Frangela is comedic duo formed from the genius of Frances Callier and Angela V. Shelton. They have appeared on such television shows as I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, VH1’s Best Week Ever, The Today Show, Dateline, and CNN’s Showbiz Tonight, among others. They have appeared on the film He’s Just Not That Into You and the Hulu exclusive improv series Quick Draw.
Frances has appeared solo on such shows as Hannah Montana, Curb Your Enthusiam, The Cleveland Show, and 2 Broke Girls to name a few. While Angela has hosted the regional Emmy award winning PBS series The Cheap Show, and appeared on Grounded for Life, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Girls Behaving Badly, and many other television shows. She has provided voice roles on videogames such as Spider Man 2, Ultimate Spider Man, Superman, and Reservoir Dogs. As well as appearing in the films Strange Wilderness, Mardi Gras, House Bunny, and voicing a role on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
The pair tour the United States performing their stand-up act. They were recently nominated “Best Female Performers” by NACA.
What was it like growing up where you did? What were you like as a child? What are some of your most fond memories from those days?
Angela: I grew up in Detroit, MI in a really cool neighborhood called Rosedale Park. We had block parties and my babysitter named Julie lived across the street. There was Cathy’s cheesecakes – still the best cheesecake I’ve ever had – and we used to walk to Dairy Queen in the summer. It really was a great time and neighborhood and I think not what people think of when they think of Detroit.
As to what I was like as a child, no one has ever asked me that before and I find it an oddly startling question to try to answer; it feels self-absorbed or something. I was a dork, went to very small hippieish private schools where we called the teachers by their first names, made our own rules, and we were encouraged to “design” our educational days. My happiest memories are again, not the memories I bet that most people would assign to a Black girl in Detroit. My stepfather’s family owns a cottage on Martha’s Vineyard and we went there in the summer. It was heaven. Martha’s Vineyard is like this magical place without racism where you could pick up hitchhikers and be gone all day as a kid without anyone being concerned. We still go now. And I loved sledding. My stepdad and I would try to hit people with our super cool orange space engineered toboggan, it was glorious; those were the days.
Frances: I grew up on the West Side of Chicago. I was EXTREMELY curious and couldn’t wait to go to new places and try new things. I remember seeing someone use a wok on tv to cook when I was nine. I MADE my mother order me one and the second I got it I read all I could on Asian food and started cooking. I read everything I could get my hands on. My parents couldn’t effectively punish me because going to my room to read was a TREAT!
How did the two of you first meet? Did you take an instant liking to one another or have you grown on each other over time?
Angela: We met at Second City in Chicago when we both worked there. The first time we hung out we went to a movie and that was that – we’ve been best friends ever since and people always think we’ve known each other since we were kids or that we’re related.
Frances: Angela had just moved into my building after relocating from Detroit and Toronto Second City to the Chicago Second City. We bumped into each other on the stairs and she asked if I wanted to catch a movie sometime and I said yes. We laughed so hard and it was so effortless and we’ve been best friends ever since.
What do you think are the key ingredients to a lasting friendship?
Angela: Laughter and appreciating every part of your friend and yourself, even all those annoying little habits, love ‘em and make fun of them as often as possible.
Frances: Humor, Respect, Love, and a little willingness to be crazy together. Neither one of us is looking to change the other person.
Are there any little known things about you that your fans might be surprised to learn
Angela: We don’t always agree. We constantly twin speak in an eerie way, but in fact, we don’t agree about a lot of things. We respect each other and we somehow enjoy disagreeing as much as we do our natural harmony. Also, people think they should be afraid of me, it’s that little one you should watch, I know.
Frances: That Angela is nine inches taller than Frances. Frances’ first name is Eleanor. We improvise a lot of our material in the moment.
When did you first become interested in comedy?
Angela: I’d always loved Saturday Night Live and in Detroit we got Canadian TV so I loved SCTV but I never thought I’d be an actor or go into comedy. When they opened a Second City in Detroit I decided to audition, just decided to right then – that was the first time I thought about being an actor. It was in the year after I graduated from college and I didn’t know what I wanted to do yet so I auditioned at Second City, applied to graduate school for history and to the Peace Corps. I got accepted into all 3 on the same day and chose Second City.
Frances: In high school my English teacher Mr. Oates would let me do a tight 10 before class every day. He directed all the school plays and started picking comedic ones that he could cast me in. We finally did a comedy show and he turned to me one night and said, “You should go to Second City and take classes.” So I did and it changed my life.
When did you know it was something you wanted to pursue as a career?
Angela: When I saw the advertisement in the Detroit paper for the open call auditions. I had never dreamed of it before. My mother always thought I should be an actor and she wanted me to major in theater in college. I thought that it would be a waste of her money to study acting so I made a much more solid economical choice: Haitian history.
Frances: When I saw Whoopi Goldberg’s one woman show on TV. I said to myself, ” I want to do that. I want to make people feel something incredible when I perform.”
How did it feel when The Cheap Show won an Emmy? Did you ever imagine that would happen?
It was a regional Emmy, but it still counts(smiles). I didn’t even consider the possibility. It was a show that was literally made because they had left over budget for one season. It was a lot of fun and great experience. I didn’t even know it was eligible for any awards until we got it.
Did you enjoy having the chance to voice Evelyn “Cookie” Brown on The Cleveland Show?
Frances: I LOVED it! Mike Henry (Cleveland) was an ABSOLUTE joy to work with. The table reads were always hilarious and I never minded waiting a bit on record days because I would get the chance to meet and chat with people like Will.I.AM. and Carl Reiner.
You both also work from time to time providing voice overs. How does that differ most from your usual work?
Angela: I LOVED doing our cartoon Hey Monie together because we wrote those characters and the stories, then we got to improvise too playing best friends. Voice over is great because there is no hair and makeup or spanks involved, unless you’re just into that and do it anyway. I love the video games – I got to say “I would have gotten away with it to if it hadn’t been for you darn kids” or whatever the phrase was for Scooby Doo, what’s not to love?
Frances: We still improvise and write on our feet. It’s fun and different comedy muscle.
What do you love most about working in the field of comedy?
Angela: The best feeling in the world for me is when I can make someone laugh at a moment when they didn’t think they could at all. When you can literally turn a bad day into a great laugh? It seriously feels like magic.
Frances: I love that audience is our boss at work and we get a moment to moment review of work based on their reaction.
What was it like to work on Quick Draw? Any stories from the set you might be at liberty to share with our readers? Is there any word on if there will be a season 3 yet?
Angela: I don’t know about upcoming seasons, but for the record, best set I’ve ever worked on! Nancy Hower and John Lehr are the coolest, smartest, funniest, best producers ever! They are so open and fun and they create the best environment for improvising and having a blast while you’re allegedly working. They are also masters at getting us to say yes to things without giving us all of the information. They actually got me on a horse. A big, terrifying, allergen with huge death dealing legs. And they recently got us on a boat, and one of us, I won’t say who (it’s Frances) is not a “boat person.” They are so cool they’re like the kind of people that make sitting on a dung covered hill on a freezing morning seem like a vacation and I can’t wait to work with them again and again and again!
Frances: Quick Draw is a great show to work on because the producers have created this great playground of the a wild west and we get to dress up and go for it in this bygone world.
What do you think is key to a life well lived?
Angela: This will not shock you – laughter and the courage to fail, screw up, succeed, get lost, get found, win or lose.
Frances: Laughing. The ability to laugh when times are good and bad. The ability to laugh at yourself and with others.
As someone who deals with Lupus on a daily basis, have you found that work and friendships go a long way in helping you cope with the issues that come with chronic illness in general? What advice would you offer to other dealing with similar things in their own lives?
Angela: It is really important to have people to advocate for you in life, and I think in situations that involve your health it is of paramount importance. It can be hard for me to ask for what I need sometimes and Frances always steps in and does it when I’m feeling concerned about being difficult because I can’t wear the makeup person’s makeup or I’ll have a reaction etc. I’m pretty new to this illness and I’m more in the need advice place than give it, but so far I can say for me I just have to remind myself that there’s a reason I’m hurting, or tired and fighting it won’t work, it will only make it worse. I haven’t gotten to a place where I am managing my symptoms as effectively as I would like, but I know I will one day and until then I’m trying to not put so much pressure on myself to push through something I just can’t push through.
What do you love most about working together?
Angela: Working together (smiles). We talk all day and it makes it so much easier to do that when we were both at the same place, it’s just more convenient.
Frances: Most best friends have to wait until they get home to call each other to gossip about their day. Mine is right there on stage with me (smiles).
What projects are your working on at the moment?
Angela: Waiting on a movie we did last summer to come out, doing a college standup tour, a pilot, and writing and pitching, just being in that actor/writer hustle. We’ve been back on The Stephanie Miller show fairly regularly recently which is great because they are amazing and we missed it. We really miss our little tiny radio show that could. Saturday and Sunday afternoons and we actually got ratings! And it was political news talk radio – which I miss having in my work life.
Frances: Right now we are writing a film script, touring colleges like crazy and keeping up on all our favorite pop culture.
Do you have a dream project you’d most like to bring into existence before your time is done?
Angela: Oh yes…a few. I will share one – a series of action/horror/thrillers called Frances and Angela Save Frances and Angela. For example, Frances and Angela Save Frances and Angela in…(fill in the blank with like space/under the sea/ in Florida)
Frances: To have films produced starring us.
What are your feelings on life and death and what comes after? How do you hope to be remembered when your own time comes?
Angela: That’s huge! Love life, not a fan of death at all and frankly I’m not convinced it’s necessary. I’d like to be remembered with people laughing, like even if they’re crying, they are also laughing, and as a good friend.
Frances: I have seen a lot of people die in my life, I know it’s coming, so I don’t worry about it. I really try to live and love in the moment by making sure that the people that I love know it always. I also try do the things that me happy. I want to be remembered as great mom, wife, and friend (also, if people said, “Damn! That bitch was funny!” that wouldn’t hurt either).
What advice would you offer the women of today and of tomorrow in regards to living life to the fullest?
Angela: If possible, leave things (people, places, everything) better than you found them. When you don’t take care with people it’s incredibly hard to shake the guilt, it’s like an albatross around your neck.
It’s never too late to turn, there’s gotta be a way to do whatever you want to do, just keep coming up with options until you find what works. Most importantly, never let anyone else determine what you’re capable of,how you’re going to behave, or feel about yourself.
Frances: There are no invitations to your life. It’s yours, you just have to claim it.
Is there anything you’d like to say before you go?
Angela: Even the coolest jobs are work and take time, energy, effort, sacrifice, focus, and a lot of support. Never get too big for your britches and find a way to laugh as often as possible.