: We shot that in five days. It was such a last-minute, thrown together, “I can’t believe it happened,” shoot. I won’t say this is funny, but the Universe was looking out for us. For this five-day shoot, we had wanted to ask this specific makeup artist, but she wasn’t available for the first day. We figured it would just be easier to hire someone that was available all five days, so we hired a different woman, and she was amazing. She did our first day on set. Laura, Rati, and I are all producers on the set, so not only are we actors having to make our call time, but we’re also having to deal with all the behind-the-scenes stuff. We woke up at around 5am for day two of shooting to a text message saying that our makeup artist had a death in the family, unfortunately, so she couldn’t make the rest of the shoot. Of course we understood, so we talked about bringing our own makeup and letting the other actors know that we might not have hair and makeup that day, so they would need to bring their own stuff. We were putting out all of these emergency texts to everyone, but I decided to hit up the original makeup artist we wanted. It was literally 5:30 in the morning. I thought that maybe if we could get her there by noon, she could cover half the day. I shot her a text, and I was like, “I’m so sorry this is such an early text but this has happened and I know yesterday you weren’t available, so are you possibly available the rest of the day?” She literally texted me back in 30 seconds and she’s like, “Yeah, girl, I’ll be there. What’s the address?” And here I am wondering why she was even awake? But okay, thank you! When you are doing an Indie project, you have to expect hurdles like this. The fact that it actually worked out was the Universe saying, “We got you.” We finished shooting, and Laura gave birth nine days later.
Brandy: We know from watching Retro Replay that you are an Uncharted fan. Do you typically play a lot of action adventure games? What are you currently playing?
Alison: Yeah, I like action-adventure puzzling games. The Portal games are some of my favorites, and these days, I am far more attracted to Indie games than to the Triple-A titles. They are just a little bit more specific and my Xbox Game Pass now starts recommending games. “We bet you would like this.” You are very right! I just discovered the “Call of the Sea.” You know, little Indie games that you can finish in 6 to 8 hours, so you aren’t dedicating a month and a half of your life to this. You have two evenings free, and you’re like, oh great, let me solve these fun puzzles with a great story. That’s really what appeals to me these days. I just played “A Night in the Woods,” which is not really a puzzling game, but it’s a storytelling game. I really like this trend of games in which you are less playing a game, but you are discovering clues along the way. Another good one is “The Return of Obra Dinn.” That one is fantastic.
Brandy: Is there anything that you are looking forward to playing? Something that you have seen that you are excited to see come out?
Alison: You know what I haven’t played yet that I have been meaning to play is “The Witcher” series. That’s sitting on top of my console waiting to be played.
Brandy: You have been a gamer almost your entire life and you’ve been in the gaming industry for a long time. What are some of the craziest things you’ve seen involving gaming and gamers.
Alison: When I was on G4, we would always cover E3 and seeing how E3 changed over those four years that I was there was cool. In the time span that I was there and watching E3 develop, it always stuck out to me how Nintendo marched to the beat of their own drum. I very specifically remember the year that both Microsoft and Sony were like, “HD EVERYTHING IS AWESOME! HD! HD!” Nintendo was like, “We’ve got movement-based stuff,” because it was the year they came out with the Wii. The very next year, Microsoft and Sony were like, “ WE DO MOVEMENT TOO! Look, we have movement! KINECT!” Nintendo just does not care where everyone else is going. They just do their own thing, and everyone just looks at it like, well, we can do that too! I’ll also say what’s really heartening is when I started at G4 back in 2007, I had started there because I was seen as a rarity. It was like, “a woman who plays video games and you know what you are talking about?” It was shocking. I love it that here we are, however many years later, and it’s very common for women to be in the gaming industry and play video games. It’s no longer seen as this odd thing. It’s been really heartening to see that growth in the industry in the last several years.
Brandy: Oh I remember my first World of Warcraft raid. It was a 40 person raid and I finally spoke, “I need heals please”. Everything stopped and I heard over vent, “there’s a GIRL here?” and now it’s just a normal thing.
Alison: I know thank God!
Brandy: I have a stream with one of my good friends and it’s called “Breast Friends”.
Alison: *laughs* That is awesome!
Brandy: You’ve done so many different things. You’ve hosted G4, Battle Bots, The Morning After, The Nerdist. You’ve starred in amazing shows like Con Man, Heart Baby Eggplant and even directed a short film. What is next for Alison?
Alison: I definitely want to get more into directing. What you are referring to was a silly little project me and my friends threw together years ago. I was like, “I can just tell people what to do” because I was the one with the camera! We hired our very good friend Adam Green to direct Heart Baby Eggplant, but because everything was so last minute, I was basically standing with Adam and explaining, “this is what we are intending for this scene'” and he was able to capture our vision the way we needed it. But from that experience, I was like, I think I can do this for real. I didn’t get into this industry with that intention, but the more I learn about directing, the more I think my brain is kind of wired for this. So that is something I think I absolutely want to focus on more moving forward.
Brandy: I’m definitely good at behind the scenes and telling people what to do. I’m not great at being on camera.
Alison: Well you are crushing it right now.
Brandy: Well thank you so much!
I honestly can’t say enough amazing things about Alison. She is one of the most down to earth and funny humans I have ever been privileged to chat with. Because to be honest, this interview was more of a chat than anything. It was so much fun to talk about NASA, swap ideas for new games to try, and to give Drew Lewis a bit of a hard time. I can’t wait to see what amazing ideas she comes up with next or new projects she may be involved with. Make sure you follow Heart Baby Eggplant, Alison, Rati Gupta, and Laura Ortiz on all socials to stay up to date on their upcoming plans for the show and watch for possible crowdfunding opportunities to make season two happen with some amazing perks added!
What are some of your favorite things that you have seen Alison in? Leave comments below!