‘That ’90s Show’ Star Debra Jo Rupp on the Worst Moment of Her Career

  • Debra Jo Rupp has appeared in many fan-favorite shows, like ‘Friends,’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’
  • She’s perhaps best known for her role as Kitty Forman on ‘That 70s Show,’ and its new sequel series.
  • Rupp says the worst moment of her career was in 90s LA, where she auditioned for a major producer.

Debra Jo Rupp charmed fans as Kitty Forman on “That ’70s Show” for eight seasons and has had a varied career on stage and in TV and movies — performing in memorable guest star roles on fan-favorite shows like “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” She’s back as Kitty in the ‘That 90s Show” sequel series, exciting fans of the original show and generating huge viewership numbers for Netflix.

But in a recent interview with Chicago Tribune, Rupp opened up about the worst moment of her career — auditioning for “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Charmed” producer Aaron Spelling.

Rupp went in to read for a part in one of Spelling’s new projects at some point in the ’90s, after just recently moving to LA.

“Aaron Spelling had all these shows that were, like, the ‘beautiful people,'” she said, recounting how she felt she didn’t fit the role she read for physically. “I had no idea why I was there because I was not one of those beautiful people.”

The show apparently never made it to air, but Rupp remembers the audition experience to this day.

For her first read, Spelling wasn’t there: “So I go in and audition for it, and I have quite a different take on the character because that’s just who I am, because I’m weird.”

All seems to be well at first, as the director calls her performance “very interesting” and Rupp gets a callback — she was shocked to be moving forward in the process. “Even my agent was in shock!” she said.

When she came back for the second audition, this time with Aaron Spelling in the room, Rupp says she had an experience that she now recalls as the worst moment in her career.

Looking around at the other actresses called back, Rupp said, “It’s all these beautiful women. I mean, tall, gorgeous women. And here is me, this short, stubby, 45-year-old. And I’m thinking: This is just awful.”

When she’s brought in to read, “No one says ‘hello,’ no one says one word to me,” but she doesn’t lose her nerve because “I’m doing the audition. Because in my head it’s like: You never know, maybe he’ll go, ‘Oh, I see what they saw!'”

After her read-though, Rupp said the room was crickets. “[Spelling’s] looking down at my picture. And then he looks up. And he looks right at me. And then he goes: ‘Huh.'”

Rupp knew the audition hadn’t gone well — and she knew Spelling wasn’t told about expecting her, considering the apparent casting call for an actress of a different type. “The casting director looks at Aaron Spelling. He looks down. And the casting director says, ‘Thank you, Debra.’ You know it’s bad when they don’t ask you to do the second scene.”

She has a good sense of humor about how the audition went, but feels some better communication would’ve made it an easier experience: “To me, it was really funny,” she said, but “There was a part of me that was a little angry because no one stuck up for me.” Rupp obviously didn’t get the role, but it was the response she got in that moment that could’ve derailed her: “I could have been defeated. It was very intimidating.”

Rupp reflected on her self-image at the time as well, saying, “I didn’t look like what I thought the pretty people looked like. So I’m quite sure that I did a lot of this myself, going: Look, you don’t look like that, don’t go for those roles.” 

Ultimately Rupp used the experience to embolden her going forward. “The takeaway for me was: If you can get through that, you can get through anything. I think I became more fearless.”

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