When Boardwalk Empire starts its third season this Sunday, it won't be the usual suspects who are commanding your attention onscreen; instead, it's newcomer Meg Steedle, who joins the cast as Billy Kent (a beautiful showgirl). She steals the show, and if you've ever wondered how a star is born, this is it. Though NYLON's editorial assistant Caitlin Smith originally chatted with the Southern belle (she's originally from North Carolina) for the TV Issue, we felt like it wasn't enough Meg. So here is the full interview. Trust us, come Monday morning she'll be all anyone is talking about.
Do you miss the South?
You know, I want to say I miss certain aspects of it but I was dying to get out. My family's from the north originally--my mom grew up in New Jersey, my dad grew up in Pennsylvania, and my grandparents have a place on the shore up in New Jersey, so I spent a lot of time coming up to New Jersey.
So you're familiar with the area?
Yes, so coming to New York City felt a little bit like…not coming home, because it was still New York City for me, but I felt like I knew the northeast.
Did you have a thick southern accent?
I didn't because my parents are from the North, so I felt like it neutralized. Although when I get really tired or when I drink it comes out a little bit, but that's okay! My mom always talks about the stories of getting pulled over by the police and being like [in a Southern accent] ‘Oh officer, I'm so sorry!'
How did you get into acting?
We moved cities when we were in North Carolina, so I felt really awkward at school. I had moved when I was in third grade, but you know when you're younger and you just grow up with the people there and then you move when you're in third grade and everyone already, has their groups. I struggled a lot with feeling out of place and I acted out a lot. I remember I used to kick guys in the balls…I was just a mess. Anyway, I acted out a lot but it wasn't until my parents made me audition for The Sound of Music in third grade--I got in as one of the Von Trapp family--and I just felt a part of something. My director is now still my mentor today. It just felt like a family to me, to be cool with the older kids, that sense of belonging… and also there was singing involved. Throughout school I kept doing it and would have fun roles here and decided to go to college for it. I remember my best friend from school went to NYU and I wasn't sure that I wanted new theater school so I went to a liberal arts school and ended up at Northwestern.
How did you get the part of Billy in Boardwalk Empire?
Boardwalk came about in a really interesting way. I was in L.A. because I had a boyfriend out there and I got a call like ‘Oh, Boardwalk wants to see you.' I grew up on the Jersey shore, I grew up going out [to Atlantic City], so it's been one of those shows I had my eye on. So I went back and I auditioned for it and it was fun and they were like, ‘Okay good, we liked you but we think we're going in a different direction.' A month or two later I got another call to say that they changed their idea for the character and they wanted to bring me back in. It was like a call-back, but usually that happens pretty soon after you go in the first time. So they had changed something I guess.
Tell us about your character.
She's a showgirl--which is really funny coming from the Northeast, so she plays this Broadway actress. She catches the eye of Steve Buscemi's character, Nucky. What I really liked about her was we're in the 1920s and we're just starting to see the flappers start to come out. It's something that I would argue hasn't really been seen on the show yet, because of the time period. The funny thing is they weren't really feminists, they were just enjoying the benefits of the newfound feminism because women could vote. It's a fun character to play.
It's perfect, with a lot of singing and dancing for you.
Oh yeah, that's been so fun too. It's funny because when I first went to the casting I thought, Oh I'm jumping into this well-oiled machine that's been working really well for two seasons. And everyone's…just good! I was very intimidated and it was great to be able to then jump into this singing and dancing because it was almost like getting in your body and just saying, ‘Well you know what? This is a new environment but it's so fun to be able to do stuff that I've been doing since I was [young].'
Boardwalk Empire premieres Sunday, September 16 at 9pm on HBO