We met Chelsea Alden in one of the most “shocking” TV series of the moment:”13 Reasons Why.” She has joined the cast for the second season as Mackenzie, a high school student that befriends Tyler (Devin Druid); we get to know her episode by episode, and we definitely can’t wait to find out more on her and their relationship in season three, which was just recently announced.
So, enjoy our interview with this young actress on the rise and find out about her HBO’s film “The Tale,” future roles and also some curiosities, like her favorite word and dream project!
On “13 Reasons Why,” were you a fan before joining the cast for the 2nd season? And how was jumping in an already established cast?
I saw season 1 when it first came out and loved it. Instant fan. I thought it was powerful and thought-provoking. The actors are all exceptionally talented, they have the ability to tell these intense stories from the teenage perspective without it ever feeling unrealistic or condescending.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, coming in for season 2. But the whole cast was amazing and welcomed me with open arms, especially Devin Druid (Tyler Down). So much of my scene work was with him, so we had this great opportunity to get to know each other. He really made me feel like I’d been part of the cast since the beginning.
Considering the themes explored by the show, in what ways do you think it could help teenagers and young adults to reach out for support?
I hope that the show gives teenagers and young adults the chance to see that they’re not alone. Going through any difficult experience like assault, bullying, the death of a loved one, etc… in my experience, can feel very isolating, like you’re completely alone in trying to tackle a behemoth of emotion. I hope “13 Reasons Why” allows people, and youth, in particular, to feel less like they have to experience these things on their own and that it’s okay to talk about, and it’s okay to move forward and grow.
On your character Mackenzie, do you think that she could somewhat have foreseen Tyler’s actions?
I don’t think so, I feel like Tyler kept a lot of his feelings to himself. I believe Mackenzie thought he was doing well after his time away, and she always tries to see the best in Tyler.
If you could talk with Tyler, what would you tell him? What about Mackenzie’s brother?
Me, personally? I’d probably just try to get Tyler to open up. Have him tell me the whole story, from the very beginning and try to listen without judgment or criticism. There’s so much that has happened to that character, I think the most honest thing I could offer is being a safe person to communicate freely to.
As for Cyrus, I’m not sure! I love his character. Maybe I’d tell him to keep his hunger for wanting to challenge the status-quo, but try to veer away from trouble and instead channel it into art or music. It’s a great outlet for angst.
What do you think is going to happen next for your character and Tyler?
That is a great question. I honestly don’t know. I’d love to see Mackenzie continue to be a friend to Tyler and help him through whatever he needs to overcome. I think they have a really sweet bond, and I hope it can act as a spark to help Tyler heal.
“To me, women’s empowerment is about feeling confident…
…in my choices, my abilities, and my right to be where I am.”
The parents of the series (excluding Hannah’s) have what we could say marginal roles, yet their presence (or absence) seems to play a crucial role on their kids’ behavior, do you think the writers of the series should explore more this aspect in season 3?
I am such a fan of the way the parents are written and portrayed in this series. We are all to some degree, a reflection of our parents and I’d love to continue to see how the different characters are molded and guided by their parents’ influence as the story continues.
About “The Tale,” how was the experience on the set of such an intense indie film? And the fact that the story is based on real events experienced by the director and writer?
Working on “The Tale” was an incredible experience. I had quite a few conversations with the writer/director Jennifer Fox before filming, and her willingness and desire to share her own story was really inspiring. Getting to work with Laura Dern was an absolute dream come true, she is as kind as she is talented. Watching the film, I am in awe of her character transformation and I feel very lucky to be able to share the screen with her.
Women’s empowerment: what does it mean for you?
To me, women’s empowerment is about feeling confident in my choices, my abilities, and my right to be where I am. I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am today, and I’m really proud of that.
What’s next for Chelsea?
Well, it was just announced that there will be a season 3 of “13 Reasons Why!” So that is definitely on the agenda. I’d really like to work on a coming of age type indie film. I loved “Lady Bird” and “Call Me By Your Name,” so something in that vein. Hmmm… maybe I just want to work with Timothée Chalamet. He’s so mesmerizing on screen!
Last year I produced my first project, a short film called “The Human Project.” It was a wonderful experience, and I’d love to do more producing and try my hand at directing as well.
Now, to the Fun Part…
Must have on set: COFFEE. I don’t function without it.
Superpower: Breathing underwater.
Epic fail on the job: Oh man. I’ve definitely made small mistakes, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist… an epic fail would probably cause me to lose my mind.
Happy place: My bed. It’s so comfy.
Favorite accent: British or Scottish.
Favorite Movie then and now: Childhood: “The Brave Little Toaster.” Now: It changes all the time, but for the moment “Lady Bird” has my whole heart!
Favorite Word: Rad.
Who you’d rather be: Any character? Storm from “X-Men.”
Favorite Emoji: ??
Italian movie: I haven’t seen enough Italian films to give a proper answer! I did think “Call Me By Your Name” was a beautiful film though.
Favorite quote: “You can’t just be talented. You have to be terribly smart, and energetic and ruthless… Don’t just show up. Transform the work, yourself and everybody around you. Be needed. Be interesting. Be something no one else can be — and consistently.” -Katharine Hepburn
The last series you binge-watched: “Barry” on HBO, with Bill Hader. Brilliant! I watched the entire season in one sitting, I’ve never done that before! It’s so good.
What have you already crossed from your Bucket List: Traveling is always on my bucket list. So far, I’ve been to a few places, including Italy! I’d love to go back and immerse myself more in the culture.
I Dreamed a Dream… I would really love to have the opportunity to play Janis Joplin, at some point. Her music, her story, the era… I’ve always been drawn to it. I used to play her ‘Pearl’ album over and over when I was a kid, trying to mimic her soulful gravel. I’ve read a few biographies and there’s a great documentary about her life called “Little Girl Blue,” she’s just so unique and beautiful to me. I’d love to try my hand at exploring her life and hopefully do it justice.
The most beautiful thing while filming “13 Reasons Why”: Getting to know the cast and crew! They are such a kind-hearted group of people, full of talent and ambition. I feel lucky to have made such amazing new friends.
Ops! Break Time:
Snack Crush? Chips and guacamole.
Sweets or Popcorn? Both!
Since we are Italian… Hawaiian pizza, yay or nay? I can get down with a Hawaiian pizza, but it’s definitely not my pizza of choice! Classic margarita all the way.
Photographer: Shanna Fisher
Make-Up: Sabrina Bates-Whited
Hair: Randi Petersen
Stylist: Lucy Warren