Alumna Q&A: screenwriter and actress Genevieve Adams ’11

by Zach Cherian | 2/7/17 1:05am

Born in New York City, New York, Genevieve Adams ’11 is an actress and screenwriter. She started acting from a young age and continued her passion at Dartmouth as an English major. During her senior year, Adams wrote an honors thesis, which eventually turned into “IMPROVed,” a two-act comedy that showed in front of a sold-out audience in NYC. This play was later adapted into a movie, “I’m Obsessed With You (But You’ve Got to Leave Me Alone),” which is available on iTunes. Her work has allowed her to work alongside major names such as Kristen Wiig in “The Skeleton Twins” and Katie Holmes in “Touched with Fire.”

How did you get into acting?

GA: Well, I was in Casual Thursday when I was at Dartmouth, and that was a significant and really fun experience for me. I’d always loved improvisation; I grew up in New York and had done a few classes, and I had done acting classes as a child, and I had always done the plays for school. I wanted to hone that skill at Dartmouth. Honestly, the fraternity basements were a really great place to hone your skills at thinking on your feet and trying to work with the audience, because you really wanted people to have fun on a Wednesday night. It was an interesting environment and also a really good one to practice in. I met so many funny and smart people there, so they kind of raised my game. I was really involved in the theater department, and I’d always been acting — I was in an opera when I was 9 years old in New York. So I came to Dartmouth knowing that was what I wanted to do.

Was there a specific impact that your honors thesis had on your acting career?

GA: That was kind of about my experience in Casual Thursday — loosely interpreted. Kind of based on my experiences at Dartmouth, inspired by that. I worked with English professor Donald Pease to write that.

Did you always mean to turn your thesis into a show after Dartmouth?

GA: It took on a life of its own. People really responded to it up at Dartmouth when I had to do readings, and then my boyfriend at the time was working in casting. He worked with Scott Rudin, and he really helped me mold it into a screenplay. We ended up doing a production of it in New York, and that was so well-received and popular and fun that we decided to make it into a film together. It was a really cool experience — I never really expected any of it to happen, and we just kind of kept rolling with it. There seemed to be enough energy around the story and the characters, and it seemed to have a freshness that people responded to and that really good actors wanted to be a part of, so it was really exciting.

What was working with famous actors and actresses like Kristen Wiig like?

GA: It was awesome. Kristen Wiig is my hero, so I was pretty starstruck to be honest, working with her. She was so kind and so talented through the end. She made me feel really at home on the set and was very kind and generous — all the things you’d want her to be and more. So yeah, I’ve had a lot of experience working with very successful people where I have a very small role, and I’ve noticed that a lot of the time the people at the very top are often the most gracious, kind and intelligent people, which is really encouraging. There are other aspects of this business which can be really hard, but it’s nice when you realize that the people at the top, who reap a lot of rewards, are also very intelligent and thoughtful humans.

Can you tell me about what you are working on right now?

GA: I’m working on another screenplay that I’m trying to get made. I’m in the final stages of writing — well, it’s a never ending process. I’m auditioning quite a lot in television, film and theater in New York. That stuff is keeping me pretty busy. Those are the projects I’m mainly working on right now. I’ve written a play, but I don’t know what’s happening with that yet. I’m just trying to be in the moment here in New York and soaking it all in.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

Correction Appended (February 7, 2017):

The article incorrectly stated that Adams was a theatre major, when she in fact was an English major. The article has been changed to correct the error.