'AP Bio' Star Lyric Lewis on Filming While Pregnant and Hosting 'American Barbecue Showdown' (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
NBC/Peacock via Getty Images
Not many moms can say they had their entire pregnancy preserved on screen. However, A.P. Bio breakout star Lyric Lewis can. From hosting the Netflix reality food competition American Barbecue Showdown weeks into her pregnancy to being weeks away from giving birth to her daughter by the time she finished the third season of the Peacock sitcom, just about every moment was captured on camera.
In fact, September marks a full circle moment in her journey, with a new season of A.P. Bio, in which the 35-year-old actress plays history teacher Stef Duncan opposite Glenn Howerton, and American Barbecue Showdown, a smoke-filled competition to find the next grill master, debuting as her daughter turns 6-months-old. “She’s actually on my lap right now,” Lewis says, while speaking to ET. “It’s so great, especially during these times where I’m like, ‘The sky is orange in California right now.’”
While chatting on the phone, Lewis opens up about the contestants on the Netflix competition, bringing her pregnancy into her character’s storyline on the Peacock series and how she hopes to preserve this current unrest and cultural reckoning for her daughter.
ET: What has it been like for you the past few months, starting this chapter as a mother and bringing your daughter into the world?
Lyric Lewis: It’s been so crazy, but I will say I feel like she came at such a great time. Like, she knew what was gonna happen before everyone else did. I feel like without my child, who knows where my mental state would be. I feel like it’s because of her that I’ve stayed grounded. Also, in the middle of everything -- coronavirus, the protests, like everything happening -- I may be getting very [sentimental] but she really does give me a sense of hope and joy. I wake up everyday and I’m like, we’re healthy and we’re happy. I have this baby who is thriving. And it’s reminded me of the things to really be thankful for.
Have you thought about how you want to capture this moment and how you’ll get to relive some of these things with your daughter, when she’s ready to?
Absolutely. So, it’s not necessarily educational for me because as a Black woman in America, we grow up and we know these things… I’m from New Orleans originally. So coming from the South, we already had a history where it's like we don't have a choice but to know. But I am excited to show her people protesting and marching and speaking up and to show her faces of all colors coming together for a great cause and to show her that she was born during a great year -- born during a pandemic, but also an awakening of America, which I think is really powerful. And, you know, she will grow up with kids with parents who are so much more aware and fighting versus just being kind of on the sidelines. I'm actually excited for her.
Looking back on being pregnant and filming A.P. Bio, was that a special moment for you? How did that all work out?
It was so special. [Creator] Mike O’Brien is the most incredible human and so I was so excited to tell him. But right away -- and I feel this is maybe an actor thing or a woman thing -- but I went into this place of like, “I hope it doesn’t mess up the storyline. I’m going to be pregnant for nine months and then I have to recover. And when can I get back to work?” Like, all the things because I’m like, “I have to have time to be with the baby and I can't go back to work.” So all that was on my mind. But as soon as I told Mike, Mike was so excited and was like, “Do you want to have it on the show?” And I was like, “Well, yes. If I can.” He was like, “Great, ‘cause I do.” He was so pumped and it made me so happy that my showrunner was so on board. And so then we told the writers’ room together and the writers were so excited. I can’t even explain it. Like, I truly felt so valued as a cast member and seen.
For him to embrace it so fully and for my character, that she now has a child, it really just warms my heart and it’s so great. I watched all the episodes and I see how often I touched my stomach and little things like that and I’m like, “Oh, they left it in. They didn't cut it.” Like, I touched my stomach and I talked to her and I’m rubbing it a lot. And it does feel really special to know that that's forever on film.
The show’s been on for three seasons now. What’s it like to go back and look at season 1 and see how Stef and the series has evolved?
It’s really great. Stef is just really settled and I feel like I really know her. I feel like the cast, like really know each other and we’ve fleshed out [the characters]. We felt them out. We were kind of always able to improvise from their point of view since the pilot, which is a blessing of having a great cast and a great showrunner and writers. Like, we always had that. But now, three seasons later, it's just so much better. Like, it's truly effortless between all of us.
Let’s talk about American Barbecue Showdown. How did you get involved with hosting that?
I told my team that I was interested in being in that kind of world because I love to host, I love to talk and randomly, I was like, “I love to eat.” So I was like, “If anything comes along, I would love to explore those options.” And so American Barbecue Showdown came through and I had a talk with the producers… and what really got me about this show was that it wasn't just a cooking show, but it has so much heart. It’s not just a competition, it’s way more than that.
I like that the show seems to be following the model of Great British Bake Off, where it’s a competition but the contestants are also celebrating and supporting each other. And here, you have all these delightful characters, like Tina clutching her pearls. What was it like working with these contestants?
They were the sweetest people and they are such characters. But I really loved it so much because I feel like hearing their joy of cooking and barbecuing and places that they came from, all of their family history and everything, they’re just really awesome people. And I was excited to eat their food every episode.
While everything looked delicious, I don’t think I could have eaten anything from the road kill challenge.
That’s also where I drew my line in the sand. I said, “I’m from Louisiana. I’m from New Orleans but no.” And I was pregnant at the time. I was like, “Absolutely not. No, thank you.” I would smell it. I would look to [judges] Kevin and Melissa to tell me exactly how it tastes.