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Hannah Einbinder (‘Hacks’) and Jana Schmieding (‘Rutherford Falls’): From stand-ups to Emmy contenders

Hannah Einbinder and Jana Schmieding landed plum roles in two of this year’s most buzzed-about comedy series: “Hacks” and “Rutherford Falls.” For each this marks a first foray into acting after years of toiling as a stand-up comic. And each is paired with a veteran performer in their acclaimed new shows. Einbinder spars with Emmy darling Jean Smart while Schmieding is stealing scenes from Ed Helms. Though their shows may be streaming on different services — HBO Max and Peacock respectively — they share the same executive producer: Michael Schur (“Parks and Recreation,” “The Good Place”).

Einbinder plays Ava, a young comedy writer who, after a Twitter controversy, lands the only job she can find: writing for legendary stand-up comic Deborah Vance (Smart). In Entertainment Weekly, Kristin Baldwin observed, “Einbinder is immensely appealing as Ava. With her precision timing and bored California drawl, the actress brings such compelling confidence to her entitled, condescending character that it’s all the more effective when Ava finally begins to face some hard truths about herself.” And Einbinder was described by the New York Times scribe Jason Zinoman as  “a comedian on the cusp.”

Two years ago, Einbinder was named a New Face of Comedy at Montreal’s prestigious Just For Laughs comedy festival and was highlighted as one of Vulture’s “Comics to Watch.” She has opened for the likes of Chelsea Handler, Dana Gould, Demetri Martin and Reggie Watts.

PREDICT the Emmy nominees until July 13.

Schmieding plays Reagan Wells whose lifelong friendship with town scion Nathan Rutherford (Helms) is tested. Nathan is determined to keep a statue of his forefather in place while Reagan struggles to balance her loyalties to her pal and her people. James Poniewozik of the New York Times called her character “the fulcrum of all the tensions” and dubbed Schmieding “an out-of-the-box charismatic star.” And Caroline Framke of Variety lauded Schmieding’s performance, saying this neophyte actress exudes “warm charm.”

Schmieding is a Lakota Sioux who has used her comedy to raise awareness of Native issues and bring Native stories to mainstream audiences. She is working on both sides of the camera for “Rutherford Falls.” She is a staff writer and involved in ensuring that the show is an authentic representation of Native people. She also advocates for body justice and presided over the acclaimed “Woman of Size” podcast. One of her guests had been “Rutherford Falls” co-creator Sierra Teller Ornelas.

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