Jordana Spiro admits she doesn't know anything about sports.
So friends had a good laugh about that, she says, when she was cast as a Chicago sportswriter in the TBS comedy My Boys, which begins its second season tonight.
"I didn't know football from baseball," says Spiro, 30. "Now I'm pretty well versed in baseball, at least, or think I am. Now when some of the guys start rattling off stats, I'm lost. I think I know what I'm talking about, and then they lose me. But that was the one place where I was, 'Okay, I'm going to need to put a little work in this area. The beer drinking I got, killing time with your friends I got down, baseball - I'm going to have to work on that.' "
She knew when she was 14 that she wanted to be an actor, but her parents, art dealers in Manhattan, weren't wild about the idea. Though they permitted her to study, they refused to let her find an agent or work at it professionally. After high school her only dream was to attend Britain's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. She made the cut to the last minute and then failed.
"I was a little cocky and hadn't applied to other schools. So I was, like, 'Oh, no, what do I do? It's June, and I haven't applied to any colleges.' "
She decided to move to Los Angeles and enrolled in Occidental College near Pasadena. Within two weeks, she found an agent, went on a couple of auditions and decided she didn't need college after all.
But things didn't go as expected. "I went through a period of a couple of years when I wasn't getting the kind of work I wanted to get and I was doing a lot of auditioning," Spiro says. "I was putting a lot of work into my career, and it just wasn't going the way I had envisioned it. ... So I was really considering switching careers."
So she joined a volunteer group to work with the Masai in Tanzania. "It was just me and the village. There was nobody else there. ... For me it was a huge reminder that I don't need to do what I'm doing."
A shattering event occurred when her father died. "I was 22. He was my hero, my best friend. I asked him if there was a motto that he had lived his life by, a sentence I can lean on when things aren't going the way you want it to go. He said, 'It's not a phrase, it's a word: movement. Whenever you feel stuck, just move, just change, just do something. It doesn't matter if it's in the wrong direction, just move.' "
The series' second-season premiere is at 10 tonight on TBS.