'The Girl From Plainville': Aya Cash Gets Her 'Law & Order' Moment as Katie Rayburn (Exclusive)

Aya Cash talks to ET about playing the real-life ADA in the Hulu drama about Michelle Carter and the texting suicide case.

On The Girl From Plainville, Aya Cash portrays Katie Rayburn, the Assistant District Attorney who is prosecuting the unprecedented case of holding Michelle Carter (Elle Fanning) accountable for the suicide of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy (Colton Ryan). As the Hulu true-crime series continues to recreate Carter’s time in court, the actress gets her “Law & Order moment” as Rayburn, who cross-examines the defense’s medical expert in ET’s exclusive clip from episode seven, “Teenage Dirtbag.” 

After creating too much empathy for Carter during the previous episode, when the defendants’ friends took the stand, Rayburn realizes she has to get more aggressive, especially when it comes to the defense’s latest witness. As a result, the prosecutor undermines the expert’s claims about his mental assessment of Carter and finds a crack in the defense. 

“It was great,” Cash says of the scene, explaining that “it feels like a rite of passage to do one of those.” 


When it comes to Rayburn, who Cash thinks is “amazing,” there’s a lot at stake for the ADA. Not only is she responsible for bringing this case to trial, but she also has to create a legal argument for something that’s never been fought before a judge. Because of that, she can’t rely on past cases to make her argument.

“It is actually creating a precedent,” the actress says. “So, I feel like she’s putting together these moral and legal questions in a way that’s probably something people don’t get to do very often in their careers.” And so, when it’s time to present her case, which she has worked hard to put together, Rayburn knows “this is my job to prosecute this to the best of my ability,” Cash says of her character’s headspace. “And it does a disservice to the judicial system if I don’t do my job the best that I can.” 

While Cash views the Hulu series adapted by creators Liz Hannah and Patrick Macmanus as a fantasy version of real life (“This is not a direct translation,” she says), meticulous detail went into recreating the courtroom scenes. Not only did they match all of Carter’s looks, they had the actual transcripts from the trial to pull from. 

“Sometimes they took direct things and had to sort of finesse them in order to make it good storytelling,” Cash says of the dialogue, explaining that she was less worried about mimicking Rayburn’s look or mannerisms than she was over matching the “energy and feeling behind it.” 

“When playing someone really, you want to do them justice,” she says. 


For the 39-year-old actress, who is fresh off five seasons of You’re the Worst, The Girl From Plainville also marks the first time she’s played a lawyer onscreen. And when it comes to being offered the role, Cash makes reference to The First Wives Club and quips that she’s reached the second age in her Hollywood life, “district attorney.” 

“And I thought, ‘Well, it’s time to enter phase two,’” she recalls, before joking that she’s going to use the role to pitch herself to creator Dick Wolf “to take over a Law & Order franchise.”  

Joking aside, Cash is grateful for the opportunity to be part of this particular adaptation, which she commends for its sensitive approach to the story, as well as the chance to stretch and grow after playing the same character for so many years. In addition to The Girl From Plainville, she has made notable appearances on Fosse/Verdon, The Boys and is now starring on Welcome to Flatch

“I feel very lucky that I’ve been allowed to sort of bop around,” Cash says of being able to come onto a series and “do a few episodes of something that’s very different rather than necessarily lock myself into the same exact thing I did on You’re the Worst.” 

New episodes of The Girl From Plainville debut Tuesdays on Hulu.