Home Arts In ‘A League of Their Own,’ Abbi Jacobson Makes the Team

In ‘A League of Their Own,’ Abbi Jacobson Makes the Team

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Abi Jacobson She claimed she could really play baseball. Not just when the cameras are rolling. “I feel completely sick when someone is looking at me,” she told me.

This was done on a recent weekday morning on a shady bench overlooking a ballpark in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Jacobson lives nearby, in the apartment he shares with his fiancée, “For All” actress Jodi Balfour. She wasn’t out in the fields this morning, which was good — the diamond was swarming with little kids.

of “Own league‘, which airs on Amazon Prime Video on August 12, Jacobson will play catcher Carson Shaw for the Rockford Peaches. Carson is a made-up character, while the Peaches are a team in the All-American Women’s Professional Baseball League. Debuted in 1943, it’s happy and realistic. During his five rainy months on location in Pittsburgh, Jacobson, 38, had to catch, throw, hit and slide to base. Part of this computer-generated magic? Of course, not all. In other words, Jacobson played in front of a large crowd. And she played well.

Said “she’s really nice” Will Graham, created a series with her. “Abi is always reserved and self-deprecating, but she’s actually a bad person.”

A talented and worrisome woman, Carson becomes the team’s de facto leader. As not only the star of the series, but also the creator and executive producer, Jacobson led the team on and off the screen. This is a job she has been doing since her mid-twenties. Ilana Glazer Created and eventually directed the dizzying, unfeminine comedy Broad City. On that show, she more or less happened to be the leader. In “League of Their Own,” inspired by her 1992 film by Penny Marshall, Jacobson leads with purpose from the start, giving her own insight into what her leadership looks like. I put the idea of ​​​​into the script.

“What I want to tell you is how awkward I am and how insecure I am all the time,” she said. What do you do when messy people come to own themselves?”

Is Carson’s story her story?

“Hey,” she said, squinting at the sun.

A self-professed introvert who pretends to be an extrovert, Jacobson is not only approachable, but also a cautious, pre-participant observer. Even in the midst of her lively conversations, she has an attitude that suggests that if you leave her alone with her book or sketchbook or her dog Desi, it will be fine.

Her favorite pastimes are: alone,” she said.

That morning she was wearing a white tank top and paint-stained trousers, but the stain was pre-applied and done on purpose, making sloppiness fashionable. was. She didn’t look like a baseball player, but she did look like a woman who got comfortable in her own skin, cleaned up most of her private mess, and used the rest for her professional work.

“She’s the boss,” said writer and comedian friend Phoebe Robinson. “And she knows herself at her core.”

Jacobson grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia, the youngest of two children in a Reform Jewish family. He played sports such as softball, basketball, and travel soccer as a child, but gave them up because of jams with his band and weed.

“That team mentality was exactly my childhood,” she said.

After graduating from art school, she moved to New York to become a dramatic actress and turned to comedy through an improvisation class at the Upright Citizens Brigade. She and Glazer wanted to join the house improvisation team, but were rejected by the team.so they created “Broad City” Instead, it ran first as a web series and then for five seasons on Comedy Central. I cut a zigzag path. The New Yorker lovingly called the show. “Bramence”.

For Jacobson, the show was both a professional development seminar and a form of therapy. Writing and performing her own version made her feel more confident and made her less anxious.

“Receiving this character’s insecurities allowed her to watch it and grow in a different direction,” Glazer said.

In 2017, when “Broad City” had two seasons left, Graham (“Mozart in the Jungle”) invited Jacobson to dinner. He recently secured the rights to his favorite childhood movie, League of Their Own. The queerness of some characters (rendered in the film via “blink-to-miss” subtext) should be more evident this time around. In a movie, in a scene of just a few seconds, black woman returning a foul ball With power and accuracy, it’s a nod to league separation. This, too, should have received more attention.

Graham was after Jacobson, he said. For her honesty, her cleverness, her hasty nervous optimism. He wanted the experience of making the show to be fun. I felt that Jacobson, who came out, could make a difference.

“She’s very funny, emotionally honest, and not afraid to be emotionally honest,” Graham said.

When Jacobson wrapped up the final season of “Broad City,” development began on a new series. She and Graham immersed themselves in research and spoke to surviving women who played in the All-American Women’s Professional Baseball League and Black League, and they also spoke with Marshall on the phone before her death in 2018. . Graham and Jacobson wanted to tell as many stories as the eight-episode season allowed.

“This movie is the story of a white woman coming to play baseball,” said Jacobson. “It just isn’t enough.”

The show gradually took shape, transforming from a 30-minute comedy to an hour-long drama. Then I found a co-star. Darcy Carden as Greta, the charming girl on the team. Roberta Colindreth as Lupe, the team’s pitcher; Shante Adams as Max, a black superstar looking for his own team. Rosie O’donnellthe star of the original film, who signed on for the episode and played a gay bar owner.

The pilot was filmed in Los Angeles, first in Chicago and then in Rockford, Illinois. The coronavirus hit shortly thereafter, delaying production until last summer. Rising costs forced the show to move to Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh happens to be a rainy city, which was a problem for a show with so many gameday sequences. But the cast and crew handled it.

“It had a summer camp quality,” said Graham.

And Jacobson, as Glaser reminded me, spent many years as a camp counselor. .

“There were so many baseball practices, so many months of baseball practices,” Carden said. “We were more a team than a cast. That was Abi. Abi is the ensemble guy.

Adams first met Jacobson in the audition room. (As her longtime “Broad City” fan, she had a hard time keeping her cool.) On set, Jacobson impressed her immediately.

“I don’t know how she does it,” Adams said. “But even being the leader and star of the show, she always makes sure everyone is heard and included.” He said he attended nights and kept showing up for her.

“It just melted my heart,” she said. “Abi is the epitome of being a leader.”

Jacobson doesn’t feel that way all the time, but he feels that way more often than he used to. “Sometimes I can really own it,” she said. As such, she gave Carson, an evolving leader, the same self-doubt when she admitted her vulnerability.

But Carson’s story is just one of many in a series that celebrates a range of women’s experiences. Black, white and Latina women. A straight, queer, questionable woman. femme women; butch women; and women in between. Many of the actors have a beauty that Hollywood likes. Many do not.

Yet the show insists that all these women deserve love, friendship and fulfillment. states that it gives almost all of its characters a rich inner life “in a beautiful and precise way that brings their humanity to the fore.”

Carden has known Jacobson for 15 years. It wasn’t until Jacobson dropped his gloves and hand-drawn cards (“adorable and romantic,” said Carden) and invited her to join the team, that anyone considered her a romantic lead. I was proud to take on the role and proud to work with Jacobson again.

“She hasn’t changed at all,” Carden said. “She’s always been Abi, but her confidence is different.”

Jacobson wears that confidence lightly. A faint uncertainty remains. “I’m not like you. She should lead the show,” she told me in Prospect Park.

But it’s clearly her. When none of her teams had her, she created her own team and now another. An hour and a half later she grabbed her purse and her cup of coffee and walked back through the park. like a boss. like a coach. like a leader.

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