POPULAR GIRL: ALYSSA JIRRELS
Sep 7, 2020
This is definitely the year for Alyssa Jirrels.
Best known for her roles on ‘Mech-X4’ and Netflix’s ‘Alexa & Katie’, Alyssa Jirrels is having the year of her career. Leading with some smaller roles in hit tv shows like ABC’s ‘The Good Doctor’ and ‘Schooled’, the actress had her feature film debut in the highly anticipated release of ‘This Is the Year‘. Directed by David Henrie and executively produced by Selena Gomez, Alyssa shines as Zoey in this coming-of-age film. Premiering worldwide on August 28th, fans fell in love with the journey portrayed on screen and are excited for its next showing (more information below).
Popular TV caught up with Alyssa to talk more about the film, her new role on the ‘Saved by the Bell’ reboot, and life as a ‘professional playlist maker’.
1. How does Zoey in “This Is The Year” compare to who you were in high school?
Well, I was a homeschooled jungle freak so I didn’t have the same kind of “popular/unpopular” dynamics with people but I certainly related to identifying yourself with other people’s opinions of you and deciding whether to live your life by what people perceive you to be or to go your own way even if it may get you less immediate validation. I think that’s a very universal story.
2. Can you give us a fun BTS story from the shooting of the film?
Bug Hall and Jake Short and I decided to get McDonald’s at 6 AM after a long night shoot. None of us had slept but the sun was coming up and we were all a bit wired from the night, so we were kind of like “screw it man who needs sleep” and we asked the driver to make a detour. We ended up just sitting in this completely empty McDonald’s for a couple of hours and talking about life over pancakes and terrible coffee. I don’t think I ended up going to sleep until about 2 PM that day. That’s a memory I will treasure forever.
3. You’re also in the “Saved by the Bell” upcoming reboot! What can you tell us about working on the show? Were you a fan before booking the role?
That show has the coolest group of young actors on it. Every single one of them is so talented, and they really love each other which comes across onscreen. I had seen the show before I booked the role, and I watched a bit more just to see the world we were in. The reboot is similar, but it’s also a much raunchier and faster-paced spin on the first version, and it kind of makes fun of itself in a really cool way. It was a great set to work on and I think people will really love it.
4. On “The Good Doctor”, you were a part of every five-feet-apart-esque line. What was filming the show like?
I loved shooting that show. I think the coolest part was that David Iacono and I (the boy who played my boyfriend) got really close and just became besties immediately, so we had a comfortability and genuine affection for one another that made the whole storyline easier to pull off and also a lot more devastating. I also got to shoot in Vancouver which is a place I had lived before while shooting a different show but never really appreciated. So getting to explore the city and see old friends was really special. AND, the director of that episode was Nestor Carbonell who is an amazing actor and I was a fan of previously, so that was cool to chat with him while getting coffee at the hotel before we went to work. All around it was just a gem of an experience.
5. What has been your toughest audition to date?
About a year ago I went and did a six-week conservatory program in New York, and it was really enriching and helpful for me. But the method of acting they teach requires a person to unlearn everything they had known and reconsider their approach to acting. In the long run, it has been super helpful for me, but when I returned to LA I was so absorbed in that process that I had ZERO idea what I was doing when I started auditioning again – which is fine, nobody has to know what they’re doing but I do think you have to have confidence in what you’re doing and I had none of that. So there are a lot of auditions that I remember doing during that time where I was just so in my head and really unable to have fun, which is kind of the most important thing. It was a super valuable learning experience though. I think it just goes to show that your trust in yourself is the only thing that matters for auditioning, even if you have no idea what you’re doing.
6. Who do you feel has taught you the most in your acting career?
An acting teacher named Cornell Womack that I started going to when I was 16. He taught me everything that I know. He widened the lens through which I look at acting and taught me a language to evaluate scripts and to evaluate my own work, and I think when you have something like that, it frees up your instincts. At least that’s what it’s done for me. Just having tools to examine the story that you’re working with and to really be able to put yourself deeper into the world is so valuable. It makes you a collaborator and not a puppet. And not only has it made my work better but it’s made me just love acting in a different way. He’s a really special teacher and a human being. There are not many like him.
7. Is there a role or dream that you’re currently chasing?
This is a great question. I really want to write. That is something I really care about and love almost as much as acting and that’s a pretty new discovery for me so I’m just trying to learn as much about it as I can. I got a master class subscription and I’m watching a lot of YouTube videos on dramatic structure. Also, I’m just trying to force myself to just sit down and do it because that’s the hardest part. Just becoming a creator in all ways. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. It’s exciting to have that opportunity, there’s so much to explore there.
8. When did you realize you wanted to be an actor?
I actually don’t remember there being an exact moment, I think it was just the thing I was going to do. From like age 6, I was like, yup. That’s it. End of story. No questions asked. I think at that point I just liked being the center of attention, but as I got older and started watching movies and getting involved in theatre that deepened and solidified for me in a different way. It keeps solidifying every day too, which is cool.
9. How did you get involved with HeforShe?
Emma Watson, honestly. I’ve been a fan of her since I was 8 years old and that speech that she made at the UN blew my MIND. I think she’s brilliant and I love what the campaign stands for.
10. Outside of acting, what are you passionate about?
I think I’m mainly just very passionate about people. Wow, I just heard that back and it sounds so cheesy. But like, all things people, you know? Anthropology, philosophy, psychology, all that stuff. Like I said, very passionate about writing, but I think all of those things go together. I’m just interested in humans and why we do the things we do, especially right now when humans are doing some pretty weird stuff. And on that note, very passionate about wearing a mask and not having a second wave of this thing. And also just saving our planet. And breakfast food.
11. What has been your proudest career moment to date?
Over the course of the quarantine, my two friends and I have been writing an anthology series based on the improvs that we did with 5 other actors that we know. (David Iacono from The Good Doctor is one of them), and honestly, just meeting with those actors and doing improvs and then writing an episode based off of those has been so deeply fulfilling and enlightening for me in a way I didn’t think was possible. As I said, it goes back to being a creator and the empowerment and freedom that gives you. No matter what happens with that project, the whole experience has made me really proud.
12. As a professional playlist maker, what is your most played playlist, and what’s on it?
YAY THANK YOU FOR ASKING ME ABOUT THIS I LOVE YOU.
OKAY. SO. Probably my most played playlist recently is called “U know the vibes” and it’s like a summer driving playlist, you know? Let me look at the first five songs. Okay, we got All Day Long and 65th and Ingleside by Chance the Rapper, Feel Good Inc by Gorillaz, the original version of I Like it Like That by Pete Rodriguez (sorry Cardi B), Guilty by Lady Wray, Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys, some Kendrick Lamar and Anderson Paak, and some old-timey Isley Brothers. It’s a playlist that has quite an array of genres but if you played any of the songs on a beach boardwalk it would totally work.
13. What were you doing prior to this interview?
I was making a matcha with Oatly oat milk. Sponsor me Oatly.
14. What is something a lot of fans may not know about you?
I make matcha with Oatly Oatmilk every morning.
15. What is a question you wish you got asked more?
Honestly, the playlist question made me excited. You guys kind of killed it with all these questions. Everything you just asked me I wish I got asked more. So I guess what I’m trying to say is thank you VERY much, this has been really cool for me.