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Ciara Riley Wilson: Netflix's 'Freeridge', 'On My Block', & Being Asian American

ACTRESS Ciara Riley Wilson (@ciararileywilson)
BTS VIDEOGRAPHER/PHOTOGRAPHER Emily Beck-Hallstrom (@emily.bh_)
MAKEUP ARTIST Robert Bryan (@robertti) for Exclusive Artists using Trinny London
HAIR STYLIST Erika Vanessa (@erikavanessa) for Exclusive Artists using T3

Ciara Riley Wilson is Hazze Magazine's cover story for the month of May! In the interview with team photographer and journalist, Olivia Tindall, she spills some detail on Netflix's 'Freeridge', her experience with 'On My Block', & being Asian American in the film industry

-full interview and video below-

O: Well, thank you so much for sitting down with me for this interview. I'm just going to start off by asking what your favorite thing is about being an actress right now?

C: I would say I really love diving into each of the roles I get to play and learning a lot about myself in that process and getting to look at this character and analyze, how are we similar? How are we different? And then I feel it always jumpstarts a self-growth era for me. To look at a new character in the eye. And I also really think of my life as seasons and episodes. I feel a lot of people do that. And with the lifestyle of acting, you get to work on a project for maybe three months at a time. And that feels like the marker for a new chapter. And I really like setting my life up like that. I just think it's fun.

O: How did you get to where you are today from Portland to LA?

C: So I started acting in Portland, in radio voiceovers and commercials. When I was, I wanna say about 10 years old. And then I did an acting camp in LA for just two weeks during the summer. And at the end of that acting camp, there's an agency showcase. And then this agent reached out and said, you should come to LA. But I was so young at the time and I had a brother back in Portland, so I was thinking, I don't know. I also did test runs at the time.

O: And you were 10 at the time?

C: Yeah, yeah. Really young. But when it started to pick up and I started doing well, we did more month to month leases until my the whole family migrated out here with me.

O: What is it like to be an Asian American in the film industry? And what does it mean to


C: That’s a great question. It was honestly really difficult growing up just because…not only was I as a child in the industry, being hyper-aware of how I was being perceived, but I was also having to think about, am I Asian enough for this role? Or am I white enough for this role? And back when I started, I did not get an audition for a lead role in the movie. It was the Asian person that was always the best friend. And I just kind of accepted that fact. And nowadays,

thankfully it's changed a lot, in the past three years, but it was definitely hard having to start it out that way. And having to, sit with that fact that, oh, I'm just going to be the best friend. That's just the best I'm going to get.

O: So it's evolved though, over the years?

C: It has evolved. I think so many more people are realizing that everyone has main character stories and not pigeonholing people into certain roles. It's gotten a lot better.

O: What do you look for in companies on their means of supporting Asian-American communities as well as other minority groups?

C: I think it's really important for companies to support minority groups because a lot of the time America is made up of so many minorities. And so that's the people that they're trying to market to. Those are the people that are gonna find their products and watch their shows. It means a lot when a

company can show those people what they are seeing. And, I can see myself and when a brand is having people with my skin tone, it changes everything.

O: How did you get into fashion design and what inspired you to start sewing at such a young age?

C: I started sewing during quarantine and actually I was just bored and just needed a hobby. It turned out a lot easier than I thought. This is random, but I really liked putting together IKEA furniture when I was younger, because I liked sitting down and getting really into something that was a tedious [job] and sewing is really similar to that. And so you kind of zone out. And then I found it really interesting to go thrifting and upcycle things and just give them a new life. And that's kind of how that started. And then I started posting on TikTok too. It was really fun.

O: That's so cool. Just going into that, what is your favorite part about making upcycled fashion and what are your goals for working within that kind of industry?

C: I really liked looking at something and it [is] like a pattern that you really like, maybe a super bowl pattern, but it's like this giant, whatever, something that would never look good on you and just getting creative with how you can completely change the garment. I think that's just really cool to not only, make something from scratch, but to actually see something and completely

flip the switch. It's just fun. And I feel I found my style a lot this year, and it's been cool to see how my sewing has evolved to match my style more. I feel

they are intertwined. With the show I’m doing, there’s going to be press and my. goal is to make every single outfit that I have on that. And on the red carpet, that’s my goal. And eventually a clothing line.

O: Were you posting mostly about fashion and stuff?

C: Yeah. I was doing little sewing tutorials and just… I would watch,

fashion shows, or project runway, and then I would take the challenge and try to do it myself with random scraps I found around, so that was really fun.

O: That's super cool though, because then you'll just be wearing

all your own stuff.

C: Yeah. Totally.

O So it's my understanding that you'll be a part of the upcoming spinoff of “On My

Block” on Netflix. What are you most looking forward to on that project?

C: So we actually just wrapped our first week of filming this last week and oh my God. I'm

so excited. I'm stoked. This is my favorite project I've ever done. It's really, really cool that it's a spinoff too 'cause it’s a

phenomenal show and it's the whole team behind it. It's its own thing, but there are definitely little Easter eggs

throughout the whole thing. And it's the same exact energy. And I just think it's a really fun show. It's very youthful. It's funny. But it also touches on a lot of really important issues. It's about teens growing up in downtown LA. It's just fun. I really like my character… she’s my favorite character I've ever played. She has a really cool fashion sense. And the showrunner even said, maybe down the line in the later episodes, I can wear something I make on the show. She just brought that up casually the other day. And I was like, really?

O: That's really cool that they like, are accommodating that.

C: Yeah, they're all about collaboration there. It's cool. Cause I got cast in the show a year ago, so I've had to wait a long time for it to start and sit with the character. They've been really awesome trying to take our personality traits and blend them into the characters. So that's like really cool. I’ve never had a project do that.

O: Yeah, I was going to ask, besides maybe this character that you're going to play on the spinoff. One is your favorite character that you have played in the past, in your career?

C: I would probably say Athena from the live-action Kim Possible movie. It was really funny because the storyline was… I was this really meek kind of nerdy new girl at school. And then it develops from there. I get really good at all the things that Kim can do. And then the, if you haven't seen it, spoiler alert, there's a plot twist and I end up being the villain and then I end up being a robot, not even a real human. I take my face off. And that was just fun because I got to play six different characters in one project.

O: That's crazy. So, what is your favorite part about being on set on a film?

C: The people. You just, it feels like summer camp, literally everyone. I mean, obviously, people are working and there are deadlines and stuff, but it's just really great. I've been lucky to have worked on projects where the people are all my age, so it really feels like I just meet my best friends. Sadie who

played Kim in Kim Possible has literally my best friend on the entire planet for the past five years, and so just the people you meet.

O: So, did you guys meet on the set?

C: Yeah.

O: Oh, that's so cool.

C: Yeah.

O: That’s really sweet you can make those connections. What has been [the] most memorable moment in your acting career?

C: I mean, there has been a lot, but one that comes to mind was when we were cast in “Freeridge," it was a potential spin-off. So they didn't know if it was going to be greenlit yet. And I found out like three months later, three months of anxiously waiting. I found out it was picked up when I was in Paris at night. I went to a club and I bought the entire club shots. But I did not have the money yet. So it was a good moment. Cause I was like, wow, I'm in Paris. And it got picked up and there is so much to look forward to, so that was fun.

O: That's so great. Well, I think that's it.Thank you so much for your interview with me.

C: It's been great to meet you. Thank you.

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