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Ohio State alumna moves to Los Angeles, stars in web series

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Ari Berkowitz (Alex,) left, and OSU alum Brittany Belland (Hailey) in a scene from the web series ‘Me & Zooey D.’ The series premiered Sept. 9. Credit: Courtesy of Ari Berkowitz

Ari Berkowitz (Alex,) left, and OSU alumnus Brittany Belland (Hailey) in a scene from the web series ‘Me & Zooey D.’ The series premiered Sept. 9.
Credit: Courtesy of Ari Berkowitz

Ohio State alum Brittany Belland is making her way onto computer screens across the country in a new web series.

The series, “Me & Zooey D,” released on WheresZooey.com, is a fictional comedy series about a Zooey Deschanel-obsessed fan, Alex, who travels from Ohio to Los Angeles in hopes of becoming her best friend. Fans might know Deschanel from “New Girl,” “Elf,” “(500) Days of Summer” and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

The cast features Ari Berkowitz of Yale University, Ben Smith of Harvard University and Belland, all 2012 graduates. All three were also part of improv troupes at their universities — The Purple Crayon (Yale), The Immediate Gratification Players (Harvard) and 8th Floor Improv Comedy (OSU).

The three met at the 2012 Bellwether Improv Festival and became good friends. Later, when Belland moved to Los Angeles, she met up with Smith and Berkowitz and tried out for the series.

Belland’s role is Hailey, Alex’s less crazy, more rational, best friend who moves across the country to pursue acting. The role Belland, originally from Cincinnati, plays in the series somewhat parallels her current path, as she really did move from Ohio to Los Angeles to pursue acting.

“I’ve just been doing small roles and different commercials so far, but I was recently cast in a horror movie that starts filming in November and will hopefully be out next Halloween,” Belland said.

Berkowitz, assistant to the producers on ABC’s “Trophy Wife,” a new comedy which just started airing pilot programs on Delta, American, United and Virgin American airlines, plays the lead role of Alex, the obsessed fan who moved from Ohio to Los Angeles. Berkowitz came up with and wrote the series, and is also a fan of Deschanel herself.

“I had those big framed glasses before “New Girl” came out, and Zooey got her iconic look wearing them. I was also losing interest in my bangs, which are similar to (Deschanel’s), so I wrote this series as a way to get back into (my hairstyle), and the writing just flowed naturally,” Berkowitz said.

Smith, a writer for “Trophy Wife” and a former Harvard Lampoon writer, plays Chris, an aspiring director who documents Alex and Hailey’s comical pursuit and occasionally speaks from behind the camera.

“Honestly, I’ve already gotten everything I want out of the project: I got to work with close and talented friends, learn about being on a set and be part of a final product I’m proud of. I’m still waiting on the cast party, though,” Smith said.

Season one of “Me & Zooey D” consists of six episodes and was funded through Kickstarter.com, a crowd sourcing site. “Me & Zooey D” raised almost $3,600, $600 more than their set goal.

“It’s impressive. (Their success) shows that crowd sourcing really works,” said Rob Kaufman, a first-year in neuroscience.

Meganne Muir, a second-year in speech and hearing sciences, agrees.

“If they made it over their goal, it shows that there’s a pretty good fan base for Zooey Deschanel,” added Muir.

Although the actors are satisfied with what they’ve achieved from “Me & Zooey D,” whether that’s experience, reconnecting with friends or more footage in their portfolio, a second season isn’t necessarily out of the question.

“Shooting season one was fun. If there were to be a season two, it would depend on how much response we got from our viewers, or a response from Zooey herself,” Berkowitz said.

Students can catch Belland on WheresZooey.com, where all six episodes are available to stream for free.

One comment

  1. Poor girl, referred to in the title as a dude and all..

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