Julia Sherman: Hayley, play a key character on an Australian TV show, The Wrong Girl. Can you tell me a little bit about the character you play?
Hayley Magnus: I play a girl named Simone — a straight taking, creative mess who loves to drink and make poor choices in men.
JS: As a visual artist, I could always go to the studio and make my work, even if showing it and selling it was a struggle. Is it important to you that you balance your time between acting, an art form that requires an entire production to do, and other forms of art that you can do on your own?
HM: Acting is ephemeral — auditions last just minutes and it’s difficult to analyze your own performance objectively. However, when I paint or work with clay I end up with a physical product, tangible evidence that something good has happened. Similarly, when I read, I can quantify my progression at every turn of the page. I love to read, which is conveniently very good for my image.
JS: Well, then it’s a good thing your partner owns a bookstore! David, when did you start Family Books, and what is Family Books?
David Jacob Kramer: Family is a small bookstore specializing in artist’s books, zines, literature, and other assorted things. It’s a healthy outlet for a kind of unhealthy personal obsession, and fortunately, for a lot of artists and book-makers. I started it when I was 25 with some friends I went to high-school with. More people have joined us since, including your husband, Adam
JS: When did your love of books begin?
DJK: When I was a teenager I spent a lot of time in record stores and bookstores because they were one of the few places where a teenager was allowed to be. It was like a library, but better. You might discover a book or record that really blew your mind. I think we might be trying to recreate that sensation with Family. It’s a kind of pledge to our teenage selves, because that was the time that informed the kind of adults that we became.
JS: Why is it important that there still be brick and mortar bookstores?
DJK: I love bookstores. I think everyone does. The economics aren’t super easy, of course. But a bookstore is a place to hangout, it’s a cultural hub.
JS: I’m always interested in how people navigate the divide between their “professional” and their personal pursuits. Family Bookstore is, to some degree, supported by the you do as a Creative Director; it is even physically attached to your other office. Hayley, can you imagine “professionalizing” your visual art practice? Or would that ruin the fun of it? Is this divide something you sympathize with?
HM: I doubt my art practice will ever be more than great gifts for me to offer to friends who are obligated to pretend to enjoy them, unless I was offered money for them. I’ll do anything for money.
JS: [Laughs] Well that’s convenient! You have to do some crazy shit on-set. Is there actually anything glamorous about being an actress?
HM: It might ostensibly seem glamorous to have your hair and makeup done and your wardrobe meticulously curated. But what the audience can’t see, is that the costume designer has actually sewn you into that glamorous costume, and suggested you don’t consume liquids for the rest of the day. But I really do love the unglamorous parts. Recently I had to sit, fully clothed, in a public water fountain for a shoot, take after take. David suggested I should get testing for meningococcal disease.
JS: I think that’s sound advice! I know you love food, but do you love food as it exists in show biz? No matter how delicious, I would hate to eat on camera, especially if there was a spit bucket involved.
HM: Sometimes, if we there are multiple takes, a spit bucket is required. However, I often have to actually swallow the food on-camera. This week I ate 11 pieces of peanut butter on toast for a scene. The bread was fresh and hot so I didn’t mind, but it was a lot of toast.
JS: David, Hayley often makes salads for you to bring to work. We make fun of you sometimes because of it, but it’s actually very sweet. Is this an improvement from the way you ate before you two met?
DJK: That would be an understatement! Hayley’s salads are better than any salad I could buy. Beyond the quality of the food, takeout involves a lot of wasteful packaging. Hayley won’t use anything disposable, ever; If she finds a paper cup in my car I’m in trouble. She has never ever thrown out a jar. I think we have more recycled jars than books…
JS: Hayley, have you always enjoyed cooking? What role does food play in your life, and why do you love salad as much as I do?
HM: Cooking is alchemy! I am from a Jewish family where food is the Sun and we revolve around that alone. Salad is the underdog — it often conjures images of flaccid greens and pale tomatoes doused in bottled dressing unearthed from the depths of the fridge. But salad can be a warm bowl of roast vegetables with sheep’s feta and wilted kale, or a mountain of fresh herbs with toasty almonds and orange segments. Contrary to the popular adage, you can make friends with salad. But you know that.
JS: David, do you ever get sick of people telling you how lucky you are to have Hayley as your partner?
DJK: No, not even when Hayley is the one telling me.