This interview was conducted by Nick and More Contributor, Matt Cartelli.
Christy Knowings was a cast member on All That for three seasons (seasons 4-6). Some of her most prominent characters on the show are Gina on “Whatever!” (alongside Amanda Bynes), the Channel 6 ½ News Reporter Brenda Stone, Gloria Bankhead (a parody of Martha Stewart), and Hot Toe. Christy was nice enough to take the time to chat about her time on All That and what she has been up to since.
Matt (aka Ishtar): How did you get your start in acting?
Christy Knowings: My twin brother, Chris was cast in a Spike Lee film, entitled, Crooklyn. Since I was on the set every day with him, I was an extra every day. A few agents came to the set (we were on it for about three months) and thought we were both great. My acting career began then. I started out doing different modeling gigs and guesting on television shows, like New York Undercover…
Matt: And how did that lead to getting cast on All That?
Christy Knowings: I told my agents I wouldn’t do any “extra” work… EXCEPT if Rosie O’Donnell was a part of it. The following week, they informed me that Rosie would, indeed be part of a Nickelodeon show called And Now This. I was thrilled, thinking I’d meet my (then) favorite talk show host. Needless to say, I didn’t meet Rosie until the Kids’ Choice Awards, when we presented Hanson, I think, together… Anyway, while on the set of And Now This, my twin brother prompted me to show off my different characters and dialects to some nearby casting directors. They loved me, and asked me to audition for All That. I remember they just filmed me doing a billion different characters, back-to-back! Wonder who has that tape! The writers, directors, and producers of the show flew to New York to meet me, and, after 5 minutes (lol) of my live hilarity at Nickelodeon headquarters, the rest was history.
Matt: Nice. Did you watch any of the show during the first three seasons?
Christy Knowings: I did! I always liked Kenan, Kel, Lori Beth, and all the other cast members. I thought I was dreaming when I was asked to relocate to L.A. to join them.
Matt: You and Danny are both from the NY area, so did you two have a lot in common when working on the show?
Christy Knowings: Totally. We both have (and brought) an ‘East Coast’ flavor to the set every day. I love Tamberelli! We’re also both musicians, so we had that in common, as well.
Matt: Alisa Reyes is from NY too, but sadly she had left the show when you joined.
Christy Knowings: I know… I actually transferred to a school (Professional Performing Arts) she went to, also in New York. I think she’d left the school by the time I arrived, as well. That was an interesting period.
Matt: Did you have any particular favorite sketch you did?
Christy Knowings: Favorite sketches definitely include: “Happy Homestuff with Gloria Bankhead”, Brenda Stone (as a solo commentator), and when Amanda and I worked with Kobe Bryant on “Whateverr”… awesome.
Matt: Speaking of “Whateverr” there’s a sketch near the start of Season 4 where you and Amanda deal with Repairman in the girls’ restroom. I’ve always wondered if those characters were loosely the inspiration for “Whateverr.”
Christy Knowings: Yeah, probably…but I think it actually came from a sketch where Josh Server plays “Dr. Bynes” (based on Amanda’s dad, a dentist)—this crazy dentist. I played his assistant, Jenny, and did Jessica’s “errr” sound after every line. The writers went crazy, and developed “Whateverr”….they even made sure I added the “errr” I came up with from the Dr. Bynes sketch…Hah.
Matt: Your performance in the Dr. Bynes sketch is probably one of my favorites that you have done on the show.
Christy Knowings: Thanks! Funny thing is, it’d been played by others before, (something I didn’t know at the time) but it was the first time that character spawned another sketch all together… really an honor in a way…
Matt: Was Brenda Stone based on Fran Drescher?
Christy Knowings: Not really… I guess later it did (the laugh, right?). I came to the Table Read (where the cast and crew sit around a table to read the week’s script) with my version of a Long Island accent, and it got big laughs. I developed Brenda when she got her own sketch without “Ray”, and she just got more and more “Drescher-y”… Really, it was just me being my crazy self. Brenda is actually a character I had to ‘step out of’ by the end of a shoot day. Loved being her. She was in charge!
Matt: The sketches with her and Ray always cracked me up
Christy Knowings: Hah… poor Josh…he put up with a lot.
Matt: I loved when Brenda would tease Ray by saying how much better it was in the studio
Christy Knowings: Hah… we had so much fun with that… certain cast members were “tortured” on a regular basis – Danny, Josh… well, just those two, really… Kevin, too… but Tamberelli and Josh really got it. Glad it wasn’t me… all the dang time.
Matt: How did you develop the character for Hot Toe? I know Kenan based Cold Finger off of Mike Tyson
Christy Knowings: Hot Toe was definitely my rendition of Rosie Perez’ accent. I’ve always loved her unique voice…Yeah, love Kenan’s Cold finger!
Matt: How was working with Nick Cannon? You also got to be Latonya’s boss (Ms. Williams).
Christy Knowings: Nick has always been a sweetheart. He’s also been a tremendous “go-getter”. Not surprised he’s so successful now. Yes, loved the Ms. Williams character.
Matt: Turbulent Airlines was also a good one.
Christy Knowings: Thanks! I loved saying (still do) “My name’s Nancy…” You know Gabriel came to the Table read with a traditional Mexican accent, while I came with Nancy’s Southern drawl. The writers then asked Gabriel to switch to an accent closer to mine.
Matt: I actually liked Gabriel Igleasias. A shame he only got to do Season 6.
Christy Knowings: Yeah, he was pretty good… nice guy, too
Matt: Loved his Bill Clinton
Christy Knowings: That was my favorite character of his!
Matt: You even got to play along with his character during a Gloria Bankhead sketch too.
Christy Knowings: So awesome… I just love that sketch, hah.
Matt: Were there any sketches you recall not making it to air?
Christy Knowings: No… they’re all there, hah… a few I shake my head at, but I’m laughing at myself most of the time.
Matt: Oh, I almost forgot about your teacher character, Ms. Klump.
Christy Knowings: Klump! I was sooooo careful not to try and be Ms. Fingerly!!! There is only one Ms. Fingerly – and I love her! I was honestly unsure about Klump, but they kept pushing her, and she just grew on me.
Matt: I liked both of them in their own way.
Christy Knowings: Thanks, hah.
Matt: It must have been fun playing her in that one sketch where Amanda is trying to present her science project, but Klump doesn’t notice her.
Christy Knowings: I liked when the pizza delivery guy (Gabriel) comes in…we start playing charades, and….that scene cracks me all the way up, hah.
Matt Cartelli: Heh, I liked Mark’s balloon character in that sketch too.
Christy Knowings: That mess was SO funny to me… then someone drew a face on it…Kenan, maybe… oh, the comedy. That’s what we said on set a lot – “Oh, the comedy”… those were the days, hah.
Matt: What was the 10th Anniversary Reunion like? Sadly only saw you in a few brief cameos, like a lot of returning cast members.
Christy Knowings: It was fun, but a bit weird, you know… it really was a reunion…with cast members who were like distant cousins I’d never met (but heard about). There were newbies, too…they were cool, but had a different feel. It was…interesting. It felt like we’d had our time on the show, and, believe me, I was (am) grateful for it. I guess there wasn’t enough time to throw my characters in the mix. Plus, I look so different than I did when I was on All That.
Matt: And Amanda wasn’t even there, surprisingly
Christy Knowings: Yeah…it was strange. Though it was good to see everyone. I’d love another reunion. Not sketches, just the cast members being themselves
Matt: There was a reunion at Comikaze Expo last November
Christy Knowings: Okay, glad you brought that up… where was I??? Didn’t even know about it.
Matt: It wasn’t arranged by Nick themselves.
Christy Knowings: Oh… I missed that. You should check out my new band page with my friend Emily Moore (a bad a$$ violinist) Root Influence! Check us out on YouTube: youtube.com/rootinfluence New hip-hop and soul music.
Matt: What have you been doing since All That ended for you?
Christy Knowings: I took a break from television for a minute, and dove into voice overs (commercials for companies like Walmart, McDonalds’…a bit of cartoon work) I started concentrating on my music, and other crafts (dance, modeling, writing…) I directed some plays and a few docu-dramas. I got deep into my studies in college… Then, out of somewhere cool, Sesame Street came along, and I did a few episodes of that show. Now, I’m working with my music project, Root Influence, modeling, acting (you’ll see me out there soon!) writing, dancing, and developing my Performer Extraordinaire persona.
Matt: Voice Over, cool. I’ve always been very fond of that type of work, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a lot of voice actors
Christy Knowings: It really is incredible… yeah?
Matt: Yeah. Big cartoon fanatic. Plus I even like the radio and commercial stuff.
Christy Knowings: Nice!!! I love love love the cartoons from the 90s… Doug, Ren & Stimpy, Daria, Animaniacs… all of em’
Matt: Same here
Christy Knowings: Hey Arnold! was my show!
Matt: Anyway, it’s been a blast talking with you!
Christy Knowings: It has been! Love chatting with you, man!
To keep updated with Christy, you can like her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ChristyKnowingsOfficial
You can also follow her on Twitter @ChristyKnowings
Her official Website is: http://www.christyknowings.com
Make sure to check out All That starting tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Nickelodeon and every night at midnight ET on TeenNick’s The ’90s Are All That programming block.