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Q&A With Sarah Shahi, Star Of The New Show Fairly Legal

If you haven’t heard of Sarah Shahi before, you will now, especially after you read this article. Seriously though, you will start seeing her everywhere, as the star of the new USA show Fairly Legal. I was able to watch the first two episodes and participate in a Q&A with the Texas native, and I am here to tell you that Sarah Shahi will become a household name. Just for the record the last name is pronounced ‘Shaw-hee’.

Sarah, who is of Iranian and Spanish descent, has already acquired some loyal fans with her roles in critically acclaimed shows like Carmen de la Pica Morales in The L Word and Detective Dani Reese in Life. But in the starring role of Kate Reed in Fairly Legal, Sarah promises this will be a character you have not seen from her before. Sarah plays the intelligent but flawed Kate, who quits her job as a litigator after the death of her father and becomes the ultimate “anti-lawyer” – a mediator. What is a mediator? Well, Sarah wasn’t quite sure either. “I actually didn’t even know what a mediator was when I auditioned for the show.  I thought it was like a lawyer that didn’t pass the bar so they are just a mediator.” If you watch the show you will find out, like Sarah did, that a mediator helps settle disputes and keeps their clients out of court.

Returning to TV was not an easy choice for the actress. Sarah had given birth just 5 weeks before auditioning for the part. Even though she had nothing to wear but “a (white) t-shirt, Nike running pants, a blazer, and heels” and then started lactating halfway through her audition, she still got a call back. For the second audition they asked her to look more like a button-down lawyer, but the only professional clothes that fit her post-pregnancy were her husband’s, actor Steve Howey, button down country & western shirt from a Halloween costume. Evidently it was professional enough to get the part.

Sarah was a little hesitant to take the part, because her previous TV show experience taught her how much hard work and long hours a show like Fairly Legal would entail. Previous experiences left “a bitter taste in [her] mouth” and she would only come back to TV if she had more control in the production and direction of the show. According to Sarah she said to the producers:

“Look, I don’t want to be just an actor for hire.  I kind of want to have a say in the story lines and in the character and the other casting.  If that’s something you guys are not interested in having, then I’m not your girl.”  It turns out that’s probably exactly what they wanted to hear because that was the character.

In her own words, if she was going to commit to this role and “have to spend a moment away from my kid, it better be F&#@%ing worth it.” (I do have a soft spot in my heart for women who swear that freely).

Fairly Legal is not your normal lawyer show, especially when the point of mediation is to keep your clients out of the courtroom. Even though the issues Sarah’s character Kate has to deal with on the show are serious, I was pleasantly surprised at how funny the show was. Sarah is very quick and witty with the one-liners. Baron Vaughn as Sarah’s assistant and Virginia Williams as her evil step-mother show off their comedic chops as well. Sarah feels that “We don’t have 46 minutes of straight seriousness in our life or 46 minutes of straight comedy in our life.  So I think there’s going to be a good mix of both of those.” For you MacGyver and Stargate fans out there, you can also expect Richard Dean Anderson to show up for a few episodes. Like I said, it’s not your normal Lawyer show.

Sarah did hint a little at what was to be expected in the upcoming season. She says that this season’s finale was by far her favorite episode to shoot, and that “a lot of unexpected things happen in the finale.” Sarah also felt it will “be the best episode of the season.” I take that as a very good sign for a new show to get better as it progresses. If the star of the show says it’s going to be the best of the season it probably will be. You might as well get a good start like I did by watching Fairly Legal when it premieres Thursday at 10/9c on USA.

For more television interviews and reviews, click here.

Images courtesy of Frank Ockenfels 3 and USA Network.

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