Everyone knows that the road to success can be a tough one.
Heather McDonald knows that better than anyone. Now a successful writer, stand-up comic, television personality and actress, McDonald’s road to Hollywood wasn’t always easy.
Like many in Hollywood, McDonald started out supporting herself as she went on auditions as a waitress.
“I was a horrible waitress,” she admitted to Rare. Luckily for her, her parents were both successful realtors who offered to bring her on the team knowing that they would have to be flexible as she pursued her passion.
“I made enough to live on my own and pay for my acting classes and occasionally I would get friends from The Groundlings that I could sell houses to,” she said. On occasion, McDonald said that her TV life and her realtor life would collide in the same moment. “I remember one time I was on ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ and the next day after the airing of it, I went to a home inspection and the people were like, ‘weren’t you just on ‘Malcolm in the Middle?’ and I was like, ‘yes! I was!'”
When she booked “The Lyricist Lounge Show ” on MTV, she stopped working as a realtor but knew the job was always there because she worked for her parents. McDonald eventually went back to work as a realtor early in her marriage to husband of 16 years, Peter. The solid foundation as a realtor gave McDonald the ability to focus on her growing family.
It wasn’t much of a break from Hollywood, of course. In the time she took away from stand-up, McDonald worked on a few pilot TV programs and worked as a writer for the 2004 flick, “White Chicks.” But, in 2006, she started to miss her true passion, stand-up comedy.
As fate would have it, as soon as she started thinking about going back to stand-up, a woman whom she worked with in the past called her out of the blue and offered to help her get back into comedy.
“She booked me on this show a month later and I had to come up with a whole new act. I hadn’t done stand-up in seven years,” McDonald revealed. “I tested things on my sister and a couple of comics I was friends with. That show this all-girls show called, ‘Pretty Funny Women’ and Chelsea [Handler] was one of the women in it.”
From there, McDonald was offered a role in Handler’s series, “Chelsea Lately” on E!, which at the time was going to be a 13-week commitment.
“I was like, ‘I’m 37. And, if I don’t get another real job in this business, it’s going to be really hard,” McDonald said. Knowing Handler and the material that was going to be expected, she knew it was going to be the right fit for her. She thought it was going to be over after one summer, but of course, it was a hit. “I pursued the job with Chelsea because I could feel the [real estate] market slowing. And, in 2008, it crashed. So, it was really good that I got out when I did.”
McDonald was a writer and actress on “Chelsea Lately” from 2008 to the end in 2014. She also opened for Handler when they eventually went out on the road. Since then, she’s been busy working on her own as a stand-up comic. She also continues to write and recently appeared on “Hollywood Today Live” alongside “Chelsea Lately” alum, Ross Matthews.
As for her own comic idols, McDonald revealed she looks up to Handler, Kathy Griffin, former colleagues and friends Sarah Colonna and Josh Wolf, Jim Gaffigan, Joan Rivers and Amy Schumer, just to name a few. She spends so much time on the road working with great comics, she barely ever pays to see and act, but she told us if she was to pay to see a standup comic, it would be Louis C.K..
McDonald encourages all aspiring actors, actresses and comedians to pursue their dreams.
“What’s so great about today’s world is that you can pursue several things. Even if you’re just putting up a funny blog or your writing a joke on Facebook and 20 of your friends say it’s funny and then you try stand-up. You don’t have to throw away your job and leave your family. I wouldn’t suggest that if you want to pursue comedy,” she joked. She suggested that when an aspiring comic experiences something funny, to write it down in a journal right away.
“Start to gather it up because I look back and I think, ‘I wish I had done that more when I was pursing it.’ I think it’s great to take a class and meet people. Just do it. If it’s something you want to do, there is no excuse. You can do it slowly, or in a partial part of your day,” she said.
Today, McDonald is focused on her stand-up and podcast (available on iTunes) “Juicy Scoop with Heather McDonald.” She also continues to pursue opportunities on television, but these days, she’s working more as a writer or producer or in hosting gigs.
“I’m not necessarily pursuing acting very much, I do go on auditions, but probably if I am going to be in a scripted thing, I’m going to have to write myself,” she said. “I love acting and I love when I get anything but, being where my career has gone in the last ten years, I think it’s heading more towards the hosting and the talk show and the comedy. And, really being myself.”
Check out her hilarious podcast, “Juicy Scoop with Heather McDonald” on iTunes, brought to you by Wondery.
For a full list of tour dates and more information about Heather McDonald, visit HeatherMcDonald.net.