Sabrina Jalees Is Ready for her Second Act, With a New Network On Camera Gig

Writer and comedian Sabrina Jalees is finally taking her first regular turn in front of the camera—on CBS’ Carol’s Second Act, debuting this September on the network, after years of building up television writing credits on shows like TBS’s Search Party, Netflix’s Big Mouth, and NBC’s gone-too-soon superhero workplace comedy Powerless. And if you need any reassurance about how her acting will be…know that a fake golf swing on set got her into a celebrity golf tournament with sitcom veteran and new costar Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond, The Middle).

“I don’t play golf, but I know how to make a friend […] and a lesbian knows how to conjure up a good golf swing,” Jalees remembered with a laugh, sharing that the conversation led to her not only playing golf in the game hosted by Joel McHale, but now calls herself “good enough to get by” at the sport, adding “most of the game is just hanging out, which I’ve spent most of my life getting ready for.”

It sounds like her new gig is giving her ample opportunity to hang out with coworkers, something she never could have dreamed of even four years ago. On the show, Jalees plays Lexi Gilani, one of a group of new medical interns learning alongside Heaton’s fiftysomething Carol. When asked to describe the show, Jalees said:

A woman whose husband leaves her, whose kids are out of the house, finally gets to live for herself and she chooses to be a doctor…the same year as a bunch of misfit rascals are also starting their career as doctors. Against all odds, because we’re so different – and in real life we’re so different – we end up being a family of friends.

Slipping into this newest role – actress – felt to Jalees like something her whole career has prepared her for. Between writing for TV, and performing standup since the age of 16 (her episode of Netflix’s Comedy Lineup is not to be missed, by the way), she realized as the audience was filing in for the pilot taping, “this is a combination of everything I’ve been practicing.” And as a bonus, her parents who so badly wanted to see her grow up to be a doctor? They now know what it’d look like…if in an offbeat sort of way. “It’s the version of me my parents would have imagined.”

Health plays a central role in Jalees’ other current project, The Goodie Goodie with Sabrina Jalees. The podcast, a part of the Forever Dog network (Unofficial Expert, Las Culturistas) features Jalees sitting down with a fellow performer for a pair of episodes and talking about “the pursuit of happiness and healthiness.” She’s talked about the coming out process with Bryan Safi, parenting with Natasha Leggero, and the machine of child stardom and how to come out normal with her Carol’s Second Act costar, Ashley Tisdale.

When asked what called her to do a podcast, Jalees responded simply: “I found that that vehicle ends up forcing you to make appointments to sit down with people you’re inspired by.” As she’s done that, she’s realized the process fulfills her need and desire to “get as [many] meaty, secret-y, good life experience-y tips from my guests as I can, and it’s as if I wiretapped myself so everyone can hear it.” Every other episode ends with a call from a very special guest: Sabrina’s very Swiss mother Ursula. In having her on so frequently, Jalees has gotten to not only stay caught up with her mom – something all our moms want – but has also gotten to witness her “sterile and uncomplicated” mom evolve her thinking on topics like sexuality and the value of therapy. Give it a listen if you, like Jalees, are into “good conversations about the real shit with people that inspire me.”

I couldn’t leave a talk with Jalees without asking one final question: given that her latest role is about someone creating a bold and bombastic second act for themselves, what she imagines her next act would be. Her answer? A production company. Also called The Goodie Goodie, she sees it as an opportunity to give back. “I’ve always found it valuable and rewarding to recognize that I’m ‘up’ and lift other people up along with me,” she said. “There would be something really cool about using my momentum” to sell shows and projects that lift up other voices like hers, “who never saw themselves in the media growing up.” She recognizes that we’re in a wonderful moment for amplifying previously quieted voices, and she wants to create the “authentic and textured” stories that could help new people shine as she has gotten to. But in the meantime, Jalees is looking forward to making this act count.

Carol’s Second Act premieres on CBS Thursday, September 26th, at 9:30pm ET. If you want to check out Sabrina in the meantime, her podcast The Goodie Goodie comes out twice a week and her episode of The Comedy Lineup is streaming now on Netflix.

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Amma Marfo

Amma Marfo is a writer, speaker, and podcaster based in Boston, MA. Her writing has appeared in Femsplain, The Good Men Project, Pacific Standard, and Talking Points Memo. Chances are good that as you're reading this, she's somewhere laughing.
Amma Marfo
Amma Marfo
Amma Marfo is a writer, speaker, and podcaster based in Boston, MA. Her writing has appeared in Femsplain, The Good Men Project, Pacific Standard, and Talking Points Memo. Chances are good that as you're reading this, she's somewhere laughing.