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Way Back When: Aubrey Plaza

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Aubrey Plaza plays the deadpan but adorable April Ludgate on NBC’s ‘Parks and Recreation,’ and you may have first taken notice of the actress in Judd Apatow‘s ‘Funny People’ (in which she is a funny person, obviously), but in today’s Way Back When, we take a look at Plaza’s roles before she became famous.

Popeye’s Chicken

In a recent interview with the LA Times, Plaza sat down with Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Bella Heathcote to discuss their earlier career decisions — like Plaza starring in this commercial for Popeye’s Chicken to promote their butterfly shrimp. She’s not nearly as monotone as she tends to be in her comedy; instead, she’s kind of adorable and girly, cutely uttering her one and only line of the commercial: “I love butterflies.”

’30 Rock’ 

Plaza had a small part in a season one episode of ‘30 Rock‘ as an NBC page taking people on a tour of the studio. Fun fact: Plaza was actually working as an NBC page at the time, so it really wasn’t much of a stretch for her to play the part of perky tour guide — still, it’s kind of weird seeing her so enthusiastic about something, given her typically dry humor. Watch as Plaza introduces a tour group to the Conan O’Brien stage, you know, back when Conan O’Brien briefly hosted ‘The Tonight Show.’

‘The Jeannie Tate Show’

You may vaguely recall a delightful little web series called ‘The Jeannie Tate Show,’ in which Liz Cackowski plays a soccer mom who somehow hosts her own talk show, getting stars like Bill Hader, Rashida Jones, and ’30 Rock’s’ Lonny Ross. Plaza played “junkie teenage stepdaughter” Tina Tate, and it’s here that you get a taste of the Plaza that you’re probably a bit more familiar with, since Tina is pretty much like April Ludgate at 15.

‘Mystery Team’

Back in 2009, Plaza starred alongside Donald Glover (right before he became famous with ‘Community‘) in ‘Mystery Team,’ a film written by the Derrick Comedy team of Glover, D.C. Pierson, and Dominic Dierkes. And, proving that ’30 Rock’ is the Kevin Bacon of television, Glover used to write for the show.

Plaza plays Kelly, the older sister of a little girl who goes to the regressive Mystery Team to ask for help solving her parents’ murder. You get some pretty good peeks of Plaza in the trailer below, including a moment in which he sticks a ring on her finger that a stripper “peed out.”

‘Keith Powell Directs a Play’

Remember what we just said about ’30 Rock’? Writer and star Keith Powell stars in this five-part web series as a fictionalized version of himself — a total narcissist who has decided to direct a play (“Uncle Vanya,” hilariously). Plaza plays Stephanie, of the repertory players at the theater where Powell is directing. She shows up first in episode two, but doesn’t get much to do until episode three, which you can watch below. Or head over to YouTube to catch the whole series:

NEXT: Keanu Reeves Before He Was Famous

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