Profile: Makenna James Talks About Upcoming Role in “American Woman”

Makenna James can be seen in her breakout role in the new Paramount Network show “American Woman” starring as Alicia Silverstone’s daughter. James is best known for her recurring role on the award winning show “Transparent,” and has appeared on MTV’s “Teen Wolf,” CBS’ “Community,” as well as several national commercials since starting her acting career at age 12. Along with being an upcoming actress, James has recently been accepted to Harvard University and will start classes in the fall. We had the opportunity to talk with James about her upcoming role in “American Woman.” Read below to find out more!

Her Campus: What can you tell us about your new show “American Woman”?

Makenna James: “American Woman” is set in the 1970’s during the rise of feminism, equal opportunity, and sexual discrimination. It takes you on a wild journey with Bonnie–an unconventional woman finding her independence as a single mom in a male-dominated workforce. One of the major themes is dismantling the mores of a chauvinistic world through epic female badassery.  

HC: Do you and Alicia Silverstone do anything to create a mother-daughter bond for the show?

MJ: It really came naturally. Alicia innately has such a strong maternal instinct that it didn’t require much work. The beginning of that process is always a bit awkward, especially when you need to fabricate a lifetime of experiences with a relationship that is so intimate. Overtime, Alicia and I crafted our own rapport, which helped immensely. Like my own mother, she chastised me for my constant coffee consumption. She also helped me navigate parts of the business that I hadn’t encountered before–demanding directors, technical adjustments, and resisting the constant allure of snacks in order to fit into our unusually tight bell-bottoms.  

HC: How are you similar or different from your character Becca?

MJ: The aspect of Becca’s personality that I most connect to is her passion. When Becca cares deeply about an issue, she is not afraid to express her opinion—no matter the repercussions. In general, though, Becca is far more brazen, whereas I am more understated. Becca is often wildly inappropriate, which complicates her interpersonal relationships. I am the opposite. Becca feels confident in both herself and her views. I overthink everything. Despite our differences, we do share a love of sarcasm, but–hopefully–my specific brand is less harsh.  

HC: You seem to be a busy actress, why is it important for you to attend college?

MJ: Education has always been my number one priority. I have many interests outside of acting–environmental science, writing, criminal justice–and I intend on pursuing all of them. College is such a transformative experience–not only in terms of intellectual development, but also in regards to personal development. It’s something I’ve looked forward to my whole life.  

HC: What are you most excited to experience when you attend Harvard University in the fall? 

MJ: I’m fairly excited about the entire prospect, if I’m being honest. Some of the highlights: winning the Harvard-Yale game, completing the “Freshman 15” in two weeks after gaining unrestricted access to Hot Cheetos, and incredible professors and courses. For now, I am considering pursuing a joint concentration–Harvard’s version of a double major–in environmental science and english.

Thank you Makenna for taking the time to talk with us! Be sure to check her out in “American Woman,” premieres on June 7th!