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Amanda Payton Talks ‘Trial & Error’ and Her Love of TV

With season 2 of Trial & Error on NBC soon airing on July 19th, actress Amanda Payton will be joining the comedic legal mockumentary as Nina Rudolph. Payton is making a name for herself on the small screen joining a coveted cast of actors, like the esteemed Kristin Chenoweth. “It is a blast. I’ve never had so much fun in my life,” Payton explains.

Nina Rudolph is a podcaster from New York who moves to the town of East Peck. Her podcast, M Town, centers around the season’s new convicted murderer Lavinia Peck-Foster played by Chenoweth. Payton explains that her character’s podcast is loosely based off of real-life investigative journalism podcasts S-Town and Serial. “It’s a broad comedy so everyone in the town is an outrageous character.  My character is, in a sense, the eyes and ears of the audience, asking the questions. I’m one of the few characters who can see the absurdity of the town,” Payton explains about Trial & Error being a mockumentary.

The role of Nina Rudolph could not be more perfect for Payton. She is a huge fan of podcasts, with S-Town and Serial being a couple of her favorites. On receiving the audition, she was thrilled and was able to re-listen to her favorite podcasts as research for her character. A week 

after booking the role, Payton was already in Canada for filming. “There was really no time to be scared or overthink. Just dive into the work, which truly was a blessing,” says Payton. Having been trained at LA County High School for the Arts and Carnegie Mellon, Payton knew how to dive into the work immediately.

Payton even had a few tricks up her sleeve when it came to memorizing her lines. A huge fan of writing down her lines, she’d set a timer for twenty minutes of writing then take a five minute break before setting another twenty

 minutes. After, she’d record herself and go on a run for a couple miles. Payton explains, “Running kind of gets you out of your brain. Just to get it into my body and not get into a pattern of how I’m gonna say it.” For Payton, it’s important to not get into a pattern as the cast “throws things at you that you don’t expect.”

What immediately hooked Payton to do Trial & Error was that she was already a huge fan of the first season. ”It’s laugh out loud funny, but it’s not light and there’s no dumb jokes,” explains Payton. For her, the writing of the show is brilliant because it’s geared towards the smartest person in the room. “It’s a show you have to pay attention to, it’s not background noise.” Payton especially loves the callback jokes. There can be a small moment in episode one that might appear in episode ten and po

ssibly be the crucial clue in the show.

“I love TV. I watch quite a lot of it,” admits Payton. Like most of us, she indulges in This Is Us and Big Little Lies. She was evena fan of Animal Kingdom before she did a few episodes for the show. A show she can binge watch over and over again is The Office. She’s even watched the British version. Like many, she has been watching Grey’s Anatomy from the beginning. She admits that the show is her ‘soap opera.’ “Watching Grey’s Anatomy, I realize this is so ridiculous but I’m into it.”

Being in shows she has admired and having the opportunity to act with actors she’s always loved is an out of body experience for Payton.

Payton admits that she is open to span all aspects of her career and realizes it’s important for her to explore every genre. “I would love to do a musical on Broadway at some point in my career. I’d also love to star in beautifully written indie films. More network TV in both comedy and drama. Any role that speaks to me of any genre.” She openly says television is changing and evolving and it’s an exciting time to be an actor.


Outside of Trial & Error, she has read a couple scripts that are drastically different from her current role. “If the character speaks to me and if it’s written truthfully, I’m in it. You can say important things in so many different ways,” says Payton. She explains that she would love to one day do a project that’s more gritty and raw.

The arts greatly influenced how Payton got involved with acting. For her, there is an emotional response when someone watches a film or a show, a power to emotionally change someone through art. “One of the reasons I got into acting is because of art. Whether it’s acting, music or visual art, you can show humanity itself in a different way and show people aspects of themselves in a way that explaining it to them can’t,” explains Payton. It’s the message and response that drives her art. “It’s one thing to realize something and it’s another to be emotionally moved by it.”


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Amanda Payton Talks ‘Trial & Error’ and Her Love of TV: Image Credit: Kenneth Dolin and  Katie Burton

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