A Fine Frenzy's Alison Sudol Digs into a Major Acting Gig, Talks Balancing Her Two Careers

Ronen Akerman/USA Network
Alison Sudol as Emma Wilson on Dig.

Alison Sudol, 30, who has recorded three albums as A Fine Frenzy and has a new music project due this year, makes her highest-profile appearance as an actor in USA network's 10-episode series Dig.

Sudol, whose pink-dyed hair and tattooed neck has been used to promote the series, plays Emma Wilson, an American archeologist working on a dig site under Jerusalem that leads to the uncovering of an ancient international conspiracy.

"She's so brave and free-spirited and unapologetic," says Sudol, in Los Angeles during a break between shoots in Jerusalem and New Mexico. "Being Emma in the show, especially in Israel, has taught me a lot abut myself. When you're acting, you need to play things that aren't necessarily comfortable to you -- something as silly as yelling. I don't like to yell. I pushed past it and yelled and it was liberating. It's something I don't let myself do."

The series, starring Jason Isaacs and Anne Heche, premieres March 5. Sudol, whose dyed hair had faded into a sultry mix of pink and blonde at the time, discussed balancing her two careers.

Up to now, your acting has been limited to Transparent, some guest spots or short films. How do you manage doing a series with being a musician?

Whatever you're doing, you have to do it 100 percent; you have to be totally present. The balance comes down to time management. It's a mind shift, which I think is the hardest thing to learn -- shifting the headspace.

Can you compare staying in character as A Fine Frenzy with the character of Emma?

With music, every decision you make is a reflection on who you are -- I'll obsess over the color palette for a record and the promo materials. With acting, it's not just your ideas. You're one part of a working machine. It's kind of a relief that I can trust other people [on the series] so I can just play my role.

It's been more than two years since your last album Pines. Does the acting gig have any affect on you as a musician?

It's affecting it on a really basic level, on a courage level. I feel much more brave than I ever have, and Dig is a huge part of that. Going to somewhere that I had never been, not knowing anybody and being in a hotel room for five weeks, it was a huge growing experience. To me, the making of art and experiences around that are the biggest part to me. Life experiences and the little things I saw and experienced go into the pot of inspiration.

To date you have not portrayed a musician in film or TV. Is that intentional?

I make music and I'm musician but its not interesting to play that. Playing an archaeologist, I learn so many other things by reading books, talking to people who knew anything about the subject. You get to live a life you otherwise wouldn't.


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