Everyone’s favorite terrifying teenager is getting an award right here in Austin. ATX TV Festival on Friday announced that Sydney Sweeney, star of HBO hits “The White Lotus” and “Euphoria,” will receive its second Breakthrough Award.
Sweeney will be in town for the festival, which runs June 2-5, and she will participate in a one-on-one conversation about her career.
The honor “recognizes an individual whose creative voice has made a substantial and unique imprint on the current moment in TV, and whose work exemplifies the emotional, entertaining, and artistic possibilities of the medium,” according to the festival. “Pose” star Angelica Ross won the inaugural Breakthrough Award last year.
Sydney Sweeney Made You Look
Hiding in the tub (as Euphoria’s Nate-crazed Cassie), dominating the tub (as our Love Issue cover star)—whatever it is, the 24-year-old powerhouse is commanding all the attention.
Sydney Sweeney changed my life. In 2019, I was Cosmo’s op-ed editor—a busy job unto itself. But I was also in the midst of another professional challenge: finishing my first novel, They Wish They Were Us. Around the same time, Sydney was stealing scenes in Sharp Objects and The Handmaid’s Tale—and although she was about to debut as the hungry-for-love, bad-decision-prone Cassie on Euphoria and the snarky, privileged Olivia on The White Lotus, she was dreaming even bigger too. Determined to be the person in control of her career, she was plotting the launch of her own production company, through which she’d option books, adapt them for the screen, and become a Reese Witherspoon–level Hollywood boss. She was, by the way, 22.
Sydney ended up reading my book—a prep school murder mystery—and flying to New York to talk to me about buying the film rights. Now she’s in the midst of turning it into an HBO Max series called The Players Table, starring herself and her real-life best friend Halsey (casual). So like I said: life, changed.
Along the way, Sydney’s been dramatically transforming her own life. She’s been optioning a slew of projects through her up-and-very-much-running company Fifty-Fifty Films, writing screenplays, and solidifying her spot as a next-gen A-list actor in movies like Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, the erotic thriller The Voyeurs, and the Netflix vampire flick Night Teeth and, of course, on the new season of Euphoria, where her already nuanced character goes to even more complex places.
She dives deep into all her projects by creating what she calls “character bibles,” backstories and inner lives that often take months to catalog. (“There are characters I love, and then there are characters I’m scared of—those are the good ones,” she explains.) It’s a process that wouldn’t surprise anyone who really knows her. This is, after all, the same woman who, as a preteen, convinced her family to move from Spokane to Los Angeles via a PowerPoint presentation that included a five-year plan for how she’d become an actor. “I love something that feels like a challenge,” Sydney says as we reconnect for this interview. The more daunting, the better.
Most actors wait for what seems like decades before they get involved with the business side of the industry. Did you have a plan for how to get started?
I’m obsessed with branding and marketing. I love the idea of being like, Okay, I love this project, now how can I make this consumable to a mass market? So I called my agents and was like, “Do you think this is something I can achieve?” They’ve always believed in everything I put my mind to, so they supported me and sent me books to consider. Of course, I fell in love with yours, and you know the rest of that. But I don’t think they thought I’d become so engrossed in it.
What’s surprised you about being in the driver’s seat of Fifty-Fifty Films?
One, how many steps it takes to get something made. There are so many hurdles and passageways and people. Two, as much as people in the industry say they support young female voices, I’m still having to fight, even among older women. I was told that I couldn’t get a credit I believed I deserved, and I couldn’t get my company’s name on a project I was developing. I have my theories why. Maybe they feel like we’re getting it too easy. I was told I have to do multiple things before I can get a credit like that, as if I didn’t deserve it. And that came from women. I found that very surprising. Everyone puts on the charade that we’re supporting each other, but I have not felt that fully yet.
It’s like they want you to jump through the hoops they jumped through. What else—besides the projects we already know about—are you working on right now?
Like, a shit ton. I sold a movie. I may or may not have adapted a book as a screenplay. I have about seven different books that I have the rights to. It’s terrifying because this is the kind of industry where everyone gets to watch you fail. It’s a lot of pressure. But everyone is going to have good and bad; no one has a perfect slate of box-office hits.
Are there any roles you look back on now and, well, cringe just a little?
Anything before Everything Sucks! and Sharp Objects. I pretend that was a whole different person—I have blocked out so much of that time, of my high school life. Going to school in L.A. was so different from back home in Spokane. People’s values were on a whole different level. My grandparents gave me their old Volvo that squirrels were living in. I had to put cardboard on the floor because oil would just spill out everywhere. All the other kids had Range Rovers and BMWs, and I was so embarrassed by my car. I feel bad because I’m so beyond grateful that I had grandparents who were able to give me a car, but I would leave the keys in the ignition hoping someone would steal it so I could take the insurance out on it. No one did.
It sounds like you were straddling a double life as you were trying to get your acting career off the ground.
Yes. And at that time, I wasn’t the most confident person. I knew I was a good actor, but no one believed in me. I was told to lose weight or that my hair was the wrong color. Random things that make you start to question, Am I not going to ever become my dream?
And you had a lot going on at home too, right?
In Spokane, I played sports every day. My cousins were always over at my house, teaching me how to start fires with magnifying glasses. I miss my childhood a lot. I miss how beautiful the world looked and I miss having a family unit, my mom and dad and brother all in one place. After we moved to L.A. so I could act, finances were a huge stress. My dad lost his job and we went bankrupt. They always say, “It wasn’t your fault.” It was. And when my parents were getting a divorce, my brother blamed me. But at first, I think they enjoyed L.A. It was an escape from routine. That’s what I tell myself. There was definitely a different, rough route that I could have taken.
There’s a history of alcoholism and drug addiction in my family tree. I’ve never done any drugs—I’m terrified that I’m going to have that addiction. There’s something in my family’s blood that just hits a different way when they do stuff. I drink maybe once a year, because I have social anxiety. I prefer intimate gatherings. I’d like everyone to pile up on the couch and play board games or watch TV. I can’t do the pointless standing around and drinking and getting nowhere in life. But around the time my parents got divorced, I did act out with guys. I would run into the arms of guys to try to fill this void.…I was looking for love to replace the emptiness of a home.
This is the stuff that makes us. How has your relationship with your family changed?
My relationship with my mom became way healthier, and my dad and I kind of drifted apart, which broke my heart. My brother and I are way better now. Do I wish that we could all be together? Of course, what kid doesn’t? I tried, once. When you’re an actor who’s a minor, a small percentage of your paychecks goes into a bank account you can’t access until you’re 18. I naively thought I was going to have all this money, and I had this grand plan for it. When we left Spokane for L.A., we had to sell the house I grew up in. It was my mom’s dream house. So when I turned 18, it wasn’t even a year after my parents divorced and I thought, I’m going to buy this house back and I’ll save everyone. I’ll get my family back together. Turns out, I had nowhere near enough money. I never cried more in my entire life.
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Welcome to The White Lotus Resort & Spa.
Your vacation begins July 11 on HBO Max. #TheWhiteLotus #HBO Subscribe to HBO on YouTube here.
A social satire set at an exclusive Hawaiian resort, The White Lotus follows the vacations of various hotel guests over the span of a week as they relax and rejuvenate in paradise. But with each passing day, a darker complexity emerges in these picture-perfect travelers, the hotel’s cheerful employees, and the idyllic locale itself.
The White Lotus stars Murray Barlett (Looking), Connie Britton, (Nashville), Jennifer Coolidge (2 Broke Girls), Alexandra Daddario (True Detective), Fred Hechinger (Eighth Grade), Jake Lacy (Girls), Brittany O’Grady (Little Voice), Natasha Rothwell (Insecure), Sydney Sweeney (Euphoria), and Steve Zahn (Treme). The White Lotus is created, written and directed by Mike White, of HBO’s Enlightened.
Play it again, Sam!
Sam Levinson is one creative machine. When that pesky pandemic halted a traditional production plan for his Euphoria Season 2, Levinson responded by producing two special episodes, one focusing on Zendaya’s Rue and one focusing on Hunter Schafer’s Jules, during that very pandemic — and then made a friggin’ feature film starring Zendaya and John David Washington. Now, it sounds like that restless spirit will continue with Levinson telling IndieWire quite optimistic plans about shooting and releasing a proper Season 2 of Euphoria by the end of 2021.
During an interview on IndieWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit podcast, Levinson revealed his plan is to begin shooting Euphoria Season 2 in March 2021 (exactly one year after Season 2 was originally meant to begin shooting), and “to release episodes this year” as well. Levinson wasn’t exactly sure if this schedule could be made, using the word “hopefully” in his comments.
While I’m certainly more than ready for Season 2 of this thrilling and unpredictable show to get here sooner rather than later, I’m more more than ready for all of its participants to stay safe and healthy, rather than kowtowing to the needs of content in sacrifice of inherent humanity. Euphoria is a show of massive craft, intense filmmaking styles, and gobs of people; and while the COVID-era special episodes are planned and executed in much more contained, limited spaces to navigate these safety issues, I would imagine Levinson’s plan for Season 2 proper is a lot grander. Or, perhaps he’s been using this time to reduce it all to a manageable, safer space. Whatever the case, if we get Euphoria Season 2 by the end of 2021 or not, I sincerely hope safety is coming first. We can wait, Sam!
Sydney Sweeney is most recently known for portraying Cassie Howard in HBO’s hit series ”Euphoria”, which follows a group of high school students through their experiences with friendships, love, sex, drugs, identity and trauma. Despite being only 23, her acting credits list is quite extensive. You’ve seen her before, as a guest star in the popular shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Pretty Little Liars and in Academy Award nominated Best Picture ”Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”.
Sydney, you prepared a business plan for your parents to convince them that acting is something you really want. When did you know you wanted a career in acting and how did you come up with the idea of a business plan?
I knew I wanted a career in acting the moment I found out that it was actually a possible career choice, definitely not an easy one though. I don’t think I truly understood what it all meant when I was younger, or how tough and big the industry really is, but I knew that I wanted to be different people and explore different emotions. And I knew the only way for my parents to take me seriously as an 11-year old was to try and communicate on their level. So I ended up putting together a five year business plan proposal of what could happen if they let me try auditioning.
Before your role in Euphoria, you appeared in guest roles in TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Pretty Little Liars, 90210, Criminal Minds and Heroes. How did it feel to be on set of these popular TV productions? Did you ever wish to have more than just a guest role on any of these shows?
I was always so grateful for every role. They paid for my gas and food through high school. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I didn’t come to LA with any connections. You get told “no” so many times, so even when I got small guest roles on these shows I was so excited. Of course I always wished that I could be that series regular or recurring star on the shows. I questioned myself a lot when I wasn’t and felt like I was letting my parents down.
In 2018 you landed a recurring role in ”The Handmaid’s Tale”, a series that won 8 Emmy Awards out of 13 nominations and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Drama TV Series. The show revolves around the totalitarian society subjecting fertile women, called ”Handmaids”, into child-bearing slavery during the Second American Civil War. How would you describe your experience playing Eden in this series?
I learned so much on that set and built incredible friendships with the talented cast and crew. I hold Eden so close and dear to my heart. She was a gift to play.
Well, 2018 was definitely the year when your career was starting to really bloom. You got the role in Quentin Tarantino’s film ”Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, starring alongside some of the biggest names in the industry, such as Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie. How did it feel to be a part of this famous cast and a film that won many awards and was even nominated for the Best Picture at the Academy Awards?
Pretty speechless! I mean, I got to work with many people who were on my dream board all on one project. It was so overwhelming and I’m such a dork, so I was geeking out the whole time, but trying to stay serious. It felt pretty amazing to be a part of it.
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Sydney Sweeney shares a look at her personal library! Get a peek at some of her favorite books, including the one she’s adapting into a TV series with Halsey.
‘Euphoria’ Star Sydney Sweeney Joins Pete Davidson-O’Shea Jackson Drama ‘American Sole’
“Euphoria” star Sydney Sweeney has joined Pete Davidson and O’Shea Jackson, Jr., in the STXfilms drama “American Sole.”
Camila Mendes, Bad Bunny and Offset are also starring in “American Sole.” The announcement was made Friday by Adam Fogelson, chairman of STXfilms Motion Picture Group.
Sweeney reteams with Davidson after previously co-starring in the film “Big Time Adolescence.” Sweeney will play Bella, a beautiful social media influencer.
STXfilms unveiled “American Sole” in August. Davidson and Jackson are playing twenty-somethings with mountains of college debt who use the fast cash of after-market sneaker reselling to achieve their American dream. But when their startup runs out of cash and a shady investor is their only way out, the dream quickly becomes a nightmare.
“Sydney Sweeney is an incredible talent who is catapulting as a star,” Fogelson said. “She delivers stand out performances in ‘Euphoria,’ and ‘Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,’ and she’s a tremendous addition to the cast of ‘American Sole.’”
“American Sole” is written and will be directed by Ian Edelman and produced by Kevin Hart through his production company, HartBeat. Hart is joined as producer by Jake Stein through his Scondo Productions label, and NBA All-Star Chris Paul, who produces through his Ohh Dip!!! Productions banner. “American Sole” marks Paul’s first feature film as producer. HartBeat’s Bryan Smiley is executive producing along with Bad Bunny. Patricia Braga will oversee the project for STXfilms. Liz Stephens negotiated the deals for the studio.
Sweeney portrays Cassie Howard in HBO’s “Euphoria,” which has been renewed for a second season. Other credits include “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Sharp Objects.” She will next be seen in the Amazon thriller “The Voyeurs” and HBO’s forthcoming limited series “The White Lotus.” Sweeney recently launched her Fifty-Fifty Films production company, partnering with Jean-Marc Vallée on her first project, the series “The Players Table,” in which Sweeney will also star alongside singer-songwriter Halsey.
Sweeney is represented by Paradigm and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.
On this episode of Spill It, actress Sydney Sweeney shares what she and her dog, Tank keep in their bags. Sydney shares the everyday essentials that she carries at all times. Watch this week’s Spill It to see what’s in her bag!
Say hello to Unfiltered, a fresh, new beauty series where you’ll get an exclusive glimpse into the dressed-down beauty routines of our favorite celebrities. They’ll reveal their guilty-pleasure beauty practices, the five-minute routine product lineup they can’t live without, the one good-skin tip they’ll be forever thankful for, and so much more. To bring every conversation full circle, we ask each celebrity to send us a selection of self-shot, filter-free photos of their choosing to capture the essence of their Unfiltered beauty philosophy.
Up next, we’re excited for you to get to know actress Sydney Sweeney, who’s graced our TV screens in award-winning hits like The Handmaid’s Tale and Euphoria (just to name a few!). As a fellow skincare enthusiast and product junkie, she’s answering all of our rapid-fire questions and sharing her best-kept beauty secrets below. Enjoy!
If you had to leave the house in five minutes, what products would you use?
I’d quickly lather my Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre ($16) on my face, swipe some Burt’s Bees Lip Balm ($4) on my lips, hope my skin is clear that day, and finish it all off with some Maybelline Mascara ($7) and Charlotte Tilbury Legendary Brows Eyebrow Gel ($23). I’d either throw a hat on my head or let the hair be loose and wild!
On days when you’re not working or you’re just staying in, what does your skin routine look like both morning and night?
The first thing I do in the morning is rinse my face off with water. If I don’t have any Zoom meetings, I usually let my face soak in lotion, or I’ll walk around with a face mask or zit ointment if needed. Recently, I’ve been loving the Eye Patches from Peter Thomas Roth and have been wearing them religiously every morning.
I have combo skin, so at night, I’ll bounce between a light exfoliator or gel face wash depending on how my skin is that day. Then, I’ll apply my oils, lotions, doctor-prescribed zit cream, and more Burt’s Bees Lip Balm!
If we looked in your bath or shower right now, what would we find? Do you have any prized bodycare obsessions?
I have practically every Ouai hair product in there! I’m trying to help my hair grow and become strong again after all the coloring and heat from Euphoria, and that brand, in particular, has really been helping. I have super-sensitive skin, so I don’t have many scrubs or scented body lotions. I like using Dove’s Body Wash for Sensitive Skin ($6)—I have a giant tub of it in my shower.
What’s one thing about your beauty routine that would surprise people?
I love to put pure aloe on my face. I am guilty of popping zits that shouldn’t be popped, and then, I end up with a mark on my face that’s even worse than it should be. Aloe saves me from scarring and helps tone down any redness.
Are there any game-changing beauty secrets you’ve picked up on set?
Wiping my makeup off with Bioderma Sensibio H2O ($15)! A lot of makeup wipes irritate my skin, and this has become my holy-grail makeup remover. It’s so gentle but gets it all off!
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