Thought friendship in Hollywood was impossible? Well, for most, probably; but not for Frances Callier and Angela V. Shelton better known as the comic duo – Frangela. This dynamic real life best-friend comedy team proves that when friendship is first, success is soon to follow.
You’ve seen Frances and Angela on TV, stage, the silver screen and you can catch them on blogtalkradio.com putting their finesse on the news of the day. Wherever you find them, you’ll be glad you did! HerExchange was fortunate, and wildly entertained, to speak with Frances and Angela about the core of their success – friendship.
SG: As you were growing up, who were your role models? Where did you get your strength and identity as women and your idea of what friendship is?
Frances (F): When I was growing up, what was funny to me was what was coming out of my mother’s mouth. Angela can tell you, one day recently we were riding around and Angela has all of these CD’s of old comedians and had a Redd Foxx set, we were listening to it and I go “Wait a minute! This is my mom’s material!” It was my mom’s stuff, I had thought she was so brilliant and she had been stealing his material for years! For years!…and really had me fooled! So that is where my comedic sense came from, I come from a family that loves, loves, loves to laugh!
But, in terms of friendship and success, again for me, it was my mom. She was my model. She worked really, really hard and had an amazing work ethic. It could be raining, sleeting, she worked at the Post Office and that old adage is true. So I grew up around that, so no matter what is going on around you, you get up and go to work and try and have a smile on your face. So, in terms of friendship, it’s funny, my mother is shorter than me and her best friend was over 6 feet tall and I think I replicated that relationship too because there is almost a foot of height difference between Angela and me. But they were best friends, loved each other to death and my mother would always tell me, “Frances you are blessed if you have one best friend in this world”. She would always tell me that.
Angela (A): Like Frances, for me it was my mother. She was a very hard working woman, single mom for most of my life, me and my sister, and I was always just trying to get her to laugh. I think we both try and do that, for me, if I can get someone to laugh when they least feel like it, you know, when they think there is nothing that can make them laugh, when they are at their angriest, and you can get them to laugh, everything gets better. Well my childhood, my mother would come home in her Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dresses, she is a very tall and beautiful woman, and I can see her standing at the sink doing dishes on the phone and I just wanted her to kick off her shoes and relax. My mom is a huge inspiration for me.
And you know, I grew up in Detroit, and you just want to get out. The city is so difficult that you have to develop a sense of humor and turn that frown upside down. That’s big inspiration. And I think about friendship, for my mother loyalty is a big issue, for my family if I had to pick our family message it is that loyalty is huge. Frances and I would say, we are ride-or-die-bitches. So it doesn’t matter if you were right or wrong, I got your back. Later on, we might discuss if you were right, when we are alone privately, but you just have each other’s back. People always ask us if it’s hard to work together or audition for the same part and that question always confuses us because we so don’t have that kind of relationship. For me, if Frances gets the part she’s taking me with her and then to lunch with the money, and vice versa! In fact, I would rather not do the work and get the benefits! Like, if there is a way for me to sit down… And we are together, pretty much constantly, we have a lot of the same interests but different opinions. So fundamentally, there is just nothing more important to us than our friendship. You can’t get in between there. When people try, it’s hysterical.
SG: You met both working for The Second City Theater as individual improv actors/comedians, so where did Frangela come from?
F: What happened was, Angela moved in upstairs from me and my now-husband, it was a building close to Second City and a lot of us lived there. I met Angela and we weren’t friends then, we ran into each other on the stairs in the building and she asked me if I’d like to see a movie sometime and I said “I would love to!” and we’ve been best friends ever since.
A: We call it the first friend-date! In terms of performing together, that evolution happened because we started performing with other performers at Second City in different ways….
F: Wait! What happened was, Angela got cast to write and star in an animated show called Hey Monie. They called her and said, “We are looking to cast someone as your best friend,” and she said, “How about my best friend?” She put me on the phone right then, that was my audition. I think that happened first. I remember saying to Angela on Hey Monie, “Can you believe someone is paying us to talk on the phone, when we would do this for free?!” And people loved us and thought we were hilarious and I remember thinking, “Hmm, people are paying us to have fun.”
A: We have a friend Heather that comes to our live shows and told us “You know, people actually talk back to you during your shows!” The audience actually forgets they are at a show. I think our being friends draws people in and they just feel comfortable. And I’m very proud of that. I think we are role models for friendship!
SG: You have so much going on between radio, TV, movies and stand-up, what do you find really excites you now, what gets you fired up?
F: What happens is, it can be anything from paper towels to the oil spill, it comes from doing a lot of VH1’s Best Week Ever, we find that we can really get passionate about anything. And we actually have a perspective about everything and we have talked about everything; from Lindsay Lohan to whatever is going on in the news.
A: I would say, it’s exciting when someone comes to us and says “We want you to be you,” and any project that allows us to flex a new set of muscles. And we always want to leave things better than we found them. So anything that gives us a chance to do that is exciting. And we like making things accessible to new groups of people. For example, we are going to start doing a podcast on Adam Carolla’s podcasting network and we are really excited about that. We know there will be people that know us, but it’s a new place for us to talk about news and pop culture and to a whole new audience in a lot of ways.
SG: How are you fitting this all in?
F: You know, it’s funny, Angela says this sometimes, “I want people to hear us on the radio, and then drive by and see us on a billboard for our show and then walk into our meeting and someone talk about something we said so that by the time they get to meet with us they’ve had 6 or 7 different experiences about how they’ve interfaced with Frangela.” In the world now, you never know how people are going to interface with you.
A: For us, we are up to try anything and I believe there isn’t anything we can’t do.
F: Our motto is “There’s gotta be a book!”
A: Whatever it is, there’s gotta be a book so we can figure it out. “Sure, we can rewire this house; there’s gotta be a book!” Or, “Sure, you can do this surgery on me; there’s gotta be a book!”
SG: Who are the women you admire right now?
F: I love Oprah Winfrey. I don’t know if you can get it more right. Of course there is the billionaire Oprah of today, but when I think of her going to AM Chicago, a local show, and all of the things she did to get where she is today, as a business woman, the brilliance to buy her own show, that will never happen again.
A: In comedy a lot of the people we admire are not of our era. But, Bill Maher, he’s incredibly fun and smart.
F: And I love what Tina Fey has done with herself.
A: Sandra Day O’Connor. I grew up really, really loving Gilda Radner and that era of women in Second City and Saturday Night Live.
F: I was inspired to pursue being a comedian by Whoopi Goldberg’s one-woman Broadway show [The Spook Show, 1983]. When I first saw that I watched it over and over again.
A: I love Martha Stewart, now that’s a Bitch!
F: Martha Stewart is my crack, I love her!
SG: When you think about your career this far, what are you most proud of, individually and together; as women, as business-women and as a team?
F: I would say, the things I’m proud of go across the board. There are days I sit back and go ‘Wow, we have made it this far and we made it on our own steam!”
A: I’m so proud of us, we just completed a college tour and we are really proud of ourselves for the tour. Because we got everywhere, which may not sound like a lot but when you tend to be a little lazy… we had great shows and we stood up to the challenges of being on the road, and there are many of them. We did such a great job on that! I’m really proud we are writers, that we write our own material and that we are a part of the WGA; I’m really proud of those achievements. And that we are in a place where people can know they can count on us for things, that they can call and we don’t have to audition they can just count on us to deliver. I’m proud of our work in the movie He’s Just Not That Into You because that was a part for one person and the casting directors, and the amazing film director Ken Kwapis, were wonderful people that agreed to let us do it together. I’m proud of so many experiences we have…
F: …and we are out there generating them. We make our own work.
-Stephanie Goetsch, September, 2010