By Rakhee Bhatt | October 19, 2016 | People
Encouraging creativity in today's youth is a cause personal to actor Max Greenfield. Now that the Emmy-nominated actor has two kids of his own, a six-year-old daughter and one-year-old son, nurturing the voices of a new generation is foremost in his mind when it comes to keeping the arts thriving in the Los Angeles school system. Thanks to Young Storytellers, a non-profit creative arts program, Greenfield is able bring those voices to life. Over the course of several weeks, volunteers in the organization help students create a short screenplay, which is then performed by celebrity actors on stage at it's annual fundraiser, The Biggest Show. In addition to Greenfield, this year's roster includes Seth Rogen, Jordan Peele, Busy Philipps, and Tony Hale.
Here we chat with Greenfield about the importance of boosting kids’ creativity through the Young Storytellers program, what's in store for Cece and Schmidt on New Girl this season, and the two LA restaurants he loves to go to with his family.
Why do you think the experience of Young Storytellers is vital to kids—particularly to kids at a young age?
MAX GREENFIELD: I think when you can encourage a child’s creative voice and give them allowance to express it, it’s invaluable—specifically what Young Storytellers does on a day-to-day basis with their mentorship. Imagine being a young kid who’s written a script and really put time and energy into it, has finished it and is proud of it, and at some point realizing that, “Oh yeah, Seth Rogen’s going to do a reading of it.” The incredible amount of encouragement you have at such a young age is just so special. I know Young Storytellers tends to serve to those that are underprivileged and to schools where their availability to programs like this is limited. It just opens the door for our community in general. I have two kids of my own, and you’re constantly trying to encourage a creative and self-confident voice. This just does it in such a direct way. I don’t think the majority of kids that age have the type of mentorship and encouragement that this program gives. This show will be my fourth, and every year seems to be more rewarding than the next.
What’s the process for bringing these stories to life?
MG: We show up not having read or seen anything, and meet the kids beforehand who have written the scripts. Once we’re on stage, they ask us to do a fun little audition process and then assign us roles. Then we get to perform it. It’s a great experience for the actors too because we see such a tremendous responsibility to the kids and their work and words—you see everybody just giving all of themselves to this. It results in some pretty amazing stuff on stage. I think the goal is to have these kids continue with their writing and development, and then to have them one day hire us when they get their own show or movie. That’s why I do it every year—I feel like I have to nurture my relationships (laughs).
Switching gears a bit, what can New Girl fans expect to see this season?
MG: Cece and Schmidt have bought a house and that seems like it’s going to be sort of the ongoing theme. They bought this house and it’s a real fixer upper, so they are staying in the loft while everyone gathers around them and helps to renovate the house. One would hope, for their sake, that by end of the season the house will be done and they’ll be able to move into their own place.
What do you think is Schmidt’s decorating style?
MG: Restoration Hardware on a budget.
Major props to the writers for holding a wedding last season and not revealing Schmidt’s name. Do you think that will ever happen?
MG: There was discussion that it may pop up, but it didn’t feel like that was the moment to do. I’m happy they decided to let it go and let the episode be what it was without that. I haven’t heard anything about a [reveal], eventually I would assume, but I feel like we should probably not do it at this point ever because it’s not going to live up to what you want it to be.
Now that you have a six-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son, where do you all hang out as a family?
MG: It’s really tough with their age spread because one is so mobile and wants to do everything, but the other one, god bless him, but boy does he slow us down (laughs). I love living in Los Angeles. We’re real big fans of LACMA. That’s a place you can go with everybody. We’re big fans of The Sycamore Kitchen on La Brea. Those same people own Odys + Penolope—they’ve taken over La Brea and I’m thrilled that they have. I feel like I could probably deal with just those two restaurants for the rest of my life and be happy.
What do you typically wear when fall rolls around to LA?
MG: It’s starting to get a little bit cold which is exciting. I feel like LA is very much about layers because you don’t know what the temperature is going to do. It could be freezing in the morning and then mid-day be 80, so you have to be able to peel off layers if need be. I’ll do a cardigan in real life but I usually throw it over a t-shirt. On the show I tend to throw it over a dress shirt and it takes me 45 minutes to button all my shirts. It's too many buttons.
Photography by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images; Vincent Sandoval/WireImage; FOX via Getty Images