POPULAR GIRL: SYDNEY MEYER
Nov 20, 2020
Sydney Meyer is an up-and-coming actress who stars in Netflix’s new hit series Grand Army. The show explores issues that countless young adults face and have to work through in today’s world. After its initial premiere back in October of this year, it captured the attention of countless viewers. Many were able to relate to the show’s content due to how timely it is regarding issues such as racial injustice and equality. Sydney plays the character Anna, who is seen as the motherly figure when it comes to a group of high school students.
This is one of many iconic roles for the young actress. Meyer is also well-known for her role in Shadowhunters and the Netflix series V-Wars. In an exclusive interview with PopularTV, Sydney Meyer opens up about her role as Anna in Grand Army, future aspirations and more.
Tell us about your role as Anna in ‘Grand Army’ adaptation.
Anna is the maternal one in her friend group. She’s mature for her age and protective of her friends and family. She wants to fit in and make people happy. She’s smart, quick to laugh and she doesn’t mind not being the center of attention. Anna is Joey’s best friend since childhood and Tim’s twin sister, and she loves them both dearly. She finds herself in a difficult position when she feels she has to choose between them.
Anna is actually a part of the original ‘Slut: The Play’. What changes did you go through to make that character your own in the process?
It’s actually interesting because in the play there is a character named “Anna” and then there is another character that is Joey’s best friend, so the show has kind of amalgamated these two characters into one. I definitely had to empathize with the character and find her own internal struggle to justify the actions that she takes and the decisions that she makes throughout the season. I felt like I had to fill in her own internal world and home life and history with her friends and family to make sure I felt that I was playing a fully realized character.
What about ‘Grand Army’ did you most connect with?
I connected with how authentic and raw the voices and stories of adolescence were being portrayed. I really liked that I felt like the stories were messy and the characters weren’t perfect. In so many of the storylines, even the good guys make mistakes, and the villains have sympathy. I think it’s so human and honest and to me, it was so important to attempt to tackle big issues in this way.
Do you remember your audition scene for the role?
I actually did a cold read for the showrunner after she met me at the first table read (I was there working as a reader). I’m pretty sure I read the scene that takes place in Joey’s bedroom between the two of us, although I think it was in a different location originally, I know I read the scene in prospect park at the end, I’m fairly certain there was another scene, but I don’t remember what it was.
How did your high school experience compare to Grand Army?
I think I definitely witnessed a lot of this type of behavior and these types of struggles. I was fairly introverted in high school and I moved schools several times so I wasn’t really in the thick of it the way these characters are. But I felt very alone in high school. I remember trying to engage in the social aspect and being so intimidated by the chaos that I just shrunk back inside myself.
V Wars is noticeably different than ‘Grand Army.’ Is there a difference to how you approach differentiating characters like these?
Not as much as you may think. I try my best not to approach genre-based shows any differently. To me, V-Wars was a show about climate change and social persecution, so I tried to ground my character’s motives in that. I think so much of the genre piece of it comes from the wardrobe and cinematography and those other pieces. My job is to play a truthful character, so I try my best to treat every project and every character with that same respect. The difference between the characters was really that Ava was so incredibly strong and self-confident and had a mission that she believed in. Anna is still figuring out who she is, and she isn’t as bold in how she carries herself. She wants to make people happy. So, I had the embody those women differently.
What has been your most challenging character/scene to date?
I think for me my role in The Transplant was a very difficult role for me. That was a character and story that just meant so much to me and really struck a nerve on a personal level, so it was a very emotional shooting experience and I really put a lot of pressure on myself to do well. I think it was also difficult because it was such an emotional place for me to go to and try to come back from. That was a role I was so thankful to get to play and it really challenged me. I’m very grateful for the experience.
What do you believe is an overlooked part of your craft?
I think in terms of being an actor, I believe to develop as an actor you have to develop as a person. You really have to work on yourself and how you handle emotions and view the world to be able to truthfully portray as many roles as possible and to be able to handle the emotional burden of the work without letting it affect you in your personal life. Beyond that, I would say that actors get so much of the credit and attention when there are so many people that are there long before we get there and stay after we leave to make these shows happen. The people in wardrobe, hair, and makeup, set design. The writers, cinematographers, the stunt actors, the intimacy coordinators, the ADs. The Casting Directors! A show doesn’t happen without them. I shadowed on V-Wars for a few days and was blown away by how hard these departments work and just how much knowledge and love these people pour into our shows. That’s the best part of making a show. It’s a team effort. It’s a collaboration. It doesn’t happen alone.
As an actor, how do you judge the performances you give?
Truthfully, I’m pretty notorious for being very hard on myself. Kind of across the board I can find something wrong with any performance. I’ve had to come to peace with the fact that I’m not the best judge of my own work. I’ve also had to try to find the balance in that, I have to have faith in my work and believe in my abilities, but that critical aspect is also a part of me, and I think it motivates me to keep growing as an artist and never settling. I have to find the balance in not allowing my critical side to debilitate me. Beyond that, I try to let go of my performances after the fact. I am just grateful for the opportunities I have had to learn from some of the best people in this business. I look at each performance as a chance to grow.
Is there a role or dream that you’re currently chasing?
There are always challenges and dreams that are on the checklist in the back of my mind. I think right now, the most concrete thing I’m trying to work towards is getting a role on Ted Lasso in their second or third season. I admire that show so much and it’s so in line with what I want to be creating right now. My dream at the moment would be to join them in their next two seasons somehow.
Is there another part of the industry that you think you’d want to explore?
Absolutely. I have started writing. I was lucky enough to be able to shadow on V-Wars and learn more about directing and filmmaking. I would love to be more involved in the complete act of telling a story from start to finish and have some more control over the stories that I am telling. I think that’s a challenge I would love to take on in the next few years.
What kinds of roles are you hoping to portray in the future?
It’s all over the board for me honestly. I look at shows like Shameless and what Emmy Rossum did there and I would love to do that. Patrick Melrose with Benedict Cumberbatch was one of the most brilliant pieces of storytelling and art I’ve ever seen in my opinion. I would love to challenge myself in that way. Then on the flip side, I really want to make shows like Ted Lasso and Schitt’s Creek. I want to make shows that are full of love and bring some light into the world. I think they’re so needed. I’m starting to broaden my scope a bit in terms of what interests me and what inspires me.
As this is your second round of elections, what is something you learned this time around?
I’m not an American citizen but the American election season is always pretty anxiety-inducing in Canada as well. I think that last election I felt aware of the weight of it and I was invested in the outcome, but throughout this last term, I really have realized how important it is to not be passive in your community. I think democracy requires its citizens to educate themselves about the issues and to be engaged year-round, not just went an election is coming up. I realized that there is so much that I have to educate myself on in terms of how my country is run, how America is run, issues that are facing my community, and what can be done about them. I want to be a responsible citizen and that requires me to be active and being vocal. We have to give a shit.
Shuffle all your music. What are the first five songs that come up?
I am way too OCD to shuffle my music, it’s in an alphabetical playlist. But probably some Panic! At The Disco, Marianas Trench, Andrew McMahon, Taylor Swift, and Oh Wonder. And the Hamilton soundtrack!