Lisa Ann Walter of ‘Abbott Elementary’ on the Show She’ll Never Forget

It was a Monday morning in Los Angeles and Lisa Ann Walter had the day off from “Abbott Elementary,” the ABC sitcom about an underfunded public school in Philadelphia.

But that didn’t mean she wasn’t working.

The Season 3 premiere was a little more than a week away, and even though Walter knew where her character — the veteran second-grade teacher Melissa Schemmenti — was headed, she would divulge only that “there are changes. Big changes.”

But there were plenty of other things to discuss: Her stand-up tour. A movie script she’d written during the pandemic. A project that’s an animated series about a single mom of teenage boys called “Bitter.” The $1 million she’d bagged for the Entertainment Community Fund on “Celebrity Jeopardy!” The playoff dinner the night before that began with a pot of chili and ended up a smorgasbord.

“I go overboard,” she said in a video call.

Then there’s the project she’s doing with her bestie Elaine Hendrix — she couldn’t talk about that either — who played Meredith to Walter’s Chessy on “The Parent Trap” some 25 years ago.

“Elaine and I can’t go anywhere together without people losing their minds,” Walter said before talking about the origin story of “Outlander,” her fixation on muscle cars and kissing during bar trivia. “I always used to say I don’t really have to do anything else with my career.”

These are edited excerpts from the conversation.


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I think Emma Thompson is a genius with the screenplay. It’s Alan Rickman at his finest. It evokes enough of that period, the lushness and quietness, that it’s genuinely that article. But it’s modern enough where it resonates — that need to find your person.

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