HBO's Amanda Crew Talks "Silicon Valley," Granny Girls & More

Story by TOVA GELFOND | Photography by ALEX MARTINEZ | Styling by JABE MABREY | Makeup by KATEY DENNO for The Wall Group | Hair by ASHLEY STREICHER for Forward Artists | Manicurist: WHITNEY GIBSON for Nailing Hollywood | Photo Assistant: HESH HIPP

Shot on location at The Moment Hotel in Los Angeles. 

This story appears in the Spring 2015 issue of Eidé Magazine. Read it here, or click to read it in the issue below. 

Tomorrow is the final day of filming on “Silicon Valley” Season 2 — the last of a four- month stretch — and Amanda Crew already seems a bit nostalgic. We’re talking about HBO’s critically acclaimed show that premiered last year to wild enthusiasm (rottentomatoes.com gave them a rating of 94% and it won a SXSW Audience Award) — a show in which she is the only lead female character in the first season. The result: She’s the fantasy of the tech-centered male community. Much like the Princess Leia to Han Solo, she’s the Monica to protagonist Richard Hendricks, and viewers can’t wait to see how their relationship will unfold.

But today, she’s simply Amanda, an actress living on set with a cast of boys. And she’s going to miss it. “The guys are just ... you know, on set it’s so much fun ... they’re all like huge comedians, and I’m not from that world, and they have been nothing but supportive and welcoming to me,” she laughs, imparting stories about castmates T.J. Miller and Thomas Middleditch, among others, who now seem more like brothers than colleagues.

Airing April 12, the 10-episode second season has already generated a thirst for its trademark comedic take on the cynical, roller coaster world of the tech startup industry through the eyes of company-in-the-making Pied Piper, and its five founders. With brazenly honest investment scenarios, the refreshing dialogue, in so many ways, pro- duces what “The Big Bang Theory” wishes it could — a genuine, jocular story about nerds that’s appealing to real geeks. Multimillionaire geeks, in fact, who are not afraid to throw their support behind a narrative that disseminates a candid study of the ever-expanding (sometimes ballooning) field of digital development in a way that no one — save documentaries — has tackled. “I feel like it’s pulling back the curtain on a world that we don’t really know that much about,” Crew shares. “Obviously everyone is affected by it because we all use technology and we all use phones with apps and computers with all these interesting things on it or products that are connected to it. But it’s kind of an industry that hasn’t really been exposed.” Which is precisely what makes the anecdotes and her character (the ambitious head of operations for eccentric billionaire Peter Gregory) so compelling.

All industry jargon aside, while Amanda is positioned front-and-center in this highly developed, media-rich world through the show, the real Amanda is an engineering neophyte. “Other than using an iPhone and having apps on it ... that’s been the extent of my tech knowledge, which I think is like everyone,” she says. “So it’s been really interesting to get exposed to that world and see how things are developed and how certain things take off, certain things don’t.” This being one of several dozen well-executed interests by Crew.

Moments prior to our conversation, I found myself scrolling through Google results for Amanda Crew: actress, photographer, blogger, hobbyist chef and tech-nerd fantasy woman. “Geez, is there anything she can’t do?” I wonder as I explore pages of her photography website with image after image of varying layouts and subject matter. Her baked goods alone are a feat to behold, I notice while scouting a scone recipe on her blog. 

Crew seems to have a knack for creative exploits, a keen eye for composition and a sweet tooth. The combination has resulted in a stunning, approachable woman, posing in couture on the roof of The Moment Hotel in Los Angeles, who somehow feels as down-to-earth and wholesome as she looks. She’s rendered nearly giddy over the couture dresses in bold pops of spring shades that hug and flatter her every angle. But even in a $4,500 Givenchy gown, with perfectly tousled hair and glowing skin, she’s warm and bubbly — never cold, like the modern-edge backdrops and architecture she’s posing in front of.

Perhaps it’s her childhood in British Columbia (she grew up in Langley, an hour outside of Vancouver, Canada) or her shy nature throughout adolescence that can be held accountable for her jovial, welcoming attitude. She originally pursued dance, and acting came as a natural progression in high school, leading to a professional acting class downtown in 12th grade where she was spotted by casting directors and agents. “And after that there was never a point where I was questioning, ‘Is this the direction I wanna go?’ It just seemed like a no-brainer,” she says, lifted with joy at the recounting. “But ... I auditioned for a year without booking anything, not even a commercial or girl in the hallway, so that first year was really hard because I believed that I could do it, but was constantly getting the door shut in my face,” she says, identifying with the tribulations associated with her craft. “And then finally, you get that first part and then it just kind of kept going from there.” 

Since then, she has appeared in over 30 television shows and films including She’s the Man, Charlie St. Cloud, Crazy Kind of Love and “Suits” before landing “Silicon Valley,” the role she has taken into an authentic realm as proof by a launch party for Season 1 held in the aforementioned region: “There were quite a few women who came up to me and they’re like ‘Oh my God, my job is exactly what you do, like nailed it.’”

But like her beginnings into the craft of acting, her passion is rooted in other creative exploits. More of a Renaissance woman, really, Crew has a feverish energy for life, shared through her foray into the fields of photography, baking and writing; skills that may have begun as divergent crafts but have been polished into progressive art forms. “This industry is so highs and lows and it’s a roller coaster that you just are not driving the train; it is just going and you kind of have to stay on for the ride ... I just felt creatively like I didn’t have control over my career ... so I started playing around with different things and made it a goal to figure out what else do I love to do, and what else can I pick up and put down in between jobs, and that’s where the photography came from.”

Her site, amandacrewphotography.com, is filled with this exploration of people, places and things. She has a compositional eye that’s parts fine art and function with a quick fleeting framework of a Life photojournalist. It’s breathtaking and ever-maturing. There’s one photo that catches my eye: “Post No Bills.” The gritty, raw nature of the image — made apparent by the stamped signage on the walls shot on 35mm film in New York with the deep green of a city wall ombre — says everything. There’s a woman in the right-hand corner, talking on a cell phone. A touch of crisp white glows from her shirt. To my delight, a print copy is for sale.

There are hundreds of women who covet Crew’s point of view, substantiated by her blog, “Granny Girls,” that she started with her best friend, actress Amber June Borycki. The name references their passion for “granny” things like crafting, décor, DIY, baking, cooking, etc., born out of what they call “granny dates” — a night in doing crafts, wearing aprons and baking pies. “It’s kind of on pause right now cause [Amber] just had a little baby girl and so she’s obviously busy with that. And I’m busy with the show and everything,” she says, with a sweet, proud tone. “But what was so great about that was this love for food styling and food photography that I didn’t even know I liked. So it’s just kind of neat when you can explore different areas and you never know what you’re gonna find that sticks for you.”

And through this, she has become a Southern girl at heart. After falling in love with Nashville, Tenn., while on the set of a film (“You know, everyone was so polite!”) and spending time in Austin, Texas, and New Orleans, she wants to explore more into the southlands where the charming nature of life mimics the hand-dipped napkins, fresh jams in Mason jars, floral arrangements and endless supply of baked goods that prosper in her home. “Sometimes I dream about moving to some countryside place, having my little farmhouse and just baking and having people over and going in the forest,” she says, sighing. “I grew up ... right in between farmland and the city ... I need a little bit of stimulation of the city, but not too much, and I also need the quietness of the countryside ... I just love that lifestyle. The slower pace and homemade things: family and friends and community.”