Q&A: Jane Krakowski Binges on Orange Juice -- and OJ Simpson

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Jane Krakowski.
Jane Krakowski. Credit: Startraks

It's 1 p.m. in Brooklyn and Jane Krakowski just hit her weekly vitamin C intake. Between shots for her new Trop50 spot — "the delicious orange juice with 50% less sugar" — Krakowski sat down with Ad Age to discuss her career, media and whether she can stomach another glass of juice.

How much orange juice have you had today?
I've definitely drunk one bottle so far. It's part of the job.

You recently hosted the Grey Centennial gala. How did you land that?
They just asked me, and I was billed as the star of Broadway, television and commercials (laughs), which was lovely. I started doing commercials before I was ever on TV shows or any other jobs, so I've had a long history of participating in commercials. I find it remarkable that I'm on my seventh year working with Trop50, which is rare and I'm very thankful for the long-term association I've had with Trop50.

How old were you when you started in TV commercials?
I was 10 or 11. I did so many products — bubble gum, Cling-Free. Is that still a product? They're like dryer sheets, but it's the alternate brand to Bounce (laughs). Funnily, Tina Fey actually used some of my real commercials because one night trolling the internet, she found some of my old commercials as a child and used them as Jenna's old commercials (in "30 Rock"). I had not seen the Cling-Free commercial since it was filmed and those things you hope don't come back around. Tina enjoyed it so much that she then used it on "30 Rock."

Do you have any favorite ads from childhood?
I did one of the very first video games where it was literally just black and white dots. But they made a full-fledged commercial for it. That's an absolute time capsule into the 80s. I did a lot of great ones. Bubblegum, McDonald's, GE. I'll be honest with you, people stop me more for Trop50 right now than the other work that I've done.

How did that start?
They called me and wanted a new campaign voice. When they called, I felt very lucky that they were up for collaborating with making a "character," so to speak. They call me Jane and I do play a heightened version of myself. Although the Jane in these commercials has much nicer apartments than I've ever had — in New York or California. They were incredibly collaborative on creating the character and humor of the spots. I feel that has a large part of why they're still on the air. It's been a character you can follow.

I'm sure you get plenty of requests for different campaigns. How do you choose which ones to pursue?
Well, I have great guidance from [my agent] Tim Curtis of WME — Wait, why'd you stop typing? No, I think you just have an instinct. Tropicana is a classic brand I've known. We drank it my whole childhood.

What's your media diet like?
Because I have a 6-year-old son, and from the day he was born I think streaming has been a friend of mine because I can watch it whenever I have the free time. I tend to watch TV at very erratic times of day. When I do catch up, it tends to be when I can fit it in.

Do you binge watch?
I do when I have the opportunity. The last thing I did that with, I watched the whole "O.J.: Made in America" in one weekend. It was a lot. I think I did like 95% of it in one day and then finished it the next morning. I was so intrigued with that and re-living that history. It was so well-made that I could not pull myself away from the television. But the last good show I watched was "The Crown." I can't wait for that to come back.

You're social media free?
I know, it's archaic or…genius. I don't know. It's definitely a rarity. I think it's more cool not to have any than start. I never got into it because I can barely get my emails and texting back to people in time. It was just another thing. Also, Tina Fey is not on social media either, so I didn't feel the need.

Do you have a favorite app?
I mean, let me check. I use Uber and Venmo. Those are my two most popular.

What do you do when you're not shooting?
Last year I did a Broadway show. This year I'm doing these commercials and an animated film. But because it happens to be summer, we'll be heading to the beach very soon, so I'll have some fun beach-filled days with my son. I'm lucky to get to spend some quality time with him during his summer break. When I was on network television, it was great because my schedule was literally a school schedule. We'd start end of August and finish end of May. I'd always have my summers free, which is a great luxury. Especially when you're a mom.

Jane Krakowski in an episode of Netflix's 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.'
Jane Krakowski in an episode of Netflix's 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.'  Credit: Netflix

Does that change now that you're on "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," for Netflix?
It basically means we can do the four or five months whenever we want to do them. We're not stuck to a time schedule of release.

Speaking of that show, if your character, Jacqueline, were in an ad campaign, what would it be for?
It'd have to be something super high-end. I would say it would be a local limousine company.

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