From Extraordinary to Extra Extraordinary. The Bridget Everett

Two plus decades later and her big break is here. The inspiring story we've been waiting for.

By Sophia Strawser
Photography by Andrew Egan

We — the collective streaming service consumer — love a success story. A mere pilot in and we’re rooting alongside the lead as they achieve a long sought-after goal. In the HBO series, “Somebody Somewhere,” the viewer gets just that. Sam, played by Bridget Everett, is on a quest for happiness while living in her hometown after the death of her sister. Loosely based on Everett’s own life, the show is heartbreaking, funny, and hauntingly relatable. Just as inspiring is Everett’s 20+ year journey to industry breakthrough: From waitress to cabaret performer to HBO leading lady.

Everett is as close to the definition of happy-go lucky as they come. She’s hilarious, charismatic, and holds an intense empathy for others. She arrived on set accompanied by her dog Lulu. Her first question: “How can I help?”

As the makeup team began their work, Everett nursed the coffee she brought from home while I peppered her with questions on life, success, and her new hit show.

Everett attended Arizona State University on a full scholarship where she studied vocal performance — opera, to be exact. After graduating, she waitressed at the original P.F. Changs in Scottsdale, sang the national anthem at local baseball games, and frequented the local karaoke bar. During the summer, she lived and performed at the Quisisana Resort in Maine (think “Dirty Dancing”). “All the other actors were from NYC so I was like, ‘should I move to NYC?’ And then I did.”


And just like that, the girl from Manhattan, Kansas found her way to Manhattan, New York. Waitressing at Ruby Foo’s on the Upper West Side, she quickly fell into a familiar pattern; serving tables during the week and singing at karaoke bars every Sunday night. But it was in the iconic drag bars of the Village where Everett honed her cabaret skills. In fact, it was in one of those bars where she met the renowned drag king Murray Hill, who later became a co-star in “Somebody Somewhere.” When they met, Hill asked Everett a simple question: “What do you do?”


“I waitress,” she replied.

“No, but what do you do?” he persisted.

“I sing.”

That simple moment of truth set her career path. She began putting together her own cabaret shows featuring many of her beloved drag queen friends, as well as Broadway icons like Patti LaPone. “The drag and trans community took me under their wing and gave me a shot,” she said.

The first song she ever wrote, “At Least it’s Pink,” was a little ditty about her vagina. Sitting in the make up chair, coffee still in hand, Everett broke out into song, flying through the lyrics without skipping a beat.

Everett’s songs slowly evolved into full shows and full shows led her to opportunities like opening for Amy Schumer, and the 2015 Comedy Central TV special, “Gynecological Wonder.” That same year, she said goodbye to waitressing forever. “Once I quit waitressing and took a chance on myself, that’s when everything opened up for me. There comes a time where you need to jump off the cliff and fly.”

“Somebody Somewhere” — which just dropped its second season — parallels points in Everett’s life. “Struggles with grief, my relationship with singing, how easy it is to give up on yourself but then friends come in and save you,” she said.

Though the pilot filmed in 2019, Covid pushed the filming of the rest of season one into 2021; cast and crew kept the momentum going into 2022 with the production of the second season. “The show is very reflective of me, so I’m glad people like it. If they didn’t, I’d probably be locked in my closet right now.” The joke’s on Everett. We saw quite a bit of her closet during the Ac Magazine shoot and I can say, without a doubt, that’s a fabulous place to be stuck.

Because the show filmed outside of Chicago, I asked if it was refreshing to take a break from NYC. Everett smirked. “Living in NYC is like a long-term marriage. Sometimes you’re not as horny as you once were, so you get away for a few weeks and then you’re ready to pound it.” (MANhattan blushes intensely).

She and her costar Jeff Hiller had never worked together, which seems surprising given their dynamic onscreen chemistry. Everett’s acting is a 10 out of 10 as she maneuvers heavy topics and quick-witted remarks all within the same scenes. She’s not only the lead actor, but also a writer and producer. The show creators, Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen, worked together on the comedy circuit for nearly 20 years before embarking on this project. Both seasons boast a wildly talented cast, including Mary Catherine Garrison, Mike Hagerty, and Danny McCarthy, along with brilliant directors, Jay Duplass, Robert Cohen, and Lennon Parham.

Colorful dress

These accolades have meant the world not only to Everett but also to her mother. “My mother believed in me from the very beginning. She always thought I was a star from when I was a little girl. Even when it was a small
accomplishment she was over the moon. It was all equal to her, but I’m truly grateful that my mom got to see me reach this level of success.” That measurement of success is owed, in part, to the way the show turns a spotlight on much needed LGBTQ representation and how it showcases grief in a new and vulnerable way, all while highlighting the incredible beauty and talent of its leading lady.

What’s next for the HBO star? A confirmed and much sought after third season of “Somebody Somewhere,” more singing, and potentially a Pomeranian rescue farm in upstate NY. The latter may have been a joke, but I’ve already mentally planned a visit.

On behalf of every still-trying-to-make-it actor, every I’m-not-doing-what-I-want-to-be-doing lost soul, and every I’m-coming-back-to-what-bringsme-joy jaded person, thank you Bridget Everett for being our inspiration. You’re the reason we keep on fighting. You are and always have been a successful somebody, somewhere.

Check out “Somebody Somewhere” on HBO.