With her role as a memorably over-caffeinated college freshman on television’s critically praised Undeclared, youthful actress Carla Gallo has endeared herself to former campus dorm-rats nationwide. And though her actual age may betray the naïve nature of those making the leap from the high school hallways to the college campus, Gallo has succeeded in making her television alter ego believable, in part by drawing on the vivid recollections of her college career.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, Gallo attended the LaGuardia School of Performing Arts before setting her sights on Cornell University. Like her television counterpart, Gallo dabbled in numerous potential careers before pursuing a career as an actress, though the lure of the theater was too magnetic to resist and the formerly undeclared student graduated a few short years later with a Theater Arts degree. Being nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for her feature debut in 1994’s Spanking the Monkey proved to be a good start for the fledgling thespian, and though it would be five more years until her next feature role, Gallo would next appear in The 24-Hour Woman in 1999. With small-screen appearances in both E.R. and Law & Order priming her for her work on Undeclared, the actress approached the series on a positive note after hitting it off early on with series creator Judd Apatow. As someone who encouraged improvisation, Apatow often drew on Gallo’s previous college experiences to make the character more multidimensional and believable. Thinking back to the frantic all-night cram sessions of her college days, Gallo recalled a session in which her synapses fired on overdrive due to an oversaturation of caffeine. Apatow encouraged her to expand on such recollections (recollections that often found their way into the show), which were a key factor in his aspiration to create a realistic portrayal of the college experience, warts and all.