The News Girl: Olivia Munn
Featured in Bello Mag #47 June 2013 Summer Fashion Issue.
Olivia Munn owes a lot to Punky Brewster.
The titular character from the cult 80s sitcom, starring a precocious Soleil Moon Frye, once inspired a 5yearold Munn to become an actress. “Oh my gosh, there’s a girl with dark hair and freckles, and she wears boys clothes…that’s exactly how I was as a kid,” she recalls. “And I never saw anyone who looked even remotely like that on TV.”
Having felt like “a lone wolf” while growing up, Munn remembers wanting to be friends with the fictitious foster kid, but it was her mother who had to explain to her that Punky wasn’t real, and the girl playing her was an actress. “I then told my mom that I wanted to do that. Act.” And act she did. The ChineseGermanIrish actress got her start on G4’s ‘Attack of the Show’ and followed that up with a correspondent gig on Comedy Central’s ‘The Daily Show.’ Since then, she’s established herself as a recognizable face, popping up next to Robert Downey Jr. in ‘Iron Man 2,’ baring it all alongside Channing Tatum in last year’s ‘Magic Mike,’ and being ranked on every “hottie list” in nearly every men’s magazine in existence. And now she’s making an impression as financial reporter, Sloan Sabbith, on HBO’s ‘The Newsroom,’ Aaron Sorkin’s verbose drama about the behindthescenes drama at a cable news network.
Nabbing the role came with one mother of a migraine. Having turned down job offers from network TV shows, Munn took a gamble on ‘The Newsroom’ and held out for as long as she could. “I just kept rolling the dice,” she says. Once she found out she got the part, she got hit with a major headache, most likely a result of the stress she put herself under, “all the tension I was holding onto during that time.”
The wait (and pain) was worth it, and now “the girl from that geeky G4 show” is holding her own amidst the acting talents of Jeff Daniels, Sam Waterston, and Jane Fonda. She’s even conquered what some of the most experienced actors have had trouble facing: that Sorkin dialogue (otherwise known as Sorkinese). Last season, Munn had to work double duty, effortlessly – and memorably – delivering lines in English and Japanese in one episode (“Bullies”) that showed viewers another side of Sloan.
Munn is well aware of the circuitous path she’s walked to get where she is now. She finds herself constantly reliving those proverbial pinchme moments. “I think I’m more aware of the critics who think, ‘How the hell did this happen to her?’ I’m like, ‘I have no idea!’ I don’t know how this happened to me either,” she laughs. But what she does know is this: she wouldn’t have made it without the training she received on ‘Attack Of The Show,’ where she got to try out various characters and roles: “I was used to putting on different kinds of personas.”
￼And now that she’s on a hit cable drama and building up an equally impressive film career (look out for her in Jerry Bruckheimer’s ‘Beware The Night’ opposite Eric Bana), she refuses to let herself get too comfortable. “That only brings on the fear of complacency for me,” she says. She also doesn’t see herself as one of those people with fiveyear plans. “You can only be best in the moment you’re in right now” is the motto she’s currently following.
Sure, there may be a followup to her bestseller, “Suck It, Wonder Woman: The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek” (she keeps a notebook filled with ideas and stories). Sure, she may want to hire a tutor to help her brush up on her Japanese this summer. Sure, she’d love to eventually work behind the scenes at a studio someday. But right now, Olivia prefers to keep her head down, focus on the work at hand, and see what opportunities will come her way down the line.
That work in question happens to be Season 2 of ‘The Newsroom’ (premiering July 14). And with a roster of guest stars including Patton Oswalt, Marcia Gay Harden, and Chris Messina, viewers can expect more rounds of verbal spats at Atlantic Cable News. As for Sloan? “She’s more involved in more news stories,” Munn hints, “and there’s this seasonlong arc about a story that jeopardizes everyone’s career, and she’s involved in that as well.”
Sloan Sabbith, as many have analyzed, represents that rare hybrid of female characters in film and TV: a woman who is both smart and sexy. But Munn doesn’t understand why people should be surprised that a woman can fit both criteria. “I don’t see how they have to be or should be compartmentalized,” she says. You hear that, critics? Just because a woman is smart doesn’t mean she can’t be sexy as well. “I don’t play her sexy though,” Munn continues. “I just play her straight and strong, so whatever you take away from it is whatever you take from it…The way she looks has nothing to do with how far she is.”
Olivia credits her Chinese mother for her hard work ethic, something that has come in handy in her career as it did during her adolescence. “In high school, I was depressed,” she says. “I moved around a lot to different schools.” Having anxiety about adjusting to new environments every so often as a military kid, she eventually channeled that nervous energy into her work. It’s something she continues to do in her adult life.
“There’s still this hustle,” she explains. “You just gotta keep your head down and work hard. And sometimes you have to play the game because everything in life is a game. You have to know how to deal with the politics of any profession. Then, after you work hard, when you can, you change the game.”
Punky Brewster would be proud.
More On Munn: 5 Fun Facts
1. She’s a ‘Star Wars’ fan, has high hopes for the new trilogy, and keeps a lifesize Yoda in a window of her home: “It’s like owning Harrison Ford a little bit… it’s amazing.”
2. She loves ‘Labyrinth.’
3. Every year she gets to celebrate her birthday with fireworks, flags, and her fellow
Americans (she was born the day before the 4th of July).
4. She believes selfdeprecation and sarcasm are great icebreakers.
5. After meeting her childhood idol, Soleil Moon Frye, she was too nervous and
geeked out to email her: “There’s no way I deserve to be Punky Brewster’s friend! I honestly don’t know if I could’ve been normal around her.”
Photography Aleksandar Tomovic
Styling Warren Alfie Baker
Interview Hiko Mitsuzuka
Art Direction Stephane Marquet
Makeup Shane Paish – using Dior
Manicure Emi Kudo
using Azature – light diamond collection
Special thanks to Marc Atlan design
This fashion story from Bello Mag Issue #47 with Josh Dallas is available to purchase worldwide on iTunes Newsstand for iPad and iPhone.