Actress and comedian Jenny Slate, known for quirky and eclectic roles in movies and TV, has struggled with anxiety, something she delves into in a new book of personal essays, "Little Weirds." In an interview with "CBS This Morning" co-host Anthony Mason, Slate talked about that self-doubt and how she overcame setbacks.
"Shame is a language that I speak really well," she said. "I just think I've always felt like I'm not sure if my tones and my shape and my rhythms are right, and that maybe they're upsetting for people."
Shame was something she felt acutely after one uneven season on "Saturday Night Live" from 2009 to 2010, she said. "I knew I was going to be fired from 'SNL,' but I was just, like, kind of, waiting for them to fire me, which is, like, an incredibly degrading position to be in," she said. "Lucky for me, that failure came with another success."
Slate played Mona-Lisa Saperstein on "Parks and Recreation," appeared in movies including "Obvious Child" and "Gifted," and voiced characters in "Zootopia" and "The Secret Life of Pets." She created "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" with her then-husband. And, she now has her own Netflix comedy special, "Stage Fright," which shows off a confessional brand of comedy, with a tendency to overshare, that has become her signature.
"I feel sick and scared and incredibly doubtful," she said.
"So you have doubt, but it doesn't hold you back?" Mason asked.
"That's right," she said. "I can love people and they can love me even if I say the grossest thing that I've done or the hardest thing that I feel."
In "Little Weirds," released Tuesday, Slate says she went through a period of self-discovery and what she calls a "reckoning" over how she was treating herself.
"There was a moment where I felt that I had fallen apart," she said. "My own anxiety, which comes with a lot of artists … can be crueler to me than I would ever be socially ... or ever want to be towards myself."
"Why do you think that is?" Mason asked.
"I think it's a survival instinct … if you want to fit into your culture," she said. "At least for me, I find ways of not lying about who I am, but rounding the edges."
She took what she learned and put it into the book and her comedy special. "My work played an essential role because it helped me to take these things that seemed like a dead end or that they were unliftable and make them, like, really lighter than air and repurposed," she said.
She's also about to take another big step with writer and artist Ben Shattuck. The two got engaged in August.
"If my fiancé had asked me to marry him, like, two weeks in, I would have said, 'Yes,'" she said. "I really deeply, deeply admire him and love him. So much. A lot, all, completely. … And now I've landed in the right spot for me — with the dreamy person."