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Naomi Grossman from “AHS” Comes to PSU

By Lindsey DeRoche; A&E Editor
On November 18, 2017

For an actress, becoming a popular character on two different versions of an immensely successful television series seems like a dream come true. And, it is. But what if this actress has a background in being comedic, eccentric and brash? That does not fit what is often looked for and expected from actresses in the entertainment industry.

Actresses like Naomi Grossman have set out to challenge these standards, and share their rebellion by educating the masses. In this very fashion, Grossman visited PSU in the Silver Center on Tuesday night.

Grossman is well-known for her character Pepper, from the hit TV series “American Horror Story,” during both its “Freak” and “Asylum” seasons. But Grossman was not at PSU to purely speak about how to “make it” in her industry; she was there to speak out against institutionalized gender roles as well.

Grossman acknowledged that white, heterosexual men are the ones who set traditional roles for everyone else who does not fall into that category. In regard to the roles of women in society, Grossman said that women are, unfortunately, meant “to titillate, not entertain.”

Grossman brought up her background in comedy, and how her start did not align with traditional gender roles. “Comedy is all about taking risks,” Grossman said. She referenced comedians like Melissa McCarthy (who she used to watch perform prior to either of their fame), and how a woman does not have to have a certain physical appearance or demeanor to be humorous or talented.

Lucille Ball was also referenced, as she was one of the first rather independent and funny women to be popular in the American media. Grossman repeated Ball’s quote, “I am not funny. What I am is brave.” Grossman echoed this sentiment, and emphasized being “defiant.”

Grossman did not purely point out funny women who have gained success; she also addressed how deeply rooted degrading gender roles for women are in our society. She said that men are targeted with magazines like “Forbes” and “Psychology Today,” whereas women are targeted with magazines like “Cosmopolitan” and its counterparts, which focus more on sex tips than more serious magazine topics.

She said regarding magazines for men, “The world is their oyster.” For women, she said about finding magazines by the grocery store check out, “Pick up a pack of gum, and peruse the subjugation.”

Grossman talked about her own journey to becoming secure with herself, especially as an actress. She also addressed how women seeking the romantic attention of men may have to worry about not coming off as a stereotypical woman would.

She said that she is “okay” with being single. She also said, “I just have to be myself, and the right guy will follow.” Even Grossman has noticed that she has “toned down” her behavior in the company of boyfriends before, and said it is something she tries to be aware of and avoid.

“Don’t be inhibited by nineteenth century ideas of what you should be,” Grossman said in response to archaic women’s roles. She said that she’s “infinitely more flattered” when she is complimented about her performance in a role than being told she is beautiful, though she finds that compliment flattering as well.

“In Hollywood, there’s always going to be someone prettier and skinnier. But they’re not you,” said Grossman.

The event concluded with a Q&A segment, and Grossman answered questions oriented towards acting.

To stay updated about events happening at the Silver Center, visit





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