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Name: Adam Bernard
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Charlene Amoia - Wendy the Waitress Takes Our Order
Monday, May 02, 2011

Television watchers may recognize Charlene Amoia from her litany of guest appearances on nearly every hit show, from Glee to NCIS: Los Angeles, but what she’s known most for right now is her recurring role on How I Met Your Mother as Wendy the Waitress. As Wendy she serves up drinks, laughs, and, at one point, a behind the bar fling with Neil Patrick Harris’ character, Barney Stinson. Originally from Buffalo, Amoia has lived in Las Vegas and now resides in LA. I caught up with her to find out more about her career, and also learned about her time working at a truck stop in Vegas, how she accidentally wound up in living a racy part of LA, and where her fake hook up with Neil Patrick Harris ranks on her fantasy scale. Amoia also revealed her close ties to the mob, so you might want to consider really liking this interview.

Adam Bernard: Your last name is really interesting. What’s your ethnic background?
Charlene Amoia: My last name’s Italian and I’m Italian and Spanish. My mother’s at least half Spanish, but I identify a little bit more with the Italian, I think. I’ve been around a lot of Italians my whole life.

Adam Bernard: Are there any horrible Italian stereotypes you’d like to dispel right now?
Charlene Amoia: {laughs} No, I like them, actually. All ethnicities have their stereotypes and I’m OK with the Italian ones. We have The Godfather and some great movies, so it’s all good.

Adam Bernard: So you have three brothers that are in the mob and if anyone tries to mess with you... done.
Charlene Amoia: {joking} Yeah, actually it’s more my ancestry. My great grandfather was in the mob. There’s a lot more power there. Anybody who’s ever dated me has been put in check pretty quickly. It’s just the way it goes. So I’ve never really had my heart broken. Just kidding.

Adam Bernard: You’ve never had your heart broken, but some guys have had their legs broken.
Charlene Amoia: {laughs} Exactly. Those are the ones that are still able to talk.

Adam Bernard: The cliche is actors come to Hollywood to chase their dream but end up waiting tables. You currently have a role on the hit television show How I Met Your Mother... waiting tables. Is this cruel irony, or deep poetry?
Charlene Amoia: I’m going with the poetic side of that. I haven't waited tables so much in LA, but when I was in college I did wait tables at a truck stop for four years. Now I’m not at a truck stop, I’m at a cool bar on a cool show, so it feels much more poetic to me, and the fact that I haven’t had to do it as I’ve sustained this career has been a good thing. If I was actually waiting tables in addition to doing it on a show I think that would have been a little bit harder to deal with.

Adam Bernard: Where did you go to school? Where was this truck stop where you were waiting tables?
Charlene Amoia: I went to college in Las Vegas at UNLV.

Adam Bernard: Whoa, you saw some stuff. What were some of the strangest things that came through that restaurant?
Charlene Amoia: Well, I got that job when I was like 16 or 17. I was pretty young and VERY innocent and I heard some of the crudest remarks I’ve ever heard in my life at that truck stop. I remember the first time someone said something really crude to me. My face turned bright red and I went to the back and the other waitresses were just like “you’re gonna toughen up, honey. You’ll toughen up.” I have a dirty sense of humor now, and it’s all words and none of it is serious, so I think it did toughen me up to some degree because I can tolerate it, I’ve been with the worst of the worst.

Adam Bernard: And I think if the worst thing that happens to you if you’re a 16 year old innocent girl in Las Vegas is a couple dirty things were said to you, you won.
Charlene Amoia: {laughs} That’s true. That’s very true. I did win. I’m winning. Thank you.

Adam Bernard: If you were working there at 16 you were living in Vegas before college. Did your family move there because they had a glorious stage show to do?
Charlene Amoia: Oh no, the whole mob had relocated so we didn’t really have a choice. {laughs}

Adam Bernard: That makes sense. Going back to HIMYM, your future husband was recently revealed on the show and it wasn’t Ted. Were you upset at all when you read that script and found out you weren’t going to be the mother?
Charlene Amoia: Does it make for a better story if I said I was? No, I thought it was cool. I don’t even know if they know who the mom is. I never even thought I would be seriously considered. I had sex with Barney behind the bar on the show and I also made out with Ted’s dad, so the likelihood of this character being the mom, I thought, was pretty small anyway, but the fact that fans were rooting for me was awesome, it was exciting.

Adam Bernard: Since you mentioned your fling with Barney, what was it like fake hooking up with Neil Patrick Harris?
Charlene Amoia: It was probably the best fake hook up of my life.

Adam Bernard: Women everywhere are going to be disappointed now, even more so.
Charlene Amoia: {laughs} How do I put this? I think a gay man probably understands women a lot better than a straight man, so being able to experience a full hook up in pretend land, all of my fantasies most certainly came true that day.

Adam Bernard: In addition to HIMYM, you’ve also had roles on Glee, House, Dexter, 90210, NCIS: Los Angeles, Criminal Minds, and a host of other high profile shows. Your IMDB page is a veritable what’s what of pop culture. What’s your personal pop culture radar tuned in to right now?
Charlene Amoia: You know, when I’m not working I really try to do things outside of pop culture, so I immerse myself in nature, whether it’s hiking, or running, or traveling, those kinds of things, hanging out with good friends. When I get invested in my characters I go all the way with them and I do a lot of research, watch other films and read books that could help with that, but outside of that I really have to try to keep a balance that is away from it.

Adam Bernard: If a show were to be created for you to be the lead in, which genre would you want it to lean towards?
Charlene Amoia: I really really enjoy comedy. I love the drama, too, but the comedy, it just makes me happy. The stakes are higher and you get to do the most ridiculous things and I really enjoy doing that.

Adam Bernard: Are there any roles you refuse to do?
Charlene Amoia: The only roles that I’ve refused are ones that have involved nudity. I’m very careful about what gets out there. With the internet, and everything else, if things aren’t done tastefully it can really change your career path and I want to stay open to all kinds of roles. I gravitate towards things that are a little bit quirkier, characters that are a little bit more offbeat, and I think if I did something nude it could hurt the chances of doing those roles that I find really really fun.

Adam Bernard: You have a few soap operas in your background–Port Charles and The Young and the Restless. Is the death of the soap opera a sad thing for you?
Charlene Amoia: Soaps are cool. Soaps are a completely different thing. Any time I’ve been on them it’s been kind of like a one take thing. You get your script, you’re on set, you do one take and if you stumble over your lines, as long as it’s somewhat intelligible it’s going on the air. There’s an aspect of that that really keeps you on your feet, like anything you would improvise, because you have to go with it. That’s the good thing about soaps. I’m still at the stage of the game where I don’t have a job consistently, I still have to win each opportunity, so I’m always excited to work whether it’s a soap, or a one hour, or a half hour, or a feature film. The goal this year is to get more opportunities with the feature films, big screen stuff.

Adam Bernard: Other than simply comedy, what kind of big screen roles are you looking for?
Charlene Amoia: My agent and I have been seeing what’s out there. I think with the feature films there’s a lot of name recognition that goes into the choices so I just have to see what’s available after that. I’m looking for something that’s with my sensibility. I don’t know what that’s gonna be, but anything quirky, or that’s a risk. Things that other people don’t want to do I generally do, so I’m kind of just waiting and seeing what happens.

Adam Bernard: You keep mentioning quirky. What about you do you think is quirky?
Charlene Amoia: I always root for underdogs. I end up gravitating towards people who are not the center of attention, people that there’s something odd about. I just find them much more interesting. Probably growing up I always had a sense of feeling different than other people, so I like to explore other human beings that have something that is a little different about them. I don’t know what it is, exactly, about me.

Adam Bernard: Finally, has anything that even qualifies as strange in your book happened to you since you moved to LA, or did you see it all in Vegas?
Charlene Amoia: I’ve seen a lot, that’s for sure. When I first moved to LA I didn’t know anybody here so I just randomly picked up an apartment guide and moved into Van Nuys not knowing that was like the porn capital of the world. I called the police station at the time and I asked them, “I’m looking at an apartment, these are my cross streets, is this a dangerous place to live,” and they said the only thing that really happens around there is the occasional break in of a vehicle. I moved in. My first apartment had a bed that came out of the wall. I kind of came out here with just my clothes and my radio and my computer. I had a big stereo system back then. I didn’t stay there too long. I think it was six months before I got out, but nothing really surprises me, I’m a pretty tough cookie. I don’t even know where that would be on the meter as far as what I’ve seen through Vegas... and all the mob stuff. You know what I’m sayin? {laughs}

Related Links

IMDB: imdb.com/name/nm1006439/
YouTube: Demo Reel
Twitter: twitter.com/charleneamoia

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