With ‘This Is Us’ over, Chrissy Metz focuses on her musical side
TV actor, who performs Tuesday at Chicago’s City Winery, admits she’s ‘probably obnoxious’ with her routine of singing constantly.
For six years, Chrissy Metz has been a familiar face on TV screens, best known as the incredibly authentic, complicated, heart-tugging character Kate Pearson on the breakout NBC hit “This Is Us.” But what some may not know is — in a quirk she shares with Mandy Moore, who played her on-screen mom Rebecca — music was Metz’s first love before acting.
“I always loved [singing] but didn’t always feel comfortable doing it in front of people, so I’d make mixtapes and record songs in my bedroom,” she recalled during a recent conversation, adding that joining her middle school’s choir made her fall in love with music in a way she never thought possible. “Anyone who knows me knows that I believe everything is a song. I’m singing constantly. It’s probably obnoxious, but it comes from love.”
Of course, there have been hints of Metz’s talents during her run on “This Is Us,” where music was a big part of Kate and Rebecca’s mother-daughter relationship, like the time Kate sang an emotive version of “Landslide” during her first big break on stage as Rebecca sat in the crowd beaming, or when she sang “Time After Time” during Rebecca’s funeral toward the show’s end.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
Where: City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph
Though Metz’s talent manager didn’t really encourage the music side, wanting Metz to focus on acting, she doesn’t regret it. “I really I think being on ‘This Is Us’ and being able to be so vulnerable and exposed every single day helped me to realize I just want to sing and want to share myself and my experiences. It’s been a long journey for me, but it’s also been healing.”
With the award-winning series having wrapped in late May, Metz has time to focus on her real-life music endeavors and currently is on a seven-date run at City Winery venues across the country, including Chicago’s on Tuesday.
She’s preparing to release her debut country album for EMI Nashville. Though no formal release date has been announced, Metz has given tastes of the material with a few singles. There’s the singer-songwriter gold of “Girl Go,” about chasing after your dreams but remembering who you are, the pensive ballad “Talking to God” and the soul-pop-country mashup “Feel Good.”
Talking about her writing style on the album, Metz shared, “It’s definitely about love and loss and very introspective and reflective.” There’s some deep diving into her own relationships like that with her boyfriend, songwriter Bradley Collins, or the song “Daddy’s Girl,” which speaks to the complicated bond with her estranged father. When Metz was a child, he was in the Navy and stationed in Florida and Japan, which initially introduced Metz to a wide range of international music styles. She added that Motown and country were also often playing in her home.
“What I realized in the process of therapy and journaling was that I am more like my father than I’d care to admit. And it helped me to realize more of where he was coming from and to understand and forgive him more,” Metz said, getting emotional.
Her innate sense of storytelling and the lessons of processing her own chapters were also explored in her 2018 New York Times best-seller, “This Is Me,” that she has said takes readers on a journey of self-acceptance and becoming the people we are meant to be. In it, she talks of her divorce, her move to L.A. from Florida and the near heart attack she had on her 30th birthday that changed her life.
Metz also joked about another pivotal moment in her life: auditioning for “American Idol.” Though she did not make the cut, the actress knows her long journey back to music was meant to give her a stop along the way on “This Is Us,” as the show reaffirmed to her how healing art can be.
“I don’t think there’s a subject that we didn’t touch. And what we all have discovered in making the show, and during that particular time in our culture and society, is that we are so much more alike than we are different,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, who your parents are, your status, any of that. We are humans just trying to live life on life’s terms and there’s no handbook.”
Metz has been touched by the real-life stories she’s heard of that mirrored Kate Pearson’s character arc. “I never thought I’d meet a girl who told me she watched the Super Bowl with her father’s ashes like Kate did. … I also met a little boy on an airplane, he was 10 or 11 years old and he was heading to an eating disorder clinic. I could cry thinking of it,” she recalled. “He said, ‘You helped me realize that I’m worth saving and loving.’ It was then I knew this is so much more than an acting job and just trying to pay your bills. The show was much more special than I think anyone thought it was going to be.”