dustin milligan

I’ve rewritten this intro over 20 times trying to come up with the most accurate description of Dustin Milligan. Sure I could talk about his jawline, his mischievous grin or the obvious, his abs, but once you get to know him you realize that those aren't his shining qualities. Dustin is much more than just his physical appearance. He’s whip smart, sincere, thoughtful, loyal, creative, self deprecating and one of the funniest people I know. A true geek at heart, Dustin has managed to play against his “type” by creating what could be one dimensional “hotties” into interesting, intentionally layered characters. We sat down and talked about leaving his isolated hometown of 18,000 people to pursue acting, the invaluable lessons he learned from his parents as well as his personal aspirations. His honesty is woven deeply into this interview, but especially when he opens up about being fired from 90210, something I find both courageous and inspiring. 

Amanda Crew: So we met in Vancouver, Canada, but you are originally from Yellowknife. First of all, explain how small it is there, and what it's like to live there.

Dustin Milligan: The easiest way I describe Yellowknife to people here in the United States is by saying that it's basically parallel to Alaska, but in the middle of Northern Canada. It’s a town of about 17,000, maybe 18,000 people. It's a strange thing, especially if you drive, because you drive up sort of in this rocky, barren, relatively sparsely-treed area, and then all of a sudden there's these 30-story buildings that just sort of appear out of nowhere. It's like this strange mini-city in the middle of nowhere.

AC: You're forgetting to mention that in the winter time, it's dark for like 18 hours. 

DM: Yeah, because it's so far North it’s super dark in the winter time, which lasts about 8 months. So in January and February the sun will only come up at maybe 10:00 or 11:00 AM, and it will set by 2:00 or 3:00, or less. If it's a cloudy day, it's just kind of dark all the time. And it’s cold. Bitterly cold. Like -40, -50, -60 sometimes, with wind chill. And conversely, in the summer time, you have days where the sun doesn't actually set. It just crests below the horizon and then it comes back up again. But it is this kind of cool thing where you experience seasons differently than most other places in the world. 

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AC: Growing up in a place that has a small population, is far away from any major city (and you were pre-internet), what effects do you think that had on you growing up? Because it’s a pretty isolated place.

DM: You know, it's interesting, because it wasn't necessarily that you’re — I mean, you are isolated in a technical sense, but the thing about Yellowknife that a lot of people who spend even a short amount of time there will often say, is that the sense of community there is so strong. On top of that, my family was always really supportive of me and my sister to do anything creative and just express ourselves in any way; really cool, progressive, liberal parents. I never necessarily felt isolated, but I knew how far away from the rest of the world I was. From a very young age, I dreamed of being "somebody." That was a big part of it, that I was already in a place where no matter what I wanted to be to fulfill this idea of being “somebody,” I would have to leave this place in order to go do it. That's not true for everybody, of course, but for me it was. The only two dreams that I've ever had for myself were to be an astronaut (and one of the first people on Mars) or an actor. When I found out I was color blind, my mom "Little Miss Sunshine'd" me and told me I wouldn't ever be able to be an astronaut. That was when I switched to the next logical choice, which was to be an entertainer. *laughs* A comedian is what I really wanted to be. I had a family that really supported that creativity, and the humor.

AC: I think one of your most unique qualities, and what works in your comedy, is you have a very specific and different perspective on things. Your angle is always one of a kind. Where 90% of the population would see "X", you see “X8!” Which is obvious in your love for puns. But is that, like you were saying, because of the way you were raised? Because it’s such a unique way that you look at things. I've never met someone with a brain like yours.

DM: Thanks. I don't know. Again, both my sister and I were really creative kids growing up. My mom always made really silly, dumb jokes, and my dad introduced my sister and I to a lot of weirder humor. If I can boil it down to something super basic; my mom always taught me to respect authority and my dad always taught me to question it. 

AC: That’s almost two opposing things.

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DM: Yeah. In a way. But I feel like I learned how to make them work together, and that is that I can be respectful but still question things. Everything I look at, I can still respect it, but also question it. I think that's kind of why I sort of latched onto something so silly as puns. When people are talking to me, I'm listening to them respectfully, but also I'm rhyming things that they're saying and looking at their face and seeing if there's some way I can connect, just for my own amusement, the words that they're saying into a pun about like a booger in their nose or something. Weird things like that. Also, my dad would often let me and my sister stay up really late at night if there was a weird, funny movie or show that he considered a classic on. Like Kids in the Hall, Monty Python or SCTV.

AC: I feel like those early influences had an obvious effect on your body of work. You've already managed, in your short career, to kind of create these interesting characters that are not stereotypical. Or if they are stereotypical characters, you're able to weave something a bit off beat into them.

DM: I definitely try. I think that also sort of goes back to when I was younger and kind of developing this idea of who I saw myself as when I grew up. There was a sense of ownership and individuality that I really attribute to it. When I was growing up, and figuring out that acting is actually what I wanted to do, I would watch shows like Smallville, or The OC, and there were certain characters, and actors, that I would look at and say, "I don't want to do that, because you're just playing generic." I saw myself playing some of these characters, but I didn't want to be Ben McKenzie on The OC, I wanted to be Adam Brody. I wanted to be the best friend who was interesting, and crazy, and got those laughs, or whatever. I liked the character actors, because I like big, broad, dumb jokes.

AC: You said when you were starting out that you would watch Smallville and The OC and you wanted to play some of those characters. You were essentially on the next generation of that show, 90210, playing one of “those kinds of guys.” Did you feel like you were able to do that with your character on that show?

DM: Here's what I'll say. That was such an interesting process, because I actually got cast off of tape when I was still in Vancouver. 

AC: Which is a big deal, FYI. 

DM: *laughs* It was a big deal. I put it on tape, and I loved it because it was comedic. The character was kind of a dumb jock, and I thought it was so cool. I was like, "Wow. This is really one of those opportunities where I can kind of do bits and be a little off center, and create something neat." I ended up booking it based off of that tape. But as a lot of studio projects, and network TV goes, there's a lot of different changes and processes that happen before anything is even shot. So the character changed quite a bit from that to what ended up being in the pilot episode. But at the same time I still saw plenty of opportunity to do it slightly differently. The producers and show-runners, Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, were guys who I was ecstatic were on board. They have a great history with Judd Apatow on Freaks and Geeks. They know comedy, they know the teen world, and they get how to mine a lot of the subtly funnier things out of what could potentially just be more bland, dramatic, teenage angsty scenes. So I was stoked, and they were really great with all the actors and finding out their strengths and letting those fly. A lot of the stuff that I tried to do never made it to the edit even though Gabe and Jeff would sign off on a lot of, what I thought were great attempts to make the character a little different, funny or insecure. That was a big lesson I took from that show; A very smart actor friend of mine once told me, “give ‘em what they want, they'll take what you got.” Which essentially means that if I gave them the character they were looking for, they would let me add my own stuff to it, but in the end that doesn’t mean that they’re going to keep it. Though, there was something in that character that I would like to say is a little bit different than what you might expect.

AC: You haven’t really talked about it publicly before, but you weren't brought back for the second season of 90210

DM: No, I got fired from the show.

AC: Which is something that happens. It’s pretty rare for an actor to go through their entire career and not get fired. I've been fired from a job. Most actors that I know have been fired from a job. But whether you were completely in love with the project or not, it's the worst fucking feeling ever. Not that many people talk about it and it's kind of a mind-fuck.

DM: Yeah. I mean, it was definitely frustrating. There were some behind-the-scene shifts involving the show runners that were going on with things mid-season and towards the end. And, as these new people came aboard, it was becoming clear to me and my team that, as much as I was trying to bring something to the role, they weren't really that interested in what the character was and what I was doing with it. That was frustrating and disheartening because, again, I had this kind of idealistic idea that I could give them what they want and they would take what I got, (which I still believe is a good way to look at things), but they didn’t. There was definitely a lot of difficult introspection I had to do. I had to ask myself the question, "Shit, maybe what I have to offer isn't good enough. Maybe what I am, who I am…” Because as much as a lot of people try to say that to separate yourself from your work is the best thing you can do, I can't separate myself from my work. I just can't do it. I have been thinking about doing this since I was very, very, very young. It's just part of me. That's what the rejection that you're feeling is. It's like getting dumped. Except completely publicly. 

AC: That one was especially a super public dump.

DM: It was, and, without getting into the details of it, I was definitely disappointed with the way it happened. Even though there was no scandal or anything disrespectful done on either side. I will say this much: The next year, for the promotions for the second season, they had brought on a couple new actors but they still used the same wide, panoramic shot of all the original cast who were all still on the show. So I was in that original shot. I was wearing a pink shirt and a tie, and I think I was facing to the right and looking over my left shoulder or something and touching my tie. When they did the upfronts for the second season, they used the same promotional shot. I was no longer on the show, but they used the same shot and they literally cut off my head from that original shot and just… I want to say Photoshopped, but they just might as well have glued on a head of one of these new actors who had been brought on.

AC: One of your replacements, basically.

DM: Basically like a studlier replacement actor. *laughs* You have to laugh at that, because it's just like, "Good God!" There were moments like that, even though I was in a pretty dark place, those moments were key in bringing me around and helping me see how great a gift this was for me. Nothing against the show, but it wasn't the right thing for me. I thought I could do my version of “that guy”, but this wasn't that opportunity. I was beating myself up about it because I felt I should have somehow made it that opportunity, but it just wasn’t. You start to realize how silly and unpredictable Hollywood is. As much as you want to control everything, and be in charge of every little side step that your career takes — and every direction that you take it in — it’s just not that way. It allowed me to then, all of a sudden, look at this completely open road in front of me where I now knew more clearly not only who I was, but who I wasn't. 

AC: And what's interesting is that the next thing you did was essentially you getting to do your funny, weird version of a “prom king” type character. A good-looking, idiot guy who is comedic and offbeat. You got to fulfill that in Extract with Brad, the pool boy/gigolo. I think it’s one of your greatest performances.

DM: Yeah. It was kickass. 

AC: I'm actually starting to see a bit of a theme. You did Extract with Mike Judge, and then you played another idiot character with Mike Judge on Silicon Valley, on Schitt's Creek you play a dopey guy, and on Dirk’s Gently, another idiot. Why do you think you're so drawn to playing those characters? And not just playing them, but trying to put a different twist on them?

DM: I don't know. I think self-deprecating humor is something that's inherent in every Canadian’s sense of humor. I’d rather make fun of myself. I'm not necessarily a super-funny storyteller, standup comedian type of guy. What I think is funny is just kind of the strange things that happen between us on a more intimate level.

AC: Do you think there's a part of you that is drawn to those characters because possibly - I know for myself, I always felt kind of betrayed by people's reaction to my physical appearance. They just kind of see that and think, "Oh, pretty girl who is dumb, stupid, simple-minded, basic or whatever." And I was always like, "No. I'm actually really awkward and weird and uncomfortable in my skin." Do you think there's something similar to that effect for yourself?

DM: Yeah. I see what you're getting at. Yeah. 100%. I understand I've been able to play some of these other roles - 90210 was a role I got because of how I looked. It also had to do with what I was bringing to the table, but again, that process proved that what I was bringing to the table wasn't really that crucial to it. I get pretty uncomfortable with that kind of attention, which is strange because in high school I was embracing it - or so I thought - but it wasn't genuine, and it was something that ultimately was kind of uncomfortable, and I didn't really know how to handle it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not like, "Woe is me. I have cheek bones," or whatever. But it is one of those things where what I looked like had nothing to do with who I saw myself as.

AC: Earlier you said that growing up you wanted to "be someone," which makes me think about legacy and our aspirations for our self and what we can leave behind. What do you hope is your legacy?

DM: That's a tough question, because I'm not always sure I understand what people mean when they say "legacy."

AC: Well, what is your personal definition of legacy?

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DM: I guess for me a legacy is just kind of what remains of you when you're gone. The only thing I really want people to think of when I'm gone is that shit that my parents always said is really true. You really can be anything. It might not work out in the end, but you've got to fucking try. I think if nothing else, I just want people to say, "He was trying to do something." Is that too cheesy?

AC: No, not at all. I like it.

DM: I didn't even get to talk about my 6 to 60. 

AC: What's that?

DM: Most of my major life decisions - or when I'm in a time of crisis or something like that - where there's a fork in the road ahead of me. I think "Okay. Here's this decision." Then I think about what my six-year-old self would think of this decision, and my six-year-old self is, more often than not, the version of me who is noble, strong, kind, and does the right thing. And then I think of the 60-year-old version of me, or the version of me on my deathbed who understands that life is not as simple as maybe that six-year-old thought, and this person is forgiving, but wants as few regrets as possible, and basically you just live to not disappoint either of those two versions of yourself. Just because you grew up doesn't mean you're not still that little kid and you can't still fulfill that kid's dreams. And just because you aren't an old man on his deathbed yet, you should still be thinking about your legacy, because that old man's going to be thinking about his legacy, too. Anyway. That's what that is.

AC: 6 to 60.  I like it. 

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// dustin's favorite songs at the moment \\

all images by amanda crew except the scans of dustin's personal photos.

interview edited & condensed.

aly michalka

If I had to pick one shining quality about Aly Michalka, it would be her genuine kindness. Despite her endless successes, (starring in a Disney show in her early teens, selling over a million records with her sister AJ and working on so many movies/tv shows that it would take this entire intro to list them) the girl has remained one of the most down to earth people I know.  Which, here in Hollywood, is about as rare as snow on Christmas Day. She’s loyal, supportive, and full of heart, and I’m excited for you to get to know her. And for the record, no, she doesn’t actually smoke. 

Amanda Crew: I have known you for, I think, maybe four or five years and in that time I've seen your whole style and look change completely. Even the way you do your hair and makeup, you went from blonde to brunette. You have such a cool, unique style. I don’t know anyone who dresses like you, and I mean that in a good way. Have you always been into fashion? 

Aly Michalka: I think so, yeah. I mean I don’t think that my fashion has always been on point over the years. I like mixing stuff. It always bugs me when people are highly obsessed with labels or designers. I'm like, “why are you just wearing Gucci, Givenchy, Tom Ford glasses?” That’s not fun because anybody could easily get that. It's just about if they can afford it. There's something great about one-of-a-kind pieces that nobody else has. I like mixing in a lot of vintage pieces. I have quite a few pieces from there One of a Few. I really like Reformation, too, which obviously doesn’t always have one-of-a-kind stuff, but I think their cuts are really cute and classic. But I'm super casual; almost to a fault. I really don’t like getting dressed up. 

AC: I don’t find you casual at all. I always find you so put together. I think you make some really cool, bold choices with your clothes. 

AM: Thanks. I wear a lot of shirts backwards, which is always an interesting choice. Sometimes it doesn't totally work.

AC: That takes confidence! So what was your first acting job? 

AM: My first acting job was the television show that I feel like people think me and AJ were both on together even though we weren’t and that was Phil of the Future. That was the Disney Channel show. That only went two seasons and it was around the era when Lizzie McGuire, I think, was just finishing or just finished. It was our show and That's So Raven. I think Even Stevens was still on at that time. So I mean I was around the age where it was cool to be on a show on that channel.

AC: That must have been such a dream come true at that age. 

AM: It totally was. It was cool just because we got the perks of being on a Disney show so we could go to Disneyland for free and they would take us on tours underground that were away from crowds and stuff. I remember one time, AJ and I went to the Pirates of the Caribbean premiere or something and we were like 15 and 16. They put us in one of these suites at the Grand California Hotel. And they were like, "Johnny Depp was just here two weeks ago with his children." Me and AJ were like, "What?" We were freaking out. We were like, "Johnny Depp sat on this toilet!", and "Johnny Depp touched this and then he touched this." We were so weird. So it was definitely cool as a kid to experience that and we were super grateful to be a part of it. But then I think at a certain point too it then becomes not as cool. So then you want to change your taste and all of a sudden MTV is the thing or whatever it is. 

AC: That's what I was going to ask, was that hard to go through? It’s such a specific transition being on a Disney show and then growing up and having to tell your fans, 'I'm not a kid anymore. I'm an adult'. 

AM: Right. And “I need to prove myself.” 

AC: Yeah, and figure out your new identity. Was that a hard transition for you? 

AM: I mean kind of. It wasn’t super difficult because it helped having AJ and the two of us being together, but I definitely felt like there was a pressure on us to break out of the mould that we felt like we were in because of the perception of being a part of the Disney family. I think that was what part of us changing our band name and leaving our record label was. I think all of those things were a part of that.  

AC: That must have been scary. Was it hard to leave your label?

AM: It definitely was. It's funny now because I think we look back on it and there's definitely certain things that we would do differently or we would say, "Who cares? Screw that person if they're going to think that about us". But I think it was always based on what we felt like at the moment and it was very important to us to stay true to whatever kind of artistry we wanted to make at that moment. I think for us musically, that was the hugest change, that we didn’t feel like we were really being listened to for the kind of artists we were on the kind of label that we were on. I think we're the only artists on Hollywood (Records) that wrote their own stuff, I mean besides Plain White T's who were on with us, and Jesse McCartney. But besides, them no other real female artist was making their own music in the way that we were. So we felt like we wanted to be respected for that and we didn’t feel like we were. The hardest part was that we felt like we always had to keep proving ourselves to the company over and over again when we already had done it the first time. So it was hard. 

AC: I’m sure part of going through that transition was discovering your new voice.  What’s that process like?

AM: It can be difficult. I mean some bands obviously don’t make it until their seventh album. U2 had so many records before Joshua Tree. I think we're at a good place now where we feel like as long as we're making music that we're happy to be performing and making, then we're fine with whatever the outcome is supposed to be; whether it's with a major label or an independent label.

AC: You played me some sneak peeks of what you guys are doing right now and I am obsessed with it. How are you feeling about where everything is at with that? 

AM: We feel really good. I think a huge part of us making this music and feeling like it's on the right track was teaming up with co-writers who we really felt connected to and we felt really safe with. Just opening up the door to collaborating with people that we never would have maybe originally collaborated with, or just being open to listening to new bands that maybe we had never heard of. And not copying anybody by any means, but, being inspired by some of the music that we loved growing up and saying: why do we respond so greatly to this type of music? 

AC: I really admire that you guys are not just singers. You play instruments and write your own stuff. I feel like it could be really easy for you guys to just hire some writers and do their songs and do whatever is hot right now. But I love that you guys are really working hard to find your new sound.

AM: Yeah. There is something that I think is special and there's something that makes us extra proud to put out this new music just because we know that we were there every single step of the way. I understand that not everybody is going to write and I would almost prefer somebody who knows that writing isn’t their forte because they're like, "Hey, I need to hire great writers." But there is a special thing when someone is writing the music that they're performing and singing and playing for people live. There’s just a different connection. 

AC: That's amazing. So we worked together on a film, Weepah Way For Now, which your husband, Stephen Ringer, wrote and directed. What's it like working with your husband? Well, at the time you guys weren’t married. 

AM: We weren’t even engaged. It was really great. AJ and I definitely had moments where we were stressed during the movie, but then we also had these days that were really great and went super easy. We would wrap early and we would just be happy that the day went smoothly. But Stephen is super calm so we never felt like he was ever stressed because he's good at being a bit like a monk on set. His big thing on this movie was keeping the set quiet, which is interesting because I'm almost never on really quiet sets. 

AC: I remember the first time I saw the movie, that opening scene with you and AJ, my jaw was on the floor because you had this natural banter and liberated energy between you two. It was such a great opening. You got so much information about your relationship and dynamic. I've seen you in lots of things but I really felt like in the movie I saw you in a whole new light and you really were shining.

AM: Well, it's interesting, too, because I think we didn’t really know how hard it was going to be to play a version of ourselves. We just thought "Oh, this would be easy. I can just be me." It almost was harder because Stephen could easily stop rolling and be like, “No, when you get mad at AJ, you don’t say it like that and you're doing this actor habit thing that’s hiding this, that and whatever.” And it was good. I mean it's really hard to hear.

AC: Especially from your boyfriend.

AM: Your boyfriend! You're like, "Fuck, damn! Wait, do other directors think that? You can tell I'm acting? Dammit!" But I think for us it was really therapeutic because we were able to make a movie that obviously had this storyline that was fictional but all of the elements within the storyline were very real and very personal. So it was nice that we had the freedom to just say, “Okay, we're in this fictional world, yes, but this is our house and we are sisters that are from a divorced family.” So there are these great elements within it that were very true.

AC: I felt that was so brave of you guys, too, because anyone watching it knows that it is loosely based on your life and to expose things of that nature, especially because you guys have these fans who have been with you since you're 15.  They might question which parts are based on your real life. It was a very raw, honest film. You guys talk about sex, masturbation, divorce.

AM: Ovulation. 

AC: Possible cancer scares, drug use, OCD. It really felt like you guys went there. What kind of response have you seen to the film?

AM: We've definitely seen some really amazing comments on message boards and reviews that I think just talk about how this is the sisterhood that they wish they had or how it brings them back to their childhood.

AC: The sisterhood thing. I've never met two sisters closer than you and AJ. I envy your guys' relationship. I think it's so beautiful how close you two are and how much you really love each other, full-heartedly. I think it’s one of your greatest qualities: your incredible loyalty to friendship and family. Is that just how you were raised?

AM: I think yeah. I mean it's funny because we don’t have a huge extended family but we were all very close growing up where we went on family trips and we always ate dinner together. There's just that sense of: we're all we have and let's all stick by each other. So I think as we grew up, we obviously carried that with us. AJ and I are each other's longest friendship. It is a really special relationship.

AC: The last thing I was going to ask is about growing up on such popular show. You had this huge fan base at such a young age and you've grown with them too. Is there any misinterpretations that you feel maybe people, not even your fans but just a public perception, that you get frustrated that people see you as?

AM: That's a good question. I think that for a while we didn’t want to be seen as goody two shoes even though we just happened to be kids that really didn’t get in trouble. We didn’t do drugs or drink at a young age. We were invited to clubs when we were obviously underage but we knew the owners and they knew that they could trust us because we just wanted to go there and dance. And I think we also felt like we had a responsibility to not just be fuck-ups because there were young kids that were looking up to us. It always bugs me when people are like, “I didn’t ask to be a role model.” Who doesn’t want to be a role model? It's not a bad thing for somebody to look up to you. We always felt like there was something cool about a younger kid aspiring to be like us or wanting to be successful or whatever. So I think that we struggled with that for a little bit but then we also at the end of the day were like, “You know what? Who cares?” At this point, if we want to be happy living our life and if somebody is going to have this completely false perception of who we are, then they're just going to have it. And I think also trying to make everybody like you is so impossible and probably the worst thing to strive for. So we got to that point where we just said, look, we're not hurting anybody. We're living our life.

AC: Totally. 

AM: What are you going to do? I mean every single thing these days offends somebody. So it's like you can't even post a photo. I also think a lot of people think that I'm not as friendly as AJ. AJ definitely comes off as the more bubbly, outgoing. 

AC: That's so interesting. 

AM: Which is really funny and people always comment, "Smile more in your photos. Smile." I'm always like, "No!" This younger girl who's on a Disney show, Rowan Blanchard, she recently said, "Look, I just don’t like smiling in photos. This isn’t who I am. This is me. You wouldn’t be asking a guy to smile in photos.” Which is true. You never see a comment that's like, "He needs to smile more." It's always the girl. Why? Is there some weird perception that we need to be happy and therefore, if we are, we're smiling? 

AC: That is a double standard for sure.

AM: It's really weird. But I definitely feel like more people maybe are intimidated by the energy that I give off, not a purposeful energy, just like me in public places I'm a little bit more shy than AJ is. We'll both be together and we're fine. But if I'm by myself, I’m more shy. 

AC: I love that you own that and don’t try and force something that you aren’t. That’s a victory in itself.

// aly's favorite songs at the moment \\

all images by amanda crew except the scans of aly's personal polaroids.

interview edited & condensed.


meaghan rath

I always find it hard to summarize each Frankee in a few sentences. Meaghan Rath is someone I cannot put in a box because she is one of the most unique and authentic people I know. From the outside she may appear like just a gorgeous face. And while her beauty is undeniable (hello, the girl is STUNNING), she has so much more going on: she has a genuine heart of gold, an insane sense of style, a priceless sense of humor and she’s unapologetically herself, something that inspires me daily. Get ready to fall in love with this gem.

Amanda: So we met on a YTV show called 15/Love, which was my first acting job. Was that your first acting job?

Meaghan:  That was my first real job. Before that, I had just done this indie movie called Lost and Delirious when I was 12. Then I finished high school and-

A:  And went through puberty.

M: [laughs] Yeah, I went through puberty. Although I kind of feel that I was still going through puberty on that show. 

A:  I definitely was.

M:  Wasn't either of our best looks. 

A:  I've never looked worse. And so a little bit after 15/Love you were doing a more dramatic show called Being Human. How many seasons did you do?

M:  Four. Definitely a transitional time of my life. I was 23 when we started.

A:  And now you're doing comedy, and I'm sure people who knew you from Being Human… well actually, I feel like your fans knew how big of a goofball you are. You guys had, by far, the best group photos at the conventions. You made it look like so much fun, and so memorable for the fans, too. Instead of having just a photo of you guys awkwardly standing with your fans, you set up these very-

M:  Very elaborate. It started slow, we eased into it. The first time the three of us did a convention together we started playing around, but no props or anything, no green screen. And then, as it went on, we just got more and more invested in making these pictures amazing, because these people pay an obscene amount of money to take a picture with you, which is... I mean, I'm conflicted about these images because it's like, "Yeah, meet me at the elevator and we can quickly do them for free." But it's the whole industry, right? And so we're like, "We need to make this worth it for people." It got fairly bizarre. At one convention, there was a green screen blanket. And it was so inspiring to us. We would hide in the blanket so you'd just see our heads floating. It was pretty amazing. 

A:  [laughs] So now you're doing comedy, which to me feels like such a natural fit for you because you’ve always been so funny.

M:  [sarcastic] I am hilarious.

A:  You are. You're one of the funniest people I know. What do you like about doing comedy?

M:  Well, I always felt that comedy was where I was supposed to be. I knew that that was where I wanted to find myself. I love doing comedy. And you know, it's easier, at the end of the day, to just leave the heavy stuff at home. One thing that I do find is that doing a half-hour sitcom, you're not really tapping into the all of your emotions. I'm not getting out my cries. So some might argue I'm actually more of a nightmare in my personal life. Because I've got to get it out somehow.

A:  Were you shy as a kid or were you outgoing?

M:  No, I was so shy. I just wanted everyone to like me. 

A:  I can't even imagine that. Because to me, you are, in a really humble way, so confident. It's comforting to me because your confidence gives me permission to be confident, if that makes sense.

M:  That is insane for me to hear and so flattering, but I assure you it's all fake. I swear to God. 

A:  But even when we were doing 15/Love, you had this really awesome sense of style. You had those cool Kangaroo shoes.

M: Oh yeah, those boxing shoes. Those were cool. 

A:  Yeah, I immediately bought the exact same pair. Straight up copied you. But in a different color so it wasn’t an exact copy. [laughs] I do remember thinking you were bold with your fashion choices back then. The girls I went to high school with, we all wore the exact same clothes. Like, the EXACT same clothes. You have such great style that is so authentic and it's not a copy of anything. Where does that come from? Where do you get your fashion taste and inspiration from?

M:  That is such a good question. I feel like it's pretty eclectic and it's always changing. I love the grunge look, and I think that's an easy one to build on because you can go really casual with it, and then you can dress it up. You can be, kind of, a classy grunge if you want. I love flannel and leather, and I love big vintage t-shirts. I hate a tight t-shirt. I like things that make me feel comfortable. I'm uncomfortable if my skirt's too short, or something is too tight. I’m a big believer in dressing for your body, and so for me, I just like being comfortable. I've never really thought about "How do I put things together?" I just go with my mood.

A:  It just comes naturally to you.

M:  A lot of it is just my mood. If I want to feel relaxed and tomboyish and, sort of, easy-breezy. It's usually a lot of looser things. But sometimes I want to feel really girly and pretty and...

A:  Florally? 

M:  Yeah, florally. I wish that I could wear long maxi skirts-

A:  Oh, I know.

M:  I just don't feel like it's me. 

A:  I feel like a giraffe in them. I just feel really, really tall. It just elongates my freakishly long legs.

M:  Imagine you with a maxi skirt and a turtle neck.

A:  Oh, wow, like a walking condom. [laughs] I don’t feel like I've ever seen you insecure in anything. 

M:  Oh, my God, Amanda!

A:  What? I don't!

M: That's crazy. 

A:  What's an example of "I feel insecure when..." or "I have weird days where I just feel not good enough,” or “I feel like I'm having a bad ‘body’ day?” What do you do when you feel insecure?

M:  What's amazing to me is that you don't see that at all, because it is such a big part of me. I still struggle with it so much, feeling insecure. I have so many bad 'body' days and body image is something that's affected me for a long time. But honestly, as I get older I sort of realize that it doesn't really matter. And I think it's such a matter of perspective. Our criticisms of ourselves are so much more intense than anyone else’s.  We’re so hard on ourselves.

A:  100%. If I talked to anyone the way I talk to myself in my head, no one would be my friend. 

M:  Yeah. It's a struggle for me. I do get really insecure. I'm competitive. That's a big part of it, so a lot of my insecurity comes from me comparing myself to other people. Whether it's how I look, what my body looks like when I'm going on auditions and I'm on a run where things are not going well in my career, it really affects me, and I find that I carry it with me. It's a goal of mine to stay on a high vibration, because I find that that's when the best stuff comes in, when you're doing good and you're happy, and you're happy for other people, and you're supportive. But, the struggle is "How do you get to that place when you're in a rut?"

A:  When you're in the dark hole. 

M:  Yeah. It's really, really hard. I find that I have to make a real conscious effort and work hard towards getting to that higher place again. And it usually takes me like a solid week or two.

A:  I can definitely identify with that. I am so good at falling into that dark hole and can be stubborn about coming out.

M:  It almost feels easier to stay in that dark place, because you know the amount of work it takes to get out of there, but once you're back to where you should be it's easy to stay. So I mean, I find that exercise sometimes helps, and I have crystals. 

A:  I love that! You're such a spiritual person. And I mean 'spiritual' in the sense of, crystals, psychics, zodiac signs. 

M:  Yeah, I have good intuition. I get it from my dad. We both have it really strong. And as I've gotten older I've learned to trust that even more. I rely on it, and it's really helped me and it's served me in what I do. Some people think it's all hokey and ridiculous, but I really feel like it works for me. I don't need to push it on anyone, but that's something that I really love.

A:  Speaking of your dad, where are your parents from?

M:  Well, both my parents are Canadian. My dad's family is from England and Austria, and they're Jewish. And my mom's family is from Goa, which is in the south of India. Her and her family moved to Canada when she was 13. 

A:  I didn't know that. That's crazy. Have you ever been to Goa?

M:  Yeah. We went when I was 22. It was really amazing. My whole family went and we did a tour of India and finished in Goa. It was really interesting for us going, because for my dad, brother and I, we were like, "This is incredible. This is a completely different world.” But it was interesting to see my mom's reaction to it, because I think she struggles with it a bit. I think there were a lot of memories that came back that she was not comfortable with. It's a crazy story, my mom's family moving to Canada. My grandfather, who has now passed away, but was a really, really special guy. My dad always talks about him like he's the most amazing, beautiful person ever. My mom comes from a family where there were three girls and two boys. She's the oldest and they had a really comfortable life. They had servants. When they moved to Canada, my mom said she had never looked inside a fridge before because food would just appear.

A:  Wow. 

M:  There was a lot of political unrest going on in Goa at the time, no one was allowed to leave. No one was allowed to have passports. It's a Muslim country and they're Catholic, so my grandfather, knowing the way women are treated in that culture, he wanted to get them out of there. So he literally got passports, sort of on the black market and they just left their entire life, and they moved to Montreal into a one-bedroom apartment. They came with my great aunt and my great uncle, too, and my mom's grandmother and grandfather too, I think. A whole bunch of them came, and they would have to take turns eating dinner because they didn't have enough plates. So one group would eat, wash the plates and the cutlery, and then the other group would sit down. My mom said she had never seen hardwood floors before, because she just knew marble. It was just such a culture shock. That's why my mom's family has all done so well for themselves. It’s that work ethic that they had to put in because they started from nothing. It's really amazing to see the family now, we're so close obviously. But just to see how far everybody came is pretty amazing. 

A:  When you went to Goa, did you feel a connection there?

M:  Yeah, they're amazing people. I thought I was going to go there and be like an "Indian princess" and everybody was going to be like, "You're one of us." But they didn't. They were like, "You look weird." 

A:  Because you're half-white? Is that why?

M:  Yeah. And they really see the difference. Whereas here, everyone’s favorite question is "What's your mix?" And now I've started to say, "Oh, I'm half white." That's what everyone is wondering about, I'm half white. People don't think it's as funny as I do. 

A:  Did you have that kind of sense of humor about ethnicity and society when you were younger?

M:  Growing up, it was something that I struggled with a lot, because I just wanted people to like me, I wanted to be accepted. And I knew that I didn't look like everybody else. The high school I went to was 90% white Italian girls, and I just wanted to be like them. I just wanted to look like everyone else. And I felt so insecure. It's something that I have grown to really love about myself, that I look different, that I don't look like everyone else. I like that people wonder where I'm from, as annoying as it is sometimes. 

A:  I remember talking to you not too long ago about diversity casting. It really fired you up in a way that struck a chord with me. You were talking about how white actors will say, ”Oh, she got that part because they needed to go ethnic,” and how offensive and insensitive that is. Does that come up often for you? 

M:  Yeah, it does. The industry's definitely changing. They're casting way more diversely and it's amazing. I sometimes get frustrated hearing my white actor friends saying things like, "It's so hard for us now." That is a serious conversation that is genuinely happening with me. "It's so hard. All the roles are going to ethnic people." And I’m like, "Oh, I'm so sorry! Things must be so hard for you as a white man."

A:  Especially a white man.

M:  Yeah. How do you think the rest of us felt forever and ever? Especially women, on top of it. I think it's really great the direction we're moving in, but I think now people tend to use it as an excuse as to why they didn't get the roles. It's because "They needed to go ethnic." That sentence is so offensive to me. And who knows what the politics actually are when you're going for a role, but I've been up for a bunch of roles where it's me and a bunch of white people and I get it. And there's another diverse person on the show, so I'm not checking off a box. 

A:  Right. It's like, "I earned this, and I ended up being the right person for the role, not because of the color of my skin but because of my talent." I’m baffled that a white guy would say that to you.

M:  Yes. Like no awareness. "Hey, know your audience, okay?” But it's so important, because now at least we're seeing more people of different backgrounds being represented. For me, as a kid, I would always go watch Shakespeare in the Park. I would see these plays and there was no one on the stage that looked like me. And the message that it sends is, “You're not important." I internalized it, and thinking back on how I looked at the movie industry and theater when I was a kid, I knew that I would never get the leading role, because the leading role looks a certain way and I don't look like that. So I find it really amazing now that I can do those roles and that there's a spot for me. But that's why it's so important that we continue to show that. It's almost irresponsible not to, because there is a little girl in the audience watching, feeling like she doesn't feel that she has any value, or doesn't feel like she has something to offer. 

A:  That must feel so good to be on a show like Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life, which is on a major network, and there are girls watching that, looking at you and thinking, "Oh my God, she looks just like me and she's cool and she's not playing—“

M:  Just a stereotype.

A:  Exactly. Just seeing you being you, and not having to play into a stereotype. And them being able to identify with you and then aspire to be you, and know that they can achieve that too. What does the future for you look like? What are your goals? Would you ever start your own fashion line? Selfishly I want you to have your own fashion line so I can look half as cool as you.

M: Have you seen “Gaycation”?

A:  I haven't seen it yet but I've seen the trailer and it looks amazing.

M:  It's so, so good. And what Ellen Page is doing, and her best friend, Ian, is just so brave, amazing, and inspiring. And just to see somebody who has recently come out who is making a difference, spreading awareness. Traveling around the world and seeing gay culture in every different city, and really examining the problems within. The good things too. They go to Brazil, which is a huge place for gay culture in South America, but there's also a lot of gay people being murdered there. I watched that whole show and it just made me feel like I want to do something more with my life and I'm trying to find what that is. But I do know that I'm supposed to do something more than just what I'm doing now. I know that I have a higher calling, and I haven't figured out what it is.

A:  If there is anything I know about you, you will definitely figure it out… But just to clarify, it might not be your own fashion line? 

M:  It's a fashion line. It's bustier tops and it's going to change how women feel about themselves! My gift to the world, you’re welcome, America!

// meaghan's favorite songs at the moment \\

all images by amanda crew except the scan of meaghan's personal photo.

interview edited & condensed.

jeffrey bowyer-chapman

Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman is one of those people you meet and you instantly know that you’ve met someone special. With an undeniable shining light and genuine positivity, you can’t help but feel good when you are around him. Actor, model, humanitarian and general bad ass, Jeffrey is someone who leads with his heart, something that continues to inspire me.

Amanda:  So we know each other from our good old days back in Vancouver. Starting out our acting careers on a really amazing movie that we worked on together.

Jeffrey: Oh, just, like, riveting and thought-provoking and mind-blowing.

A:  A really life-changing film for people.

J:  That was a long time ago, actually.

A:  It was. Almost 10 years ago. The first thing I remember about meeting you was your energy.  You had (and still have) this radiant light about you that was so positive, contagious and genuine, and I just wanted to be around it. Where does that comes from?

J:  Such an interesting question. Now, at 31 years old, and for the past couple of years in my life, it’s been a very conscious choice, to be totally honest. It’s part of my repertoire of affirmations that I repeat to myself on a daily basis, one of them being, “May the brilliant light from within me shine for all the world to be inspired and impacted by,” amongst many other affirmations, “To be used by God for a purpose greater than myself,” or the universe, or Gaia, or Buddha, or whoever. When I was a kid, I think that I certainly had it in me, because it was something that I was always told from my friends’ parents, from teachers or whoever, in elementary school. As years started going on, I felt like that light – I could very much feel it starting to be dimmed as the external world around me was telling me that I was wrong and was devaluing me on a basic human level for things that were far beyond my control, whether it was the color of my skin or my sexual orientation. I was very much aware of this at like 10, 11, 12 years old. That time in my life was really rough; and I was not a happy, light, bright, open, trusting soul. I was very guarded. I really dimmed my own light, because I recognized that the brighter I shined, the more I stuck out and the more of a target that I was. I really tried to blend in, which upon reflection, sounds so incredibly absurd because I grew up in such a small, little farm town in Canada, in Alberta, that no matter what I did, I couldn’t blend in. I was never going to blend in and I looked at it as a negative for many years, that I couldn’t just blend in and be like everybody else. It’s so cliché, but it’s like “you were born to stand out.” I was born to stand out, and I’ve really embraced that. As soon as I recognized that, I stopped apologizing for who I was, around, like, 15, 16 years old.

A:  That’s so young to figure that out. I feel like I’m just starting to figure that out now.

J:  It’s funny, because I feel like in some ways, I’m very much a late bloomer, and I’m still learning lessons that I feel my friends learned when they were 15, 16 years old. I feel like everybody has their own path and is going to go at their own pace. I knew that the alternative for me was far too painful. I just didn’t feel good. I was vibrating at a very low vibrational frequency. I was unhappy all of the time. Things just weren’t flowing. Everything was really fragmented. My relationships were strained. My dynamic with my family was really fucked up. I didn’t really feel like I had anybody that I could go and talk to and just really, truly, authentically be myself and be accepted for all sides of myself. But I realized at 15, 16 years old that so much of it was me telling myself these stories. I can’t deny the fact that I did live in a very violently oppressive environment in some ways, if you look like me and are like me; if you’re a black, gay male. But so much of it was just unwarranted fear. I started modeling as well; and that opened the doors to a whole new world for me.

A:  Were you traveling for modeling, or were you just modeling in Alberta?

J:  I wasn’t traveling at that point. I was 15 years old, and I did my first test shoot with an agency in Calgary called Mode Models in Calgary, which was the crème de la crème of the Alberta fashion scene.

A:  Oh, snap, snap, snap!

J:  They actually were. I think they were quite a power house in the Alberta market, at least. There wasn’t really a ton of work, obviously, in Alberta; but they would scout, develop and place models internationally. I remember doing a photo shoot when I was 15 years old and it was with a photographer from Los Angeles. It was just a test, but for me it was the biggest deal in the world, because I never thought that I could be a model; but as soon as somebody presented it as a potential opportunity, my eyes just got so bright; and I thought, “Oh, my God! This is a way for me to get out,” you know? I shot with the photographer and got the photos back, maybe a month later, like a contact sheet along with a letter from the agency letting me know that they had decided not to take me internationally. To me, that was the biggest devastation. It was the worst thing I could possibly have received. In my mind, I’m like, “I’m 15. I’m going to get emancipated. I’m going to go travel the world. I’m going to run this shit!” And with that one letter, I was really, really devastated because I didn’t know – at that point, I didn’t have– 

A:  You just saw that as your one and only way out?

J:  I didn’t know if there were any other options, or if there was ever going to be another–

A:  When you’re in a small town, it feels like no one “gets out.”

J:  No one gets out.

A:  I totally connect with that notion of, “Oh, this is my way of getting out of here and creating a life for myself and a name,” and that door was just shut on your one opportunity.

J:  Totally. The candle snuffed out just like that and no light to guide the way. I pulled my shit together quite quickly and went and got signed by another agency in Edmonton, instead of Calgary, where my father lived. I started doing local, little jobs, little photo shoots for catalogs and a couple of runway shows here and there, nothing major by many means. 

A:  Little Jeffrey in jeans.

J:  Ridiculously skinny, so scrawny, just emaciated with these big, wild curls. I had no idea what I was doing and, to be totally honest, I was emulating or trying to channel the energy of female fashion models; because that was really the only reference that I had. I would watch - what is her name, the host of “Fashion TV”? Jeanie Becker? I’d watch that show obsessively. I loved it and I would watch it, but it was always female models, these really skinny, editorial girls walking the runways in Paris, Milan and Tokyo. I didn’t really have any examples of male models. I tried to fit myself in that box, and it took me about a year or two to realize that I’m not a girl. I’m not an editorial model. It took everything for a photographer to try to get me to smile when we were doing a photo shoot, because I just wanted to be so edgy, raw and real.

A:  Well that makes sense. I mean, where you grew up, there was no one like you. Especially since from a young age, you knew you were gay.

J:  Three years old.

A:  Yeah, exactly. It’s hard to find anyone who’s out in a small town. Especially someone around your age, if you’re a teenager. But then you’re also someone of color. Who did you look up to?

J:  People ask me a lot as an actor, who do I look up to, and who do I admire, and who inspires me. I’ve never –

A:  I don’t have one either.

J:  Oh, my God! I’m so glad you have that answer. Seriously?

A:  I have people that I’m like, “Oh, yeah, she’s cool,” or, this person I like what they’re doing, or whatever; but there was never this one person. You know what I mean? I think because I take little pieces of everyone, like, “Ooh, I like how this person does this and how this person does that.”

J:  I would say that’s certainly how I collected little bits of people’s personalities and piled that into a source of inspiration for me. To be totally honest with you, I feel like it’s never really been actors who I’ve looked to for inspiration. It’s always been charismatic world leaders and inspirational speakers who have been my greatest source of inspiration. Maya Angelou changed my whole world.

A:  When were you introduced to her?

J:  I wasn’t introduced to Maya Angelou until I was 22 years old. I was in New York for the first time, working. I was walking down the street in Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, and on Bedford Avenue, there’s a lot of people who have their own little tables, that sell incense, or candles, or whatever. I was walking by and I saw a book called “A Song Flung Up to Heaven,” by Maya Angelou. It just caught my eye, I picked it up and I started reading it immediately. I fell in love with it and devoured it in a day and a half. She has a series of seven or eight memoirs, autobiographies. I went back after devouring that book and got “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and then all of her other autobiographies and every book of poetry, every recipe book, every book of quotes. 

A:  She did recipe books?

J:  Yeah, numerous recipes books actually for just some delicious soul cooking, some yummy soul food.

A:  What a woman!

J:  She was a phenomenal woman, as is the title of one of my favorite poems by Maya Angelou. What I loved about her and reading her books is that she was a very ordinary person who came from very dire circumstances, living in the South, being raised by her grandmother during the time of segregation. The world was not in her favor, and she made so many “mistakes” along her journey. She got pregnant at a very young age. She didn’t live an ideal life and, yet, she’s so incredibly unapologetically honest about the mistakes she’s made and the choices that she’s made along her way and the life that she’s lived. It’s really raw, and it’s really honest. I just respect that so much. The truth is so much more interesting than fiction. She tried many different things. She was a calypso singer in a club. She traveled with a European touring group of “Porgy and Bess,” you know, the Broadway show. She was the first female trolley attendant in San Francisco.

A:  Oh, my God!

J:  She just did so many different things. She got involved in politics, spoken-word poetry and just so many different things. She never categorized herself into one box and said, “This is what I am.” She tried everything, and she found out what worked for her, what didn’t work for her and went from there and then shared her story. That’s what she’s given to the world. 

A:  Hearing you talk about her, it makes total sense why that would be one of your heroes, because so many of the things you’re talking about that she either believed in, or stood for, or did are a lot of the things that you’re passionate about. Like public speaking, especially with the LGBT community, people of color and equality. I can totally connect the dots on why you identify with her. When you’re talking about Maya, I’m like, “That could be Jeffrey down the road.”

J:  Thanks, Amanda.

A:  I feel like you’re already on that path. You recently spoke at a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) gala. I remember you telling me that you were going to be speaking at it, and I just assumed that you’d be presenting an award, and maybe say a couple words about what this campaign meant to you. I was working at the time and we didn’t really get to talk about it after. Then the speech went online. You sent it to me and I was so blown away by the speech that you gave, because not only was it powerful, and what you were saying was so important, and the way that you spoke and how you commanded the room but also, watching you up there, it was just like, “He was made to do this.”

J:  Thanks, Amanda. That means so much to me. I remember you called me in tears after you saw my speech.

A:  It was so beautiful. Why is that important to you? Speaking at the HRC gala, why was that a dream come true? I just put words in your mouth, but I assume it’s a dream come true.

J:  I didn’t realize how much of a dream come true it was until I had already done it. I felt like it was where I belonged. I felt very comfortable up on that stage. I feel like it was a really ideal opportunity for me to reclaim my power because, as an actor, as much as I love acting, you are the paint to the artist, who is the director, or writers, or producers. It’s you up on that screen, or up on that stage saying these words, but these words aren’t yours. I feel like it’s a really powerful thing to have the opportunity to touch many people’s lives all around the world as an actor, and I feel like people can relate to your characters, or can see themselves in you. That’s a really beautiful byproduct of what we do as actors. I recognize that and the power of artists as activists. I recognize that it’s going to be much powerful to me to be able to use my own words and to speak from my own heart and soul about issues and topics that are relevant and important to me, and to be able to share my perspective with the world. I talk in the speech about the importance of visibility and diversity in the entertainment industry and how I didn’t have that when I was growing up and that it became a mission for me very early on in my career to become that, to become a source of inspiration for youth, specifically, LGBT youth and LGBT youth of color, in America and Canada. For them to have somebody, just somebody, to look to, so they can turn on their TVs and they can see somebody who looks like them, or they can see themselves. To see a reflection of yourself.

A:  I feel like that’s part of your life message and I feel like it just naturally comes from you. You are a rare case of an actor who is gay and who has always been out, which is a huge deal. When Ellen DeGeneres did it, her career is obviously amazing now, but at the time when she did it, it wasn’t received with open hearts. It’s unfortunate, but it can backfire for public figures to come out as gay.  But you’ve always been out.

J:  I think Ellen’s an interesting example, because she is somebody who took back the power, reclaimed her power and uses her own voice. If she were strictly an actor, it may have been a different story. I saw it as I was growing up and as I started to work as an actor. I feel like Rupert Everett’s a classic example that was always used for me by agents when I was first starting acting and talked about how I wanted to be an openly gay actor. 

A:  That was a conversation with your agents from the beginning?

J:  Yeah, very much so.  I was 21. I wasn’t necessarily supported, and even at 31 years old. I’m lucky to have a very strong team. My agents and my managers, I love them, and they love me, and they understand me. We’ve been together for about five or six years now, since I first moved to New York. But as much as they love me and as much as I love them, as much as they understand me and support my vision, they still had their worries, for sure, because they’ve seen it in the past. They’d seen examples of Rupert Everett, where somebody is an actor who plays straight and then decides to come out of the closet, and then the American audience just doesn’t buy it anymore. They don’t see him as a straight man, or people don’t see him having the ability to play a straight character, or be the love interest. For one, I was young enough. I wasn’t acting in my teens when I was seeing all of this going on. I would have, even Ellen coming out on the cover of Time magazine and then seeing the backlash from it. I just had this feeling in my gut and my soul back then of, “Ugh! I never want to go through that.” I thought, “Well, if I was ready to avoid going through that, just don’t be in the closet. Don’t hide in the first place.” 

A:  Were you worried that it would have a negative effect for you being out, or were you just like, “Whatever?”

J:  No. 10 years ago when I first started working, the amount of roles written for gay characters, the amount of gay characters being written for was far less than it is today. I knew, and I was told by my team at that age, that if this was a choice I was going to make, then I will realistically not work as much as my straight counterparts. I was okay with that. They weren’t okay with it, and a lot of their opinions did affect me as the years went by. I did work playing a straight character in some movies and some TV shows. I just was never happy doing it. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy playing the straight character, because that’s part of being an actor. You’re stepping in the shoes of another human being, and you’re taking on a completely different persona. It wasn’t while we were shooting. Once the director called, “Action,” and you’re shooting and playing the character, I was totally fine with it. It was when they would call “Cut,” and then I felt the pressure to still play straight for the producers, for the other cast members, for the studio and the network. You know what I’m saying? I had several instances on a couple of projects. One project specifically that I was on for quite some time where I had the director come to me and just make some perceivably homophobic comments to me, telling me essentially to butch it up, not while we were shooting, but while I was on set, when the camera wasn’t rolling.

A:  “Butch it up” just as a person?

J:  Yeah.

A:  Did he know you were gay?

J:  Yeah.

A:  Wow!

J:  And it didn’t feel good. It didn’t. That’s the thing. Not only did I have the examples of Ellen DeGeneres and Rupert Everett coming out of the closet and having to watch them go through a really challenging time in their personal life and their careers. But I was also friends with a couple of guys and dated a couple of guys who I knew were gay but were actors and were playing straight characters and were too fearful to ever live authentically or come out of the closet and be who they are in their daily lives in fear of never working again and fear of their families not accepting them, all these things. I saw what came along with that decision. Sure, they were working actors, and they were making money, and they were working more than me because there were more roles available to them. I saw their incredible personal and emotional turmoil that they were living in on a daily basis. It was a hell of their own creation.

A:  That would be exhausting.

J:  Because in those situations, the director never yells “cut.” You’re always acting, you know?

A:  Like you said, you got a glimpse of what that felt like when you were playing these straight characters, and you felt the pressure to be playing straight when the camera had cut. That’s only for a fraction of the time of what their lives are like.

J:  Exactly. It felt really wrong. It didn’t feel good. That goes, once again, back to me being 15 years old and being able to decipher what felt good and what didn’t feel good. Authenticity felt good. Inauthenticity felt horrible. Talking about this now, I can see that I really tried to consciously navigate my life from a heart-centered place. You know what I’m saying?

A:  Definitely.

J:  If a vibrational frequency feels low, then that’s not a direction that I want to go in. If it feels high, and it feels like it lifts me up and elevates me, then that’s the direction I’m going to go in.

A:  I love that.

J:  The path of least resistance is the path that I am very fond of and familiar with.

A:  That’s so beautiful. We were talking about Maya and the impact she left people with. What would you want to leave people with? How do you want to be remembered?

J:  There’s a quote by Maya Angelou that says, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will always remember how you made them feel.” I would want to be remembered as somebody who makes the people around them feel good and feel worthy, accepted and good enough. You’re good enough. I’m good enough. I feel like by embracing that yourself and living your life from that place, it automatically gives the people around you permission to do the same.

A:  You do that for me.

J:  You do that for me, too. From the moment I met you, you’ve done that for me. You give me permission to be myself, and you gave me permission to shine, because I saw you doing the exact same thing; like attracts like, girl. You can see the beauty and the friendships and the relationships that you have in your life and your incredible success and all of your personal ventures and all of your hobbies. You have a really beautiful life because you live from a place of beauty, authenticity, kindness and openheartedness. 

A:  Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman!

J:  It’s the true stuff.

// jeffrey's favorite songs at the moment \\

all images by amanda crew except the scan of jeffrey's personal photos.

interview edited & condensed.

mary elizabeth winstead

I’ve known Mary Elizabeth Winstead for about 10 years now.  We met on the set of Final Destination 3.  She was the lead and I was playing her little sister.  It also happened to be my first feature film job ever and I was nervous as hell.  Fortunately for me, Mary happens to be one of the kindest, warmest, most welcoming actresses you could ever hope to work with.  Long nights on that set sparked a friendship that I’m so grateful to have.  I asked if she would be my first feature for FRANK and she said yes without hesitation.  Because she’s awesome like that.

Amanda:  I’m just going to jump right in here.  I’ve always admired the way that you’ve held yourself.  I never told you this, but since I first met you, you were always my secret mentor.  *laughs*  It’s dorky but true.  I would sometimes ask myself, “What would Mary do?” when I was facing a hard decision that had to do with my career.

Mary:  Little do you know I don’t know anything.

A:  *laughs* But I've always felt like you've had a really strong sense of who you are and what you stand for.  Even when you were younger you had a strong sense of that and I just wonder where that comes from because I think that it’s very unique in our industry. 

M:  That’s interesting.  I mean it’s so nice to hear you say that.  I feel like looking back on it I was just flailing through everything and figuring things out as I went and it's funny to think that people saw me that way because I really had no idea what I was doing.  I think for the most part everything turned out really well so I can't say that I made any decisions that I regretted but I think I always came from a place of feeling like there was a certain confidence in what I was doing and knowing that it was going to work out which I'm not really sure that was either stupidity or naivety or something on my part.  And I think some of it was.

A:  Like the story you were telling me last night about turning down the “blank” movie to go on a cruise.

M:  Oh yes!  When I was 18 I turned down...  I think I can say.

A:  On the record.

M:  Yeah, I turned down a role in CINDERELLA STORY starring Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray. 

A:  Who were huge at the time!  That was a big movie to turn down.

M:  Yeah it was a huge studio movie and I had not done a studio movie at that time.  I had only done TV work and was really trying to break into movies but I had scheduled this cruise with my best friend who was banking on going on this celebratory senior trip cruise with me.  We had just graduated high school and it was this big decision for me.  Do I go shoot this movie or do I go on this cruise? But I really wanted to go on the cruise and I wasn't that excited about the movie, even though I knew it would be good in terms of getting my foot in the door.  So I decided to go on the cruise and ended up meeting my future husband.

A:  Which is so crazy!  When you said that last night I was like, "Wow, I don't even know if I could do that NOW!"  It's always this kind of feast or famine as an actor and you constantly feel like this job is the last.  So to be at the beginning of your career and be given your first kind of big opportunity.  Was your agent upset?

M:  I don't really remember what they thought.

A:  You just didn't give a fuck!

M:  *laughs* But it's funny, I feel like it's weird, because I'm in such a better place with my career now, but I feel more worried about getting work now than I did then. I feel in some ways I was very privileged.  I got roles pretty quickly when I first started so maybe I was spoiled in that sense.  I was just always like, "Yeah I'll work.  It'll be fine.  I'll get another job. I'll figure it out.”  Shortly after the cruise I did have a big dry spell of not working and probably had moments where I…  *laughs*

A:  Questioned your decision?

M:  No, not really because I mean I had met [my husband] Riley on the cruise so I never actually wished I didn't go on the cruise but it is interesting. 

A:  You recently started taking piano lessons and doing silks classes, which I think is so cool and adventurous.  What sparked that?

M:  Well, what’s funny is that I’ve been wanting to do silks for years and Riley can attest to this.  I've always wanted to go to Cirque du Soleil school.  Since I was a kid, my sister and I would watch those videos and that was just something we were really into.  And so I had always wanted to do it and then finally I think just getting to the age where I realized that I have to exercise, like I can't not do something.  Whereas all through my 20's I could kind of skate by with just doing a day at the gym for like 30 minutes.

A:  Are you still doing the piano lessons?

M:  I am!  Yeah, I've been doing them once a week.  They've been going very well.  I've been going back to basics and learning scales and chords and practicing.  I would really love to dabble, I mean it's a pipe dream, but I would like to actually write music and play it on the piano and so I feel like going back to basics and really learning the proper place for your hands during scales or chords will help with that.  


A:  It's so cool that you're doing that because I think sometimes, especially as an adult, you can just put ideas in your head that, "Oh I can't do that anymore,” “That's gone,” or "Oh I wished that I had kept doing the piano lessons all through my childhood and teenage years so that now I'd be good." But you forget that you can take lessons as an adult.

M:  Totally!  You can do it if you are busy.  You practice for 20 minutes a day or something which actually makes a difference.  Or you find one hour a week that you can work with a teacher.

A:  You recently quit Twitter for half a second and then went back, which I totally understood both moves, but I’m curious what the reasoning behind the initial move was.

M:  I know. I did it so randomly.  I was sitting on the couch and I was just like, "I don't want to do this.”  I felt bad because I felt that people assumed that it was because I was being antagonized or something and it wasn't that at all.  I have very little of that and I can handle the little bit that I do get.  I was just like, “I don't know what I'm doing with this” or “What am I saying?” and I didn't know what I was bringing to the table.

A:  Did you feel pressure to bring something to the table?

M:  Yeah, I felt like I wanted to have a voice politically, and as a feminist and all this stuff but I felt like there are so many other people articulating things so much better than I ever could.  And it was just sort of like, "Why don't I just bow out?"  And there's also so much antagonism of other people, even more so than my own personal antagonism of people saying mean things to me.  It was more just seeing fighting of other people on Twitter a lot.  A lot of arguing amongst people who agree with each other, which was exhausting for me to read.  So now I'm back on it basically at the request of my team.  Which I totally understood where they were coming from of just having it and letting it be there so that if I need it for any purpose, it's there.

A:  On the topic of Twitter, you tweeted a really brave tweet in response to the mass leaked photos.  (Editor’s note:  On August 31, 2014, over 500 private pictures were leaked of a large group of celebrity women online.  Mary was one of those women.)  I remember feeling so proud of you for how you handled that whole situation because I felt like so many women were just kind of like, "Oh whoops" or "Haha, I guess this stuff happens,” which is fine, that's their way of dealing with it, but you stood up and said, “Hey, what you’re doing is not okay and I don’t approve of this.” 

M:  When I tweeted that, I thought it was me and 5 other girls.  I had no idea that it was going to, within the next few hours, spread to over 100 actresses, which to me was just...  As I was seeing all the media and stuff about it I was just becoming more and more angry and more and more disgusted and sickened.  And that was when I had to get off Twitter too.  Again it was one of those things that was just so much worse when you see it happening to people that you respect. And that you admire.  Because when the stuff was directed towards me, yes it was awful, but it was also like, "You don't know what you're talking about."  I know who I am so it can't really be that hurtful to me when it's just trolls attacking me.

A:  But I think even for you to be able to come to that place so quickly is amazing, because I know for myself, even if I know that something that’s being said about me is not true but people are still saying it, then I'm hurt that they would even think that about me.  But the fact that you were able to say to yourself, "I know that's not true, so fuck you!”  I really admire that.


M:  Right, well I do think some of those things seep in there a little bit.  Or they hit a nerve of some insecurity.  That can definitely affect me, but I was actually really...  I did a session of therapy a few weeks after, with the purpose of talking about it and I was really surprised by how it didn't really phase me at all.  I was just so pissed off about the scale of it.  I didn't really get upset until I was talking about the other people that it happened to because I just couldn’t fathom...  The scope of it was so disgusting to me.  And such a large scale attack on women as a whole.  Whereas if it had just been me, I probably would have been disgusted and violated but, you know, you kinda move on and get over it but when you are part of something that is making such a statement...  And that was another thing that I think bothered me more than the tweet was that there were people in the media, there weren't that many of them, for the most part the media was really great about it, but the few people who were like, “They shouldn't have taken the photos in the first place.”  I mean that was such a ridiculous statement.  And that's why I took a Twitter break because you do get so incensed and want to tell everyone how ridiculous they are but at a certain point, you’re not going to change these people's minds.  There were one or two people that tweeted me gross things who actually had large followings and that really pissed me off because those were people in the public eye.  There was one radio personality or something that tweeted me something along the lines of, "If you didn't take the picture, it wouldn't have happened."

A:  Which he obviously was just looking for a reaction so that on HIS radio show, he can say, "I tweeted at Mary Elizabeth Winstead and she said this back to me."  It's all just trying to get a reaction and that's why it's so hard not to react but it's sometimes better not to.

M:   Yeah it can be tough.


A:  Your birthday is coming up.  Do you have any goals or intentions for the year?

M:   Oh gosh.  I feel like every year lately is potentially a big year but every year it's been subtle changes.  So part of me wants to say, "Oh I've got all of these things that I want to have happen in the next year,” but ultimately I hope that I'm at a place where I can be happy with whatever happens and where I cannot put pressure on anything.  I hope that I'll be happy with the work I'm doing, that's my main goal, which I'm excited about the stuff that's coming up.  But I hope that once I'm in it I'm still excited, doing work I'm proud of, and bringing something to it that is exciting me everyday.

A:  There’s no doubt in my mind that you will accomplish all of that and more.  You’re a gem and I can’t thank you enough for being my first Frankee.

// mary's favorite songs at the moment \\

all images by amanda crew except for scans of mary's personal polaroids.

interview edited & condensed.