Absentmindedly I begin to sketch a triangular, nondescript flag. “I’m not sure why I drew a flag,” I say. “It doesn’t have to have a reason,” Shawkat assures me while expertly applying droplets of sparkling beet sangria to the world of cavorting puffball demons she’s drawn. The hostess has dropped off a sangria-sake concoction for her to try, and Shawkat is putting the improvised pigment to good use, crafting skilled doodles that betray a background in fine art and a CV that includes gallery showings in Mexico City and Paris. “Your piece should be about this restaurant,” she says with a laugh. “It’s becoming a David Lynchian experience.”
Like my flag drawing and our odd yet delightful setting, Shawkat’s résumé defies logic. She’s portrayed a tough Palestinian girl in Amreeka; a rebellious, cousin-loving daughter on Arrested Development; the mayor’s kid on Portlandia; and Ilana Glazer’s lesbian doppelgänger in Broad City. Over the summer, her charming personality, wry humor, and natural beauty landed her New York Fashion Week modeling gigs for Opening Ceremony and Rachel Antonoff. In November she appears as Alexander Hamilton opposite Aubrey Plaza’s Aaron Burr on Comedy Central’s Drunk History.
“She’s a reminder that you can exist in the entertainment world and remain authentic,” says Plaza of Shawkat. She recalls with fondness a time the two wandered around a studio lot super high after taping a segment of Getting Doug With High in 2015. “The whole point of that show is that you get stoned on camera with Doug Benson and talk about things,” Plaza says. “But we thought that you get stoned and then you do the show.”
Dress by Rodebjer.