Actress, Delaware native Aubrey Plaza garden attention, television roles

During her two weeks back home in Delaware during the holidays, it didn’t take long for 2009’s success to catch up with actress/comedienne Aubrey Plaza.

While taking a break from shopping for Christmas presents at the Concord Mall, the co-star of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” met a woman in the ladies’ room.

“A woman said to me, ‘You really look like that girl from ‘Parks and Recreation’ and I said, ‘Oh yeah, I think I am. I am that girl,’ ” Plaza said during a phone interview recently. “She was asking, ‘What are you doing in the Concord Mall bathroom?’ “

Plaza, a Wilmington native, isn’t being recognized only because of her role as the disinterested intern on the prime-time sitcom, but also for her role as Seth Rogen’s girlfriend in last summer’s film “Funny People,” directed by Judd Apatow (“Knocked Up,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”)

In it, Plaza’s character is also from Delaware, leading to the memorable First State-themed exchange between the two:

ROGEN: So where are you from originally? You just moved here, right?

PLAZA: Delaware.

ROGEN: Delaware! Our first state in the union.

PLAZA: Yes, it is.

ROGEN: That’s great. No sales tax in Delaware.

PLAZA: Yeah, there’s not. That’s weird that you know so much about Delaware. (What) are you … Joe Biden?

ROGEN: He’s from Delaware. See, I knew that!

After high school, off to New York

So how did Plaza, who has been acting since the age of 10, go from productions at Wilmington Drama League and Delaware Theatre Company to a Hollywood career that also includes an upcoming summer comedy with Michael Cera called “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” directed by Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz”)?

With the support of her parents, David, a financial adviser, and Bernadette, an attorney, Plaza decided to move to New York after graduating from Ursuline Academy in 2002 to study at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, from which she graduated in 2005.

“She’s one of these rare individuals who just knew what she wanted to do at a very young age. She had the talent and the drive,” David Plaza said. “It’s amazing how quickly things have come together for her.”

In addition to her studies, Plaza performed both stand-up and improv comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York. It counts Amy Poehler, Plaza’s costar on “Parks and Recreation” and a “Saturday Night Live” alum, as a founding member.

It’s appropriate that Plaza landed on a show with Poehler, since Plaza credits “Saturday Night Live” for her love of comedy and acting.

A fan of the show since middle school, Plaza also used humor as a teen and admits she could have been described as a class clown.

Kay Gaglione, who taught Plaza American history in seventh grade, said she remembers walking home from school one day followed by Plaza, hidden in a large cardboard box. Gaglione would walk a few steps and so would Plaza. When Gaglione would stop and turn around, the box would stop and drop to the sidewalk.

“She was very, very funny. Even then, she was just a riot,” remembers Gaglione, who is now the middle-school coordinator for Ursuline.

“I never thought I could turn that into something until after I started watching ‘SNL’ and getting into other TV and film comedies,” Plaza said. “I was making people laugh in my everyday life and these people were getting paid for it, so I figured I should learn how to do that.”

From Delmarva Now