'Veep' President Selina Meyer on Her Presidential Audiobook's Grammy Odds, Jimmy Carter's 'Free Time'

Colleen Hayes
Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Veep.

Veep may have ended its seven-year HBO run in May, but President Selina Meyer is still going strong. This last spring the president penned her (mock) memoir A Woman First: First Woman -- which Julia Louis-Dreyfus narrated -- documenting her first year in office. Even her “Bag Man” Gary Walsh made a cameo. Since presidential memoirs have done so well in the best spoken word album Grammy category (Jimmy Carter won his third in 2019), the hilarious audiobook of A Woman First has been submitted for one.

Below, Billboard speaks to President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) of Veep about her love of audiobooks, Gary’s appearance in it and whether she plans to write as many books as Jimmy Carter.

Do you like audiobooks?

Oh my gosh, you will not find a bigger fan of audiobooks than Selina Meyer. I love all things audio.

What audiobooks have you listened to?

I don’t ever actually listen to any audiobooks per se, as the business of this nation keeps me so busy. But if I were to listen to any you can bet I would be listening to something by Isabel Allende, an important Latina author who works in the magical realist tradition. And of course Maya Angelou. She is my favorite living author.

Do you listen to music? What are your favorite kinds of music?

Classical, jazz, and Billy Joel who played at my Inauguration. Not jazz actually. And I don’t like headphones. The people who are wearing them don’t listen to you. And I’m sorry if that is a politically incorrect thing to say these days, but I find them very rude.

My sources found out you recorded the entire audiobook in two hours. Is that true?

As my good friend Governor Richard Splett is fond of saying, “when you traffic in rumors you ‘rue’… ‘more’… something.” You will have to ask the Governor to explain it. He’s so clever! Let me just say for the record that I put as much time and effort into recording the audiobook as I did in writing the book book.

Did any other presidential memoirs inspire yours?

You would think so, but I’m not going to lie: most presidential memoirs are pretty dry. I actually prefer memoirs by people that have played the President in movies. And I think the American people agree with me on that. 

Who's Gary? Why is a man named Gary reading sections of the audiobook?

Gary Walsh was my long-time assistant. One of his duties was assisting me in the reading of audiobooks. [LONG SILENCE] He is no longer working for me. 

What awards do you think your book will receive?

Oh, gosh, I don’t know! Honestly, just having the chance to record the book and work with the fine engineers and publicists involved was an award in and of itself! I almost forgot the photographer who took the picture for the cover—Gene something. Him too.

I've heard your advance wasn't as much as any other past presidents or first ladies. Was that the first offer?

[laughs] Sometimes it seems like publishing is even more gossipy than politics! Obviously I can’t discuss the financial particulars of the deal other than to say that we were very pleased with the advance. Extremely pleased. Very, very pleased. Uh-huh.

If you knew you were going to be re-elected, would you have written this book or done the audiobook? 

Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but if I had been absolutely certain I was going to be re-elected, I probably would have just done the audiobook. That would have been the most efficient use of my time. 

Jimmy Carter has written 33 books and 20 books on audio. Do you have a goal for how many you want to write and record?

Oh, wow! That’s a lot of books! Well, good for Jimmy Carter for having that much free time with nobody needing him for anything. He is just so admirable, isn’t he? I wouldn’t want to compete with him on any level! Besides, I’m more of a doer. Do something, don’t just write.

What would you do if Jimmy Carter offered to narrate parts of your next audiobook?

That’s just the kind of thing he would do with all that free time of his. Also the accent’s a little… much. Not for me, I love it, but for some parts of the country.

Is there anything else you want to say to the readers of Billboard magazine?

As a lifelong reader of Billboard magazine, I just want to congratulate it on its 125th anniversary— wait, what? That can’t be right. Anyway, congratulations Billboard magazine on all your many accomplishments.

2020 Grammy Awards


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