Kate initially skipped out on a singing audition after being intimidated by the young, thin competition. But after a disastrous birthday dinner with her boyfriend Toby (Chris Sullivan) and twin brother Kevin (Justin Hartley), she marched back to the tryout — a moment that had the audience at PEOPLE and EW’s screening cheering in support.
She demanded to sing, giddily choosing “Nothing Compares 2 U,” her rendition playing out smoothly against a backdrop of silence — until, abruptly, she was cut short.
She was curtly thanked and asked to leave, but she didn’t stand for it, declaring she was done being written off because of her weight: “I’ve been living versions of that story my entire life, and I can’t do it anymore. I won’t do it anymore.”
But it turns out, her size had nothing to do with it: Her vocals need a little more practice.
“You’re not good enough, honey,” the casting agent told her.
Kate was elated at the response: She was being judged on merit, and she knows that if she works hard enough, she can get there.
In a Q&A hosted by PEOPLE’s Editor-in-Chief Jess Cagle following PEOPLE’s screening in Los Angeles, Metz applauded the show’s decision to make Kate’s rejection about her actual singing skills and not her appearance, noting that as much as Kate hadn’t felt “good enough,” Metz was glad that it has nothing to do with her looks — which means Kate is not the victim, and this challenge is something she can take on.
“She’s pursuing her heart’s desires, but God bless her,” Metz said. “She’s a mid ’30s woman in L.A. trying to pursue music!”
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Of Metz’ actual singing skills, the cast offered some serious praise.
“Chrissy Metz is a beast,” Sterling K. Brown said.
“Our big challenge in the edit bay was trying to figure out how we could make her sound a little more tentative so the other girl could come in,” creator Dan Fogelman said. “She’s the real deal. People are going to freak out.”
“Dan is writing my dream life, my dream role, so thank you Dan,” Metz said. “I can’t answer that. I enjoy singing very much. I’m a work in progress!”
“Tonight it got cut off, but next week it’s so good,” Fogelman added. “I rarely do it in our text cast chain, but I sent the whole cast, ‘Chrissy got cut off tonight, but next week she sings for real on the show.’ It’s pretty awesome.”
And in an even more glorious turn of events, next week’s episode also features a scene with Mandy Moore — who first rose to fame as a pop star — singing.
“Oh, a tiny bit,” Moore said. “Not really!”
“Season 4, when we run out of ideas, it’s going to turn into a musical,” Fogelman quipped.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays (9 p.m. ET) on NBC.