Los Angeles Local Legend Amy Rhodes
5 Lessons You Can Learn From Amy Rhodes
As a staff writer for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Amy Rhodes regularly rubbed elbows with A-listers and even took home an Emmy Award. However, it was her memorable appearances on the daytime talk show that made her an audience favorite. Her terrifying and hilarious expedition through a haunted house has over 15 million views on YouTube. Since working on “Ellen,” Rhodes has written and performed for television shows like the legal comedy “Bad Judge.”
Here are five key lessons you can learn from the life and career of this scene-stealing Local Legend.
Rhodes’ first job as a kid growing up in West Des Moines, Iowa, was a world away from Hollywood. “I worked at the Iowa State Fair every summer when I was in high school at a restaurant called Stockman's Inn,” the writer says. You could say that it was then that Rhodes got her very first taste of “stardom.” “There's a life-sized cow made out of butter that was a big attraction when I worked at the Iowa State Fair.” The fair’s famed dairy sculpture has been a fixture since 1911.
With numerous TV appearances to her credit, it’s no wonder Rhodes often gets recognized from her “Ellen” gig. But it still took her a while to get used to it. “It’s a bizarre thing...sometimes I'll just be out and someone will ask, ‘Are you Amy?’ I used to be confused by it, like, ‘Why do they know my name?’ Now I know why they’re asking. It’s mostly people wanting to take pictures for Instagram.”
But the strangest place she’s been approached by fans was at another superstar’s event. “The place I got recognized by the most people--and it was very flattering for me--was at a Beyoncé concert. There were so many people coming up to me!” Fame isn’t always glamorous, though. “The weirdest was when I was pumping gas, and a guy was like, ‘Are you the girl from “Ellen”?’ I was like, ‘Yeah.’” Perhaps she should start charging a tank of fuel for a photo.
Initially drawn to the unscripted, uncensored art form because it meant not having to memorize any lines, improv comedy became a way of life for Rhodes after she and a friend won a major competition in high school. “That hooked me,” she says. “I became the president of my improv troupe in college.” It’s not just about the laughter for her--Rhodes believes the principles of improv have helped her in ways that go far beyond her career in entertainment.
“There's a ‘say yes’ approach in improv. You're supposed to say yes to whatever your scene partner offers you,” she explains. “That's something I'm trying to do more in my actual life --say yes to things that I'm nervous to do, or nervous to try, or situations that I wouldn't normally put myself in. Improv has been a good experience for me to take into the real world. Just saying yes to more things.”
Rhodes’ faithful companion is a rescued three-year-old terrier mix and a total “Betty,” if you ask her. “I always say she's part Wire Fox Terrier and part Cher from ‘Clueless,’ because she's a little ditsy.” The dog’s namesake is another iconic movie character. “Her name is Gertie. She's named after Drew Barrymore’s character in ‘E.T.’ Rhodes neither confirmed nor denied she and Gertie are hiding an extraterrestrial in their home.
Millions of fans call him one of the world’s funniest people, but Rhodes used to just call Will Ferrell “boss.” Her first big break came when he and Oscar-winning screenwriter Adam McKay hired her as one of only four employees to help get their fledgling comedy website, Funny or Die, off the ground. She says, “Will was incredibly gracious and kind. To see someone who is that big of a celebrity behave that way—as just a very nice person--reminded me that you can always be nice, no matter who you are. And that you should always be nice, no matter who you are.”
Hear Amy Rhodes tell the story behind her famous haunted house video segment for “The Ellen Degeneres Show” on the Local Legends podcast, available on iTunes and Google Play.