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Lights, Camera, Action: Four N.C. Locals Making Hollywood News

October 16, 2018

When the Emmys aired live last month, there were four faces in the audience that are familiar to a certain part of North Carolina. That’s because all four once called the Triangle area of N.C. home sweet home. Are you familiar with these famous locals? Amy Sedaris, Evan Rachel Wood, and brothers Matt and Ross Duffer (creators of Netflix’s hit “Stranger Things”) were all nominated for Emmys, have been making waves in Hollywood, and spent their formative years in N.C.

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athomeamysedaris.jpgImage courtesy of Amazon. 

Who: Amy Sedaris

Where: Raleigh, N.C.

Latest Project: “At Home With Amy Sedaris”

Amy Sedaris was born in Endicott, New York, but grew up in Raleigh, N.C. Her latest project (that earned her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series) is truTV’s “At Home with Amy Sedaris.” In a 2017 interview with The News & Observer, Sedaris shares that her show isn’t officially set in Raleigh but contains references to the “Research Triangle” area. Her show also pays homage to two local N.C. shows.

“‘Growing up we had the “At Home with Peggy Mann” and the Bette Elliott show,’ Sedaris said, referencing two locally produced homemaking shows that ran here in the 1950s through the ’70s. Mann’s show aired on WTVD from 1954 to 1980 and Elliott was on WRAL’s “Femme Fare” from 1962 to 1975.

‘They were women who had hospitality shows, and that’s what inspired the whole thing,’ Sedaris continued. ‘I contacted Peggy Mann’s son – she had passed away – and he had one tape left of his mom’s show, because in those days they just taped over all the VHSes and stuff. And so now it’s on YouTube, so I was able to watch one episode – and it was everything that I remembered.’”

You can catch the first season of “At Home with Amy Sedaris” on truTV and Amazon Prime. A second season was announced in April of this year, but the air date has yet to be revealed.

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evanrachelwoodimdb.jpgImage courtesy of IMDB. 

Who: Evan Rachel Wood

Where: Raleigh, N.C.

Latest Project: “Westworld”

Born and raised in Raleigh, N.C, Evan Rachel Wood wanted her own child to have the kind of life she had growing up, away from the stress of L.A. She eventually chose nearby Tennessee to give her son, Jack, roots. But North Carolina is on still on her mind. In a 2016 article with Architectural Digest, she shared how she wants to bring N.C. into her home.

“I did my time in L.A., and now I’m back in the South with chairs on my porch. When people come over to my house, they comment on how it looks and smells very earthy—it smells like a campfire in my house. I grew up in North Carolina and lived in the woods, kind of the middle of nowhere, so I got very connected to nature very early. I like to look at the trees, and I never feel alone in that setting.”

While the Wild West world of robotics is far removed from Raleigh and the surrounding areas, some of her upbringing can be seen in “Westworld” – particularly on horseback. Wood has been riding since her childhood in N.C., which serves her well for some of the stunts she has to perform in her Emmy-nominated role. As she told Entertainment Weekly earlier this year:

“I’ve been riding since I was a kid. Because of that they put me on one of the slowest horses — you really have to kick to get him to go, because they know otherwise I’d just go [too fast]. They asked me, ‘Do you think you can ride a horse without hands and fire a gun?’ You’re pretty much not using your hands much anyway. But it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.”

Catch up with Wood and “Westworld” on HBO, or your preferred on-demand service.

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Who: The Duffer Brothers, Matt and Ross

Where: Durham, N.C.

Latest Project: “Stranger Things”

Twins Matt and Ross Duffer were born and raised in Durham, N.C. Known professionally as the Duffer Brothers, the pair references their halcyon childhood days in 1980s N.C. in their projects. Though their Netflix hit “Stranger Things” is set in Indiana, the pair sprinkle in Durham-related Easter eggs for keen-eyed locals to find.

The News & Observer collected a few of their Durham references after season two of the hit show premiered.

“The most obvious references for those who live in the Triangle are the Eno River in Durham and Jordan Lake in Chatham County.

During a turning point in the story, Bob Newby (a new character in “Stranger Things 2” who dates Joyce Byers, Will’s mom) name drops the two bodies of water.

‘And if that’s Lake Jordan, then you can probably find ... the Eno River,’ Bob says.

Durham natives and residents probably caught the references to Mt. Sinai, Cornwallis and Kerley roads, and the neighborhood Lochn’ora quicker than other North Carolinians.”

In a 2016 article with IndyWeek, the brothers recount how their time in N.C. inspired their current work.

“Brothers Matt and Ross Duffer still vividly remember growing up on the Orange County line, in the suburbs of Durham. Each ‘sticky, humid summer,’ when they were on break from Duke School, they'd make a movie with their friends.

‘Some of our fondest memories are of the movies we made during the fourth grade,’ Matt says. ‘They're rough, but it was the most fun we ever had. A lot of what we do is trying to recapture what we had growing up.’"

Looking for an early Halloween binge? “Stranger Things” is available on Netflix for your viewing pleasure. (Let us know if you catch any Durham references missed here!)

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