When it came time to cast the younger version of Ana Gasteyer‘s character, Sheila Shay, for Wednesday’s episode of Suburgatory, producers didn’t have to look very far.
“[Executive producer] Emily [Kapnek] just reached out to me. She knew [my daughter] Frances loves theater and acting,” the actress tells PEOPLE. “It turned out great.”
In the Halloween-themed episode, Gasteyer’s 10-year-old makes her onscreen debut portraying her mother’s character in a series of flashbacks that depict her rivalry with character Paula (portrayed as an adult by guest star Rachel Dratch).
While she’s visited many of her mother’s sets in the past, Gasteyer says Frances took this new experience very seriously.
“She really loved all of it. I was amazed,” the Saturday Night Live alum says. “She highlighted her line and she really delivered at read-through; she was very focused in terms of her blocking and hitting her mark, all of the technical parts of it.”
In fact, the experience proved easier on Frances than it did for Mom.
“It’s kind of a whole deal to be on set with a kid,” Gasteyer, 45, says. “I suddenly realized I can’t leave my kid alone on set, so one of my ADs kind of helped out.”
Due to conflicting shooting schedules, the actress also missed the beginning of her daughter’s first scene, but arrived just in time to hear producers sing her praises.
“She had a lot of action for a first job. She had a Steadicam shot,” continues Gasteyer. “It’s so pathetic that even as an experienced, seasoned actor, walking and chewing gum is still incredibly hard for me. So if I’m not just sitting and saying my lines, I get overwhelmed, and she did so much of that and she did incredibly well.”
After the shoot, it was right back to everyday concerns for Frances, like what to dress as for Halloween.
“Frances is really into costumes and costume design. She’s taking costume design at school,” says Gasteyer. “She’s started drawings of a zombie princess that she wants to be.”
The family, which includes Gasteyer’s husband Charlie McKittrick and their 4½-year-old son Ulysses, intend to mark the holiday again this year with trick-or-treating, a visit to Fire Island’s Halloween celebration and a specially-crafted pumpkin soup they’ve taken to making every year. But for the actress, the season’s best memory might have already been made.
“It was one of the most special things I think I’ve ever been able to share with her,” she says of the Suburgatory shoot. “I think all little girls kind of admire what their moms do … and it’s fun for her to get a taste of that.”
– Kiran Hefa