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The Envelope

Carrie Brownstein juggles writing, a band and acting in TV and film

Carrie Brownstein defines multitasking with 'Portlandia,' 'Transparent,' Sleater-Kinney and the film 'Carol'

She stars on "Portlandia," writes and creates the show. Her band, Sleater-Kinney, got back together, recorded a new album and went on tour. You may have seen her on "Transparent" too. She has a memoir being published in the fall and a small role in the upcoming Todd Haynes movie, "Carol."

Carrie Brownstein hasn't made much time for a vacation this year, but she did make time to chat with The Envelope recently. Here's a portion of that conversation.

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So you're writing "Portlandia" Season 6 right now?

Yes.

Season 5 saw longer episodes. Was that the challenge, to do something different?

Exactly. I think we were really drawn to character — we've done the other thing. And there's a lot of amazing sketch shows out there right now. We've always wanted to feel like the form is elastic. That you can kind of do whatever you want. I mean, the word "variety," the word "sketch," those are sort of mutable terms — and they can be very broad in their definition. So we just decided to make these 22-minute stories that followed the same characters. And Season 6 will be sort of 2.0 of that.

[Co-creator Fred Armisen] said maybe focus a little bit more on the Fred and Carrie characters?

Yeah. Last year we did a lot of full episodes about the feminist bookstore owners, Tony and Candace. About Anita and Lance. And I think, yeah, who we left out a little bit were Carrie and Fred. So there's a lot of Carrie and Fred this year.

Tony and Candace, we got to see some dance moves from them, didn't we?

Yes, we did. Thanks for calling that dancing.

And then "Transparent," you said you're going back and shooting that?

Because of the disparity in terms of, you know, subject matter and tone, character, everything is pretty much different. I'm able to vacillate between the two and, well, I hope I am. I did it last year. And I'm very excited to go back and delve further into the character Syd and her relationship with Ally. And I love Jill Soloway so much, and I'm very proud of my work on "Transparent" and very happy to be part of a show that just seems very incendiary.

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And you knew Jill?

We'd kind of been circling around each other. We were mutual fans of each other's work, and we met in Silver Lake and just talked about how she wanted to find a way to include me in the show. And she ended up writing the character of Syd with me in mind, which is very flattering and just an honor that she would trust a part of me that really hadn't been on display in terms of performance and character. It was a really great experience.

That's what's been kind of exciting about following a few years of your career: You get these opportunities that are so different from anything you've done before.

Yeah. They all feel like part of who I am. And there's not a sense of it being too disparate or too schizophrenic. I've always had the urge to perform. I've always been an observer — and used performance and writing as a way of connecting with other people. And I feel the commonality between all the things I've been lucky enough to do is that people feel a sense of ownership over them. They feel a sense that they're being seen. They feel like they're just kind of in the conversation. Certainly with "Portlandia," with Sleater-Kinney, even "Transparent" is a show like that, where it just feels like it's a collective experience. And I think that that's a really great way to be in the world.

Twitter: @GlennWhipp

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