On the cover About Grumpy Magazine is an international digital and print publication founded and curated by Jasmine Perrier. Selfpublished from Paris since 2016, we aim at covering the cultural landscape across the world and sharing a genuine vision of life to get you out of your grumpy mood. More than just a magazine, we are interested in aesthetically pleasing a modern take on traditional staples and thus offering a unique book capturing thoughtful stories and stimulating sceneries.
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BRITTANY (PHOTOGENICS LA) | Photography Emily Sandifer | Casting Jasmine Perrier | Styling Amanda Lim | Makeup and hair Harper | Photography assistant Marci Manklow
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COVER | Brittany (Photogenics LA) wears Brock Collection dress | Asos hat | Paskal gloves | Misahara earrings BACK COVER | Brittany (Photogenics LA) wears Rita Vinieris dress | Noa earrings
Grumpy Team & Contributors
Special thanks Presse Public Relations | Brandi George | Management 360 | Daisy Burnham | Personal PR | Alexa Sabberton DDA PR | Romilly Bowlby | Daniela Correia | imPRint Emily Rennert | Maria Candida | Viewpoint PR Lindsey Ludwig-Raum | Annie Randle | Andrea Braff Kara Jones | Narrative PR | Amanda Dykema | Emily Steinberg | Slate PR | Scott Newman | Lindsey Maguire ID | Molly Kawachi | Sammie Oluyede | Initiative PR Jamie Skinner | Mila Geffner | Republic Records Nicole Hajjar | RCA Records | Jamie Abzug | Rupert Lincoln | DediKATed PR | Kat Bawden | The Wall Group Ridley | Anneka Kumar | Tracey Mattingly Agency Vanessa Fine | TMG-LA | Kelly Tomlinson | Premier Hair & Makeup | Helen Lisle-Taylor | Exclusive Artists Darin Barnes | Andy Marun | Claire Frajnd | Allie Griff The Only.Agency | Michael Kinnane | Mia Weinsieder Shara Fishman | A-Frame | Noelle Keshishian Samantha Tyler | Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch Cara Vision Studio | Ashley Chui | Larry Pang Instax Fujifilm UK | Katie Coulson | Photogenics LA Emily Detomaso | Brooklyn PR | Liza Vassell | Sacha Passuello | Celia Kritharioti | Christos Kerampos Christian Louboutin | Lindsey Jacobs-Meiojas Alexandra Gordon | Christina Ferraro | SixTen PR | Jen Y. Woodward | Narces | Fresh Cuts Clothing | Steven Murphy | Tamp & Stitch | Neil Barry | Marie Perrier
Publisher | Editor-in-chief | Producer | Designer | Writer
Rosie Matheson | Sami Drasin | Allegra Messina | Emily Sandifer | Lissa Chandler | Sara Newman | Jess Faran | Raul Romo | Katie Levine | David OD | Ryan Jafarzadeh | Stefan Kohli
Contributing Writers Thilda Riou | Parker Schug | VicentĂŠ | Emily Pitcher
Contributing Illustrators Kendall Wisniewski | Jenny Sorto | Alex Weibel
Liana Liberato | Sam Heughan | Kadiff Kirwan | Jaeden Martell | Lola Petticrew | Erin Moriarty | Brianne Howey Savanna Morales | Daniel Williams | Jessica Loria | Camille Rousseau | Brandi Bombard | Andrea Pezzillo | Warren Alfie Baker | Lilly Keys | Karen Clarkson | Alex Babsky Stefan Bertin | Flossie Hughes | Jonathan Johnson | Britt Theodora | Adam Ballheim | Amanda Lim | Harper | Kim Johnson | Grace Phillips | Serra Gerris | Madison Guest Vanessa Moates | Simone | Oisin Boyd | Marci Manklow | Jenn Rosado | Alexia Molinari | Sophie Tabet | Khoi Le | Kim Bower Matthew Monzon | Sonia Lee | Evan Simonitsch | Tomoko Derek Yuen | Sarah Slutsky | Gina Brase | Brittany Battisti
Contributors Illustrations by Alex Weibel
JASMINE PERRIER (PARIS, FRANCE) Founding editor-in-chief and producer Jasmine founded Grumpy Magazine right after graduating from high school at the age of 18. Driven by her strong interest in creative content and her passion for the entertainment and fashion worlds, she moved to Paris, where she currently resides, to pursue her career ambitions. In addition to running Grumpy Magazine as editor-in-chief and producer, she dived into fashion casting, and worked for publications and brands such as CR Fashion Book and Y/ Project, learning from key industry-leading figures. THILDA RIOU (PARIS, FRANCE) Writer Thilda is an aspiring journalist who has been fascinated by the entertainment industry since her teenage years, and has been improving her craft ever since. Crossing paths in college with Grumpy Magazine’s founder Jasmine Perrier, she joined the publication in 2018 and currently functions as both writer and editor-in-chief’s assistant. With her creative mind full of innovative ideas, she grows her portfolio while studying media in Paris. Her work has been featured in Marie Claire France. ALLEGRA MESSINA (LOS ANGELES, USA) Photographer Allegra is a fashion photographer from Seattle who loves capturing people’s unique beauty and showcasing everyone as they truly are. While studying diplomacy at Occidental College in Los Angeles, she kept mastering her craft and caught the attention of a variety of publications such as Paper Magazine, Wonderland, and Schön Magazine. With her modern vision and refreshing eye, she became an invaluable contributor to Grumpy Magazine. JENN ROSADO (NEW YORK, USA) Stylist Currently based in New York City, Jenn is a visionary fashion stylist who grew up on the East Coast. Navigating between a vintage and avant-gardiste style, Jenn’s work has been featured in L’Officiel Vietnam, Solstice Magazine, and Pop Magazine.
SAMI DRASIN (LOS ANGELES, USA) Photographer Sami began her career at a young age taking candid pictures of her friends. Having grown up in Los Angeles amid the world of professional wrestlers, actors and artists, she was constantly inspired by the wide range of characters that surrounded her. Upon her graduation from Art Center, she immersed herself directly into the world of professional photography, getting appreciation from clients such as The Academy, Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, L’Officiel, and W Magazine over the years. EMILY SANDIFER (LOS ANGELES, USA) Photographer Emily is a photographer and filmmaker based in California, who is also the owner of LOFT 1923 — a production studio in Downtown Los Angeles. Her love for photography began with her mum’s Canon 35mm camera on her family’s 1,000 acre ranch in Idaho. She demonstrates a special love for Scotland, which she considers her second home. When she is not behind the camera, Emily’s sparkling personality and passion for the creative field can be seen through her acting work. PARKER SCHUG (LONG ISLAND, USÀ) Writer From Long Island, NY, Parker discovered her passion for writing at a young age. She started contributing to Grumpy Magazine in 2017 and is currently studying at Ithaca College with the aim of becoming a journalist. As she enjoys exploring and sharing her experiences, Parker is a storyteller whose life is filled with adventures and passion. WARREN ALFIE BAKER (LOS ANGELES, USA) Stylist Drawn to high-fashion at a young age, Warren Alfie Baker is a fashion stylist from London now living in Los Angeles, whose clientele includes notable names such as Zachary Levi, K.J Apa, and Harry Shum Jr. His work has been featured in publications such as but not limited to GQ (US, UK, Australia), Vanity Fair Italy, Flaunt, and Rollacoaster. ROSIE MATHESON (LONDON, UK) Photographer Based between London and Brighton, Rosie enjoys examining the emotional connection between people and places. She searches for the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary, exploring her fascination of photographing somebody else’s world. After winning the Portrait of Britain Award in 2016, she has been featured in several publications — including Dazed, i-D, and Elle Magazine. Additionally, she developed her own photography project ‘‘Boys’’ which aims at offering a new view on masculine beauty. RAUL ROMO (LOS ANGELES, USA) Photographer Photography first found Raul at 13. Self-taught photographer and singer based in Los Angeles, he describes his style as ‘‘very honest, simple yet strong and expressive.’’ Delivering clean photographs that capture real moments, he has been building a name for himself in the industry — working for brands like Coach, and getting his work featured in Schön! Magazine, Cosmopolitan (Italy, Mexico, US), Vogue Arabia, amongst others.
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Guest C O N T R I B U T O R S Illustrations by Jen Klukas
SAM HEUGHAN Actor Sam Heughan is a Scottish accomplished stage and screen actor known for his leading role as Jamie Fraser on Starz’s drama Outlander. Successful alumni of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Sam interviewed his former schoolmate and longtime friend Tom Ellis.
LIANA LIBERATO Actor Liana Liberato got her breakout role as a teen victim of sexual assault in David Schwimmer’s dark drama Trust in 2011. Her other credits include Nicholas Sparks’ film adaptation of The Best of Me and indie teen comedy Banana Split. Liana interviewed Cameron Monaghan.
JAEDEN MARTELL Actor Jaeden Martell has become one to watch among Young Hollywood for his role in horror franchise IT as well as his performance in Apple TV+ series Defending Jacob opposite Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery. Jaeden interviewed IT co-star and best friend Wyatt Oleff.
LOLA PETTICREW Actor
Lola Petticrew is an Irish actress from indie coming-of-age comedy Dating Amber, which premiered in June on Amazon Prime UK and will reach North America on November 13th. Lola photographed her on-screen partner and best friend in real life Fionn O’Shea in Dublin.
BRIANNE HOWEY Actor Brianne Howey is an American actress, best known for her roles in The CW’s Batwoman, Fox’s The Exorcist and The Passage. She will next star in Netflix’s upcoming mother/daughter coming-of-age drama Ginny & Georgia. Brianne interviewed Lorenza Izzo.
PHOTO CREDITS | Sela Shiloni | Ted Mendez
ERIN MORIARTY Actor Born and raised in New York, Erin Moriarty stars in Amazon’s superhero hit show The Boys as Annie January/Starlight. Past projects include True Detective and Jessica Jones. Erin interviewed her co-star Karen Fukuhara. She was also featured in 2019 in Grumpy Magazine’s ISSUE NO.14.
KADIFF KIRWAN Actor British actor Kadiff Kirwan graduated from the Central School of Speech and Drama. He appeared in BAFTA award-winning show Chewing Gum and Black Mirror, amongst others. Kadiff interviewed his friend since drama school and co-star on Netflix’s The Stranger Hannah John-Kamen.
dear readers H
appy 4th Anniversary, GRUMPY MAGAZINE! I am delighted to be finally back with this new issue whose content has been carefully curated since late 2019. The last few months of 2020 have encouraged us to sit down and reflect. Therefore, I was interested in approaching this edition with a touch of escapism and nostalgia — use inspirations from the past to reinvent the present, and leave our mark to make tomorrow better. Such feelings give me a spark of energy, especially at uncertain times like this. As you flip through each of the pages, you may notice muted color palettes, natural sceneries, as well as a hint of futurism. In a rapidly changing society, my goal is to create something timeless that cultivates the wonders of our world. As the magazine focuses on highlighting a diverse spectrum of people who all have their own unique stories, this edition introduces forces of the present and the future. Starting with our cover stars Cameron Monaghan (Shameless, Gotham), Tom Ellis (Lucifer), and Hannah John-Kamen (Killjoys, Ready Player One, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Brave New World) who chatted with longtime friends and fellow actors Liana Liberato, Sam Heughan, and Kadiff Kirwan to take us through the projects and experiences that make up their careers. We also collected in-depth profiles featuring both established artists and newcomers to watch — from A Quiet Place’s 17-year-old deaf actress Millicent Simmonds who is a powerhouse in Hollywood to improve the representation of people with disabilities, to Wyatt Oleff, interviewed by his best friend from IT Jaeden Martell, and The Boys actress Karen Fukuhara who caught up with her co-star and past Grumpy Magazine guest Erin Moriarty to open up about her silent character in the season 2 of Amazon’s successful superhero show. On another note, the music industry has voices defining the sound of now to keep on your radar — from Boston-native singer-songwriter Sasha Sloan who is taking over the music scene with talent and wisdom, to London-based alt-pop duo Oh Wonder, that happened to be the last live show I attended in Paris back in March before lockdown. Additionally, in close collaboration with our brilliant photographer Emily Sandifer, we organized a beach escape in Malibu. While practicing social distancing, the team and our model ventured to El Matador State Beach in August, to create a fashion story aiming at continuing to find the beauty right now. I hope you will enjoy this issue as much as I loved putting it together with the contribution of talented creative professionals around the world — that I cannot thank enough for their trust and generosity. As always, thank you for your appreciation for this magazine. When I see people talking about stories and photos we published a couple of years ago, it really lifts my spirits. Here, every feature is shaped to be honest, genuine, and spread inspiring messages that won’t dictate how to live your life, but rather give the inspiration you need to remind you that you can stand out without having to follow the crowd, and do things right.
Cheers to a new chapter
Jasmine Perrier Founding editor-in-chief @jazzieperrier
Contents I S S U E N O . 1 6 CHAPTER ONE 116
JONATHAN DAVISS is working his way up with passion and determination
MASON GOODING is carving out a name for himself among Young Hollywood
SOFIA BRYANT talks Netflix’s “I Am Not Okay With This” and what’s next for her
JACQUES COLIMON is paving the way for new directions
CHAPTER TWO 132
BEACH ESCAPE A fashion story in Malibu by Emily Sandifer
CHAPTER THREE 146
MEGAN STOTT is all fired up and ready to ignite the industry
FIONN O’SHEA photographed by ‘‘Dating Amber’’ co-star Lola Petticrew in Dublin
MILLICENT SIMMONDS is making waves and breaking barriers for deaf actors
WYATT OLEFF interviewed by Jaeden Martell on growing up in the industry
CHAPTER FOUR 172
LORENZA IZZO interviewed by Brianne Howey on her conquest of Hollywood
JUSTIN H. MIN is redefining representation
JULIA SCHLAEPFER on her gripping performance on ‘‘The Politician’’
KAREN FUKUHARA catches up with ‘‘The Boys’’ co-star Erin Moriarty
CHAPTER FIVE 198
CAMERON MONAGHAN reflects on his rise to stardom with Liana Liberato
HANNAH JOHN-KAMEN speaks to Kadiff Kirwan about her climb to success
TOM ELLIS gets candid on his bi-continental acting career with Sam Heughan
from Hull to Hollywood
CHAPTER SIX 1140
A COLLECTION OF Q&AS WITH ARTISTS DEFINING THE SOUND OF NOW featuring Oh Wonder, Gavin James, Sasha Sloan, Jeremy Zucker
Vinti Andrews FW20 Presentation | London, UK Photographed by Jasmine Perrier (January 2020)
Chapter I Chapter I
JONATHAN DAVISS Outer Banks Words by Thilda Riou
Photos by Allegra Messina over FaceTime
Producer Jasmine Perrier
ORN AND RAISED IN TEXAS, JONATHAN DAVISS HAS BEEN LOOKING FOR A WAY TO WORK HIS WAY UP THROUGH THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY SINCE HE WAS A KID WHO FELL IN LOVE WITH MOVIES. “ACTING
WASN’T A REALLY BIG THING OUT THERE, ESPECIALLY WHERE I GREW UP AROUND HOUSTON. THERE WASN’T A LOT OF ACTING CLASSES AND A LOT OF PEOPLE DOING IT,” THE 21-YEAR-OLD ACTOR RECALLS WHILE WE MEET OVER A ZOOM CALL. HOWEVER, AS HE PURSUES HIS JOURNEY WITH PASSION AND DETERMINATION, JONATHAN’S TIME TO
SHINE HAS FINALLY COME, NOW GRACING OUR SCREENS WITH HIS PERFORMANCE AS POPE HEYWARD ON NETFLIX’S RECENT HIT OUTER BANKS.
hile Jonathan grew up watching superheroes and reading comic books, acting sparked his interest at an early age. ‘‘That was something our family shared. When I was young, it was a big treat for our father to take us to the movies,’’ he says, explaining that he would constantly watch all the bonus features of the DVDs he had. As he had his first gig in a local commercial at only 8 years old, followed by his first on-screen appearance on NBC’s show Revolution, the young actor was already eager to climb Hollywood’s ladder. It is in that state of mind that he took a leap of faith at 17 years old and decided to move to Los Angeles. ‘‘It was a way tougher decision than it seems,’’ Jonathan explains. ‘‘I was doing pretty well at school, and I had worked so hard to balance school, football, and acting. I had to make sure how serious I was about it.’’ Ultimately, Jonathan’s hard work paid off, and everything has fallen into place since we couldn’t imagine a better actor to take on the role of Pope in adventure-mystery YA series Outer Banks. ‘‘When I first saw the script at the audition, I expected teen drama. But it was different. I loved the rawness of the characters and their friendship,’’ he tells. ‘‘This was my first leading role, but this is something that I had been preparing for since I was 10 years old. I was ready, and looking for help from other people and getting their opinions is very important to me. I don’t think I know everything. On set, we were all open with communication and figuring stuff out with the characters.’’ Pope is smart, ambitious, and a bit awkward. But most of all, ‘‘He’ll stand up for his friends and fight for them,’’ Jonathan lets me know, as he mentions that he is actually a lot like his character. ‘‘Characters like Pope can so easily be taken for a joke, so it was important to show that people are the way they are because of circumstances,’’ he adds. ‘‘He is that reserved, I-don’t-wannacause-confrontation type of person because he doesn’t want to lose his scholarship. And when he does lose it, there is nothing holding him back from being like JJ [Rudy Pankow] or John B [Chase Stokes].’’ Pope loses so much that, by the end of the show’s first season, he ends up having the courage
to confess his feelings to Kiara [Madison Bailey]. ‘‘Especially in TV shows like this, you don’t get to see a lot of black couples. It’s not a big represented thing, so it was cool for me to do that,’’ he says. ‘‘With Pope and Kiara, it’s a very unexpected type of relationship. It’s gonna be interesting to see what does the supposed death of their best friend mean to that.’’ Among a mysterious treasure hunt, gasping action, and blooming romance, the show also portrays a very clear social stratification between the working-class, known as the ‘‘Pogues’’ and the privileged ‘‘Kooks,’’ alongside a racial divide — an issue that undeniably echoes with our society. ‘‘It was very important to me that the African American community, my community, is represented accurately. I grew up with that social, class, and racial divide, and it’s subtle. There are not a lot of people now who are overtly racist or overtly classist, but it’s in small ways,’’ Jonathan shares. ‘‘People do not know things matter until they are in it. But you can’t explain it, it has to be something that is felt. You have to listen and understand. It takes bringing it to attention and people wanting to change consistently. On the other part, accepting that people can change. Because that’s something that is hard too.’’ Since the 10-episode drama has officially been renewed by Netflix, Jonathan is looking forward to seeing the group of friends get back together in Outer Banks’ second season. ‘‘The adventures of the first season were so much fun. I want to see a bigger adventure and more stakes. I want to see the Pogues do Pogues things and be the treasure hunters they are supposed to be.’’ As far as his future in the industry is concerned, the actor mentions some of his dream roles. ‘‘A Marvel or superhero project would be a dream come true. I would probably cry and pass out,’’ he laughs. ‘‘I also want to do a biopic. My favorite rap group is Outkast, and playing André 3000 in a biopic is another huge dream of mine.’’ ‘‘There’s a lot of hate and rejection, and wondering if you are good enough to do it,’’ Jonathan shares when being asked about the challenges he’s had to face in the
industry so far. ‘‘You have to dig yourself deeper to come out the other side, and that’s scary because you don’t know whether you are digging up or you are digging down.’’ Therefore, ‘‘staying inside the love of acting’’ and being surrounded by the incredible support system that his family is has helped him stay grounded and motivated — as well as finding other avenues to be artistic. ‘‘I picked up guitar about a year ago. There are so many videos or apps online to teach yourself. All you need is a guitar, patience, and the finger strength to do it,’’ he concludes, before addressing one last message: ‘‘Times are crazy right now, for everyone. There are a lot of things out there that are trying to split people up, and divide people. Let’s stay connected together as people.’’
‘‘LET’S STAY CONNECTED TOGETHER AS PEOPLE’’
MASON GOODING Love, Victor Words by Thilda Riou
Photos by Emily Sandifer
Styling by Adam Ballheim for The Only.Agency
Grooming by Simone for Exclusive Artists using Drunk Elephant and Maapilim Producer Jasmine Perrier
Photography assistant Marci Manklow
Location Loft 1923
ROWING UP SURROUNDED BY THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY, IT’S NO WONDER THAT MASON GOODING WAS DESTINED TO APPEAR ON OUR SCREENS AT SOME POINT, AND WIN THE HEARTS OF VIEWERS WITH HIS TALENT
AND NATURAL CHARM. HOWEVER, BECOMING AN ACTOR HASN’T ALWAYS BEEN THE MOST OBVIOUS CAREER CHOICE FOR HIM. “IT’S INTERESTING BECAUSE THOUGH MY FATHER [CUBA GOODING JR.] IS OBVIOUSLY A BIG ADVOCATE FOR THE ARTS, IT DIDN’T REALLY STRIKE ME AS A VIABLE OPTION UNTIL LATER IN LIFE,” HE RECALLS, AS I MEET HIM OVER A ZOOM CALL CONNECTING PARIS TO HIS LOS ANGELES APARTMENT. FOR THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS, THE 23-YEAR-OLD ACTOR HAS BEEN EXPANDING HIS RÉSUMÉ AND MAKING A NAME FOR HIMSELF, STARRING IN OLIVIA WILDE’S MOVIE BOOKSMART, FREEFORM’S COMEDY EVERYTHING’S GONNA BE OKAY, AND MORE RECENTLY, HULU’S COMING-OF-AGE SERIES LOVE, VICTOR.
ason was studying writing at New York University Tisch School of the Arts, when he realized that acting wasn’t only his ‘‘true passion,’’ but also a career he wanted to pursue. ‘‘When you have someone like my dad who has put in the work and laid such a strong foundation for young actors today, it’s really inspiring and only works to push me to want to be better everyday,’’ he shares. ‘‘He, in tandem with my lovely mother, were super supportive in everything I did, specifically artistically.’’ Although the actor got to be involved in a bunch of student films while he was still in college, his first paid acting job was on the TV series Ballers, alongside Dwayne Johnson — an experience he describes as ‘‘nervewracking,’’ since he did not exactly know what set life was like at the time. ‘‘I’ll never forget my first day. It was supposed to be a surfing scene and I showed up at 5AM. I was all ready to go and I guess they ended up using the stunt double the entire time, because I didn’t leave my trailer until 7PM,’’ he laughs. ‘‘But it’s all part of it — you live and learn.’’ Indeed, climbing the ladder of success is a treacherous journey where each experience gives you an opportunity to grow. When Mason was cast in the 2019 comedy movie Booksmart, opposite Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, he learned everything that he could. ‘‘The main thing I took away from that experience is how immensely talented the industry is in wealth of female actresses, directors, and everyone behind the camera. If you create and foster a sense of community on set, if you harbor young talent and listen to your cast and crewmates, it makes a much more inclusive and entertaining film. In Booksmart, I feel like every character and every part of the movie felt true and cared for.’’ As he continuously picks projects that are close to his heart, it’s not surprising to see that he was drawn to the comedy series Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, and shortly after, Hulu’s Love, Victor. While Love, Victor is inspired by and set in the same world as the 2018 sensation Love, Simon, and aims to expand the message of that original book and movie, the show offers a much more intricate narrative. Here, we focus on Victor Salazar [Michael Cimino],
a Creekwood High student who has recently moved from Texas with his ColombianPuerto Rican family, and is coming to terms with his sexuality. ‘‘I’m all about inclusivity and creating stories that speak to a broader scope of audience,’’ Mason says, when I question him on what drew him to the project in the first place. ‘‘I knew I wanted to be a part of this [because of] the way Love, Victor tackles not only an LGBTQ+ narrative, but also the Latinx family dynamic, or even just any religiously inclined cultural background, and how that affects who we are socially and even romantically.’’ In the Hulu series, he plays Andrew, a high school basketball player who, in the same way as his two previous roles, is perceived as the popular kid on campus. But in that case, Mason’s profound performance, as well as the storylines developed throughout the show, allow us to dive more into his character’s complexity. As a matter of fact, having conversations with the writers in order to better understand his role was essential for the actor. ‘‘Andrew is more of an antagonist and a bully, but I love the idea that even in his giving people a hard time, he has his morals and lines,’’ he explains. ‘‘As most people lack when they’re 17, he at least shows the hint of empathy and accountability for his actions and his words. That’s important to show a young audience you can make mistakes, but you can always make up for it and apologize.’’ When talking about how he prepared to take on this role, Mason lets me know that mastering the sport of basketball was quite challenging, training ‘‘every other day for at least two months’’ with his co-star Michael Cimino. It’s not just multi-layered characters the show gets right. At a time when social media displays some unattainable standards for young people, Love, Victor thrives to offer an honest look at teen romantic relationships. ‘‘Andrew is maybe very brash and brazen in his basketball playing or his social circles, but when it comes to Mia, he’s very delicate, passionate, and methodical,’’ Mason comments about his love interest in the series, before adding, ‘‘Rachel [Hilson] is such an amazing actress and has no difficulty of creating an atmosphere of
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comfortability and understanding amongst actors.’’ Is there a future for Andrew and Mia? As season 2 is on the way, Mason states that, if it feels right for the characters, he would love to see them get together. ‘‘I would just love for Andrew to have friends in season 2, because filming alone is a pain in the ass,’’ he jokes. ‘‘It’s okay to question who you are, what you like, and what you don’t like,’’ the actor adds as our talk is coming to an end. ‘‘I think what the show does successfully is that it poses a question to the audience that though you may question certain things about yourself, eventually you’ll find an answer. Be yourself, at your own pace, at your own time — once you discover who you are, comfortably and safely let the people you trust most know, and let them in.’’ As far as his future is concerned, Mason is first and foremost hoping to be able to continue working on projects that speak deeply to an audience. In the meantime, as the current times are quite uncertain, he will be playing guitar and practicing his French.
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SOFIA BRYANT I Am Not Okay With This Words by Thilda Riou
Photos by Allegra Messina over FaceTime
Styling by Britt Theodora
Producer Jasmine Perrier
OR SOFIA BRYANT WHO GREW UP IN FINLAND BEFORE MOVING TO NEW YORK, THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY REALLY CALLED HER. FROM VISUAL ARTS TO THEATER, AND THEN TV AND FILM, THE 20-YEAR-OLD AMERICAN
FINNISH ACTRESS HAS BEEN GETTING HERSELF READY TO AMAZE VIEWERS WITH HER UNDENIABLE TALENT SINCE HER CHILDHOOD. HER BIG BREAK CAME ALONG NO LATER THAN THIS YEAR, AS SHE WAS OFFERED ONE OF THE LEADING ROLES IN NETFLIXâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S COMING-OF-AGE COMEDY-DRAMA SERIES, I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS. WE TALKED TO SOFIA TO TACKLE EVERYTHING FROM HER JOURNEY IN HOLLYWOOD TO HER WORK IN THE SERIES.
s far as her earliest acting experiences are concerned, Sofia tells us all about her first-ever role, which happens to be the iconic Tiger Lily in Peter Pan. ‘‘I was in school in Finland, in second grade. My mom always knew I loved to perform, but that was so important to me because that was the first time I got to do it for a lot of other people.’’ Although she was first fascinated about visual arts, her interest shifted towards theater when she moved to New York. ‘‘When we moved here, I didn’t really have a lot of friends. I was 9 and all of my friends that I had up until then were in Finland. So my mom was like: ‘We’re gonna sign you up for some classes.’ From there, I went to this musical theater camp and I ended up loving it.’’ As she recently dived into TV and film, Sofia took the industry by storm back in February, portraying the lovable Dina in Netflix’s I Am Not Okay With This. Based on the comic book of the same name by Charles Forsman, the series follows high schooler Sydney [Sophia Lillis], navigating the complexities of her family, her sexuality, and mysterious superpowers just beginning to arise within her. ‘‘When I first read the character breakdown for Dina, I was like: ‘I totally know this girl,’’’ the actress remembers. ‘‘My best friend is exactly like Dina in a lot of ways. It was almost like stepping into shoes that weren’t mine, but [were] very familiar to me.’’ Dina is friendly, supportive, and fun. She is one of Sydney’s best friends alongside Stanley [Wyatt Oleff], and in a relationship with football-playing star jock Brad [Richard Ellis]. ‘‘What I really like about her is that she can recognize when she’s been wrong, and she can apologize. She is with this complete idiot boyfriend but she is such a whole-hearted person, and really loves to see the best in everyone,’’ Sofia states. ‘‘Because the series is an adaptation and the book ends differently than the first season of our show, it was cool to take that same idea of Dina, but turn it into a way more complex version. We were able to give each character way more layers.’’ Set in high school, I Am Not Okay With This aims to portray teenage experiences in the most authentic way. ‘‘When I read the script, it was
nice to see words that I felt true to a person my age, and I knew other people could relate to,’’ Sofia says. ‘‘One of our goals was not to glamorize high school, because even though we’re playing characters, people like this exist all around the world and we want them to be recognized.’’ By doing so, messy and uncomfortable high school relationships are shown as well, like Dina and Sydney’s friendship slowing growing into romance. ‘‘This is a story that’s told all the time but needs to be told through this lens, which is so much more real. I would love to see their relationship flourish. They both deserve it.’’ However, teen romance and superpowers can be a risky mix, as we’ve seen in the unexpected and explosive series finale depicting Brad’s head suddenly combusting in the middle of homecoming. ‘‘That scene took about one week to shoot,’’ Sofia shares as she recalls the unusual experience of being covered in blood from head to toe. ‘‘I was hot and it was sticky, but honestly it added to the intensity and made it so real for us. I was very excited because most of the effects we were using in the show were all manual.’’ Although a second season of I Am Not Okay With This won’t happen — as Netflix sadly recently announced the cancellation of the show — Sofia’s fans will be seeing more of her remarkable acting skills in the upcoming film Mark, Mary & Some Other People, a comedy about a couple embarking
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on an open relationship. ‘‘It’s about two sisters, and I play the youngest who helps her sister start this version of Tinder,’’ the actress tells. ‘‘We also have this all-girl punk rock band in the middle of it, which was a fun coincidence because I started playing drums a month before the audition.’’
‘‘It’s a very competitive industry, and the one thing that I always have to tell myself is to not overthink,’’ Sofia states when being asked about the challenges she’s had to face during her career so far. ‘‘You have that pressure knowing that there are so many other people going for the same role. You have to remember to just not overthink and do your best.’’ Moreover, the actress points out the ongoing lack of diversity in Hollywood and how she aspires to be part of the change. ‘‘We still need to not only diversify a lot, but also accurately represent every culture and every type of person,’’ she concludes. ‘‘I’ve always loved action, adventure, and empowering roles — not only for me but for all women. If I can do that, specifically for women of color, that would be amazing.’’
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JACQUES COLIMON The Society Words by Thilda Riou
Photos by Allegra Messina
Styling by Kim Johnson
Grooming by Grace Phillips using Oribe and Make Up For Ever / TraceyMattingly.com Stylist assistant Serra Geris
Producer Jasmine Perrier
CTOR, POET, AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST JACQUES COLIMON HAS A BACKGROUND DEEPLY ROOTED IN THEATER. AT 11 ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY. FROM VISUAL ARTS TO THEATRE, AND THEN TV AND FILM, THE
20-YEAR-OLD ACTRESS SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN PREPARING TO AMAZE VIEWERS WITH HER UNDENIABLE TALENT SINCE HER CHILDHOOD. HER BIG BREAK CAME ALONG NOT LATER THAN THIS YEAR, AS SHE WAS OFFERED ONE OF THE LEADING ROLES IN NETFLIXâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S COMING-OF-AGE COMEDY-DRAMA SERIES I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS. WE CAUGHT UP
‘‘ didn’t really get into film until I graduated from high school,’’ Jacques tells us as he looks back on the beginning of his acting career. Passionate about theater since his childhood, he got the opportunity to act in his first independent film — Sweet Old World — shortly after his work in several musicals caught the attention. ‘‘It was love at first project,’’ he says. ‘‘I was playing a marching band leader and I had to learn saxophone. This was also while I was just beginning college, but it was a lot of fun.’’ Alike a lot of actors in this day and age, Jacques made his breakthrough when he was cast in a Netflix original series, mystery teen drama The Society. ‘‘The initial appeal of it was this combination of a teen drama and a political series, which isn’t really something that I was seeing a lot of,’’ he explains. Premiering in May 2019, The Society quickly became a fan favorite all around the world. The story follows a group of high schoolers who are mysteriously transported to a nearly exact replica of their Connecticut town — named West Ham — and must learn to run their own community. ‘‘You got a whole bunch of teenagers who are forced to survive, without parents and without authority. We all have to help each other out, or we are doomed.’’ Jacques portrays Will LeClair, a foster kid driven towards independence and freedom. ‘‘The most fascinating part of Will is his ability to adapt,’’ the actor says. ‘‘We see at the very beginning of the show that he had to learn to be able to navigate a lot of different household situations, which is a truth among foster kids. But over the course of the show, we see how Will develops this notion of really feeling at home in this new world, with people who are his closest friends and that he can trust.’’ The Society tackles a lot of heavy topics such as democracy, gun, and sexual violence, in an environment where food is in limited supply and it is unclear how long resources will last — a situation that alludes to the challenges Generation Z and millennials deal with in today’s world. ‘‘I said in another interview that a lot of young people are nihilists in the face of genocide,’’ Jacques shares. ‘‘A main thing that the show explores in this first season is trust. Who do you trust? Who needs protection?
Who gotta be checked? There is a power balance and a power struggle. There are a lot of parallels that we explore in this kind of sci-fi fantasy world and what a lot of teenagers are facing right now. They don’t know who to believe.’’ Moreover, the core mystery of the show has inspired a lot of speculation. ‘‘There are some really cool theories, but I think that Chris [Keyser] has done a really great job at keeping us in the dark about a lot of the future of the show, and where our characters are going. That’s really stimulating because we all get to dream about what would happen.’’ While fans won’t be able to discover the truth behind West Ham’s events — because of the unfortunate recent cancellation by Netflix — Jacques reveals that he would have loved to see Will lead a revolution. ‘‘This first season definitely raised more questions than providing answers, but I like the fact that we don’t have the ability to predict what’s gonna happen next.’’
‘‘BE YOURSELF. LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE’’
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In addition to his leading role in The Society, Jacques is set to star in Blumhouse TV’s upcoming supernatural horror film, Nocturne — out on October 13th on Amazon Prime Video. ‘‘That was actually a really cool project. The director did a fantastic job of exploring the classical music academy and the undue pressure that a lot of students have to endure. I think one of the best outlets for exploring social demons and human psychology is definitely horror,’’ he states. ‘‘I play a student at the school and I end up doing some things that I maybe regret. Music has definitely been a very big part of my life, so it was deeply satisfying to make that connection in this film.’’ As a matter of fact, Jacques lets us know that he has been recording ‘‘quite a bit of stuff’’ himself and is collaborating with a bunch of people. ‘‘But I’m still defining what exactly my sound is.’’
‘‘In high school, I was definitely somebody that cared too much about people’s opinions,’’ Jacques shares when being asked about what advice he would give to his younger self. ‘‘There’s a really beautiful quote from Marianne Williamson — she’s a really beautiful poet: ‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.’ That’s what I would tell my younger self and every young person out there. Be yourself. Let your light shine.’’
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MEGAN STOTT Words by Thilda Riou Styling by Madison Guest
Photos by Lissa Chandler
Makeup and hair by Vanessa Moates
Producer Jasmine Perrier
‘‘EVERYBODY SHOULD BE LOVED NO MATTER WHAT’’ 46
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ANDING A LEADING ROLE IN A HULU SERIES, ALONGSIDE ACTING POWERHOUSES LIKE REESE WITHERSPOON AND KERRY WASHINGTON, SURE IS A DREAM FOR MANY ACTORS. HOWEVER, MEGAN STOTT’S FANTASTIC WORK ON
EMMY-NOMINATED SHOW LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE IS EVEN MORE IMPRESSIVE AS IT WAS HER FIRST-EVER ROLE ON TELEVISION. “I HAD DONE A COUPLE OF PILOTS BEFORE, BUT I NEVER HAD A LONG-TERM EXPERIENCE. THE FIRST TIME I WAS ON SET, I WAS SURPRISED BY HOW BIG THE CAST WAS,” THE 17-YEAR-OLD ACTRESS LETS US KNOW FROM HER ROOM IN ARKANSAS AS WE CAUGHT UP WITH HER BACK IN MAY. “BEING ABLE TO BE WITH MY IDOLS FOR MY FIRST JOB IS SOMETHING THAT I NEVER THOUGHT WOULD EVER HAPPEN.”
egan’s passion for acting began at an early age, as she remembers setting up theater performances with her brothers and cousins when she was only 3 years old. ‘‘We had this book and it had all these plays in it, so we decided that we would dress up and I would try and memorize these scripts.’’ She also got into dancing, cheerleading, and gymnastics, before eventually turning to acting. From then on, it was the start of a successful journey, which led her to the groundbreaking role of Izzy on drama web television miniseries Little Fires Everywhere, based on the novel by Celeste Ng. ‘‘When I first heard that I was somewhat in the mix and that Reese [Witherspoon] was gonna be in it, I bought the book,’’ Megan explains when being asked about the auditioning process she went through. ‘‘I thought Izzy was complicated and different, and someone I couldn’t relate a bunch to. I was a little weary at first, but the more auditions I had and the more I got to meet everyone, it all fell into place.’’
I also did journaling, which was probably the most in-depth thing that I would do to explore her emotions a little more and keep track of everything that was happening.’’
As the actress dedicated herself to a specific method to get into Izzy’s mind, she paid extra attention to the thoughts and feelings that her character expressed in the novel. ‘‘Once I started to get to know her better, I would listen to Alanis Morissette, My Chemical Romance, and Billie Eilish.
Portraying a ’90s queer teen while being born in the 2000s, Megan was driven by the challenge of doing her character justice. ‘‘I was lucky enough to have so many people around me who have experienced that through their lives. Liz [Tigelaar] was a tremendous help because I was able to ask
Described by Megan as ‘‘the black sheep of the Richardson family,’’ Izzy is a bright and passionate young girl, coming to terms with her own sexuality while dealing with bullying. ‘‘She is the one who nobody talks to and who gets her feelings hurt the most. She just wants her family to love her and accept her for who she is. And that’s why she’s so drawn to Mia [Kerry Washington]. Nobody had called her an artist before.’’ Alike her character, Megan has a knack for music, an artistic background which allowed her to fully get into Izzy’s mindset. ‘‘I’ve played violin for a couple years when I was little. I played a lot of instruments like piano, flute, guitar, ukulele, so I understand where she’s coming from in her musical aspect, and how she releases her emotions into the violin.’’
her so many questions,’’ she states. ‘‘Back then, a lot of people were more closed off and the social injustices that were going on were a lot crueler than they are today. Now we have such a community where we’re able to have educated conversations. People are being accepted as who they really are. Everybody should be loved no matter what.’’ Another of Izzy’s hardships concerns her relationship with her mother Elena [Reese Witherspoon], because of the impossible expectations she requires her daughter to meet. ‘‘Elena believes that Izzy needs to be perfect and that she can’t be different,’’ Megan says, before addressing the issue in its globality. ‘‘I think that both sides have to be open-minded. I feel like a lot of the times, it’s a huge communication problem. If you’re willing to talk to your parents, talk to them. Do what your heart tells you to do. Don’t be afraid, because a lot of the times they do care about you and they do want to accept you. [...] I cried through the entire episode 8. I realized that it was this moment where Izzy can’t handle that burning because she just
needs to get out,’’ Megan shares about the show’s intense finale, where we can see the Richardson’s house burning to ashes. ‘‘It’s such a beautiful and sad moment between the family. There is so much symbolism on familyhood and motherhood.’’ As for what’s next for the young actress, Megan will star in the upcoming Netflix comedy movie Yes Day, alongside Jennifer Garner and Jenna Ortega. ‘‘It was a lot of fun to film,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s all about family and the love for each other. And I do get to be more girlie in this movie.’’ In addition to that, Megan is excited to continue working on projects that she can connect to. ‘‘That’s something that is really important to me. I want to do something that has depth and emotion to it,’’ she concludes, before giving out one last message. ‘‘No matter what, teenagers need to love themselves. Because a lot of teenagers I know don’t, and feel like it’s their fault that they aren’t what society thinks is perfect. You have to be careful and be kind. In the end, that shapes how they think of themselves.’’
‘‘A LOT OF TEENAGERS FEEL LIKE IT’S THEIR FAULT THAT THEY AREN’T WHAT SOCIETY THINKS IS PERFECT. YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL AND BE KIND. IN THE END, THAT SHAPES HOW THEY THINK OF THEMSELVES ’’
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FIONN O’SHEA Words by Thilda Riou
Styling by Oisin Boyd
Illustration by Jenny Sorto
Producer Jasmine Perrier
Special thanks Instax Fujifilm UK
Photographed by Lola Petticrew with Instax Ssquare SQ6
Fionn O’Shea is truly my best friend. It’s been around two years since we met at the chemistry read for Dating Amber and immediately I knew we were of the same ilk. We sat outside the audition building for over an hour after chatting away, secretly thinking the other person was so cool. He makes me laugh like no one else in the world can, he is without a doubt the funniest person I know. His kindness and compassion knows no bounds. He would give you the shirt off his back. We spent 3 and a half months in isolation together during the pandemic and every day I woke up grateful to be stuck in a caravan in rural Ireland with him. Fionn’s talent speaks for itself — from cold callous Jamie to lost and lonely Eddie. He is a character actor and loves his job beyond measure, which shows in every performance. Filming Dating Amber felt more like running around Dublin having the craic with my best friend and a camera following. The job was like lightening in a bottle and now I can’t imagine a world where Fionn isn’t beside me constantly asking for snacks and hugs — which I am more than willing to give. There is so much of ourselves that we poured in to Eddie and Amber, most of all our real life friendship. But how could you not fall head over heels in love (platonic or otherwise) with Fionn O’Shea?
Lola Petticrew Dating Amber co-star
HEN WE LOOK AT FIONN O’SHEA’S WIDE RANGE OF PERFORMANCES, WE CAN BE SURE THAT THE FUTURE OF HOLLYWOOD IS IN GOOD HANDS. STARTING HIS ACTING CAREER AT 11 YEARS OLD, IN THE OSCAR-NOMINATED
SHORT FILM NEW BOY, THE IRISH ACTOR HAS CONTINUOUSLY BEEN TAKING ON ROLES AFTER OTHERS, PROVING TO THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY THAT HE IS RIGHT WHERE HE BELONGS. TODAY, THE 23-YEAR-OLD ACTOR CAN BE SEEN IN NUMEROUS PRODUCTIONS, SUCH AS HANDSOME DEVIL, BBC SERIES NORMAL PEOPLE AND MORE RECENTLY, THE COMING-OF-AGE COMEDY MOVIE DATING AMBER. I CAUGHT UP WITH FIONN FOR A SOCIAL DISTANCING INTERVIEW AS HE WAS QUARANTINED IN IRELAND, AND GOT THE FEELING THAT HE IS NOT PLANNING ON SLOWING DOWN ANYTIME SOON.
‘‘ started [acting] really young. I would always do these performances for my family in the kitchen,’’ Fionn starts. Originally from Dublin, his journey began when he joined his sister’s drama class and was brought to the open audition for the poignant short film New Boy. ‘‘I did a horrendously bad audition,’’ he laughs. ‘‘It was awful and I was painfully shy, but I ended up getting offered the part.’’ Working on sets for the rest of his childhood while going to school, the thought of making a career out of acting really struck him when he graduated and went to university. ‘‘I went to a business school, and then I dropped out three months in, when I got cast in The Siege of Jadotville. That was the transition from doing it semi-professionally to doing it professionally.’’ From then on, Fionn joined a series of great productions and worked with acting powerhouses such as Jamie Dornan, Mark Strong, and Guillaume Canet — in Netflix’s The Siege of Jadotville, and Andrew Scott, his co-star in Handsome Devil. ‘‘It’s amazing working with people like that, because you just learn so much. And with all of those people, they were everything I expected them to be and more,’’ he says. ‘‘I don’t think I’ve ever had a day on set where I haven’t learned something new, whether it’s about acting, stuff behind the camera or
anything.’’ It was actually when Fionn was shooting The Siege of Jadotville in South Africa, that one of the actors recommended him to the director of Handsome Devil, a comedy-drama about two teenagers in an all-boys boarding school in Ireland. ‘‘I guess the main message of the film is about not using a borrowed voice, and being true to yourself. It’s a film that focuses very heavily on male friendship and identity.’’ In April, Fionn got back on our screens in the critically acclaimed Irish drama series Normal People, portraying the role of Jamie alongside main characters Connell [Paul Mescal] and Marianne [Daisy Edgar-Jones]. Based on the novel by Sally Rooney and produced by Element Pictures, the show has been getting amazing feedback all around the world, praised for its beautiful, realistic, and heartbreaking portrayal of first love. ‘‘I had seen an article about Element and Lenny [Abrahamsson] adapting Sally’s book, and I was always a massive fan of Lenny’s and of Element. I read the book and fell in love with the story like everyone else,’’ the actor recalls. ‘‘I found this part in it, Jamie, and I was just really drawn to him. I remember at the time, I started recording voice notes about how I’d play that part and recording videos on my phone, before I even knew if I was gonna audition.’’ While Jamie is introduced as one of Marianne’s friends
‘‘I’VE BEEN REALLY LUCKY TO WORK ON STORIES THAT I FEEL REALLY PASSIONATELY ABOUT, AND CHARACTERS THAT I CARE ABOUT’’ at Trinity College, the frantic character ends up becoming her boyfriend at some point in the story. ‘‘Jamie is an extremely anxious, insecure, and jealous person — he hides that beneath a veil of hostility and arrogance. He can be racist and classist, and can be horrendous at times,’’ Fionn states. ‘‘Lenny and I talked a lot about why he does the things he’s doing, because although I don’t agree with the things that he does, I had to be able to understand him. We were just treating him as a human being.’’ Brought to life by Fionn’s outstanding performance, Jamie quickly became one of the most hated characters on the internet. ‘‘Jamie is an antagonist, so we knew people weren’t gonna like him. But I don’t think any of us expected the level of hate that people had for Jamie online,’’ he amusingly comments. However, Fionn portrays a very different — and lovelier — role in his most recent movie Dating Amber, which was released on Amazon Prime UK back in June. Set in Ireland during the mid-’90s, the heartfelt comedy takes us on the journey of teenagers Eddie and Amber [Lola Petticrew], who fake a relationship in order to stop everyone speculating about their sexuality. ‘‘As soon as I read the script, I completely fell in love with it. It’s a film about platonic friendship, and it’s hopeful and joyous,’’ he shares. ‘‘It’s really important that we see queer stories framed in that light, to reflect the full experience. Although it is set in the ’90s in Ireland, I think it can absolutely apply today. Eddie is a bundle
of insecurities, who’s got this artifice of masculinity that he’s cobbled together from his dad, music, TV, and magazines of the time. At the beginning of the film, Eddie has no idea who he is or what he can become. I think a message that’s important is that you have to find your tribe and find where you belong.’’ Although Dating Amber’s ending leaves the audience with questions about Eddy’s future, as we see him leaving his hometown, Fionn envisions his character going to London and never coming back. ‘‘Dave [Freyne] has an idea for a film that’s set 10 years later, where Amber comes over and they meet, having not met for 10 years. Lola [Petticrew] and I would love to revisit those characters.’’ In the meantime, we are happy to see more of Fionn’s talent in the upcoming movie Cherry, directed by The Russo Brothers and starring Tom Holland. ‘‘It’s a wild, coming-of-age story about a disenfranchised teenager, who joins the army and serves in Iraq. He gets PTSD and forms an opioid addiction, and starts robbing banks. The film is split into chapters and the chapter my character is part of takes place in Iraq. We were shooting in January in Morocco for a month, it was so much fun,’’ the actor explains, as we conclude our chat. ‘‘I’ve been really lucky that I’ve been able to work on stories that I feel really passionately about, and characters that I care about. If I could keep doing that, I’d be over the moon.’’
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MILLICENT SIMMONDS Words by Jasmine Perrier Makeup by Kim Bower at TMG-LA
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Styling by Jenn Rosado Special thanks Cara Vision Studio
‘‘ENJOY EVERY MOMENT. WE’RE NOT GUARANTEED TOMORROW’’ 58
ILLICENT SIMMONDS HOLDS ALL THE CARDS TO BECOME HOLLYWOOD’S LATEST GEM. THANKS TO HER MAJOR ROLES OPPOSITE INDUSTRY-LEADING FIGURES IN TODD HAYNES’ WONDERSTRUCK, AND JOHN KRASINSKI’S A
QUIET PLACE, THE 17-YEAR-OLD DEAF ACTRESS IS A POWERHOUSE TO IMPROVE THE REPRESENTATION OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN THE FILM INDUSTRY. WE FIRST CAUGHT UP WITH MILLIE — AS MANY REFER TO HER — IN MARCH FOR A PHOTOSHOOT IN NEW YORK’S FLOWER DISTRICT, TWO DAYS AFTER THE NEW YORK PREMIERE OF A QUIET PLACE PART
II. AN EXCITING WORLDWIDE PRESS TOUR WAS ON THE AGENDA FOR THE YOUNG PERFORMER — UNTIL ALL PLANS GOT POSTPONED DUE TO THE PANDEMIC, AND PARAMOUNT DECIDED TO PUSH BACK THE RELEASE TO APRIL 2021. “RIGHT AFTER THE PREMIERE IN NEW YORK WE WERE SUPPOSED TO GO TO THE LONDON PREMIERE,’’ SHE RELATES. “I’VE NEVER BEEN AND HAVE BEEN WANTING TO GO FOR THE LONGEST TIME. I WAS SO DEVASTATED, OR HOW NOAH [JUPE] WOULD SAY ‘GUTTED.’ IT WAS AND HAS BEEN VERY SURREAL TO HAVE IT PULLED AT THE LAST MINUTE.’’
fter what felt a lifetime, we reconnected with Millicent to check in on her and see what she has been up to during her time at home. ‘‘I think like most people, it’s been a real reflective time for me. It’s also been pretty emotional at times,’’ she says. ‘‘I’ve had the time to do things that I normally wouldn’t have time for. I’ve read a lot, started painting again, and even started writing stories which I’ve always loved to do.’’ Even if this period has allowed her to slow down quite a bit, the Young Hollywood newcomer states she misses traveling and being on set. ‘‘It’s been bittersweet for me.’’ With just three feature film credits to her name, Millicent’s short but impressive career is marked by her breakout performances that cannot be ignored. ‘‘It’s really not something that I planned on but now that I’m here, a lot of people have influenced me and helped me along this path,’’ she says. Having her roots in Utah, she was first introduced to performing arts at her local deaf school when she joined a drama club and got her starts on stage. ‘‘My first performance was in front of 100 people,’’ she tries to recall. ‘‘It was for a conference and I played Puck in A
Midsummer Night’s Dream. We would travel around and perform mostly Shakespeare plays.’’ Growing up, Millicent affirms she never saw deaf kids on screen and didn’t really think it was a possible career option for her. ‘‘I feel like I accidentally fell into this path rather than chose it,’’ she says. At the request of her drama teacher, Millicent auditioned for Wonderstruck and made her big screen debut opposite Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams as Rose, a 12-year-old deaf girl living in 1920s New Jersey. ‘‘I didn’t think there was any chance I would get it — I’m happy I did,’’ she shares. ‘‘When I was offered the role, I was extremely overwhelmed, and questioned myself and my ability. I was used to the stage and felt very much out of place, [because] playing to a camera is nothing like playing to an audience.’’ Wonderstruck premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 2017 which Millicent attended with her co-stars. ‘‘I had no idea what to expect. I remember the flashes and the photographers yelling at us — it was very intimidating and scary at first,’’ she recalls from the red carpet. ‘‘I remember taking a deep breath and turning around — seeing it all from the top was electric. I saw
my parents on the stairs just beaming.’’ From then on, she decided to keep pursuing this path and growing side by side with Hollywood royalty instilled confidence in her as an actor. ‘‘I feel extremely fortunate to have worked with the people I’ve worked with — they really understand the business, but are also so genuine and generous with their time and advice. I’ve learned so much just from watching them.’’ Right after Wonderstruck, the actress kept making waves when she was cast in horror movie A Quiet Place alongside John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, and Noah Jupe, as part of the Abbott family who is trying to survive in utter silence to an invasion of blind, sound-hunting monsters. After the success of the first film in 2018 — which earned critical acclaim and grossed over $340 million worldwide — Millicent was set to reprise her role as Regan Abbott in A Quiet Place Part II, which puts her character’s fight to help save her family at the center of the storyline. ‘‘I am my worst critic,’’ she says before explaining she often finds things about her performances that she would change or could have done better. ‘‘When I saw the sequel with my mom the night before it premiered in New York, she turned to me after it was over and asked me what I thought. It was the first time that I couldn’t think of anything that I would’ve changed or didn’t like. It was one of the most satisfying feelings I’ve ever felt.’’ Eventually, Millicent feels ‘‘a sense of pride’’ when reflecting on the franchise. ‘‘I don’t think any of us really thought beyond the first film, and even then I don’t think we had any idea that it would turn into what it has. I love the fact that it was just the four of us — we really had to rely on each other and become a family. I will always feel that way about John, Emily, and Noah. I’m excited to see where it goes from here.’’
At her remarkably young age, Millicent delivers genuine, raw, and powerful performances that have made her one of the most promising performers of her generation — with a nomination at the Critics Choice Awards and a recognition at the 2020 Hollywood Critics Association Awards. While climbing the steady road to success, she plans on continuing acting and only picking roles that she really loves. ‘‘Because I’m young and still live with my parents, I have the luxury not to feel the pressure to say yes to everything that has been offered. I might not have that much longer so I’m taking advantage now,’’ she teases. Committed to embracing her identity and breaking barriers for deaf actors in the business, she hopes to change people’s minds about hiring actors with all disabilities. ‘‘I think all deaf people to some degree feel like they don’t click with the majority of people around them, regardless of where they’re from,’’ she says. ‘‘It is extremely satisfying to see doors being opened to kids with disabilities that I hadn’t really seen when I was young. It’s happening more now than it ever has and I feel grateful to have played a part in that.’’ Whereas continuing her education is pretty high on her priority list, the actress states she never wants to stop learning. ‘‘I’m currently in the process of trying to make [a story] happen so I’m extremely excited about it, and can’t really say much more unfortunately — but fingers crossed!’’ Millicent is all aware of the challenges that the film industry involves, but she knows she can rely on her family and friends no matter what. ‘‘When everything else is uncertain, I know that they will always be here for me. It’s comforting for me to know that,’’ she says. When it is time to conclude our conversation, she gently reminds us with a smile, ‘‘Enjoy every moment. We’re not guaranteed tomorrow.’’
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WYATT OLEFF Interviewed by Jaeden Martell
Photos by Emily Sandifer
Styling by Adam Ballheim for The Only.Agency
Grooming by Harper for Exclusive Artists using Skyn Iceland Producer Jasmine Perrier
Interview transcribed by Parker Schug
Photography assistant Marci Manklow
Location Loft 1923 Illustration by Kendall Wisniewski
T 17, WYATT OLEFF IS PART OF THE NEXT GENERATION OF YOUNG STARS WHO WILL ONE DAY RULE HOLLYWOOD. WITH HIS ROLES IN SUCCESSFUL MOVIE FRANCHISES — INCLUDING MARVEL’S GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY AND
HORROR CLASSICS IT AND IT: CHAPTER TWO ADAPTED FROM STEPHEN KING’S 1986 NOVEL — HE HAS BECOME AN UPAND-COMING TALENT TO WATCH. WYATT STARS AS THE MALE LEAD IN NETFLIX’S I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS OPPOSITE SOPHIA LILLIS, BRINGING TO LIFE ANOTHER CHARACTER NAMED STANLEY WHO IS DESCRIBED AS “ADORABLY AWKWARD BUT COOL.” A FEW WEEKS BEFORE THE SHOW PREMIERE IN FEBRUARY, WE INVITED WYATT’S FELLOW IT CO-STAR AND BEST FRIEND JAEDEN MARTELL FOR A PHONE CONVERSATION WITH HIM. THE TWO ACTORS SAT DOWN TO OFFER US A WINDOW INTO THE MIND OF A YOUNG RISING STAR GROWING UP IN THE INDUSTRY.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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‘‘ALL MY FRIENDS AND ALL THE PEOPLE THAT I’VE WORKED WITH THROUGHOUT MY TIME AS AN ACTOR, HAVE ALL INSPIRED ME IN THEIR OWN WAYS — INCLUDING YOU, JAEDEN. YOU’VE INSPIRED ME TO KEEP GOING’’
JAEDEN MARTELL: First of all, the most important question — who’s your favorite co-star from IT? WYATT OLEFF: We all got along so well, so it’s hard to pick favorites in that cast. I wouldn’t say I value one more than the other — I’d have to say all of them equally. [It’s] like choosing your favorite son or child, which I don’t have to do yet. JM: We’ve been friends for four years now, and I’ve been able to watch you grow as a person and actor. How do you think that working in this business has changed you? Would you be the same person without it in your life? WO: It’s hard to tell whether or not my life would have been different without it. Obviously, a lot of the events that happened wouldn’t have happened. If I didn’t do IT, I wouldn’t have met any of you guys. If I didn’t do I Am Not Okay With This, I wouldn’t have worked with even more amazing people. I couldn’t be more grateful. But in terms of how the industry has changed me, I hope it’s made me a little more confident in myself, and a little better at talking to people. But I hope it hasn’t changed any of my fundamental ideals, because I want to stay as grounded as possible. We all made that promise when we first filmed IT — to keep each other together. I feel like we’ve been pretty successful on that. I just hope that every change that it gives me is positive and all these experiences lead me to become a more complete person. JM: How is your connection to Sophia Lillis important to [I Am Not Okay with This] and how much did it help that you already had a relationship with her? WO: It’s lucky that we’ve worked together
before because the characters have such an interesting dynamic — one that reflects our dynamic as well. There’s a lot of scenes where we’re just hanging out, talking, and laughing together. Those are all very genuine. It’s because we’re so comfortable with each other, that we’re able to act so close together. I feel like it’s hard to put two actors in a situation together and act like they are really good friends now. JM: Your character, Stanley, seems very comedic in the show — which is a pretty different character in IT who is also named Stanley. How does it feel working in a more comedic capacity? WO: It was definitely a lot more interesting. Playing a character who’s a little more outward with their emotions and has a little bit more to say — it opens up more chances for stuff like improv. But it feels easier to live and breathe the characters because they’re not always sad. You don’t have to always be sad all the time. And I relate to Stanley a lot, so it was easy for me to get into the mind of the character. Playing that comedic role, whether he says something stupid or actually funny, is something that I found really interesting. I’m glad to have that experience now. JM: Going along with how you relate to your character, how did you approach working with or creating this character? WO: The original character came from the comic book from Charles Forsman, and he was a very different character in that book. Jonathan [Entwistle] revamped the character as a whole, which gives Sydney [Sophia Lillis] a new dynamic to work with. He wanted to input some of himself into this project. I feel like I put a lot of myself into Stanley Barber as well, so working with
Jonathan to see how stupid we can make him, while also being so lovable at the same time, was really interesting. I’m glad I got to work with him on that. JM: Do you think that you feel a certain pressure growing up in the film industry, and growing up in an age where social media has such a large presence? WO: Yes — I think social media is such a new thing that it’s hard to really understand what the long-term effects of it are. Personally, I understand why people feel like they’re living under a microscope because they get recognized in public. I feel like you don’t really have to be on social media, but it’s an excellent networking tool. It’s this kind of toss-up where you want to share your experiences with people who respect you. But you also don’t want to share too much of yourself. It’s also important for me that I communicate my voice through that. So I don’t really have a conclusion for it yet, we’ll have to see what happens as time goes on. JM: This is harder than I thought it would be, by the way [laughs]. You’ve been doing this for such a long time and started at a really young age. Can you describe the evolution from being a child actor and eventually becoming an adult actor? WO: Like you said, I’m not exactly an adult actor yet, so this is like my middle of the journey kind of perspective. I didn’t really work with people my age until IT. I didn’t really get a lot of opportunities to act with other actors my age on set because I was under 13. I guess IT brought me into this new world, which also not really alienated me from my school life because I still go to school and people treat me normally. But it’s definitely different from how everyone else usually grows up. When people are talking about jobs and working with adults, I know all this stuff. Right now I’m in a good spot, and hopefully, I continue to be in a good spot as I grow older. That’s a really good question, but I’m not sure if I have a concrete answer for it yet. JM: But if you weren’t in the film industry, is there another career that interests you? Is there any passion that you have besides acting or filming?
WO: I haven’t had a lot of time to think about other career options, because I’ve been so focused on acting for all these years. I’ve pretty much decided that this is something I’d like to really do for a lot of these upcoming years in my life. But something that has always interested me is psychology. Telling stories is something I like to do — if I could do it [in] any medium. It’s a loophole to your answer, but maybe a graphic novelist if I was going to draw. JM: That makes sense because storytelling is such a big part of your life. I feel like a large part of being an actor is allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and forgetting about the cameras and crew. Do you ever find yourself anxious in front of the camera? If so, how do you break out of that shell? WO: Great question — I don’t think there are any cameras necessarily on set that I get nervous in front of. I’m there to do my job, and I’m just happy enough to be there. Actually, the only time it really makes me nervous is maybe in public, because it has happened before — when people take pictures or film you without your consent. Sometimes it’s weird because you notice, then they don’t notice that you notice, and there’s a whole thing there. It has happened once or twice, in front of crowds, like when we went to the MTV Music and whatever Awards, and we got that on-screen team thing. I was nervous for that. Maybe it was more because of the people surrounding us rather than the cameras. JM: Do you think there’s a certain vulnerability in showing your emotions in a way? Sometimes for me, it’s hard to show that real emotion because they feel too vulnerable. Do you ever feel that way? Or does it feel so natural to go to that place for all or certain emotions? WO: I totally forgot about that part of the question. But whenever I start a new project, it takes a little bit to warm up. In those scenes where it’s more specifically sadder emotions or angrier emotions, it gets pretty interesting. Especially [in] I Am Not Okay With This, there was a scene that was just very intense. This feels good to get this catharsis of emotions out. You don’t really get to do that in your everyday life. There are those
moments where it feels almost natural to get it all out. When we filmed that scene during IT with all of us crying together, I barely noticed there were cameras there. That was really raw — a moment between all of us. What we had was very special. JM: My next question would be, who are some of your biggest film inspirations including actors and filmmakers?
everything else behind the camera. JM: Is there any way to watch that? WO: We just submitted it to a couple of film festivals, and we’re not really sure how we want to put it out there yet. But if you want, I have an Instagram account — I update on that sometimes. JM: Cool! That’s all that I have.
WO: First off, I’d say all my friends and all the people that I’ve worked with throughout my time as an actor, have all inspired me in their own ways. And I want to thank every single person that I’ve worked with — including you, Jaeden. You’ve inspired me to keep going. To see all you guys do all your separate projects and continue to work inspires me to work as well. [As for] specific names, I’ve newly grown fond of Sam Rockwell and all of his roles. His characters are not always the most important, but they always complete the story in some sort of way. I really admire that he’s able to do that.
WO: Great. Thank you very much, Jaeden. Those were great questions. JM: Thank you, Wyatt — great answers.
JM: What is your favorite movie of 2019? WO: You pretty much know this one [laughs]. It’s a pretty close toss-up between Jojo Rabbit and Parasite. There’s almost nothing wrong with it. It’s one of those stories that are so well-crafted. You keep thinking about the movie and that’s what I love when films do it. That was definitely my favorite and I’m really glad it swept the Oscars. JM: I know! And I think this is my last question, but I want to talk about you codirecting a short film, and if you could talk about that process. Is that an area of interest that you would continue exploring? WO: One time I went to this film festival on Catalina Island, and I met this director, John. He created a full feature film on his own pretty much. So I worked with him and this other girl [who] is an incredible writer and actress. She wrote this very short script. After revising it and talking about all the plot points and what we wanted from it, we actually got it into motion. It was really eye-opening to understand how much work goes into being a director. It was such a great experience and it definitely has cemented my passion for directing and
Issy-Les-Moulineaux, France Photographed by Jasmine Perrier (June 2020)
Chapter IV Chapter IV
LORENZA IZZO Interviewed by Brianne Howey
Photos by Sara Newman
Creative direction by Sophie Tabet
Makeup and hair by Alexia Molinari Producer Jasmine Perrier
Styling by Jenn Rosado
Stylist assistant Khoi Le
Interview transcribed by Parker Schug
Illustration by Jenny Sorto
ORENZA IZZO HAS GRADUALLY MADE HER MARK IN HOLLYWOOD. BORN IN SANTIAGO, THE CHILEAN ACTRESS HAS BEEN TRAVELING BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN HER NATIVE COUNTRY AND THE UNITED STATES SINCE HER TEENAGE
YEARS — WHICH IS WHY WE DON’T PERCEIVE AN OUNCE OF SOUTH AMERICAN ACCENT IN HER VOICE, AS SHE EXPLAINS IT. TODAY, SHE RESIDES IN LOS ANGELES WHERE SHE FILMED TWO OF HER LATEST PROJECTS, INCLUDING QUENTIN TARANTINO’S NINTH FEATURE FILM ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD — OPPOSITE LEONARDO DICAPRIO AND BRAD PITT— AND JOHN LOGAN’S SERIES PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS IN WHICH SHE PORTRAYS THE MAGNETIZING
SANTA MUERTE, THE MEXICAN FOLK SAINT OF DEATH. INTERVIEWED BY ACTRESS BRIANNE HOWEY, LORENZA DESCRIBED THOSE MONTHS AS “THE HAPPIEST MOMENTS OF HER LIFE” AND RECAPPED THE KEY MOMENTS OF HER JOURNEY THAT HAVE BUILT UP HER PROMISING CAREER THUS FAR.
Dress Nadya Dzyak
LOOK 1 | Dress NARCES LOOK 2 | Cape Sebastian Gunawan
BRIANNE HOWEY: Let’s start at the beginning. Do you remember the first time we met? It was at Go Get Em on Larchmont. LORENZA IZZO: I was just sitting in the corner, studying for an audition. BH: You were born in Chile — when did you leave? LI: I lived in Atlanta, Georgia, from 12 years of age to 16. My mother’s second husband — my beautiful stepdad — got this scholarship to do his PhD at Georgia Tech. That was my first experience outside of my country. It was quite the culture shock, but also the most incredible experience. Now that I’m 30, I can look back and say, ‘‘If I hadn’t gone to Atlanta, I would have probably not ended up here where I am today.’’ I had a really thick accent at the beginning, and I got bullied hardcore. So I quickly learned to speak like an American. My mom would make me Chilean food to take in a thermos, and I remember this awful traumatizing experience — I would open it up and all the kids would smell it and be not nice. BH: [How] has that translated? LI: I’ve always said that I want to write or produce a movie about that time in my life because it was such a classic American story of coming into myself. I got bullied hardcore, but then I had a full summer where I watched this movie called Blue Crush with Kate Bosworth, and I came back from that summer — I ended up becoming one of the most popular girls, I was dating the quarterback. BH: I want to know more about modeling and how you arrived there. LI: The hilarious thing about me is that I
was never a proper model. My mother was a model. I was 5 years old — she would be doing a show and walk the runway with me at the end. At 16, I started doing a couple of commercials. My mom had a modeling agency at that time, so I signed with them, and I signed with Elite for a little bit. But it was never really my thing. I felt empty in front of a camera, just posing. Then I studied at Lee Strasberg in New York, which is my only formal actor training. There was this open call for this successful second part of a big comedy that had done really well in Chile. I ended up booking the part — it was my first-ever audition. That was about the time I was in my second year of journalism, grades started really going down, and I was on set and ecstatic [laughs]. BH: I did not know that you went to school for journalism — I minored in journalism for two semesters in college. LI: You did? I did two years of journalism. It was something that really called me. There’s a nobility to getting the information out to the people. Unfortunately, we live in a world today where we lost a lot of what the foundation of journalism really is. BH: We have so much in common. I was going to ask you what your first audition was. I got my first audition too, but I also did Lee Strasberg. LI: I skyrocketed for a bit when I got my first audition. I moved to LA, thought I was going to book everything left and right, and win an Oscar. It was such a false idea of what my career would be like. I came for pilot season and I booked a pilot. It got canceled, and then I could not book a job for a year and a half. Actually, it’s been very humbling because I don’t know what a monster I would have become if I would have gotten
lucky and gotten really successful. It really humbled me how difficult this job that we do is, how rejection never ends. BH: Unless you have that wild card where the first thing you ever book is a show that lasts. LH: Exactly. It’s the one card in a million, where people — who also are really talented — get that lucky chance and go with it. That was not my case [laughs]. BH: It’s like a double-edged sword because that would have been really cool and wonderful. But at the same time, you’ve gone to work with so many different kinds of people, sets, directors, actors. LI: I feel so much more prepared today to handle both the dread and the success because I have a better hand. I remember joking with my friends who had older sisters — I’d be looking at them going, ‘‘We will always be young, happy, and alive’’ [laughs]. Now I’m loving getting older because there’s a sense of calmness to who I am, and being more okay with who I am at whatever stage I’m at, even though it’s still incredibly difficult. I have to say, I really love being a 30-year-old woman. BH: Have you ever had to hide your age? LI: Yes — when I first moved here, the roles I would get were so stereotyped. It was either the hot Latin young mom or the housekeeper. Then I saw this switch into cops. All I auditioned for was the Latin tough cop. I remember having a pilot season where I was on fire. I had gotten callbacks for almost everything, and I was preparing the same character over and over again. I’m really happy that she’s a smart Latin cop, but there’s more there to do. At the beginning, I wanted to present the version that I thought everyone wanted of me. As you get older, you realize that’s an illusion, because the only version you can be is you.
BH: What was the audition like for Penny Dreadful? LI: I didn’t audition. This was the first time I got a big offer. John Logan is an incredible legend. He’s that guy that wrote those epic movies — Gladiator, James Bond. When I got the call from my team going, ‘‘John Logan would like to meet with you about a roll.’’ I just went, ‘‘It can’t be. Why does he even know me?’’ He was a fan of Green Inferno of all the movies I’ve done — it’s a movie about cannibals — and he was like, ‘‘I’ve been thinking about you for a long time.’’ At that point, I was still first priority for Amazon, I was shooting Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood. This was my very successful time. The Amazon pilot didn’t go, but it was a blessing because if it had gone, I wouldn’t have been able to do Santa Muerte. BH: Did you feel pressure working on Penny Dreadful and Santa Muerte, because there’s such a historical association? LI: I love that you’re asking me this question. Santa Muerte is not a religious saint, but she is a religion within itself. She’s portrayed in a lot of TV shows, film, and theater in general, as the Forgiving goddess — she doesn’t judge. That’s why a lot of gangs have her on their belt. What was cool about that is that we had a lot of wiggle room to create our version of her, without disrespecting anyone. I wanted to ground her, so in terms of acting, I just made her as real as I could. I wanted to humanize her. BH: What I also really want to talk to you about is the prosthetics process, because I too, can relate to that. LI: Honestly, I’m fine with prosthetics. What I found the hardest was the contacts. They would write these scenes where I had to have a single tear and match it with a word. That didn’t help my imposter syndrome, because you know, [John] banked on me without having ever worked with me and I didn’t want to disappoint.
BH: It’s reminding me of the audition process — it’s going to be a while before we’re in the audition room again.
BH: You have gotten to shoot in LA a lot, which I’m very envious of.
LI: I’m not mad about doing self-tapes for the rest of our lives [laughs].
LI: I cannot explain this to you — during my last year and a half, every job was in LA.
Dress Nadya Dzyak
One day I went from Once Upon A Time... in Hollywood to Paramount. What life is that? It was such a surreal moment. BH: Of all these genres you’ve worked in, is there one you feel like you gravitate to more than another? LI: When I was little, I wanted to be the female James Bond. I was always baffled by why he wasn’t a woman. When Angelina Jolie did Tomb Raider, I wanted to be her. What comes in to answer the question, I love doing horror so much, but I personally don’t like watching horror movies. There’s something so therapeutic about getting to do the scenes where you scream — I understand the thrill. As human beings, we don’t get to walk around in life scared, we are constantly pretending — when you watch those movies, you get a safe release that you don’t get anywhere else. You get to watch someone else be scared for you. BH: How was your experience producing Women Is Losers? LI: It was honestly a very interesting process. I think it has more to do with having the brain, and being all hands on deck in terms of where we’re going on the day, what we can take advantage of, what shots we want to prioritize. It was a low-budget indie movie, so it’s much more contained in that sense. I also like having a voice in the creative. Producing allows you to have a say and have it be heard. BH: Sometimes it does feel like actors are the last piece of the puzzle on set. LI: What do you mean by sometimes? All the time — they don’t trust us [laughs]. BH: Is writing something that’s tugging at you? LI: Writing scares me a lot. I deeply admire people who do that. I’m not so sure that I could actually see myself writing a script, but I do love collaborating. Sophie — my partner — does that, and I find it incredibly soul-filling when we get to collaborate together. There’s something really magical about that process. It made me realize how much I care about being part of that.
BH: Would you ever want to direct? LI: For now, I just want to act. Eventually, I would like to test it. I don’t think every actor is a director, I don’t think every writer is a director. It’s an art and artistry within itself. BH: I think it would be so valuable as someone who had experience acting, to transition to directing because you’d be able to communicate with actors. Oftentimes, you get offset and you’re like, ‘‘I don’t want to be in front of a camera again right now.’’ LI: I’ve had that feeling too. It’s like, ‘‘I love being the show. But I also hate being the show’’ [laughs]. BH: What is your favorite guilty pleasure? LI: When I first started, I was so concerned with my weight. I wouldn’t even look at crafty. As I grew older, I became more okay with my flaws. This might be really weird, but I love when they bring out buffalo wings. Whenever the hot food comes out, I’m there. I was best friends with the whole team that was doing crafty on Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood [laughs]. BH: Are there any closing remarks—maybe about your friend’s charity? LI: I was wearing the sweater this whole interview — it says ‘‘Phenomenally Human.’’ There’s this charity about humanity that works at the California border, and the situation there with immigrants is dire — to say the least. They work directly with the Mexican shelters at the border that are taking these families from Honduras, Guatemala, running from really bad situations... They’re constantly partnering with different brands, shops, and places to have people donate money so that they can buy whatever they need. Lately, for pride, we did a whole campaign for the LGBTQ+ shelters at the border, because it’s yet another level of hardship. Latin culture is quite strict and conservative in terms of LGBTQ members. So check it out! BH: We’re about to hit an hour. You’re so easy to talk to. LI: I think we nailed it [laughs].
JUSTIN H. MIN Words by Emily Pitcher
Photos by Raul Romo
Styling by Evan Simonitsch
Grooming by Sonia Lee for Exclusive Artists using Oribe Haircare
Producer Jasmine Perrier
‘‘WE ARE ALL SEARCHING FOR CHARACTERS WHO HAVE A LOT OF HISTORY AND FLAWS’’ 78
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CTOR JUSTIN H. MIN IS PAVING THE WAY FOR AUTHENTIC POC REPRESENTATION WITH HIS COMMITMENT TO PLAYING THREE-DIMENSIONAL CHARACTERS WHOSE IDENTITIES AREN’T DEFINED BY THEIR ASIANNESS. GETTING
HIS START IN WONG FU PRODUCTIONS, A YOUTUBE CHANNEL ABOUT ASIAN AMERICAN STORYTELLING, JUSTIN HAS SINCE PROPELLED HIMSELF INTO THE WORLD OF NETFLIX BY PLAYING BEN IN THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY, AN ACTION SHOW BASED ON THE AWARD-WINNING COMIC SERIES BY GERARD WAY. WE SAT DOWN WITH JUSTIN TO TALK ABOUT THE SIMPLISTIC, GEOMETRIC STYLE OF HIS PHOTOGRAPHY, HIS INVOLVEMENT WITH NETFLIX, AND HIS IDENTITY AS A KOREAN AMERICAN.
escribed as an ‘‘incubator’’ for Asian American filmmakers, Wong Fu Productions was how Justin first learned how to experiment and take risks as an actor. He starred in the short How I Became An Adult, a light comedy about the everyday difficulties of growing up. ‘‘It was such a powerful experience because there is something so moving about being on a set with all or primarily Asians. There is an unspoken language that we share with people of the same heritage and background. As an actor, when you’re in that sort of environment, it’s freeing and liberating. I remember being on Wong Fu sets and feeling like I could try new things because I felt empowered in this environment.’’ Justin cites his experience as a training ground for the magnitude of traditional Hollywood. ‘‘The transition into something like the insane machine that is Netflix — I’m grateful for the platform, but it’s a very different experience. The crew and the production [are] a million times bigger. At times, it can be overwhelming. As an artist, what more can we do but hope that people are being entertained, moved, and inspired by the things we do? Wong Fu has pioneered the way for so many of us. We practice in this slightly smaller scale so that when the opportunity comes, we’re ready for it. They’ve done that for me.’’ One aspect of Justin’s work at Wong Fu and
Netflix has remained consistent — he is playing roles that aren’t centered around Asianness, but simply happen to be Asian. When asked about this more profound form of representation, Justin answers, ‘‘I gravitate towards characters where their Asianness is not the one personality trait that they have. When their heritage is not the end-all-be-all for a character, you often find roles that are more three-dimensional and well-rounded. As an actor, those are the characters we are drawn to. We are all searching for characters who have a lot of history, baggage, and flaws, and these are the characters that I hope Hollywood will continue to write.’’ As for successful films that he admires for its portrayal of POC, he describes, ‘‘The reason that movies like Always Be My Maybe and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before are so powerful is you could’ve had anyone play those roles. They didn’t have to be Asian. Of course, their Asianness is imbued in small, subtle things, but it’s not, ‘Hey, let’s always talk about the fact that we’re Asian.’ That’s not what those stories are about.’’ Justin is clear to differentiate himself as a Korean American actor, which is why he includes the middle initial ‘‘H’’ whenever writing his name. As for why he made this choice, he discusses that the ‘‘H’’ reminds him of his family. ‘‘It’s a disservice to people of color sometimes to have to change their
name because people have a tough time pronouncing it. When I started out in this industry, I made it a conscious decision to include my middle initial because it’s the Korean name my grandparents gave me — that’s a big part of my identity and who I am. On a personal level, it’s grounding because every time I hear my name and the middle initial, it reminds me of where I come from and the community I represent. I’m very glad that it’s going to be [officially] a part of me and my career moving forward.’’
across is that someone who is left with no agency finally has some agency, and he wants to do whatever he can to express his love for this person.’’
As mentioned earlier, Justin stars in The Umbrella Academy, about a dysfunctional family of superheroes, in which his character Ben is dead and lives through his brother Klaus [Robert Sheehan]. ‘‘It’s my first time getting to play this character that has passed away and also is not featured in the comic books. I really had the opportunity to build this character from the ground up,’’ he says. ‘‘Memory was always a constant conversation with my character and Klaus. We had a conversation of, ‘Look, I’m not in these scenes but there needs to be a sense that we had a relationship growing up.’ Ben’s character affected all of the other siblings in some shape or form.’’
Outside of acting, Justin is a photographer and writer who frequently collaborates with Cereal Magazine, a travel and style publication based in the United Kingdom. Taking a quick glance at the magazine, Justin’s involvement makes perfect sense with his clean, geometric visual style. As for how he became acquainted with photography, Justin describes that his dad was the reason he became familiar with the medium. ‘‘I was working with an international nonprofit group in Venezuela in college. Right before I left for this trip, my dad handed me his old Nikon camera to take photos throughout my trip.’’ But as for what gave him the momentum to pursue photography more seriously, he answers, ‘‘After I started to look through my pictures and post them, I got really positive responses. The head of the organization asked if they could use the photos for the website. Even one person telling me I had some potential of talent really moved me in that direction.’’
One interesting part of Ben’s story is when he falls in love with Jill, a member of Klaus’ cult, and struggles with having no way to express his affection. ‘‘On a very superficial level, I want to point out how powerful it is to see an Asian American man and a black woman in a scene together in a love story,’’ Justin says, before mentioning we have to see Ben in terms of the three years he spent with Klaus, which are not seen on the show. ‘‘In season one, you see them so close and there is a level of love and respect — a lot of that breaks down in these three years because they think their other siblings have passed away. Ben cannot stand Klaus continuing to make the same mistakes over and over again.’’ In the midst of this, Ben sees Jill and falls in love with her. ‘‘When he learns that he can possess Klaus, he wants to jump on that opportunity to communicate to this girl that he’s in love with. The main thing we were trying to get
As for what is next for Justin, he is the title character for A24’s After Yang, in which his character is meant to teach a child about their cultural heritage. Coming out soon, the film centers on the hypocrisy that something as human as culture has now been turned into a robotic and emotionless process. ‘‘The basic premise is that this is a futuristic world where when parents adopt children from foreign countries, they can purchase cultural technos, a fancy word for cultural robots, that can help assimilate that child to American culture as well as still keep them tied to their ethnic background. The parents in this film have adopted this Chinese daughter so they purchase Yang to be that liaison. It’s a beautiful story about what is identity and culture — what does it mean to be Asian — but it’s not a story that is just about that. The story is also about what it means to be a family. The Asianness is a part of that but it’s not what it’s about.’’
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Suit Goodfight Shirt Goodfight
JULIA SCHLAEPFER Interview by Vicenté
Words by Jasmine Perrier
Photos and styling by Sarah Slutsky
Assistant Gina Brase
‘‘I’VE BEEN TRAINING TO BE IN A RYAN MURPHY SHOW SINCE I WAS A CHILD’’ 84
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ULIA SCHLAEPFER IS JUST STARTING OFF HER ACTING CAREER, BUT SHE IS POISED TO BECOME A NAME TO KNOW IN HOLLYWOOD. THE 25-YEAR-OLD ACTRESS AND FORMER BALLERINA FROM BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON, APPROACHED
HER BREAKOUT ROLE AS THE ICY, SHARP, AND STRATEGIC THINKER ALICE CHARLES ON NETFLIX’S THE POLITICIAN WITH DETERMINATION AND DEDICATION. AS OPPOSED TO HER ON-SCREEN CHARACTER WHO ASPIRES TO BECOME FIRST LADY, JULIA IS LAID-BACK, THOUGHTFUL, AND VERY FRIENDLY. SHE CHEERFULLY TELLS US SHE HAS BEEN TRYING SOME HAIR EXPERIMENTS AT HOME DURING QUARANTINE — GOING FROM BLONDE TO PINK AND EVENTUALLY BLUE. LET’S REFER TO HER AS THE LIVE VERSION OF NYMPHADORA TONKS FROM HARRY POTTER, WHICH SHE RECEIVES AS “THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT.” HERE, WE CHAT WITH JULIA ABOUT HER GRIPPING PERFORMANCE IN RYAN MURPHY’S SHOW, HER COMMITMENT TO HELPING MAKE A DIFFERENCE, AND WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE YOUNG ACTRESS IN HER TWENTIES.
he Politician is a comedy-drama that allows us to dive into what it takes to become a politician, and look at it with some distance through a comedic and satirical eye. For Julia, one of the goals of the show is to encourage the next generation of voices and voters to be aware of the change they can enact and not underestimate themselves. ‘‘It’s so amazing and inspiring to watch young people killing it out there, and I want to make sure that they know they got this, she says. ‘‘One thing [Ryan Murphy] did say was that our season 2 was a love letter to young people who are out there right now speaking up and organizing protests, and are gonna be our next politicians.’’ Before even auditioning for The Politician, Julia had already immersed herself in Ryan Murphy’s body of work. ‘‘I’ve been training to be in a Ryan Murphy show since I was a child,’’ she laughs. ‘‘I have watched every single one of his shows since as long as I can remember — I was a ‘Gleek’ in high school and dressed up as the characters for Halloween.’’ Therefore, she was immediately interested in the storyline of her character who goes through a lot of growth between season 1 and 2. ‘‘[Ryan’s] way of writing felt really natural — the character just
made sense to me,’’ she says. ‘‘I don’t even remember deciding that I was gonna do that lower Alice voice — it clicked.’’ In addition to watching interviews of the most iconic American First Ladies, Julia explains she took inspiration from some of Ryan Murphy’s other characters, citing Billie Lourde’s performance in Scream Queens, as well as Gwyneth Paltrow’s delivery in Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums. Given that it was Julia’s first series regular job, the Hollywood newbie admits she was intimidated at first, but she wasn’t alone. ‘‘In season 1, most of us were pretty new to the world, so we were all very scared [as a group] to do anything,’’ she says. ‘‘In season 2, we were very loosed. Ryan always says, ‘You guys know the characters. We are going to write these things for you, but have fun.’’’ With a large ensemble cast, including both established actors and newcomers, Julia learned a lot from her co-stars. ‘‘It was a very educational experience for me watching [Zoey Deutch]. She is incredible.’’ Forming the power couple of The Politician with Payton [Ben Platt], Alice is also one of the show’s leading ladies and really stood out with her iconic lines. ‘‘I love her — she
is a tough cookie to crack,’’ Julia says with a lot of excitement in her voice. ‘‘I really have a great time working on her because it was tricky to figure out what’s underneath this facade that she has and [find] her vulnerabilities.’’ However, Alice’s persona goes beyond the ‘‘stone cold bitch with ice water in [her] veins’’ she described herself as in the fourth episode of season 1. ‘‘For me, I think the hardest to tackle with Alice was her coldness and her confidence. No matter how I was feeling — if I was feeling exhausted as Julia, or insecure, I had to show up on set and be this badass [character] that Alice Charles was, which is honestly an amazing lesson. [I have] so much more confidence in myself because of how Alice is.’’ On her favorite episodes to film, she enjoyed working with Janet Mock and Tina Mabry who directed ‘‘October Surprise’’ in season 1, and ‘‘What’s in the Box?’’ in season 2 respectively. ‘‘They are so amazing at what they do. It was such a creative environment and everyone was so excited to be in that space.’’ Moving forward with talks about season 3, Julia hopes to get the chance to round out their story. ‘‘I know that Ryan would love to do a season 3 and send Payton
to the presidential election, but I haven’t heard anything yet,’’ she reveals. ‘‘We’re all fingers crossed over here because we love each other so much and it’s the greatest gift getting to go to work every day together.’’ Until we know more about the future of the series, Julia mentions she is getting back to reading scripts and stays open to whatever comes her way after the pandemic. ‘‘People could be writing during quarantine so there’s so much material now to look at,’’ she says, before ultimately adding, ‘‘If Ryan Murphy calls, I’m answering — whatever he has in mind, I’ll be there.’’ Lastly, she tells us about being committed to using her voice for good, and telling stories that will start conversations. ‘‘It’s really important for me as a white person to be going back into that workspace and making sure that my colleagues who are people of color feel as though they have an ally in me, someone that they can come to if they ever feel uncomfortable or anything like that,’’ she says. ‘‘If I have any power on a set, I hope to do my part and continue to learn, listen, watch, and respect those around me. It’s going to be a lifelong journey, but I’m going to try my best and keep my brain open.’’
‘‘IT’S INSPIRING TO WATCH YOUNG PEOPLE KILLING IT OUT THERE, AND I WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY KNOW THEY GOT THIS’’
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KAREN FUKUHARA Interviewed by Erin Moriarty
Photos by Katie Levine Hair by Derek Yuen at A-Frame
Styling by Kim Johnson Producer Jasmine Perrier
Makeup by Tomoko Illustration by Jenny Sorto
N SUPPORT OF THE RETURN OF AMAZON’S HIGHLY PRAISED SHOW THE BOYS, WHOSE SEASON 2 PREMIERED ON SEPTEMBER 4TH, WE WANTED TO REUNITE KAREN FUKUHARA WITH HER CO-STAR ERIN MORIARTY — WHO PLAYS
ANNIE JANUARY/STARLIGHT — FOR A UNIQUE ONE-ON-ONE CONVERSATION. WHEN WE ASKED ERIN TO JOIN US, SHE WAS IMMEDIATELY KEEN TO HEAR MORE ABOUT KAREN IN A PERSONAL WAY AND HER SILENT CHARACTER KIMIKO/THE FEMALE, WHOSE BACKSTORY GETS MORE REVEALED IN THE SECOND SEASON. BORN IN LOS ANGELES AND COMING FROM A FIRST-GENERATION IMMIGRANT FAMILY, THE JAPANESE-AMERICAN ACTRESS IS NO LONGER A STRANGER TO HOLLYWOOD. RAISED IN A HOUSEHOLD WHERE BOTH CULTURES COHABITED, SHE MADE HER BIG SCREEN DEBUT IN 2016 AS KATANA IN DAVID AYER’S SUICIDE SQUAD. WITH HER STANDOUT PORTRAYALS OF INTENSE AND COMPLEX CHARACTERS, KAREN IS FUELED BY HER PASSION FOR ACTING THAT SHE INTENDS TO PURSUE WITH PERSEVERANCE. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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‘‘MY CAREER GOAL IS TO BE AN ACTOR, BUT MY BIGGER LIFE GOAL IS TO BE THE BRIDGE BETWEEN JAPAN AND AMERICA’’
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KAREN FUKUHARA: Thank you for doing this! ERIN MORIARTY: We’ve been doing a lot of press, this is special to me. This is like hanging out with a friend. KF: I was watching Jessica Jones. I stood up until 3 yesterday. EM: You did not! KF: I usually don’t watch the work of my costars if I hadn’t already seen it. EM: Especially with you and Tomer [Kapon], or me and Jack [Quaid] — we have a very specific established dynamic on the show, and they are in a category in my head as a character. It’s easier to keep them there. KF: Exactly! EM: Let’s talk about both of us — our relationship on The Boys as Kimiko and Annie, and first impressions of each other. KF: When did we first meet? EM: I remember we had a girls’ night with Dom [Dominique McElligott] and it was really fun. We got margaritas. KF: That was on a rooftop in an outdoor patio! EM: How badly I wish you’d have been in it from the beginning — because you came in for episode 4. Not that there was any void left by the cast members, but you had such a vibe about you that was the most easygoing kind. I was very happy you were there all the time [for] season 2. KF: That’s so nice of you to say — I never
knew that! I remember this rooftop hang, because you put it together. You and Jack [Quaid] are the best at it, and I’m so thankful for that because we wouldn’t have this kind of friendship without you guys. And you and Dom [Dominique McElligott] were trying to work out a scene that you did. It was really nice that you could give each other your opinions. Sometimes actors are weird about that, and I felt immediately comfortable knowing that if I ever had anything like that on set, I could come to you. EM: We’re so lucky to have the type of cast who is equal parts kind, but honest. KF: Totally. EM: I didn’t realize that you earned a BA in Sociology and Theater from UCLA, and you were interested in martial arts. Has the combination helped impact who you are as an actor and what you seek out in roles? KF: Yes, definitely. In terms of martial arts, I was pretty serious about it back in high school and I used to compete in it. That taught me a lot of discipline which bleeds into every aspect of life. Especially in acting, you’re sometimes working towards something that feels as if there is no light at the end of the tunnel — all these failed auditions, having doubts about making that choice to go down this path... EM: Obviously it would help you in roles like Kimiko where you’re fighting a lot. KF: It is so helpful for the action beats. You know how to move your body, then you learn tricks from stunt doubles, and there are different styles. Kimiko is very different from karate. But I have so much fun learning choreography and stuff. I’m so passionate about it [laughs].
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EM: What type of martial arts did you do? KF: I did karate. I stopped doing it because I went to college. I didn’t have a ride there. EM: But it served you well later [for] the badass roles where you have to be really physical. KF: It helps a lot. Then for the sociology major, it taught me a lot about being even more empathetic towards marginalized people. I didn’t realize the importance of asking, ‘‘Why am I thinking that way? Why does this have to be that way?’’ If you’re looking at a character, you have to realize the circumstances she is in, understand why she is these things. EM: Especially when you first get roles, you have to be an investigator or a detective. You have to learn anything you possibly can about the context of your character’s life so you can give them as much nuance as possible. And I can see that in Kimiko. There is this character that is silent, but she emotes so much. It’s probably a testament to that questioning inquisitive side of you. Your work ethic is so strong that I can’t imagine another human being in the universe who could have played the role like you have. Is there anything surprising that you’ve learned about yourself through the process of becoming an actor, and finding your place in this industry? KF: That’s a good question. It’s not about me, but just the fact that it’s never too late to start. When I graduated high school, I wasn’t good enough to apply at colleges for theater because I didn’t really have the foundation for it. I remember distinctly my mom saying, ‘‘Why don’t you go try out for a theater troupe in Japan? They can teach you everything, and that could also be a way into the industry without going to college.’’ I so badly wanted to try, but I didn’t believe in myself or I was too scared to audition. I don’t regret going to college at all — it’s helped me learn what it’s like to be in a college setting if I ever have to play a role, and I think that’s pretty important. EM: Like you said, studying sociology made you a better actor too, and you studied theater there, didn’t you?
KF: I did! It was a theory-based curriculum though and we learned the history of acting. The actual doing was mainly for the major. EM: I always think one of the benefits of our job is that we can put experiences like college, heartbreaks, breakups, people dying, in our toolbox, and use that. KF: I think the beauty in acting is that our career is the only one that praises pain and lost, and the things that we may want to shy away from in real life. We highlight that and there’s healing involved. EM: I’ve also noticed that really good actors go to the mental place that’s really dark that human beings don’t want to go to. What’s your favorite part about playing a silent character, and is there a special takeaway from your own work on the show? KF: I really enjoyed my sign language in season 2. It’s a made-up language, but I got to work with Amanda Richer who’s the sign language coach for The Shape of Water. That in itself got me excited to begin with. And then, going into it, I knew it would open up this whole new world to Kimiko, different from season 1. The whole body experience — it’s another way of connecting with someone, and I had never felt that with actual words before. [After] talking to Amanda about her own experiences in being someone that is deaf in this world, you start thinking about the little things we take for granted. That was a huge learning experience for me playing Kimiko. EM: I bet. It was really when I saw Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water, that I became aware of how much you can emote by being silent and how taking this unconventional approach to a character in acting can be even more interesting. You’ve got this character who is unambiguously the most powerful on The Boys, and she doesn’t speak. I like that reminder that silence doesn’t equate with weakness, which our society sometimes conditions us to believe. KF: There is for sure a power in it. EM: Instead of the comic book, [Kimiko] is approached with a little bit more humanity. I know that you collaborated a lot with Eric
[Kripke] to do the character justice. When you got the role, what were your expectations? KF: It’s so funny — I got the part [and] I read all the comics. I like to keep the essence of the character from the original to respect the source of the material. I really wanted her to keep the connection she has with Frenchie, and have that highlighted in our show. That was my main thing — initially, I thought she was a sociopath because of her upbringing in the comics. So I was researching a lot about mental disorders, but she starts to change because she cares about Frenchie. Then, I talked to Eric on the phone, and he said, ‘‘She is not a sociopath at all, she is very much a regular girl that was put into these unfortunate circumstances and journey of gaining her humanity back as we go.’’ EM: Kripke’s done a really good job at making sure we stay empowered in every way that we can.
dream and it can be manifested in various ways — through the introduction of food, or it could be through me being an actor in both countries. There are a lot of stories in Japan that we don’t know about. EM: I love that, that makes a lot of sense. I know you can do that. It’s a matter of hard work which is inherent to you. KF: And guidance — I need a mentor [laughs]. EM: Has this quarantine period made you think of other career opportunities or other things you would ever pursue? KF: I will always want acting to be my main focus, and I don’t like to get sidetracked. But I’m so passionate about food — I’d love to come out with a restaurant bar, or doing like a tasting or cooking show. What’s beautiful about our career is that a lot of people do that. I’m not sure if now is the right time to do it, but eventually, I want to.
KF: He doesn’t allow any of the female characters especially, to be left as victims.
EM: Where would be the first place that you go to eat out when we can go back to restaurants?
EM: When you’re not working, what helps you stay grounded? Which is more relevant now than ever.
KF: This is not in LA, but I really miss Dailo, because we’ve gone with the cast and [it] was such a good spot to meet up at.
KF: This is such a typical answer, but regular exercise, a lot of cooking — and then I’m just so thankful to have [friends and family] in my life. Aside from all of these things, the genuine, honest answer is the fact that we’ll be back for season 3 has given me lots of hope.
EM: That’s so funny — I’ve only been thinking about Toronto restaurants. Shoutout to Anton Potvin, he treats us so well. The food [at Dailo] is phenomenal.
EM: The promise of returning to this job that we love in a city we really dig is grounding. My gratitude for it knows no bounds. KF: Knowing that you’re going to go back to something that you’re passionate about gives you direction and purpose.
KF: In Toronto, we went to the same couple spots all the time, and it felt like home. I miss it! EM: I can’t wait to go. KF: I really wanted to ask you so many questions. EM: [Laughs] Grumpy will do the vice versa eventually when season 3 comes out.
EM: Is there a story that you would especially be interested in telling at some point in your career?
KF: I would love to! Thank you so much, Erin. I truly appreciate it.
KF: My career goal is to be an actor, but my bigger life goal is to be the bridge between Japan and America. That is a really big
EM: It was lovely to do this. I hope I see you soon, and I’m so excited for everyone to see Kimiko in season 2 because you’re brilliant.
Ile d’Oléron, France Photographed by Jasmine Perrier (July 2020)
Chapter V Chapter V
Cameron M onaghan REFLECTS ON HIS RISE TO STARDOM Interview by Liana Liberato Photos by Sami Drasin at Walter Schupfer Management Styling by Jessica Loria at Atelier Management Florist Brandi Bombard at Forma Floral Grooming by Andrea Pezzillo for Exclusive Artists using Lancôme and Kevin Murphy Stylist assistant Camille Rousseau Producer Jasmine Perrier Interview transcribed by Parker Schug Illustration by Kendall Wisniewski
AMERON MONAGHAN IS THE TYPE OF ACTOR WHO HAS PROVED THROUGHOUT HIS MANY YEARS WORKING IN THE INDUSTRY THAT HE CAN DO IT ALL. AS HE JUST TURNED 27, CAMERON HAS CLAIMED HIS OWN SPACE AT
THE FOREFRONT OF A GENERATION OF ACTORS COMMITTED TO TELLING STORIES THAT ARE RELEVANT TO TODAY’S SOCIETY. GROWING UP IN FLORIDA, HE HAS BEEN CLIMBING THE STEADY ROAD TO SUCCESS FOR OVER 20 YEARS, DIVING INTO TELEVISION, FILM, AND NOW VIDEO GAMES. HE WAS THAT DEEPLY DISTURBED KID IN CULT SITCOM MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE, AND HAD SCREEN TIME WITH HOLLYWOOD ROYAL MERYL STREEP IN THE GIVER. BUT HIS MAJOR BREAK CAME WHEN HE WAS CAST AS IAN GALLAGHER IN SHOWTIME’S SHAMELESS AND BECAME A FAN FAVORITE. SINCE, HIS OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES HAVE BEEN CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED, INCLUDING HIS INTERPRETATION OF “THE JOKER” IN FOX’S GOTHAM.
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t the beginning of the lockdown, Cameron connected over the phone with his longtime friend Liana Liberato — who he came up in the business with — to recall their first audition together and reflect on his eclectic career — discussing his most iconic roles in TV shows Shameless and Gotham, as well as his recent acting experience on video game Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order. It was 2PM in Los Angeles — on the other end of the line, Cameron cheerfully greeted his pal with a mischievous ‘‘Liana, it’s 2:03PM. This is unacceptable and so unprofessional.’’ The actress apologized before asking, ‘‘Do you regret asking me to do this?’’ This was a clue about their great complicity, and Cameron’s warm and jovial personality — to the point he started flipping the interview to question Liana as well. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
LIANA LIBERATO: I’m so sorry, I was trying to connect my air pods. CAMERON MONAGHAN: Now you’re bragging about having air pods, unbelievable. LL: Alright, are we doing this thing? What have you been up to? CM: I am just at home, hanging out with the dog, doing some reading, a little bit of writing, playing some music, watching movies, and forcing myself to exercise — even though I am finding it hard to motivate [myself] and not just walk to the fridge. LL: How’s your dog doing? Are you still fostering it? CM: Yes, I’m still fostering. We’re still hanging out at the moment. We’re doing well. He’s currently pooping right next to me, very nice, very glamorous. LL: I can’t wait to meet him. This is really fun for me because you and I have known each other for almost 10 years now, which is crazy to think about. But as actors, we don’t really ask ‘‘actor’’ questions. CM: We don’t normally see each other and be like, ‘‘What’s your process?’’ LL: We never do that [laughs]. I’m excited to find this out and you’re finally cornered — because I obviously have been your friend, but also a fan of yours for forever.
she did her best for me. But that meant that I spent a long time by myself, entertaining myself with movies and TV. I was a hyper kid and I didn’t really focus well, so my mom got me involved with local community theater and commercials. She needed something to put my energy to and I actually really enjoyed doing it. LL: Did you feel like where you were from, you didn’t really click with the majority of people around you and went off your own beaten path? CM: All my friends were very normal. None of them had any interest in pursuing the arts. I was definitely the outlier in my friends in that, but that’s fine. LL: Were there any specific movies or actors that you gravitated towards, who made you think that you could be an actor? CM: I grew up in the ’90s and one of the movies that blew my mind as a kid was The Matrix. I would play on the playground, pretending to be the characters from it. We would fight each other — which we probably shouldn’t have done. As for actors, I was very strange. I really liked Christopher Walken, Steve Buscemi, Gary Oldman, William H. Macy — who I actually ended up working with for many years on Shameless. LL: Now I remember when I was younger, the only thing that I really was allowed to watch was Disney Channel. So I just thought I could be Lizzie McGuire.
CM: Oh Jeez. LL: You’re originally from Florida. What made you think you could be an actor? CM: I was very young when I started. My mom was a single parent who worked two jobs, so
CM: Pretty much all the kids from our generation grew up watching Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. Those were huge. I remember Even Stevens being such a big deal, and admiring Shia LaBeouf for being really funny back then. Lizzie McGuire was
a big thing. You were acting from a really young age too, right? LL: I can really relate to that. I almost wish that I still had those beliefs about myself. When you spend so many years getting rejected, and being tossed around by the industry, you do start developing a jaded niche. How do you feel like you’ve evolved as an actor? CM: When I was younger, I was so much more interested in how the plot functions, and some of the mechanisms of that. As I get older, what interests me more is humanity, how characters interact, what it’s trying to say about how we relate to each other, how characters change over the course of the story. I think that a really well-written relationship, saying something interesting about a person’s morality, or what they do in a time of struggle, is so much more interesting to me now than any amount of tools or special effects. LL: I totally had an expectation of what I thought my career would be like. And you’re right — my interest completely evolved, which changed the roles that I would take and that was a little surprising for me. CM: What were the roles that interested you as a kid? LL: My idea of success was being on a great kids show. But then I was turned down by so many Disney Channel jobs because I wasn’t as loud or outgoing in the audition room. CM: Those Disney Channel auditions were brutal. Did you watch The Suite Life when you were a kid? LL: Of course, I did! CM: Didn’t you work with one of the Sprouse’s recently? LL: Yes, I worked with Dylan on a movie called Banana Split with my friend Hannah Marks. It was like a dream come true [laughs].
everything about his Disney Channel days. You were starting to gravitate more towards in-depth characters as you’ve gotten older. What is your process when it comes to handling characters or stories like that? CM: I love when you’re able to have a story that’s well-written enough, where the characters are so well-defined. There’s something really enjoyable about that, and some sort of emotional catharsis in that. I feel like the reason why we do our job, why we become activists or artists, is to express the stuff that is somewhat broken or challenging. LL: It is interesting because if you take any role that you or I have done in the past, from a very general perspective, it’s like, ‘‘No, I’m not actually a girl from the 1960s who’s struggling with her sexuality. Surprise!’’ But if you actually break down those emotions to the baseline and the foundation, it’s like there are 100% times where I haven’t felt accepted or haven’t felt worthy in something, and it’s fun to receive a character like that. CM: That’s something I really do admire about you. You have so much accessibility to your emotions and to your sensitive side. Your scenes do feel really immediate and raw, and you’re able to access that in a way that not a lot of people can. LL: I feel the same way about you. It’s crazy that you and I haven’t worked together yet. We need to do that. CM: It’s not by accident. I refuse [laughs]. For background for people — how I met you was through an audition. We were doing a chemistry read together. You were really good in the room and I really admired it. I reached out to you later about it and we became friends because of that. I think you were 16 at the time. LL: I remember. Yes, I was 16. How old were you? CM: I think I [had] turned 17 or 18.
CM: Did you tell him that you watched him growing up? LL: He definitely knows. I wanted to hear
LL: Even before you walked in the room, I knew who you were. I was so nervous to meet you. I had to word vomit to you after
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we had met, and tell you how big of a fan I was of your work. Now we have this big group of friends, and you’ve moved back into my neighborhood, so we can hang out all the time. Obviously, you have a very busy schedule. What helps you stay grounded when you’re not working? CM: I do think that the friend group is so important. Something that I really admire about you and your friends, is that you choose to surround yourself with people who are really genuine, and can value kindness and generosity over many things. Life comes in waves, and you’re going to have times when a lot is happening at once, and times when there’s not that much happening. But regardless, choosing to surround yourself with people who treat you the same, whether or not things are happening, is really important. LL: Is that something that you had to learn slowly, or was that always embedded in you when you started acting in this industry? CM: I think that there are growing pains for anybody, and you’re turning to different people every few years of your life. But I was pretty lucky for the most part. LA is a very strange place and there’s definitely some subcultures here where it’s very easy to get lost in, get stuck in the wrong crowd and the wrong things that I just never personally found interesting. What about you? LL: I’ve known the friends that I have now since I moved out here, so I always had that home base to come home to after a job. How old were you when you booked Shameless? CM: I was 15. LL: That’s a pivotal age. But you signing onto Shameless at such a young age — it did create like a structure for you, right? CM: I think so. I had a pretty even ranking of success. I wasn’t one of those kids who became really successful at a super young age and got all of this responsibility, money, and fame thrust on them at one time. I was lucky [to spend] enough time around people who made smart decisions. Also, all the people who I worked with on the show were really supportive and interesting. I learned
a lot from them too. We formed a little family who we’re all still tight with. We all support each other and call each other out when they’re making bad decisions. LL: What was one of the best things you took away from growing with a character for that long? CM: I still feel like I’m learning so much and growing as a person. Some of the times, the character was going through specific struggles and those struggles happened prior to me in my own life, or sometimes some of my own personal things were then reflected back within the character. Being able to put that and have a symbiotic relationship with your character over the course of the decade, it’s a really interesting exercise, and something that I’m lucky to be able to have done. LL: It’s so rare for a show to last as long as Shameless has. Your storyline in particular, almost felt a little ahead of its time when it first came out. Did you feel any sort of pressure or responsibility with playing a character like Ian? CM: It’s interesting because when the show came on air 11 years ago, the landscape of American television was a little bit different. Now with all the streaming platforms, there’s so much more about family dynamics that are more uncensored, and speak more frankly about sexuality, poverty... When you’re 15-16 years old, talking really openly about things like sexuality, and maturing through adolescence, is an interesting thing. It was a little bit scary at first, but it was also something that I’m really happy to have been able to do. It allowed me to reflect on myself, learn, and become comfortable with who I am. LL: There were probably so many people in the world watching that show who finally saw themselves portrayed on television. CM: I’ve heard from a number of teenagers who were gay, in the closet, or struggling to come to terms with certain things that my character or other characters in the show really reflected what they were going through. That’s always amazing to be able to hear about that.
LL: Season 11 would be the last season of Shameless... CM: Sorry my dog jumped on the table and knocked everything over, so I didn’t hear your question [laughs]. LL: How did you know that it was time to close that chapter in your life and move on to the next thing? CM: My fear with performing anything is simply doing it for the sake of doing it. I felt like I got to a point with the character where I wasn’t sure what the next step was going to be, where this would be a good time to leave — which I did. Then we were able to find storylines between my character and Noel Fisher’s character, Mickey. It motivated me to come back. It felt like we had something fresh to say and more to explore. I’m glad that the show has gone on for 11 years. It’s bittersweet that it’s ending. I’m looking forward to being able to do the last season, and have a final finished product that has a beginning, middle, and end. LL: I remember hearing when you signed onto Gotham a few years ago. It’s nearly impossible for actors to be on two shows. What was that process like — going to New York and playing two different people? CM: I’ll be honest — I’ve had plenty of scheduling conflicts that didn’t work out. I’ve had a number of movies that I wasn’t able to do because of one of the shows. A lot of times, I would finish up on the set of Shameless, get on the plane, land in New York, and literally go straight from the plane to work on Gotham. While I loved the Shameless set, crew, and the cast, it is nice to be able to always experience other things outside of it. You learn so much each time you step foot on a different set. LL: Did you feel any pressure taking on the role of the Joker? CM: There was a lot of pressure. When I filmed my first episode of Gotham, it was just a few years after Heath Ledger played the role in The Dark Knight and won the Oscar. He became the most iconic person to touch that role. That’s saying something considering he was following
Jack Nicholson. No one else had played that role since then up to that point. That was intimidating, but it was also really exciting and a huge honor. I liked what they were trying to do with the character. It was something very different, and distinct from the movies and the media that had come before. It was a really unique opportunity. LL: You did a really wonderful job. When it comes to you picking these roles, you seem to really enjoy uncharted territory. Then you moved on to Star Wars — which everyone loves and you’re taking on this crazy cool role and opportunity. You’ve never done a video game before, right? CM: No, I had never done a video game before. I’ve played games for most of my life, and I’ve really appreciated how they’ve matured and grown over the last decade. Right now is an interesting time as an actor, because so much is based off of media that people are familiar with, and there’s a challenge. You have to take that, and make stuff that still feels human and still says something about you as a person. That’s my interest with it — trying to see if there’s something about the character in a story that raises interesting questions, because otherwise what’s the point of doing it? LL: It’s interesting with video games because you do really have to follow a specific narrative in order to get the end of your video game. What did you enjoy most about your performance during that? CM: We had a lot of really great and wonderful conversations with the creative team, our writers, Lucasfilm story group, and all of the actors about what we wanted to say. So much of that story is about dealing with trauma, guilt, and things that were out of your control when you were younger or in your life. Pretty much every character in the story has experienced loss — how they grieve, or how they come to cope with the loss defines them as a character. Being able to access the story from that angle was what made me want to do the job. LL: I have so many friends that have played it and they just love it. CM: I’m wondering how this is going to be
turned into an interview because we are 45 minutes into us patting each other on the back [laughs]. LL: We are almost done — going back to a more personal thing, you’ve done amazing things in your career, but this industry can be very turbulent. I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of heartbreaks like I’ve had. What gives you the strength to keep you going and moving forward during this time? CM: There is a certain level of heartbreak and rejection, and all of these things that you do have to learn how to deal with. Ultimately, it takes a certain level of acceptance and trust in yourself. I want to represent the things that I value, and the things that I find interesting and important. Right now too, with all the quarantine and the fact that we, as actors, don’t have the ability to work, it is very frustrating. It’s difficult, but I think all you can really do is try to either make opportunities for yourself, or work on yourself. I know for me, I’m writing and talking to friends who are trying to do stuff. LL: Has this quarantine time made you think of other career opportunities? CM: I think that I’ll probably be an actor for the majority of my life, unless I get to the point where I either fall out of love with it, or if I feel like I can’t perform to the best of my abilities. That being said, I do want to transition into directing, maybe writing and producing as well. But I do think it will always be within the creative industry. I can’t see myself ever getting a desk job. How about you? I know that you’re focusing on producing as well right now.
LL: It stems back to you playing The Matrix in the playground — there wasn’t a paycheck involved, it was genuinely about just getting some creative energy out, and having fun. CM: That is the best feeling though — when you’re on a set and it seems like you’re just playing with other actors. It really does feel like you’re kids on a playground having fun, and it ultimately doesn’t matter. LL: My last question would be — is there any final thoughts, before we say our goodbyes? CM: Try to value kindness, reach out to someone who might need help. Be kind to yourself, allow yourself to be creative, and use the time to pursue things that are going to enrich who you are. How about you? You get to do some closing remarks too. LL: You’re right. It’s somehow related to what we were just talking about. It’s a time to focus on what’s really important to us. For the first time in probably a lot of people’s entire lifetime, we get a chance to take a step back, and recognize what’s most important to us. It’s been nice, even just this conversation. You and I haven’t really touched on this in our friendship — it’s cool that I finally get to know this about you. CM: I really enjoyed this conversation. Now we can start the interview, and start recording [laughs]. LL: Oh my god, can you imagine? That was really fun, Cam. CM: Thank you so much Liana for doing this.
LL: A little bit — it’s hard to do much right now producing wise, but I’ve been similar to you. I’ve been writing a lot, but it’s definitely more of a hobby to me. If something comes of it, that would be amazing but we’ll see. CM: That’s why I like music so much. I can just play my guitar or produce something, and it doesn’t need to go anywhere. I don’t really like showing people it. I believe it’s really important to see gratification and satisfaction from things that aren’t our career, to be able to be happy and comfortable with yourself beyond that.
‘‘USE THE TIME TO PURSUE THINGS THAT ARE GOING TO ENRICH WHO YOU ARE’’ 108
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H annah J ohn-Kamen ON HER CLIMB TO SUCCESS FROM HULL TO HOLLYWOOD Interview by Kadiff Kirwan Photos by Rosie Matheson Styling by Karen Clarkson at The Wall Group Makeup by Alex Babsky at Premier Hair & Makeup Hair by Stefan Bertin at The Wall Group Photography assistant Flossie Hughes Stylist assistant Jonathan Johnson Producer Jasmine Perrier Location Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch Illustration by Jenny Sorto
S FAR BACK AS HANNAH JOHN-KAMEN CAN REMEMBER, SHE DOESN’T HAVE A MEMORY OF NOT WANTING TO PERFORM. BORN AND BRED IN EAST YORKSHIRE, UK, TO A NIGERIAN FATHER AND NORWEGIAN MOTHER, SHE
HAS SPENT THE LAST FEW YEARS MASTERING HER CRAFT ACROSS TV AND FILM SINCE HER PROFESSIONAL DEBUT IN BBC’S DRAMA WHITECHAPEL. HER FIRST LEAD ROLE AS DUTCH IN SYFY’S SERIES KILLJOYS EXPOSED HER TO A WIDER PUBLIC, WHICH PREPARED HER FOR THE FOLLOWING PROJECTS CATAPULTING HER INTO HOLLYWOOD — FROM HER BIG SCREEN DEBUT IN STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, TO A TRIO OF BLOCKBUSTERS IN 2018 INCLUDING TOMB RAIDER, STEVEN SPIELBERG’S READY PLAYER ONE, AND MARVEL’S ANT-MAN AND THE WASP. THIS YEAR, THE HULL NATIVE CAN BE SEEN IN NETFLIX’S THE STRANGER AND PEACOCK ORIGINAL SERIES BRAVE NEW WORLD, BASED ON ALDOUS HUXLEY’S CLASSIC DYSTOPIAN NOVEL. WITH HER LIMITLESS IMAGINATION, THE 31-YEAR-OLD ACTRESS THOUGHTFULLY SHAPES HER CAREER WITH COMPELLING PERFORMANCES AND ROLES THAT PUSH HER BOUNDARIES.
Brave New World is coming to Starzplay in France later this year.
annah John-Kamen and Kadiff Kirwan met at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London in 2008, where they both studied acting. ‘‘We’ve been best friends ever since, so I thought what a better person to have a great conversation with than my wonderful fellow actor [and] bohemian best friend Kadiff,’’ she enthusiastically told us over the phone from London, a couple of weeks after our photoshoot on the rooftop of The Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch. A decade later, they worked together as co-stars for the first time on Netflix’s British mystery thriller The Stranger, playing ‘‘The Stranger’’ and DC Wesley Ross. While Hannah was on her way to make sure she is healthy to get back on set and start her upcoming productions, she was interviewed by Kadiff to talk about her dazzling journey since graduating from drama school eight years ago, working with Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg, and what draws her to the roles she carefully picks. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
HANNAH JOHN-KAMEN: Can anyone hear me?
training that you had? [Has] that helped you define the actor that you are today?
KADIFF KIRWAN: Yes, I can hear you.
HJK: It’s a great question — I remember moving to the big city of London and to drama school. It was exciting, but also terrifying. These three years are like three years of self-growth, of being around likeminded, creative people. It was like another milestone.
HJK: Thank you, by the way. This is fun, I have a best friend to interview me [laughs]. KK: I’m going to jump straight into this. You were born in September 1989, you’re the youngest of three siblings, you were raised in Hull, and from a very young age, you started performing. What made you want to become an actor? HJK: When I had my Barbies as a kid, I’d be playing with them and making up these wonderful, crazy, imaginative stories. I’d spend hours writing these little scripts. I’ve always had such a passion for movies, films, and musicals. I was so much exposed to that as well — my mom [and I] would sit and watch classic movies together. But honestly, I don’t remember not jumping around and doing this [laughs]. KK: I mostly remember you were quite an accomplished dancer. I’ve seen it at drama school and on many dance floors — because your frame itself is so balletic and it would lend itself quite well to dance. What was it that made you go to [acting] instead? HJK: I really wanted to get into drama school and discover myself. You remember this — we’d have the opportunity to dance. It’s interesting because I think that what I’m doing now at my age and with my experience is actually me starting to express it. KK: At the age of 18, after doing National Youth Theatre, you went on to study acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama and whilst you were there, you met me, of course. But what would you say about the
KK: [The training] was very intense. HJK: It was. Being grounded is the key as well. That’s what kept me in a very safe mindset of how I approach my career. It is [a matter of] trusting yourself, and that was the hardest thing to do in drama school — to not worry about anyone else, be honest, trust your uniqueness and your individual creative contribution to this industry. KK: You were the first person in our class to book a job in third year. I remember you were rehearsing and filming [Whitechapel], and then coming to school and rehearsing for our show. What was the feeling of being in those two environments? HJK: When I went to Whitechapel, it was so overwhelming. This was my first set, and I was quite nervous. I didn’t know what a mark was when you stand on your mark. I honestly had no idea what it entailed. It was a learning period. I remember the director was so welcoming, and I felt very safe. That was very exciting [to go] back to school coming from that, but it was daunting. KK: You actually invited the director of Whitechapel to come and see our show, and he came to our final performance [laughs]. HJK: I did, we did, he came! It was our last show as well.
KK: It was a very emotional show, so he must have been thinking we were crazy because me and you were just crying [laughs]. HJK: I remember [laughs]. KK: Pretty much straight after doing Whitechapel, you had a really great streak of jobs — Misfits, Black Mirror, The Syndicate, Midnight Beast, The Hour, Happy Valley... But then a big job came your way in Canada, the big Sci-Fi TV series Killjoys, which you star as the lead Dutch, the bounty hunter. You did five seasons in Toronto. I know [it] has a big place in your heart. What can you say about having that kind of structure in your life? How did you navigate that? HJK: I was so excited. I was at this point in my life, in my career, where I was so ready to go out there and lead a show, to be honest. After doing a test in Toronto, I just thought, ‘‘Please let me get this.’’ Because I felt this energy, and I was really ready to do this. KK: It was a big change for you. HJK: It was a huge change. Killjoys really opened up the avenue [for] Black Mirror, AntMan and the Wasp, Ready Player One. It was something in my life I felt I needed. It was another milestone of moving on. I felt very free to go and embrace this character. It was wonderful. KK: From there, you’ve got to play such diverse spectrum of complex characters in very different worlds, very different genres of TV and film. Has it been hard to find your place as an actor throughout these parts? HJK: There’s a lot of cogs in the big machine, but I think it’s down to the script [and] the team behind it. When I read a character that I can relate to in some sort of way, or even if I don’t relate to it, [or if] it’s something that scares me because I’ve never done that before — that’s when I love jumping head first, trying to be a bit of a chameleon. I feel like I didn’t realize that I can fight and I can be as much of a badass that I’ve actually [been in roles], or how vulnerable or scary I can be. KK: Would you say that Dutch prepared you to be in these fantastical worlds with these
huge characters in the four films — Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Tomb Raider, Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, Ant-Man and the Wasp — that were to follow? Because you’ve got to play such huge emotional stakes in [Killjoys] throughout the five series you did. HJK: Definitely. The character taught me how to be a strong, very independent, unapologetic, badass female. It was the part of my life that absolutely skyrocketed my own confidence and groundedness. KK: On that same note, you star as Wilhelmina — Helm — Watson in Peacock Original’s Brave New World. She’s like a hedonistic bohemian artist coming up with these parties. I’ve seen a bunch of the episodes and you are incredible. What was about this character and this world that made you go, ‘‘I absolutely have to do this?’’ Because I remember you were really intrigued by it. HJK: It was everything about her. She’s very funny and I thought, ‘‘I haven’t done this before, and this is such a relevant topic actually.’’ She’s an alpha plus, she creates these pleasure bombs, but there is also a tragedy about her because she’s a conductor. She’s the one who’s never ever experienced what she creates. And there’s also this sadness of her. It’s a beautiful kind of journey that she goes on. Actually, her relationship with Bernie — Bernard — is wonderful because it’s a genuine friendship. KK: [Bernard] played by Harry Lloyd. HJK: He’s phenomenal. Actually, I always have this idea, that after a premiere or an event, when I get back to the hotel room, I take off my dress and I kick off my shoes, and I go, [sighs]. I think it’s that feeling what Bernie and Helm have [when] they are together, and relax. There’s no boundaries — it’s honest, it’s unapologetic, it’s free. And they know each other inherently so it’s a lovely thing to watch. KK: It’s a brilliant series. The cast is incredible — you’ve got Harry Lloyd, Alden Ehrenreich, Demi Moore, Jessica Brown Findlay... Hannah John-Kamen. On Ant-Man and the Wasp, you were working extremely closely with Laurence Fishburn, and you’ve
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got to work with Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas, Paul Rudd, Steven Spielberg... What are these huge names for a young girl from Hull? HJK: When I met Steven Spielberg in LA, my dad said to me, ‘‘Hannah just look in the mirror, you’re a John-Kamen. Stay grounded, be who you are, enjoy yourself.’’ It was the most wonderful, lovely experience. He is such a wonderful man and we had a beautiful chat. There will always be an element of going, ‘‘Oh my goodness,’’ but we are all human beings, we are all here creating the same environment. KK: I remember when you were filming Ready Player One with Spielberg, you were saying how you two would be singing show tunes. I love that. HJK: Yes, we sang ‘‘Singing in the Rain’’ and Guys and Dolls. He printed the lyrics so we would really sing them. There were moments I went, ‘‘I forgot I’m singing show tunes with Steven Spielberg.’’ I look back and I go, ‘‘It’s like a dream,’’ but it did actually happen! And I got that job. It was perfect. I think it’s about using any nervous energy on set wisely, put it into the thing, and relax. KK: Back to Brave New World, it’s set largely in New London, a city where everyone is buzzing and really happy all the time. However, not everything is as it seems. I know you’ve got a new person in your life that makes you extremely happy, your new puppy Mowgli. HJK: He makes me very happy. He is absolutely my rock. He is a heartbreaker. KK: What makes you genuinely happy? HJK: It’s interesting because I remember in the Comic-Con panel, each of us were asked, ‘‘What do you prefer, happiness or freedom?’’ And I actually said, ‘‘Freedom is happiness.’’ KK: You are so profound [laughs]. HJK: It’s just I think genuine happiness comes from having this free soul, free spirit, free mind, being like you can do anything in life. You can have different things that
make you happy, different people in your life that make you happy, but I think inherent happiness is freedom. KK: Is there any fun stories you’ve got from being on set? Give me an anecdote. HJK: Any fun stories? KK: I hate it when people ask me this question, but I’m going to ask you anyway [laughs]. HJK: It’s not a story, but my character [on Brave New World] would obviously create orgies. It was quite interesting to see the dancers, and how creatively you could make this kind of sexual spirit look and feel so beautiful. KK: You try to do as many of your stunts yourself. HJK: Each stunt, each fight, is like a dance, a choreography. It’s an extension of the character because I see different movements the character has. Even in Ant-Man and the Wasp, I’m phasing through walls. It’s really fun to create with the stunt coordinator, how you’re going to move. KK: Your characters in Brave New World and Ant-Man and the Wasp were played by men in their original formats in the books. How do you approach those roles? HJK: I’ve done a couple of adaptations from books, comic books, and I don’t ever follow the book when it comes to a movie or an adaptation in a series — I always say it’s not the same, because at the same time the script is different, the characters are different. And if it’s a really interesting, strong character, then why not make it a woman, and inspire young girls to have another character to look up [to]? KK: Being Norwegian and Nigerian, and being a person of color in the industry — how have you felt in your work and in the representation that you get to play? Do you feel that there’s been progression, do you feel restricted in any way? Speak to me about that. HJK: I personally feel like I haven’t had
discrimination, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t seen it or I’m not aware of it. And it’s sad because in this industry, in award ceremonies, it’s very apparent the lack of [diversity], the lack of awareness, actual appreciation, and creativity in terms of moving forward and being inclusive. But it’s good in a way that [the Black Lives Matter movement] has been during lockdown because it’s made a lot of people that I know, including myself, [self-reflect]. KK: We’ve been able to have conversations that we’ve never had before. HJK: Exactly. It’s a time where you can sit back and assess how you can do better, how you can contribute — we’re all having a conversation about it, not only in the world. But I was going to say, how do you feel? KK: I have started writing in the last four years and I’m trying to get my voice out there. Being a black queer person in this industry, you can be pigeonholed at times. And I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve got a host of friends, yourself included, who have been really helpful along the way, both emotionally or friends who I collaborate with. It’s something I’d like to pass the baton on. I’m going to try to do [it] with my heart. HJK: In this industry, creativity is a place where we should be able to feel safe and free to express who we are. And it’s been heartbreaking to see that hasn’t happened. There’s always more that we can do. KK: I know that producing and stories that [focus on] women is something that you are extremely passionate about. Is there anything you can tell us about what kind of role you would ever want to produce or you’d like to play, but you haven’t done before? HJK: I think every role I’m playing, everything that I’m doing, is really [about] the character, the script, the actual message of the media. Because I’ll have more of a fun time doing it, to be honest. And I have a responsibility as an actor and as myself to be open-minded
and conscious about what I pick. KK: I hear you. You’ve got a host of exciting projects coming up. Some that we can’t speak about because they are yet to be announced. But you’ve got a busy year ahead of you, which I’m definitely very excited for you. Are you fearful in any way or are you quite excited to get back to it? HJK: I am so excited. I feel like a bull is about to be released back onto set. I missed filming. It’s not that I left my creative juices completely be drained away [during lockdown]. It’s going to be different for sure, and I’m nervous. But I’m more than ready. KK: Was there anything that Covid put the brakes on that you were planning on doing this year, but you’re going to have to reschedule? HJK: Actually, lots of weddings. Obviously for me, a couple of projects were pushed back. But as long as everyone’s got the health, that’s all that matters. It’s a scary time, and it’s not over. KK: That’s pretty much all for now. Is there any closing statement? HJK: It’s a really interesting time in everybody’s life, the world is on the same pace in a way. It’s scary, but use this time well, use this time to be creative. Also, you’ve got a voice — don’t be afraid to use it. I’m happy and very proud to be here, to be able to create and be part of this industry, where it can either help you escape or help you connect with. It’s a time of movement and it’s important to be part of it. KK: It is a really important time and you’re doing lots and lots behind the scenes to help in the fight towards equality and to get rid of Covid. It’s been incredible talking to you, bestie! HJK: It’s been so fun Kadiff, thank you! KK: We could literally do this all day. We just need a couple of bottles of Prosecco.
‘‘I HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY AS AN ACTOR AND AS MYSELF TO BE OPEN-MINDED AND CONSCIOUS ABOUT WHAT I PICK’’
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Tom E llis GETS CANDID ON HIS BI-CONTINENTAL ACTING CAREER Interview by Sam Heughan Photos by Allegra Messina Styling by Warren Alfie Baker at The Wall Group Grooming by Lilly Keys at A-Frame using Dermalogica and Kiehl’s Producer Jasmine Perrier Interview transcribed by Parker Schug Illustration by Jenny Sorto
AILING FROM WALES, TOM ELLIS HAS BEEN IN THE FILM INDUSTRY FOR THE PAST 20 YEARS. BUILDING A PATH TO THE LEADING-MAN STATUS CAN BE IMMEDIATE FOR SOME, TAKE A LIFETIME FOR OTHERS. STARTING
OUT ON BRITISH TELEVISION, HE VIEWED THE UNITED STATES AS AN OPPORTUNITY OF GETTING THE PARTS HE WASN’T GOING UP FOR IN HIS NATIVE COUNTRY. WITH HIS NATURAL CHARISMA AND ON-SCREEN PRESENCE, THE
ROLE OF “THE DEVIL” ON THE CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED SERIES LUCIFER LAUDED HIM AS AN ESTEEMED ACTOR OF HIS GENERATION. IN REAL LIFE, THE WELSH ACTOR IS KIND-HEARTED AND SHOWS A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR — JUST LIKE HIS BELOVED ON-SCREEN CHARACTER. PART ONE OF LUCIFER’S FIFTH SEASON PREMIERED AUGUST 21ST ON NETFLIX WITH ITS SURPRISES AND SPARKLES, AND THE POPULAR SHOW IS ALREADY RENEWED FOR A SIXTH AND FINAL SEASON.
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hen we asked Tom who we should contact to be our guest interviewer, he suggested his ‘‘buddy’’ Sam Heughan — who has been leading Starz’s hit drama Outlander since 2014. Both originally from the UK, we discovered that the two actors first met in their twenties at the Royal Scottish Academy in Glasgow — now called the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland — before each of them became the lead of a successful show gathering millions of fans across the world. Therefore, we figured we would make our own Lucifer and Outlander crossover happen. Tom caught up with Sam over Zoom in June to recall the earliest memories that brought them together twenty-two years ago at drama school, and break down his bi-continental career. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
SAM HEUGHAN: Mr Ellis, it’s been a while, and you look no different. How is it going? TOM ELLIS: Good, buddy — just trying to stay sane in this crazy time. I’m in my home in LA. It’s been wild. SH: You are based there, right? TE: I’m based in LA, but I have a place in London because my kids are still in the UK. Are you in Edinburgh? SH: I’m in sunny Glasgow — in fact, it’s been raining for the last 48 hours. TE: Nothing has changed. SH: We met a long time ago. TE: Twenty years ago — we met when we were in a nursery together in diapers, didn’t we? SH: I think I stole your dummy [laughs]. No, we met at what was the Royal Scottish Academy. I was auditioning for drama school and you were in third year. TE: Was I two years above you? I can’t remember — one or two. My most early memory of being around you was when you were hitting a play at the Traverse. It was funny because you were referred to as ‘‘Handsome Sam’’ at college [laughs]. SH: I don’t know who coined that phrase, it’s probably myself [laughs]. When I auditioned for drama school, way back now, I remember seeing you and James McAvoy possibly doing some movement piece about boxing. TE: It was The Rise and Fall of Mahagonny. Me and James were in the same year, and became great mates — and still are. I ended up doing my first professional gig in third
year with James at the Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy. It was Beauty and the Beast. James got the part of Bobby Buckfast, and I played the Beast and the Prince. SH: Of course, you did! TE: I earned money, and that’s what paid my first rent in London when I left drama school. SH: You were born in Wales. Where were your ideas growing up? TE: Acting was something I came to relatively late — but once I came to it, everything happened really quickly. I didn’t start acting until I was doing my A-Levels. It wasn’t part of my world. I was never good enough at the sports I played to pursue them professionally. Football was the sport that I loved the most, but I was better at cricket, rugby, and hockey. But I was working towards doing sports injury and rehabilitation, where I could run on the pitch with the magic sponge, and still have the adulation. SH: Get the glamour, but not have to do the work [laughs]. TE: Then my old English teacher came to me and said, ‘‘I know you’re looking for a subject to do. I’m running the theatre studies course and I need some boys. I’ve got 12 girls and one boy at the moment.’’ I went, ‘‘How many girls?’’ That was the wrong motivation to start doing it, but within a couple of weeks, I would really enjoy this. I did National Youth Theatre, which is a summer course after that first year of A-Levels. That’s when I decided to go to drama school. SH: I’m co-writing a book at the moment, and my co-writer went to National Youth
Theatre with you, and showed me a little note that you sent to her. She read it out to me the other day, and it was pretty fruity. TE: What I do remember is I was 17, and there were lots of girls there. I got tonsillitis after a week and a half — true story. SH: You started working pretty early on. You did Poirot, Casualty, Doctor Who, Merlin, Doctors, Eastenders — the list is huge. TE: I had a very fortunate arc in terms of working, because there’s really only been one tiny period I had to do something else other than acting to earn money. I was two years out of drama school. I did start working early on, and I have been very lucky. I’ve made a slow progression over those years. Then I was waiting for the leads to start happening, as you know a guy doesn’t really happen until your thirties. SH: Did you notice there was a point where you were going up for the younger parts? TE: My acting career took off when I was allowed to start having stubble. I spend an extra half an hour in the makeup chair on Lucifer these days to cover all the grey bits. SH: You’ll always be a leading man in my eyes. Interestingly though, you did Miranda. I’ve been watching a bit of it and you guys are brilliant. Firstly, was [comedy] ever a thing for you? Also, how did you stay straight throughout all that? TE: There was a lot of cracking up that happened. But I love comedy, and I always did love doing it when I was in drama school. I didn’t ever envision myself being on a sitcom. I didn’t know who Miranda [Hart] was, and I was going for everything. I read the scenes with her at the audition, and that’s when it clicked. I hate watching stuff that I’m in normally, but I would revisit episodes of Miranda with my kids because there is an inexcusable fun about it.
For me, that was the first six years of pilot audition experience. Weirdly, I auditioned for one, went away on holiday, and when I got back, my agent said, ‘‘I’ve been trying to get a hold of you. They saw your tape in America and want to fly you out.’’ I didn’t get the job, but it was my first coming over and meeting people. Also, because Miranda was becoming so popular, people were having a hard time seeing beyond Gary. What was nice about coming to the States was that if they don’t know you, they assume that you’ve just started. SH: Even if you’ve been there before. TE: They don’t credit the fact that you may have worked for 15 years. I tapped into that mentality a little bit. I felt like I’ve got something to offer these people. It changed my attitude about auditioning and I worked harder on my auditions. That’s when things started to turn around for me. There’s no accident between the correlation of hard work and success in my story at all because I’m inherently quite lazy. SH: It felt like they’re more open in America. TE: It was better for me, to have positive affirmation about what I was doing. SH: Was it when Rush happened? TE: I did a few pilots that didn’t go to series, and then it was Rush. It had everything in it that I wanted. It was the thing that I’ve been waiting for. I am attracted to those characters that are deplorable and reprehensible, but lovable. Rush was a great job because much like Lucifer, he was a very sort of irreverent character. I remember filming the pilot, driving a convertible classic Mercedes, into the sunset of Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway and thinking, ‘‘What’s happened to you? This is amazing.’’
SH: Then, was America ever the goal?
SH: Isn’t that the dream? To segue into Lucifer — it’s this character that you really made grow. He’s not only roguish and fun, but is there maybe a darker side to him?
TE: There used to be a stage where there would be pilots and certain casting directors in London — you would put something on tape, and then hear nothing.
TE: There’s a darker and a softer side, but there’s a vulnerability about him. People have a lot of expectations about the character of Lucifer. I wanted to approach
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him as a character, as opposed to the Devil. That’s a much more interesting story. I’m super proud of the show and that arc of Lucifer, because he has really evolved as a character — all credit to the writers for that.
show as well. When you’ve been in it from the beginning, you not only understand the voice of your character, but you also can understand how they speak and function. TE: And a lot of people behind the scenes change, so you are the only continuity.
SH: Did you look at the comic book? TE: I genuinely had no idea it was based on a comic book, until I read that on Deadline after I got the job. There were a couple of other things happening during that pilot season that I really wanted to do. One of them didn’t work out, and I was gutted. I was coming back from New York, sitting at JFK Airport. I reached into my bag and pulled out the Lucifer script. Two or three pages into it, I laughed out loud a couple of times. The original pilot script was written by Tom Kapinos who wrote Californication. He is a fantastic writer of writing deplorable, but lovable characters. SH: Brilliant, what a great series. TE: Then it wasn’t specified that he was American or anything, but I read it in American and I was like, ‘‘It’s not working.’’ So I tried it with that [stylish tone], and that’s where it started. I don’t think anyone else auditioned with a British accent. SH: It’s interesting — probably because of your show, they start to look more to English or British accents. TE: I also wanted to make a differentiation with this character, that he was from somewhere else — not necessarily the UK, but it wasn’t from Los Angeles.
SH: You have regular co-stars that you’ve worked with from the beginning as well. TE: They are family. I’ve probably spent more time with Lauren German in the last six years than I’ve spent with my wife. We’ve got a great group of people. If you do these things for a long time, that’s really important. We are really in that top 1% of lucky people in the world. SH: I love that you’re so modest about it, and down to earth. Even your makeup artists become part of your family. And there are the fans, which was a really big learning curve for me. Your show was dropped by Fox, and they protested. TE: I think you were meant to be there, but I was at JIBland in Rome when I heard about the cancellation. I had just done my Q&A session on the stage with a bit of apple juice. I was really happy and buzzing, and we all got in a minibus to go back to dinner. And I got a call from my showrunners saying the show had been cancelled, and the atmosphere of the bus just went horrible. I was absolutely devastated and wasn’t expecting it because the show was growing. Thank god that Netflix listened and gave us an opportunity because it’s now become one of their biggest shows.
SH: You did three seasons on Fox, and then it went to Netflix, which is amazing. You’ve been playing that character for quite a while. Did you have much influence in where the character went?
SH: I think it is the most streamed series of 2019. Congratulations!
TE: Tom Kapinos went to go run another project, so the incarnation of this thing was no longer part of this. I do sit with the writers and talk storylines. They’re very welcoming for me to come into the writers’ room. From the start, I’ve always been given license to ad lib. It’s become a very collaborative affair.
SH: I’m also jealous of your body. I don’t want to get too erotic about this, but I’ve seen your workouts with Paolo [Mascitti], and what an incredible transformation.
SH: It’s like you’re the continuity of the
SH: It’d be down to whiskey, my friend.
TE: Very closely followed by Outlander [laughs].
TE: You know that you’re one of my inspirations behind that.
TE: You did a Men’s Health shoot and you looked incredible. And Paolo said, ‘‘If you get a season four of Lucifer, you have to train as if you were going to do a Men’s Health shoot.’’ The first call I got after the show got saved was from Paolo going, ‘‘Are you ready?’’ We spent three and a half, four months, doing a proper regime of diet, and training. He’s changed the way that I am about myself. I’ve kept it up, and I want to maintain that.
the show. You don’t play the piano... TE: I don’t play piano. I play guitar, and I played the French horn when I was growing up. I recently tried to play the French horn again — I realized that it’s gone. SH: It’s not the coolest instrument, isn’t it? And I only say that because I played the trombone. It’s not that cool — unless you’re really good.
SH: I know how intensive it can be. TE: I’m most buff at the beginning of each season, and then it gets less and less as the season goes on [laughs]. SH: Do you know where you guys are at? TE: We didn’t finish season 5. We were about five or six days away from finishing, so we’ve got to come back and do that. But obviously, everyone to the best of their endeavors is going to try and get it back as quickly and safely as possible. SH: I’m waiting for my chance for Lucifer, to be honest. What could I be? TE: You could be related to Graham McTavish. SH: What else would you want to do? Is there any burning ambition beyond Outlander which you’ve made the audition for?
SH: On Broadway? TE: I’d love to work on a Broadway musical. There we go — that’s what we’ve concluded. SH: You did a musical episode of Lucifer. TE: I have to say, it is really good. We had so much fun making it. I think it will be a real fan pleaser. SH: I can’t wait to see that. Do your kids get to watch the show?
TE: I’d love to come and rock a kilt on Outlander [laughs]. Now that I’ve been producing on Lucifer, that’s a direction I enjoy. At the moment, I’m developing something with Jason Bateman’s company and a writing friend of mine. My wife is a fantastic writer and we work together as well. I always want to do something different than what I’ve been doing. I love the theatrz and I need to go back to it at some point.
TE: My oldest daughter is in an episode of Lucifer in season 5. The funniest thing is they love coming to set and the fan conventions. I love my kids being around me when I’m doing what I’m doing because they learn how people can be with each other.
SH: Scottish pantomime maybe.
TE: It is tough. I am immensely grateful to my children’s moms because they have spent the majority of time with them — certainly for the past few months. My children and I constantly check in to let each other know we’re there, and we love each other. That is the most important thing. The rest of it takes care of itself. I love being a dad, and I hate being away from my kids. At the same time, my kids are proud of what I’m doing.
TE: Theatre to me is like rehab for acting. It’s all the things that I fell in love with in the first place. You don’t get to do a lot of them on a TV set because it’s a very different process. I really miss that. SH: We’ll make it happen. What about the music side? You do a lot of the singing on
TE: Unless you’re a virtuoso. One of those things that happened when I started at drama school is that differentiation between straight acting and musical theatre. If you choose the straight acting route, you don’t do a lot of music. Through the process of doing Lucifer, I’ve fallen in love with singing again. I’d love to do a musical.
SH: That must be really hard for you to have to juggle those responsibilities. I can barely look after myself.
SH: Has it changed the way you approach acting at all?
TE: Netflix and Chill. SH: What would be your dream destination?
TE: It hasn’t changed the approach so much, I feel things differently. I did a drama a few years ago on the BBC called Quickly Hall, and there was a scene where we found out that our missing child was dead. It was an awful thing to act out because I was a dad.
TE: Fiji. SH: One thing in your career you would maybe do differently? TE: Work a bit harder when I was younger.
SH: I’ve got a quick-fire question round for you. I was waiting for you to connect, and thought of some questions. They’re really dull, but that might be interesting. Let’s see what happens if it leads somewhere. Coffee or tea?
SH: I’ve run out of quick-fire questions. TE: That was the quickest quick-fire ever. SH: It was a test. Is there anything else you want to mention?
TE: Coffee. TE: I’m very proud of you for everything that’s been happening for you, and congratulations on Outlander — I’m sorry that you have to work with Steven Cree.
SH: Football or soccer? TE: Football. SE: Speaking of, there was a football group of ex-RSAMD actors. Your teammates were McAvoy and Cumberbatch. TH: We used to play down Westway all the time years ago. But since I’ve become a dad those days are over.
SH: I was trying not to bring him up. I don’t know if you remember, but I hated him at drama school. Now he’s one of my best friends, and I love him dearly. He’ll be delighted that we’re even talking about him. TE: He’ll be absolutely delighted. SH: Do you have any message you want to say to fans, or anyone else?
SH: Who’s your team? TE: I’m a long-suffering Gooner and England fan. I’ve been waiting my whole life for England to do something. SH: Why would you support England? TE: I’ve spent the majority of my life there. SH: Comedy or drama? TE: Comedy. SH: Wine or whiskey?
TE: I hope that people are managing to stay positive. We will get through this, this won’t be forever. And at the moment, it’s really important over here to continue saying that Black Lives Matter. This is an ongoing movement, it doesn’t stop after a couple of weeks. And I will very much be encouraging people in this country to vote in November. If you care about this world, then you need to care about this election.
TE: That’s a tricky one. I love them both. I’m going to say mountains right now.
SH: Tom, you are an absolute gentleman. You always have been, and you are also extremely talented — which is annoying. When I was auditioning at the Academy there and had zero money on me, you took me to the pub around the corner, and bought me a couple of beers. I think it’s a great testament to who you are.
SH: Would you have a movie date night or a Netflix and Chill?
TE: Thanks, I really appreciate it. I’m thrilled at the way your career is developing as well.
TE: Whiskey. SH: Beach or the mountains?
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‘‘I HOPE THAT PEOPLE ARE MANAGING TO STAY POSITIVE. WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS, THIS WON’T BE FOREVER’’
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Nouvelle Aquitaine, France Photographed by Jasmine Perrier (July 2020)
Chapter VI Chapter VI
OH WONDER Interview and photos by Jasmine Perrier
ONDON-BASED ALT-POP DUO OH WONDER, COMPOSED OF ANTHONY WEST AND JOSEPHINE VANDER GUCHT, HAVE MADE IT TO THE INTERNATIONAL MUSIC SCENE SINCE THEIR EPONYMOUS DEBUT ALBUM SELF-RELEASED IN 2015.
FIVE YEARS LATER, THEY COUNT BILLIONS OF STREAMS, THREE ALBUMS, AND MORE THAN 300 HEADLINE SHOWS ACROSS THE WORLD. AS THEY RELEASED THEIR THIRD ALBUM NO ONE ELSE CAN WEAR YOUR CROWN EARLIER THIS YEAR, THE DUO PROVES TO BE A SYMBIOTIC COUPLE ON AND OFF STAGE. I FIRST CAUGHT UP WITH JOSEPHINE OVER THE PHONE BACK IN FEBRUARY, RIGHT AFTER THEY PLAYED A SHOW IN OXFORD. THEN, I MET UP WITH BOTH OF THEM THE FOLLOWING MONTH IN PARIS, AND IT WAS A LIVE SHOW TO REMEMBER, AS IT WAS THE LAST ONE FOR ALL OF US BEFORE THE MUSIC INDUSTRY GOT HIT HARD BY THE PANDEMIC. THANKS TO THEIR WONDERFUL STAGE PRESENCE, AND THE PASSION OF THEIR FANS WHO KNEW EVERY SINGLE WORD OF THEIR SONGS, THE DUO BROUGHT A POSITIVE NOTE WITH THEIR SWEET VOCALS, CAREFULLY CRAFTED LYRICS, AND COMMUNICATIVE CHEERFULNESS.
For those who don’t know Oh Wonder, can you tell us how you went from uploading tracks on Soundclound to releasing three albums and having sold-out shows around the world?
JOSEPHINE VANDER GUCHT: [Laughs] I wish I knew how we did that. We met eight or nine years ago, and we were friends for a long time. We used to hang out and write [together]. And we had this one song that we’ve written together that we really wanted to release, then somehow found ourselves on this long tour of the world, which is crazy, and highly unintentional — we felt blessed. Now [that we are] releasing our third album, and still have the privilege of being able to play shows all around the world, I don’t even know how or why it happened.
Anthony and you started your music project as friends before ultimately working as a couple. How would you say you complement each other when it comes to creating music and building your brand as a duo? JVG: We’ve always been a couple, we’ve always been writing songs. [As a band], we wanted to put the music first, but it’s pretty amazing doing the thing you love with the person that you love. It’s also brilliant because there’s no ego in the room — we trust and respect one another. There’s no judgment or nobody ever takes it badly. We just support and love each other. And touring is a very crazy lifestyle, but the fact that we have each other and get to be so vulnerable together, it’s awesome.
Talking about your album ‘‘No One Else Can Wear Your Crown’’ — you wrote, recorded, and produced your music in your studio in London. It includes very intimate, candid, and personal songs. Was it challenging to find yourself sonically and lyrically when you were working on it?
JVG: We took a year off from touring to decompress and process what had happened over the last few years. When you’re on the road and you’re playing all these shows, you’re in ‘‘album touring’’ mode — you don’t really get a chance to sit and understand how you’re feeling and what you’re doing. You’re on a treadmill. It was only after we completed the writing of the album and then recording it at home in our garden, that we kind of [knew] what the themes were, and we realized you spend so much of your youth being encouraged to pursue certain avenues. But actually, how does anybody know what is best for you?
The title of the album is a good reminder that everyone needs to hear in their life. How did you come up with it? JVG: Everybody has a metaphorical crown. They are the king or the queen, or the ruler of their own life. What they want to do with it is up to them. We’ve been very fortunate that we chose to do music, and it has worked out. I guess it’s just trying to encourage others to also believe in themselves and push [them] to fulfill their dreams. It’s an empowering album, for sure.
Your album talks a lot about self-acceptance, empowerment, and joy, which are such important topics — especially when it’s very easy to feel let down nowadays. For example, your song ‘‘Alleluia’’ says, ‘‘I don’t think my mamma thinks I’m good enough to be a superstar. But one day I will show her I’m a diamond.’’ That inspires people to keep chasing their dreams. Overall, what do you want people to take away from your album? JVG: One thing is, as said before, that their dreams are worthy and valid. Some people aren’t able to love who they want to love, or they can’t believe in a God they want to believe in because society doesn’t support it, or they can’t wear what they want to wear because their friends will not support them. I hope that the record is preaching a message of self-empowerment, self-belief, and compassion for yourself. And I think the other theme of the album would be, ‘‘It’s okay not to be okay.’’ Everybody has days where they doubt themselves, it is part of being human. Everybody has days where they don’t feel like they’re good enough, or they don’t deserve what’s coming for them. Try to have compassion for yourself and others.
To what extent would you say that all the topics tackled are relevant to today’s society?
JVG: More than ever, this generation is talking about things like mental health. I think [this album] definitely acknowledges that. You don’t necessarily know where to put [these tricky feelings] or what to do with them. I’m very fortunate that I can feel things and put them into songs. There’s a couple of songs on there about your ex-partners and the various feelings that you can have towards them. There’s a song about someone you love being in hospital, and not being able to do anything. It looks at those moments of difficulty and moments of doubt. And then it also has songs on it that I hope will remind us that it’s normal because life is tricky.
We noticed during your Paris show back in March how close you were to your audience. It was such a lively atmosphere.
JVG: Performing is the best part of the job, really. Being on tour is crazy, you feel so alive. It’s like having a conversation with a room full of strangers. You don’t even have to speak the same language. That is so powerful and it brings people together. I might have the best job ever.
How has your vision for your music project and identity evolved over the years?
JVG: We never really have a vision or a plan [laughs]. We were very cautious and reserved [when we started], but we found so much joy in it. Before, we were very willing to do everything ourselves. And working with that label on this album, we realized that multiple heads are better than one. Now I think the music industry is incredible. It’s basically a collaboration between loads of brilliantly creative people.
What would be one single highlight of your career?
JVG: One of the most surreal moments was [at] Lollapalooza in Sao Paolo. I remember walking out on stage and seeing people watching us. It was one of the most magical gigs, everybody knew the words to every single song. We’ve been very blessed that we’re doing what we love.
GAVIN JAMES Interview by Emily Pitcher Photos by Ryan Jafarzadeh
ITH OVER 1.5 BILLION GLOBAL STREAMS AND 22 PLATINUM RECORDS IN 8 DIFFERENT COUNTRIES, IRISH SINGERSONGWRITER GAVIN JAMES IS A CREATIVE FORCE THAT DEMANDS ATTENTION. YOU MAY KNOW HIM FROM HIS
TOURS WITH NIALL HORAN, SAM SMITH, AND ED SHEERAN, HIS SUPPORT FOR DOWN SYNDROME CENTRE, OR HIS NEW SONG “ BOXES,’’ AN OPTIMISTIC TRACK ABOUT SELF-ACCEPTANCE. WE SAT DOWN WITH GAVIN OVER A ZOOM CALL TO TALK ABOUT HIS UPCOMING DRIVE-IN SHOWS, THE DIFFICULTY OF PURSUING MUSIC, AND HIS NEXT ALBUM. HIS CHEERFUL AND PLAYFUL ATTITUDE PARALLELS THE MESSAGE OF HIS NEW MUSIC: TO DO WHAT YOU LOVE WITH JOY AND SPIRIT.
The lyric video for ‘‘Boxes’’ has you running all over the world playing your guitar. What was the inspiration behind that video? The original inspiration was the fact that we couldn’t do an actual video because of lockdown. Studio Showoff got onto us from Australia and they were awesome. The idea was to walk around in different places. I was a kid at the start, then I fell asleep, dreaming about traveling the world and playing music. It’s a very simple, happy little video. The song is based on following your dreams, doing what you want to do, and not caring what other people think.
A comment on the ‘‘Boxes’’ video reads: “Sounds like a song that would be in the ending credits of a coming-of-age finding-yourself kind of movie!” What led to you cultivating this happy, optimistic sound? I’ve always written ballads so I wanted one that embraced what a happy guy I am in general. I wanted a really optimistic sound to start off the third album. I was lucky, I grew up in Dublin. The whole song is about me growing up in Dublin and people saying, ‘‘You’re going to do music. Music is a really tough choice.’’ Why do people really need to bother saying that? Why don’t they let people do what they do? And if they don’t want to follow the crowd, they don’t have to follow the crowd.
You’re planning on doing drive-in shows all around Ireland, in which a portion of the proceeds is going towards Down Syndrome Centre. What made you think of this idea and why did you choose the Down Syndrome Centre as your charity? My manager and I talked about doing it at the start of lockdown to get people out of their house. The first idea I had was to do live streams, which I did. I loved the reactions of people with a gin in their hands, getting dressed up, and treating it as a night out even though they were at their house watching a live stream. That was the original idea, and to keep their minds off things. The drive-in shows are going to be a learning curve. There are loads of other bands who are starting to do it which is great. When people are not at work, the industry over here is going to struggle. Just a tiny foot in the door, just the idea of doing it is amazing. With the Down Syndrome Centre, I’ve always worked with them because my nephew has Down syndrome and they’ve helped him out over the years. He goes to public school and he’s been given a lot of opportunities because of them.
How do you feel that your music is influenced by your Irish identity? Growing up in Ireland, I was thrown into music every day so I never had a choice of whether or not to play music. It’s such a huge scene of people who write great songs. There is no competition, everybody helps each other. Everybody gives everybody a leg up.
You once said that you put bullies on the guest list to your shows, and you write music about self-acceptance. So much of your personal brand is about forgiving yourself and others. Why is this so important to you? I met someone at a pub who gave me a crap time at school, and they didn’t even realize that they bullied me. They told me about their lives and they were struggling at home. I wrote a song about it called ‘‘22’’ on the first album that let me forget about everything that happened at school. It made me much stronger as I grew older. I never wanted to treat anybody like that because I knew what it was like to be treated like crap. It made me a better person in the end.
You said that when you were growing up, people told you that the music industry was too difficult for you to pursue. For your fans who may be pursuing creative careers, what advice would you give them? Do it as much as you can, and do it more. I went to play pub gigs from when I was 17-21 years old in Dublin. If I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t be able to write or sing at all. I couldn’t really sing when I was 17. I learned a lot from doing 3-hour gigs. As long as you have the will and the hunger to do something, you will do something in that field. It’s all about enjoying it. When you stop enjoying it, you’re probably doing the wrong thing.
Can you tell us about what to expect on your next album? I had it pretty much finished before lockdown, but now I don’t have it finished at all because I’ve been writing songs. At the start of lockdown, I thought everyone was going to write a bunch of songs — there are so many hours in the day now. But in all reality, it’s watching Netflix. It’s ridiculous! Now, I’ve started actually writing and recording in the last month. I’ve been writing every day. The album’s going to drastically change from what I thought it was going to be, but it’s definitely going to be out in January. It’s going to be a lot more thought out than my other albums because I have so much time to think.
SASHA SLOAN Interview by Jasmine Perrier Photos by David OD
T WAS 9AM IN NASHVILLE WHEN SASHA SLOAN APPEARED ON ZOOM FROM HER HOME IN TENNESSE WHERE SHE HAS RECENTLY MOVED IN — SHE WAS JUST WAKING UP, AS SHE GENTLY MENTIONS IT WITH A GLASS OF COFFEE
IN HER HAND. BORN TO RUSSIAN-IRISH PARENTS IN BOSTON, THE SINGER-SONGWRITER WHO REFERS TO HERSELF AS “SAD GIRL” — WHICH INSPIRED THE NAME OF HER FIRST EP RELEASED IN 2018 — IS THE ARTIST TO HAVE ON YOUR RADAR. “WE ARE GONNA TRY THIS OUT — IF IT WORKS, IT WORKS. IF IT DOESN’T BY THE TIME I’M 25, I’M COMING BACK HOME AND FINISHING COLLEGE,“ SHE TOLD HERSELF WHEN SHE GOT A PUBLISHING OFFER AT 19, DECIDED TO DROP OUT OF HER MUSIC BUSINESS STUDIES, AND MOVED TO LOS ANGELES. NOW THAT THE PIVOTAL AGE IS REACHED AND SHE CLIMBS UP CHARTS WITH HER EMOTIONAL AND HONEST SONGS, SHE CAN LOOK BACK ON HER JOURNEY WITH A SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT. WHEREAS THE PANDEMIC LED HER TO POSTPONE HER TOUR, WHICH INCLUDED A SHOW AT COACHELLA, SHE HAS USED HER FREE TIME TO FINISH UP HER DEBUT ALBUM ONLY CHILD — COMING OUT OCTOBER 16TH.
You started making music from a young age. How did you get bitten by the music bug? I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. My mom’s side isn’t musical in the sense of professionals, but they all love music. My grandfather plays the violin so I’ve always had singing and playing guitar around me. I grew up with a lot of pop music playing, country music. Then my mom had this piano in our apartment in South Boston — I started playing it and singing. I’m the first artist in my family so far — I’m definitely the black sheep [laughs].
You moved from Boston to Los Angeles at 19 in order to pursue music on a professional level. I assume that it was a bit overwhelming. I didn’t know anyone in LA, or anyone legit in the business. I was just like, ‘‘This is my one chance.’’ I didn’t want to be a songwriter for every people, I didn’t even know it was a job because I was always writing songs just for me. I was so excited to move in there, but it was harder than I thought it would be. I was alone and I couldn’t even buy a drink because I was 19. But it worked out so I can’t complain [laughs].
What was the scariest thing of going on your own and deciding to show your inner feelings? Everything — I’m not trying to be like a superstar. That’s actually my biggest fear because the more attention, the more anxiety I get. [...] The scariest for me was being in photographs and videos, having to really look at myself. I have avoided the camera my whole life [laughs]. These thoughts haven’t gone away — they got a little better. I got a little more confident, then I started playing shows, I gained more fans.
How did the ‘‘sad girl’’ territory come to be? Working with different artists and seeing how the system works really allowed me to be myself, and figure out who I was as an artist — helping people write songs that were full of help really made me not be scared to go fully into the ‘‘sad girl’’ territory. I don’t think the music
I release would be the same if I didn’t have that experience beforehand.
From your debut EP ‘‘Loser’’ to ‘‘Sad Girl’’ and ‘‘SelfPortrait’’ released in 2018 and 2019, how has your vision for your music project and brand changed? In the beginning, I was making music that was independent, so that was really scary because I was funding everything myself and I didn’t have any money [laughs]. When I wrote ‘‘Older’’ about my parents being divorced, I had no idea that was gonna be my biggest song because it’s so niche. I think this new album [Only Child] is the most creative work I’ve ever done. I feel it’s actually who I am as a person. Now I’m at a point where I’m a little less scared and more like, ‘‘This is my project. I’m going to make music I like.’’
What is the most unexpected thing you have learned about yourself through the process of becoming a music artist? Surprising? I think I’m more of a control freak than I thought [laughs]. I try to hide it by being chill. But with this album, I didn’t realize how meticulous I was gonna be. I’m also more emotional than I thought I was because I like to hide behind humor, I love to pretend.
What would be the best highlight of your career so far? My biggest highlight was gaining my own apartment. When I moved to LA, I was working at a gym every day — I remember listening to Spotify playlists, being at the front desk, and being like, ‘‘If there’s ever a day, that I don’t have to work at this gym, I’m writing songs that are making this playlist, and I can pay my own rent — I would be so happy.’’ Slowly but surely it happened, and I started getting songs on those playlists as a writer or an artist even, and I got my first apartment. I was like, ‘‘I’m officially a full-time musician.’’ I was 21 or 22. It might even still be cooler than winning a Grammy, if I ever win a Grammy [laughs].
I also found out that you opened for Oh Wonder. It was actually the last show I attended before lockdown. They are the sweetest people on earth. They took me on tour before anyone would take me on tour [laughs]. They really showed me how you should really treat your openers — they invited me and my band for drinks after. They have such a sweet audience.
What has it been like for you to write, create music, and stay busy during quarantine? I have so much free time and I have been finishing up the album. It’s been great, but this year is so heavy. Especially in the US with the election, it’s kind of all of it at once. It’s hard for me to write a song about how I feel about my body in a time like this. I’ve actually not been writing that much, because that’s something that I find pointless. There are bigger issues going on.
Therefore what are your hopes for the future? I hope this pandemic ends [laughs]. I guess that’s what I’m hoping for right now, but I’m really hoping to keep getting fans. My motto is: ‘‘If I can get a fan a day, then I’m doing something right.’’ I hope that I keep getting to release music I love. I work with a label I love and they get who I am — not everyone is in that position.
What about your ultimate goal? My goal with every EP and album is to not hate it when I look back. I’m a much better writer now than I was a year ago. Every time I put a body of work out, I’m like, ‘‘That was good, but this one is way better.’’
JEREMY ZUCKER Interview by Emily Pitcher Photos by Stefan Kohli
ITH HIS LATEST CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED ALBUM DESCRIBED AS “THE PERFECT BREAKUP ALBUM,” SINGERSONGWRITER JEREMY ZUCKER IS HERE TO STAY. THE COMBINATION OF HIS EMOTIONAL LYRICS AND THE
CAREFREE, SUMMERTIME ATMOSPHERE OF HIS SONGS IS WHAT MAKES HIS MUSIC SO COMPELLING, BOASTING OVER 14 MILLION MONTHLY LISTENERS ON SPOTIFY ALONE. DESPITE THE COMMERCIAL SUCCESS OF HIS WORK, WITH HIS SONG “COMETHRU” HAVING OVER 1.2 BILLION GLOBAL STREAMS, JEREMY HAS ALWAYS ROOTED HIS BRAND IN AUTHENTICITY AND MOODY, PURPOSEFUL VISUALS. WE SAT DOWN WITH HIM TO DISCUSS THE CONFLICTING NATURE OF LOVE, HIS SINGLE “SUPERCUTS,” AND THE POWER OF LIVE MUSIC.
In your latest single “supercuts,” you describe your fear of getting into a relationship you know will be temporary, and being stuck in suburbia — pretty heavy topics over a happy, optimistic beat. What led to this stylistic choice of having the lyrics and the vibe of the song be opposite moods? That’s something that I do a lot in a lot of my songs — ‘‘all the kids are depressed’’ is a sad subject. With ‘‘supercuts,’’ it was intentional. I wanted this acoustic, nostalgic, free, handsout-of-the-window mood. These were the lyrics that worked with it. I was excited to give it a home.
I wanted to ask about this lyric in your song “comethru”: “Ain’t got much to do / Too old for my hometown.” This reads to me as you saying you’ve outgrown your roots. Can you tell us about what led to this feeling? I had just graduated from college and spent that whole summer at home in my parent’s house. The plan was to move into Brooklyn the next fall and then I went on tour. I wrote a couple of songs at home in this limbo period. I was back in my hometown after 4 years of being away for college, and I felt like I had outgrown everything that was once there for me. I knew I wanted to be somewhere where new things were happening, where I could explore, grow and be out of my comfort zone. The same town, the same house I grew up in — [it] wasn’t going to serve me.
You maintain a distinct aesthetic throughout your brand — from the simple, scenic view in your lyric video to “supercuts” to the moody portraits on your Instagram. What inspired your visual style? I like a lot of different random things and collect things, whether that is saving things on Instagram, digging things on the internet, or taking pictures myself. In the beginning, I put a lot of thought into a cohesive brand, but that became boring. My brand is me, and what I want to be known for is what I am and who I am. I’m going to keep gravitating towards things that interest me and what I think is important.
I love the duality to your latest album title “love is not dying” — it can mean that love will always be there, but can also mean that a way of expressing your love is to literally stay alive. Your songs often describe the conflicting nature of relationships. What do you think is the biggest lesson or universal truth you’ve learned from love? I think that there is a reason why people have been talking about love for thousands of years, and still haven’t been able to describe it. The meaning of it changes and it isn’t this one thing. As far as universal truth goes, love should be healthy. There are a lot of people that feel like they’re in love, but it’s really some sort of codependency.
You have this tweet that reads, “forever writing songs about people who don’t deserve them.” How do you go about writing songs that are authentic to your personal life, yet also realizing that your innermost feelings are revealed to the world, including the people you’ve tried to move on from? Most of my songs are about specific people. Even if I’m writing something that could be hurtful, it’s never in my mind to sacrifice the authenticity of that to compensate for someone, when 99% of everyone else listening to it is different people. If someone wrote a song about me and it was horrible but a banger, I’d be like ‘‘Cool, that’s great.’’
Your songs describe very specific and intimate moments of your personal life — like forgetting your ex’s birthday, the awkwardness of confronting your ex’s family post-breakup. When it comes to the songwriting process, how do you decide which of these memories to frame a song around? There’s this mood or atmosphere that is created when I come up with a specific guitar part or chord progression. What I’m creating makes me feel a certain way, and I write words around that. Things just pop out, and then I’m talking about this thing that happened to me three months ago. When it becomes conscious, I flush it out.
You’ve talked about your inability to tour your latest album due to COVID, and feeling unsatisfied with the end of that era. What about performing live gives you closure towards your music? It gives me closure because I get to see the way it affected people, whether it’s the looks of people in the audience, how loud or how meaningful they scream the words back at me. Those are all indicators to me of what the special part of the song is, which is something that gets lost in my head when I’m making it. It’s lost when it’s just me performing because I don’t get to see it through my fan’s eyes and get a whole new perspective on my music.
I read that you created six versions of “comethru,” and I must applaud you for being so involved in the music production process. How do you decide what musical feeling your song should have to fit with your lyrics? Basically, how do you merge lyric writing and music production? What it comes down to is what feels right. That’s the X factor in terms of artists and original music, that gut feeling of knowing what is authentically you musically.
Your lyric video to “supercuts” is dressed down, you sitting on a boat sailing through the ocean. What led to the simplicity of this video? A couple of weeks earlier, I was down the shore with my parents on my dad’s boat, and we saw these windmills. We thought to go down there in front of the windmills and mess around. What we ended up using was that one long take half-singing the song, and we hired this awesome kid to do lyrics over it.
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