Aubrey Plaza on Living Check-to-Check in Her Early Acting Days

  • Aubrey Plaza said getting famous hasn’t changed the way she thinks about her personal finances.
  • In an interview with WealthSimple, she described her humble beginnings and paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle.
  • Even though her dad now works in finance, she still doesn’t know much about money, she said.

Aubrey Plaza became a household name soon after her turn as fan-favorite deadpan character April Ludgate on “Parks & Recreation,” and later became just as well known for her serious acting chops after her performances in the gritty indie “Emily the Criminal,” and on the second season of popular HBO series “White Lotus.”

Sitting down with WealthSimple for their “Money Diaries” series, the now “White Lotus” star took on a taboo subject: Money.

“People have weird relationships with money,” she said in the 2018 interview. “It’s something you just don’t talk about because it makes people feel uncomfortable.” Here are a few of her biggest reveals from the interview.

She was pretty short on cash starting out

Plaza opened up about what it was like waitressing and working odd jobs in Queens before landing the breakout acting roles she would become known for. She recounts eating “eating scoops of peanut butter for lunch” and frequently getting fired as she tried to make ends meet. “It’s not a good feeling — it sucks.”

She also said she decided she wouldn’t have loyalty to any of the places she worked because acting came first — so if a manager didn’t respect that she had an audition at a certain time, then she’d just quit. 

She wasn’t born into means — but her parents worked hard to change their circumstances

The actress was no stranger to humble living. “My mom got pregnant with me when she was 20. My dad grew up in a really, really bad neighborhood in Philadelphia. My mom grew up poor in Delaware.”

Plaza learned a thing or two about working hard and changing one’s situation from her parents, though. Her mom put herself through night school and became a lawyer. Plaza said her dad had many jobs at one point but eventually worked his way up in finance and is now a financial advisor — or something like that.

“He’s a wealth management … personal, whatever,” she said in her signature comical tone. “He worked his way up, ‘Wolf of Wall Street’-style.”

Her father’s professional financial savvy didn’t seem to rub off on Plaza, however, who seemed to have learned the most about her relationship to money from watching her parents’ example of grit. She said it was “insane” how hard they worked. 

She notes that her dad accomplished this as a Puerto-Rican, “hangin’ out with all these old, rich white guys, telling them what to do with their money. And he’s really good at it.”

Even though her dad works in finance, she still doesn’t know much about money

Plaza’s financial situation changed of course, with her acting success, but she said that didn’t really change her relationship to money. “I don’t honestly care that much about money. I care about it in a way of — I need to be responsible and I don’t want to be in that position again like when I was living in Astoria, going paycheck to paycheck.” 

She added, “The irony is that [my dad] actually didn’t teach me anything about money — and that’s what he does.”

Ultimately, Plaza said back then that if all her money went away, she’d be fine with it. “Sometimes I fantasize about it all going away, and then getting back to my roots.”

But as usual with Plaza, you can’t really tell if she means it, from the look on her face.

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