Miriam Shor and I are playing a game of chicken.
It’s a cold February afternoon, the kind of day where snowflakes sometimes fall unexpectedly as they did earlier during the photoshoot on the outdoor terrace at The Out NYC in Midtown Manhattan. Shor is about to leave on vacation with her family, and she can’t get sick, which is why the covered spa area next door is a much-needed oasis. And having just modeled the spring off-the shoulder trend in winter weather, the two hot tubs look mighty enticing.
“I’ll take my clothes off if you do,” Shor teases, though her deadpan delivery makes it hard to tell if she’s kidding.
“I’ll do it,” I say cautiously, glancing down at the warmth and safety of my wool tights and pencil skirt.
We both pause for a moment—unsure whether stripping down to our drawers is what we signed up for. Then we come up with a solution: She can wear the romper from the shoot and and I can remove my stockings, and we can both dangle our legs in the water.
“I haven’t shaved in a while,” I say as I dip my feet in.
“Oh please,” Shor quips, “Look at my toes.”
It’s her sense of humor and her ability to find an upside to everything that make Shor relatable. She’s not afraid to put her imperfections on display—unlike her character Diana Trout on Younger. Shor plays the high-maintenance and demanding boss of Sutton Foster’s Liza, a 40-year-old masquerading as a 26-year-old, at a New York publishing company on the TV Land series, which will have its series finale on March 23. “I’ve never had a boss like that, and I come from crazy Hollywood land!” Shor says with a laugh, adding that she admires her character’s strong personality and high standards she holds for herself and everyone around her.
“The thing where Diana and I really differ,” she continues, “is I try to be nice to people because I feel like we’re all just trying to get through the same day. I don’t quite understand people who exert energy being assholes. It’s so much easier to be nice. It’s also so much more fun.”
While Shor doesn’t consider herself very knowledgeable in the fashion arena, she does love playing dress up on Younger and working with costume designer Patricia Field. She jokes that whenever she dresses herself she just picks up whatever’s on the floor. (Although, again, it’s hard to tell if she’s joking.)
Her go-to look? A romper or a jumpsuit. “When I had babies and realized they were making onesies for adults, I was like ‘That’s amazing!’” says Shor, who has two young daughters. Luckily, we featured some great one-piece looks in the shoot. “I love it! I think they’re flattering, comfortable,” she says. “If I could get a hybrid that’s somehow also pajamas and jeans, I would never take it off.”
As she speaks—with a joke or a quip every other sentence—it’s hard to believe that Shor was once shy in high school, and she remembers covering up her anxiety with adventurous fashion choices. “As I was sort of becoming a woman, I was kind of courting the idea of what that meant by pushing against that and trying to make myself look ugly on purpose,” she says, recalling a lot of black and safety pins. “Because that takes the pressure off of being pretty. There’s a lot of pressure for young women to be pretty and I was so uncomfortable with that, that I think I pushed it away.”
Younger also deals with ageism, and one of Shor’s favorite lines her character said is “If you need me, I’ll be in my crypt,” referring to the difference in age between her and the young editors. And Shor has confronted the issue in her own work.
“Once I was told I was too old and not good looking enough, and I was like, ‘Really? To play a person?’” Shor says, her tone a mix of humor and sadness. “Like, I’m not playing a model. I’m not six feet tall—this I understand. But as a person? I’ve been doing this for a while. This is a weird business, but it feels a little more honest and upfront. Certainly this happens in every job. You’re judged by what you look like and how old you are.”
Shor also feels like there is a very particular kind of ageism that women in particular combat, and she mentions the current presidential race as an example. “it’s interesting to see what happens with Hillary Clinton and her age and how people perceive it,” she says, noting that she’s not supporting a particular candidate yet. “But I do have a theory that people react to Hilary negatively because they don’t want their mom telling them what to do.”
Shor also avoids all social media and is a self-proclaimed technophobe—“I’m a dinosaur,” she says—though she does says she’ll join whatever networks, apps, etc. exist when her daughters are old enough so she can follow them. “Young people don’t seem to live there lives in private any more,” she says. “I don’t need to reach out to people digitally. I like to talk to people literally.”
Shor also enjoys performing onstage, and she just appeared alongside her Younger co-star Foster in The Wild Party at New York City Center Encores! Off-Center over the summer. She’s also known for her portrayal of Yitzhak in the 2001 film of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. (Fun fact: She auditioned for the musical theater program at the University of Michigan, where she studied acting, twice and was rejected both times.) While she’d love to be onstage more often, she finds it difficult to balance a theatrical schedule with a family.
“The commitment of doing a play takes you away from bedtime, and when they’re little it’s such a special time so it’s hard for me to commit to that,” she says. She did take her older daughter Ruby to a rehearsal for The Wild Party, and she was just mesmerized. Shor jokes that she immediately told her not to do pursue a performing career.
“What are you supposed to do at that point?” she says with a laugh. “Mommy plays dress up for a living and plays pretend and it’s awesome, but don’t do it. You work in an office. That’s what you should do.”
She did take Ruby to her “fake office” on the Younger set, but she really just hopes that her kids will pursue what they love and be okay with not succeeding all the time. She mentions that her daughters will get upset when they lose a round of Ms. Pac Man and that teaches them an important life lesson. “It’s a part of the game!” Shor says. “I can’t tell you the number of times I tell my kids, ‘You’re gonna fail. Don’t try to be perfect. Just work hard.’ It sounds like a cliché. You’re kind of learning as you go along as a parent.”
We’ve chatted far longer than we said we would, and our toes are starting to prune so we reluctantly take our legs out of the hot tub. “This is the best interview I’ve ever had,” she says, and I know that fact has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the setting.
“I want to look goofy,” she adds of her fashion sense, although she looks very put together today in her jeans, boots, and a sweater. “Of course I want to look good—we all do. But at the same time, I think it’s the same as the 15-year-old in me. I like to fuck with it a little bit.”
And then she says, “I would have taken my clothes off, you know.”
And I can’t quite tell if she’s screwing with me. Maybe that’s the point.
Styling by Sunny Walters
Assistant styling by James Brown III
Hair by Cory McCutcheon
Makeup by Robin Fredriksz
Clothing by Bloomingdale’s