Hannah Zeile talks Season 2 of “This is Us”

“This is Us” has quickly become one of television’s most popular shows. Every week on social media, fans share their love for the show, their theories, their emotions and their tears with every new episode. The show begins in the 80s, jumps ahead to the mid-90s and takes place modern day in 2017.
This season, Kate Pearson is engaged to be married, is still struggling with her weight and is beginning her career as a singer all at once. Not only that, but the show’s audience is slowly learning about Kate’s past and her ongoing battle of dealing with her father’s death. The second season of “This is Us” is giving viewers a look into Kate’s teenage years, and Young Entertainment Mag spoke with teenage Kate herself, Hannah Zeile, on what’s ahead this season.

Young Entertainment Mag: What was the audition process like? In terms of the fans did you know what you were getting into when you first read the script?
Hannah Zeile: The audition process was very quick! I literally had an audition one day, a reading with Dan Fogelman the next, and was on set filming the day after. Only two episodes had been released so I knew the show had some buzz, but reading the script I knew I was joining something amazing because of how captivating the writing was.

YEM: Do people recognize you from the show yet?
HZ: A few people have, but nothing crazy! It’s funny when Niles, Logan and I (the teen Big Three) go out together though. I think that trips people out.

YEM: What is it like to have an older version and younger version of your character?
HZ: It’s really cool because I feel like it adds so much depth. I can really understand Kate’s upbringing because I’ve seen it played out on screen. I hope that my portrayal of Kate in her teens helps Chrissy with present day Kate. Also, the writers do an awesome job of making all of our generations correlate and unravel Kate Pearson’s whole story.

YEM: Were you surprised how much you look like Chrissy Metz?
HZ: Casting did an amazing job with all of the Big Three including Kate of course. Chrissy and I definitely have the same heart-shaped face and once they pop in my blue contacts it is kind of surprising how believable it is.

YEM: Have you worked much with Chrissy Metz and young Kate? Do the 3 of you discuss Kate together or do you each play her independently?
HZ: We haven’t got to work together since we all play one character, but with this show you really never know! Whenever I see Chrissy and Mackenzie [Hancsicsak] we laugh and talk and just hang out. We never really discuss the characters because we all make them our own separate beings.

YEM: Your part of the show takes place in the 90s-did you do research on the time period? What were some cool or fun stuff or fun facts that you found? What books, TV shows, movies, and/or music do you think teenage Kate listens to?
HZ: I’ve had so much fun living in the 90’s. I’ve researched a lot of different things like what monumental events happened, the most popular music of that decade, what celebrities people were obsessed with and other stuff. Something I think is cool is how 90s style is coming back on trend. I feel like I could wear some of my wardrobe out and about. I think Kate prefers a magazine over a book any day. I think her favorite show would be Friends and favorite movie would be Clueless. For music, I think Alanis Morissette.

YEM: Were you familiar with Milo and Mandy Moore’s work?
HZ: Yes! I knew Milo from binge watching Gilmore Girls, and also from the show Heroes which I watched with my family. Mandy made me cry in A Walk to Remember, and I also loved her as the mean girl in The Princess Diaries.

YEM: Kate is very close with her dad- how do you develop a relationship like that with Milo?
HZ: Milo makes it very easy because he is such a father-figure on set. He is one of the kindest and most humble people I’ve ever known, so it is not difficult to connect with him.

YEM: What’s ahead for teenage Kate in this season?
HZ: I can’t reveal too much, but we will get to see more of that father-daughter bond between Kate and Jack, as well as a complicated relationship between Kate and her mom, Rebecca.

YEM: Will we learn more about Jack’s death this season and how it affects Kate?
HZ: Jack’s death is everybody’s biggest question! The Season 2 premiere gave a little insight but my lips are sealed as far as any other information.

YEM:  Can you relate to teenage Kate? Or older Kate?
HZ: I can relate to them both. I think Kate Pearson is someone who internalizes things and doesn’t like to ask for help even when she’s struggling. I can be introverted as well and not ask for help even when I need it, but I’m learning that it’s good to open up sometimes as long as it’s to the right people.

YEM: Are you close with your TV siblings?
HZ: I am close with them which makes our sibling relationship so organic on screen. We have a group chat and we hang out outside of the set. They are cool people and I have a lot of fun working with them.

YEM: Do you have siblings in real life? How does it differ or is it very similar?
HZ: I have three awesome brothers! I am the only girl just like Kate, however the closest age gap between me and one of my brothers is 4 years. I can’t imagine being like Kate, having two siblings the same age as you so you would know the same people and be at the same places.

YEM: What have you learned from playing Kate and what are you hoping the audience takes away?
HZ: I’ve learned that it is really important to have self confidence and love yourself. Kate’s low self-esteem at times interferes with her opportunities and her relationships. It can be hard, but I don’t think we should let our insecurities stop us from greatness.

Photographer: Bobby Quillard

“This is Us” airs Tuesdays at 9pm on NBC!