“9JKL” actress Chrishell Stause and writer-producer Jason Oppenheim got up early on Thanksgiving to start serving meals to the homeless and homeless residents living near Park Lawn Cemetery in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
“Growing up, my mom taught me to be grateful. We would go out and shop for something we needed or something we wanted or something that could make the holiday brighter or more just,” Stause said. “I think it was important to me to be thankful and to tell people that they’re really appreciated.”
And for Stause, the giving has continued long after she retired from acting in 2015.
“I left the limelight [on the series “9JKL”] to focus on writing for television, because I was so excited about it, but I also retired to really dedicate myself to being more well-rounded, being involved with my community and being able to make it a little bit easier for other people,” she said.
“9JKL” recently wrapped up its 12-episode third season, which Stause called “one of the best” for the show.
“This third season has just been so awesome. We couldn’t have done it without the team and it’s just a really special time for us,” she added.
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But there was one aspect of “9JKL” that Stause said wasn’t quite as “special.”
“We were ready to wrap and then there was a red carpet with a bunch of celebrities walking down. And I was like, ‘Uh oh, what am I going to do?'” she recalled. “So that was a little rough, because it’s a weird feeling to be sitting there watching and thinking, ‘Wow, I’m not going to work anymore.'”
“But we always have the memory of doing these [spiritual] holidays that are so meaningful, but then we have a day just to get back in the groove and get back to work,” Stause added.
As for her family, Stause said they plan to put some more time into the nonprofit work that she and Oppenheim started and continue.
“We’re so excited to continue our mission,” she said. “Not everything is so flashy. I think that’s the thing I want for other people, too, is [to] really strive to do things that have a small impact on somebody’s life that matters to you.”
While their charity work has been going strong since 2016, Stause and Oppenheim say that they didn’t find each other on the set of “9JKL” for much longer than a decade.
“We actually met on the set for less than a year, which was before we started dating,” Stause said. “We spent a lot of our time working together in Los Angeles, and, as you can imagine, we really just got to know each other through a lot of nights in L.A. pubs and bars and random events.”
“I think a lot of people think that this is the sort of secret relationship that they’re waiting to come out. But we weren’t dating for, you know, like, a year,” Oppenheim added. “I think it happened earlier than that.”
Still, the pair says that “it really was amazing to be able to create this storyline together with this show that we really love and that’s really changing a lot of people’s lives in so many different ways.”
So even as they begin to fade from the public eye, they still don’t feel the need to be acting a romantic comedy or procedural about an undercover FBI agent and an actress who works her way into an undercover FBI agent’s life, as has been widely rumored.
“We both come from real lives,” Stause said. “We have a very good relationship with each other and that helps a lot when we’re working on projects together. That’s why we continue to collaborate. That’s why we started this mission together to make the world a better place.”
“The Good Place” airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.