Ana Gasteyer, the “Saturday Night Live” alum whose current TV role is the CEO of fictional Detroit automaker Payne Motors, says she’d love to arrange a guest appearance for her real-life counterpart at General Motors, Mary Barra.
“I keep pitching that we find a storyline to actually have her on the show,” Gasteyer told the Detroit Free Press.
Like Barra, Gasteyer’s character in NBC’s “American Auto” is a female CEO with a tendancy to wear leather jackets. The show’s second season premiered last week with Gasteyer’s Katherine Hastings embroiled in a crisis surrounding defective vehicles, much like the ignition switch recalls that consumed Barra’s first months atop GM in 2014.
But that’s where the similarities end, Gasteyer said. Hastings is an industry outsider who didn’t even have a driver’s license when hired, in contrast to Barra’s lifelong devotion to the auto business.
“Mary is obviously enormously competent, enormously knowledgeable, worked her way up that system,” Gasteyer told the Free Press. “I would argue that she’s probably Katherine Hastings’ biggest insecurity.”
“American Auto” creator Justin Spitzer has said Payne Motors isn’t trying to parody one particular automaker. Although the CEO being a woman naturally evokes comparisons with GM, another main character is a descendant of the Payne family, which might make viewers think of Ford Motor Co. instead, and Spitzer visited several Ford locations for research.
Gasteyer admits that Barra was the inspiration for Hastings’ wardrobe of leather jackets, though.
“We always do that when [Katherine] is public facing,” she said, “because she wants to look a little more relatable and she wants to look a little more automotive.”