Written by Michael Davis (B.A. '03)
After 144 episodes behind the microphone, Amber Nash is taking her talents to the big screen.
For all 14 seasons of the animated FX series “Archer,” Nash has voiced Pam Poovey, a raunchy-but-big-hearted character who started out as the head of human resources for an international spy agency and has held various roles throughout the series. It’s been the gig of a lifetime, Nash says, and helped her get the start in acting and comedy she was looking for.
Now the star of “How to Ruin the Holidays,” Nash is making her debut as the lead in a feature film, but she’s no stranger to live acting, having gotten a taste for improv comedy while a student at Georgia State.
The film, which screened in November and early December at Atlanta’s Plaza Theatre and is now available on Amazon Prime, follows struggling comedian Michelle as she navigates a trip home for Christmas. Once home, she’s confronted with the realities of an aging father who’s caring for her special-needs brother. The film also features comedian-writer-producer Colin Mochrie (“Whose Line Is It, Anyway?”) and actor-director Aisha Tyler (“Archer,” “Fear the Walking Dead” and “Criminal Minds”).
“It’s a comedy, but it’s also pretty heartfelt. It’s got lots of laughs but a few teary moments, too,” Nash says. “It’s also a little on the dirty side. Definitely not safe for work or kids.”
Written by Nash’s husband Kevin Gillese, the film also counts Plaza Theatre owner Christopher Escobar (B.A. ’08, M.A. ’13) among its producers.
Originally from Lilburn, Ga., Nash enrolled at Georgia State as a biology major, which wound up a poor fit.
“I switched majors to psychology and I loved it,” Nash says. “I just loved it. I may go back and get a master’s degree in it if I ever stop being an actor.”
After graduation, Nash landed a job at a state-run residential wilderness camp for young people with behavioral disorders. As a camp counselor, she lived on the grounds working a scheduled of four days on and four days off, and took trips with residents on excursions across the Southeast. She bonded with many of the residents, some of whom she counts as friends today.
“I only worked there for three years, but it was an impactful three years,” she says.
On her off days, Nash would often return to Atlanta and to Dad’s Garage, one of the area improv theaters she discovered in college. She took improv classes, volunteered to do odd jobs and tended bar. She made her way onstage as well.
Before long, Nash began to see acting as a viable pursuit.
“Eventually, I was like, ‘What if I quit and do improv full time?’” she says.
So, she did. Hired as the education director of Dad’s Garage, she jumped headfirst into her new profession.
Through the theater, she also made connections with creators and animators for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, who were often in the audience or in Dad’s shows. They enlisted Nash to voice characters on occasion, and Nash landed voiceover roles on radio as well.
When “Archer” came along, Nash had no idea Pam Poovey would become a fan favorite.
“She’s a secondary character, but she’s in every episode,” Nash says. “It just kind of took off and I got really lucky and did every episode for 14 years.”
Still a member of Dad’s Garage and often seen onstage in its productions, Nash is also regularly auditioning for her next part.
You can catch her in the "Archer" series finale event, "Archer: Into the Cold," airing Dec. 17 on FX and in "How to Ruin the Holidays."
Top photo by Stacey Bode Photography; hair and makeup by Amanda Lee Williams