Interview by: Jewel Fiorillo from HAZZE MEDIA Photography: Storm Santos
How and when exactly did you realize you had the passion for acting?
A: It’s really hard these days to find a time to actually live in the moment. To not worry about the phantom buzzing of your phone in your pocket or what’s next on your to do list. When I’m on set, or stepping back inside the booth, there is not a single part of me that’s worried about anything other than that single moment. And it’s a moment I don’t ever want to end. Ten to fourteen hours can go by on set, and I haven’t looked at my phone once. I’ve had no need. There’s nothing to worry about when you’re doing what you love. When I realized that, there was really no going back.
Congratulations on your role of Kendall in Metal Lords. How did you get the role? Do you see any similarities between yourself and Kendall? What Was one of your favorite scenes to film?
A: Thank you so much! Kendall was an interesting journey for me because the moment I got the audition for her my first thought was: “I am SO wrong for this role.” Sometimes I think when we completely take the pressure of something with a world ending thought like that, it allows for us to play a little easier. I remember reading the sides over about a hundred times searching desperately for a parallel to make between her and I… and I realized, it was kinda staring me blankly in the face the whole time. I grew up in a world that wasn’t really built for me. Being 17 and having no idea who you are outside of what high school has made you become. Following clothing trends, mimicking the popular kids just to try and fit in, hiding from your secret passions like D&D and Metal music. She was no different than Kevin in their journey to find themselves – she just had a little harder time breaking free from that pressure. After that it just kind of clicked. My favorite scene of hers to film was definitely the party scene. Kendall’s introduction to the movie is a MASSIVE slap in the face to the “manic pixie dream girl” trope because while Kendall might be shy, she takes absolutely no shit.
Aside from your acting career, what inspired you to become a writer/novelist?
A: I used to do slam poetry when I was younger, as one does, and eventually that translated into wanting to write movies, television shows, books, and the list goes on. Somewhere along the way, I realized that no matter how much rejection we must get used to dealing with as actos, no one can take your writing away from you. It doesn’t matter if it takes 10, 20, 30 years for it to publish or hit the big screen, it’s yours the second you write it. No one can take that away from you.
Do you have any goals for your career in writing? What inspired you to write a three-part YA book series titled “The Only Series"?
A: I wanted “The Only Series” to be a place for high school girls to turn to, not only as an escape from the real world, but a hidden guidebook on how to ask for help. Each of the teenage girls throughout the 3-part series is dealing with a specific form of trauma. But rather than leave it on the last page with a death or a life-ending cliff-hanger, I really tried to see them through to the other side. To show that healing is possible with time and the right tools. Since I started writing screenplays, it was really hard not to write the books and already see them as movies, so my biggest goal for them is to be turned into a cool live-action anthology series like “Fear Street” or others like it. The only Oscar I desperately want to walk away with one day is the one for best screenplay. But we’ll see where life takes us!
The entertainment industry is said to be full of stress and pressure; what do you do to tackle the pressure that comes with your work?
A: For someone who runs their life based on routine and structure, you have to learn to plan breaks. Planning Disney days or throwing a weird royal tea party with your friends is sometimes the exact thing you need to get your mind off the pressure that comes with this job. Right now, for example, I have “Bad Movie Night” once a week with my two best friends. It rotates every week who gets to pick the movie, but we’ve found they’re often so weird, it’s not only impossible to look away from, but it’s impossible to talk about anything OTHER than the terrible movie we’re currently watching. So, for 2 hours we don’t talk about the industry or what’s stressing us out, we just worry about whether or not that corn on the cob scene in Troll 2 is at all accurate.
What is your goal when acting in a role? What kind of message do you want to spread with your platform?
A: My biggest goals as a non-binary actor are to show that we are more than just androgyny. So much of Hollywood pushes this idea that if you’re non-binary you’re pretty much stuck inside the box that is ONLY playing non-binary roles. When in reality, the very definition of non-binary is that we don’t fit on any particular spectrum of masculine or feminine. It’s very much a spectrum that can change from day to day. And because of that I actually think non-binary actors have a really, really good stronghold on different kinds of characters. We know what it means to step inside those different roles and how that affects a person. If it’s an AFAB character who’s more masculine in presence, that’s a different person than someone who’s AFAB and embracing their full femininity. I’m so grateful to D.B. Weiss and Peter Sollett (producer and director of Metal Lords, respectively) for letting me take on Kendall as a non-binary actor and seeing me for more than just my pronouns.