The always outspoken Margaret Cho has tackled issues of race, sexuality and weight in her stand-up comedy, and she was the first Asian-American female to have a sitcom in the U.S., 1994's short-lived 'All-American Girl.' Over the years Cho's brash sense of humor and outspoken support of gay rights have earned her a devoted following.
In the new Lifetime series 'Drop Dead Diva' (premieres Sunday, July 12), Cho plays the sidekick to a recently deceased model trapped in an overweight brainiac's body.
Cho talked to AOL TV about the ideals of beauty, why she thinks Miss California Carrie Prejean deserved to lose her crown and why she's saving her body for Kat Von D. -- By Katy Kroll
Interview after the cut.
What about 'Drop Dead Diva' appealed to you?
I loved the script. I thought that it was a really interesting idea, because I think that a certain kind of beauty is valued more than other kinds, and that's a really harmful thing. To take a script that questions that beauty ideal and challenges it is very important. It's really close to what I do in stand-up, talking about body issues and beauty in an intelligent, funny and provocative way.
Do you think it's a fair depiction of what overweight women have to deal with?
Absolutely. What happens essentially in the show is that the lead character, Deb -- a thin, blonde girl -- basically goes from being visible to being invisible. For me, as a [former] fat person, the most painful part of being fat was being invisible. You're just not seen, which is so hard to deal with. I think for someone like Deb -- the traditional skinny, blonde model type -- once she becomes invisible, it's really a terrifying, horrifying experience. So I think showing that invisibility and talking about that invisibility is really authentic and real.
Which do you think is better to have: Beauty or brains?
Brains. I always think brains have it better all the time. I know people who were really beautiful for years and then they got old, and it's really frustrating because they become invisible and they can't handle it. Whereas I was never really looked at for beauty, so it never was an issue. I can get old and it doesn't matter, because it never was important to me.
If you could switch bodies with anyone, who would it be?
I don't think I would. But I do love Kat Von D's ink, so ... that would be great to have. I'd love to be totally tattooed like that. As an actor playing a more conservative role, I don't have the ability to tattoo my face like I would love to. But I'm saving a big area of skin for Kat Von D.
What do you think about the whole Prop 8 issue?
It's very upsetting to me that California didn't repeal it. I've been working on [legalizing] gay marriage since 2004, and it's something that's very important to me. I was even deputized as a marriage commissioner and was able to perform weddings last year for gays and lesbians. So I feel disappointment in California, and disgust in the way they're handling this issue; it's making us look so bad. I'm glad Miss California got fired, because she was a major problem. I was proud that Perez Hilton really took her to task and asked the question that really pulled that bigotry out into the open. I'm just sick of ignorance, sick of homophobia and sick of hatred being written into legislation. It's really sad and horrifying.
Were you surprised that Miss California was actually stripped of her crown?
I didn't think they would do it. I thought they would gloss over it. I'm glad that they did take some responsibility, and it really is a step in the right direction, because ignorance and bigotry like that should not be glorified. It should not represent the state. I have my own issues with beauty contests -- that's a whole other discussion. [Laughs] To be that bigoted, to be that kind of ignorant and just terrible person really ... I'm Christian, and ignorance and bigotry are not Christian values. I think we'll look back on all this and be amazed at how hard we had to fight for it, because now we look back at laws against interracial marriage and think that's so backwards. Hopefully it will be the same way with gay marriage one day.
I love this fierce bitch sfm. My very recent ex-girlfriend (it's been 3 days) and I have tickets to see her in September. We saw her 3 years ago in Tahoe and she was so amazing.
Here's one of my favorite Cho moments.