My Comfort TV With… ‘This Is Us’ Star Hannah Zeile

Hannah Zeile this is us
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

It may be the Pearsons’ off season, but This Is Us star Hannah Zeile isn’t slowing down.

The actress and singer, whose new single, “Ode to My Anxiety” drops today, has been taking time to be creative, working on tapping into her own struggles with anxiety and opening up about how she’s coping  during the current global health crisis. “I have already struggled with anxiety,” Zeile says of the inspiration behind the song. “But I know that right now people that never have really experienced that feeling are feeling anxious, as well. So I just felt like this was a really powerful message and time to connect with people.”

“I actually have a little recording set up in my home, so the whole song was written and recorded during quarantine,” the 22-year-old shares about her creative process. Fans of her performance as teen Kate on NBC’s hit drama may be aware of her multiple talents, but now is her chance to present music of her own. “It’s my first original song that I’ve ever released,” she notes. “The lyrics are personal. It just kind of touches into that feeling of when you feel trapped and anxious and repeating a mantra to yourself just as simple as, ‘I’ll be okay.'”

And her experience singing onscreen has helped. “When I got to go record the song ‘Where I Belong’ and having it end up on the soundtrack, I remember realizing that I had so much fun doing it and I was so happy,” she recalls. “It really pushed me to want to put out my own stuff and stop feeling so insecure.”

Hannah Zeile

(Credit: Rowan Daly)

As This Is Us viewers know, Zeile was given a difficult storyline in the fourth season, as Kate’s toxic relationship with Marc (Austin Abrams) hit a climax. “It was challenging as an actor, which is always rewarding,” she says. “I really got to push myself. It was really moving… I’m so grateful, because we’re telling these stories that are not sugarcoated, but they’re honest and that’s what life is.”

While Zeile couldn’t share any tidbits about Season 5, she did dish on some of her current comfort TV picks while isolating at home. Check them out below, and don’t miss out on her new single, now available now via Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify, YouTube and social media.

Hannah Zeile

(Credit: Rowan Daly)

Hannah Zeile’s Comfort TV

Guilty Pleasure Show You Turn to Right Now

“I really like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri. He goes to all the food spots and since we’re in quarantine, I obviously can’t go and try them. But it’s fun for me to make a list of like ‘When I’m out of here, I’m going to go to all these Los Angeles spots.'”

Most Rewatchable Episode of This Is Us

“It’s such a complex question because one of my favorite episodes — I don’t know if I would classify it as rewatchable because it is really sad — it’s Season 2, Episode 15, the episode after the fire, the funeral episode. I just think it’s so beautiful how they tell the story of Jack’s life through his cars. I think it was so genius.”

Entire Series You’re Excited to Binge

“When it was actually airing years ago … my brother and I had started watching Breaking Bad and then, for some reason, life got in the way and I never finished. So now all of it is on Netflix, so I’m ready to go from start to finish and watch the whole thing through.”

Favorite Musical Episode of a Show

“The one that came to mind when I saw this question was the episode on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia when Charlie writes the musical for them to perform (Season 4, Episode 13, “The Nightman Cometh”). I think if you want a good laugh, that one is a good one.”

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia "The Nightman Cometh"

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Credit: Patrick McElhenney/©F/X Network/Courtesy: Everett Collection)

The Show You’ve Gotten All Your Friends to Watch

“I got my best friends all to watch Dead to Me. I just love the women in that show. I told my mom, I told my best friends [to watch it], and everyone loved it so far. We’re all waiting on Season 2.

Comedy Episode to Watch for a Quick Pick-Me-Up

“Maybe the Friends episode when Ross gets his teeth bleached (Season 6, Episode 8, “The One with Ross’ Teeth”). I don’t know if you’ve seen this — he gets [them done] way too white and then he goes on a date and he’s trying to keep his mouth closed because he’s so embarrassed. Then they get back to her house and she’s like, ‘I’m going to turn the lights off,’ and he’s finally like, ‘Oh, I can open my mouth.’ And she has UV lights and his teeth are fully glowing. [Laughs] There’s a couple of episodes of Friends that make me laugh.”

Favorite Show Starring Your This Is Us Co-Star

“If I’m being honest, I haven’t watched them, but I think that the one that I’d be interested in watching is [the Milo Ventimiglia-starring] Gilmore Girls. I get that recommended all the time and I’ve always wanted to do it and I just never have. That would be the one that I would watch.”

Gilmore Girls Milo Ventimiglia Alexis Bledel

Gilmore Girls (Credit: WB/Ron Tom, © Warner Bros./Everett Collection)

Most Addictive True-Crime Series

“True crime is what I like — reading or listening to podcasts or watching, I just digest true crime constantly. I just watched Tiger King. That was a full rollercoaster, it felt almost like a spoof. I was like, ‘This can’t be real.’ Also, Making a Murderer is a classic. I remember just watching that so quickly and being so intrigued by the case.”

TV Show That’s Always on in Your House

“It’s usually either The Office or That ’70s Show. Those are just shows I’ve seen every episode of. I can just have it playing and I kind of can still keep up without having to be like fully attentive.”