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‘Not Dead Yet’ Actress Lauren Ash Unpacks Her Character’s Snooty Behavior and the Backlash She Got for Losing Weight

The actress tells TheWrap her Lexi character on the ABC comedy has a few daddy issues shaping her personality

Actress Lauren Ash is a thief. Before you call the cops, it’s scenes that this “Not Dead Yet” star is stealing. Every scene she is in — whether on this ABC sitcom or her last one, NBC’s “Superstore” — she owns. And rightfully so. Her privileged, pretentious Lexi has some daddy issues to sort out in order to break through that haughty shell of hers.

In this week’s “Not Dead Yet,” Ash’s Lexi conducts the employees’ yearly performance review at the SoCal Independent, revealing that she’s not as uncaring as many (aka most) people think she is. And when it comes to the bad personal relationship habits she has learned from her father, well, sometimes they work like magic — when she wants to get back at him.

“Lexi’s father continually and consistently lets her down. I think it’s probably the most significant relationship in her life,” Ash told TheWrap. “it’s definitely the relationship that has molded her into who she is. As we continue to learn more, I think it really humanizes her as a character, as a character that could easily just be, you know, the comedic relief that comes in and says something that’s out of touch with the world and ridiculous and whatever. It shows that there is a lot more layers to the character, which is super exciting and fun as an actor. One of the big things that drew me to this character that I really love about playing her is that there’s so much going on beneath the surface. She’s not a two-dimensional caricature.”

Lauren Ash Not Dead Yet
Lauren Ash stars in “Not Dead Yet” (ABC)

Granted, her putdowns can cut like a knife, but the people that work for Lexi know that’s just the way she is. And Ash believes that in Lexi’s mind, she’s not being malicious or nasty at all. “She’s just calling you out for what she believes is a perceived weakness or foible. And of course it’s horrifying, but I don’t think that she really connects to how bad it is because again, that was her experience. Hurt people hurt people.”

That snootiness has, in a way, become a shield to hide her insecurities and keep people at a distance. “I kind of believe that she subconsciously has developed these expectations as a security blanket,” Ash said. “You know, like the reason why she is the way she is, is because she’s masking deep insecurity and fear and feeling like she doesn’t belong and worrying that no one likes her. So, because she grew up in insane opulence and misguiding, she unfortunately was raised to believe that you have to lead with your money and your wealth and being better than other people in order to try and make yourself feel worthy. When in reality, we all know that that is the number one way to turn anybody off.”

Sitcom-loving fans might also recognize Ash’s voice from her last big primetime gig as Dina, that intense no-nonsense assistant store manager at Cloud 9 on “Superstore.” You may not, however, recognize Ash at sight. For the six-year run of the show, Dina had dark hair always pulled back in a tiny flipped ponytail, relegated to a uniform of  khakis and a blue polo shirt, and was heavier in size. Lexi is literally none of the above. Lexi is blonde, wears nothing but designer clothes — and Ash is considerably slimmer and more feminine. One could say, Ash has become a bit of a hottie.

Lauren Ash stars in "Superstore"
Lauren Ash stars in “Superstore” (NBC)

“Well, you know, I personally think I’ve always been a hottie, but yeah,” Ash grinned. “It’s like, you saw a snapshot of my life for a period of time that was, unfortunately, the most ill I’ve ever been. This transformation has just been about getting back to kind of what is my normal and what is my baseline and is right for where I need to be. I credit it to a lot of self-work, and removing negativity and toxicity and stress from my life.”

But there is more to the story than that. Much more. Ash suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), an endocrine disorder that has unpleasant side effects and requires frequent surgeries.

“It has plagued me for the last, probably, 10 years of my life, but the worst time in my life for my health was the six years I was on ‘Superstore,’” Ash said of the America Ferrara show that finished shooting in March 2021. “I was getting surgeries and was really struggling in trying to maintain my physical health. PCOS affects your hormones. There’s a lot of it that is out of your control. For me, really the last two years have been about a) getting my mental health in a great place, and b) getting my PCOS regulated. And when I did that, I dropped a significant amount of weight.”

The crazy part is that she was trashed for her new look. “I’ve got a lot of backlash on social media about people thinking and saying that I’ve betrayed them, that I’ve gone Hollywood, that I’ve done all these things,” Ash said. “But the reality of the situation is that the size that I’m at now is the size that I was at roughly on ‘Super Fun Night,’ which was my first show that I did when I first moved to the U.S. [in 2013].”

“Not Dead Yet” airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.