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Jack Mulhern

Jack Mulhern

Jack Mulhern

Jack Mulhern

on philosophy and Netflix's "The Society"

`on philosophy and Netflix's "The Society"

on philosophy and Netflix's "The Society"

on philosophy and Netflix's "The Society"

jack

INTERVIEW AND PHOTOS BY CARIANN BRADLEY • JULY 23, 2019

THIS INTERVIEW WAS EDITED AND CONDENSED FOR CLARITY

INTERVIEW AND PHOTOS BY CARIANN BRADLEY • JULY 23, 2019

THIS INTERVIEW WAS EDITED AND CONDENSED FOR CLARITY

Netflix’s “The Society” came to screens not at all that long ago, just this May. Many of its lead actors are just starting out in the industry –– Kathryn Newton of "Big LIttle Lies," Kristine Froseth of "Sierra Burgess is a Loser" –– and it struck me how there really aren’t any small roles on the show. The premise follows a graduating class of high school seniors, in a “Lord of the Flies”-esque trope where all the adults (and literally everyone else in their town) disappear overnight. As they try to figure out what the hell is going on, the characters in “The Society” open up real dialogues and themes that permeate any, well...society.  

There’s a lot of fan-favorite characters, but what I quickly realized on social media was that Jack Mulhern’s character, Grizz Visser, completely stole the show. If you don’t believe me, please go read the comments on our Instagram photo of him, I mean...#shook. And I can see why the audience loves the character –– Grizz is the gentle-hearted jock who, off the cuff, translates and explains part of the biblical book of Daniel to his jock friends in the first episode. Super smart. As the season progresses, we see him develop a romantic relationship with Sam Eliot, played by Sean Berdy, a fellow student. Netflix has given us more LGBTQ+ representation in the show, which Grizz and Sam’s story portrays, and that paired with the representation of the deaf community, specifically by Sean Berdy, won over viewers immediately.

I thought Jack would be perfect for l’Odet. We’re the same age, just a couple years out of college, and there’s not much out there on the internet about him yet (furthering fan obsession, it seems). I met up with Jack in Manhattan at McNally Jackson Books, which turned out to be a good fit as he came to the table already having purchased a stack of philosophical texts. “The Society” casting team –– you really hit this nail on the head.

I just want to say thanks to Jack for chatting with me and to his team for working with us. Our goal at l’Odet and Midnight Woman is to give people control of their story and narrative, whether that’s talking to them about their trauma or what just they’re passionate about.

Grizz fans: eat your heart out!

— 

CARIANN: So my original idea was to talk to you about your character on “The Society," but by the way, congrats on season two.

JACK: Thanks! Thanks so much.

C: When did you guys find out?

J: We found out about a week before the announcement. And they were very adamant about us not saying anything. It's awesome. I mean, it was the most fun I've ever had making anything in my life. 

C: Was it your first big role?

J: When I first got out of school, the first thing I ever booked was a pilot for Hulu for this show called “Lock and Key.” And that was big, you know, it was supposed to be this huge thing. And then Disney bought Fox and had some leadership changes. But yeah, in a span of three weeks, I went from working on a loading dock to being a series regular on a TV show. I was out there for like two months. 

C: Where was it?

J: I was in Toronto. It was directed by Andrés Muschietti, who did “It” and “It 2” and everything. It was the coolest thing in the world. Oh my god, you know? And then within about six months after there were a ton of delays, then Netflix was adapting it, and finding a different cast. 

C: Oh god.

J: Yeah, it was a hell of a lesson. But then two months after that, I booked “The Society” and I did that. It's the only thing of mine, so far, that’s ever actually been out. Technically speaking though, it’s my second job.

C: Yeah — how have you felt about the reception?

J: I'm pretty stoked on it. I couldn't have possibly imagined that it would be as positive as it was. I obviously care a lot about the guy [Grizz] and I knew that he was a very sympathetic character. But it's a big show. My whole focus, and I’ve said this before, was that I just want people to like the show. Especially because I love all of [the cast]. We had such a good time making it. I just wanted to keep making it. So, in a way, that helped me because it took all of the emphasis and focus off of me. Of course I wanted to do the work the best I possibly could, but I couldn’t have imagined that there would be so much excitement around the character. 

I'm just really grateful. Also I’m just focused on making the show, what it’s going to be, and what can we do to flesh out the story more. And that’s not even really about the guy [Grizz] at all. But  I'm really excited and I'm glad that people resonate with the character. I get blasts of messages all the time about people saying things like it's encouraging and supporting, that they like the ‘not having a trope’ sort of character. And that he embodies aspects of people finding their identity. I know a bit about that; not in the same way, but yeah. I think it's given me much more than I gave to it, which is crazy.

C: Do the writers give you guys any collaborative input?

J: The writers were always two or three episodes away from where we were. As we went along and they saw the vibe and interaction of the characters, they would write up different circumstances and put different people together because they saw how interesting what they were doing on set was. That was really cool because it felt like the collaborative element. It felt like my contributions were being recognized as I went along because I was being saddled with these responsibilities to the story. 

When I [first booked it], I got on the phone with Chris Keyser to talk to him, which I had no business doing whatsoever. The idea of me asking him to pitch me the character is like who are you? You know? Nobody. But he very graciously did and told me about the arc of a season and then multi-season and I just — I don't know what it was, maybe more of an intuitive feeling. I thought, okay, there's something there to play, which is a really rare thing to get when you're first starting out. It's impossible enough to get your foot in the door with work, generally speaking. But to actually have something where you get to play, where you feel like you have at least the potential to cleave out your own place within the narrative, and display something, rather than just being a human prop in a story? That’s really hard to do early on.

So I kind of rolled the dice and felt like, okay, if I work really hard and it follows this narrative path that he's putting in for me, then I'll have something. And I did.

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C: It’s nice to have the full picture, too. That was lucky. 

J: Yeah. More or less — the broad strokes. 

C: So no guarantee or anything, but what are you hoping happens for your character in the future?

J: Well, I think the philosophy is the most interesting part. 

C: We haven’t seen too much of that yet!

J: Yeah — but I think it's actually underneath it all. It's very central to the story. The entire story is about how we design, interact, and create the greatest good between all of us. The most cohesive system for us to live. And it's about — if we start from square one, with kids — if they'll repeat the same mistakes that previous generations have. If the same social ills and violence, the same kind of segregation, and all of that will repeat itself with these kids.

And we're just starting that. So the idea with [my] character is he's this pacifist. He's completely against being put in positions to dictate other people's livelihoods. He doesn't feel like a leader whatsoever. I think it'd be really interesting — specifically because the way that he sees the world is certainly in conflict with the forces taking over power going into the second season – to see what sort of begrudging figurehead for a nonviolent, counterrevolutionary movement would look like, played over the course of the seasons. You know what I mean? I think that's what I'd be really interested in, going more in an ideological direction that just survival. Seeing how these kids try to figure out, repeat the same patterns, have the same habits — that we have throughout human history. And see if we can come up with something better or just kill each other in the process.

C: Yeah totally. How old are you?

J: 25.

C: Okay, yeah I’m 24. I’m pretty recently out of school, too. You think about all of this stuff when you’re going through school, growing up, coming of age and all that. I have always thought it was really interesting — I've always been extremely pacifistic. Very anti-violence, anti-gun, for as long as I could remember. I'm very universalist-minded, too, very open. 

J: Sure. 

C: But, the older I got, the more I realized that me calling myself a pacifist is pretty privileged. I've never had to live in a place where I'm like fighting for my life every single fucking day. You know what I mean? 

J: Yeah, totally! I think what's even crazier too is — Tolstoy talks a little about this, and he died preaching this philosophy on a train, freezing to death with a bunch of serfs, going across the Russian countryside. He talked about how it's not just nonviolence, it's complete rejection of all organizational bodies — all kinds of government intervention in people's social structures, so to speak. All big brother aspects. So it's sort of analogous; in a negative way, it can be analogous to anarchism. It's complete rejection of authority-based impositions in people's daily lives. 

But yes, of course to what you’re saying — I have the same reactions all the time. How can you not? If somebody threatened to murder my brother in front of me, how are my principles going to hold up then, in such a visceral biochemical reaction of what's going on? I don't know. 

That's what is so interesting about this, too [editor's note: he’s pointing to a book he just bought, I believe by the philosopher Heraclitus] is that it could easily turn a person into being a megalomaniac and evil, and stop seeing individuals as individuals. And you start thinking in terms of societal restructuring for the greater good no matter what the cost, you know what I mean? So I think it would be cool maybe to see [Grizz] turn into this monster. It could go any way. 

C: The opposite extreme would be fun to explore. That’s really interesting.

"The experience I have in this profession is walking into things and being inalterably changed by the experiences as I go along. That's the most exciting part of it for me."

"The experience I have in this profession is walking into things and being inalterably changed by the experiences as I go along. That's the most exciting part of it for me."

"The experience I have in this profession is walking into things and being inalterably changed by the experiences as I go along. That's the most exciting part of it for me."

"The experience I have in this profession is walking into things and being inalterably changed by the experiences as I go along. That's the most exciting part of it for me."

"The experience I have in this profession is walking into things and being inalterably changed by the experiences as I go along. That's the most exciting part of it for me."

So, I feel like I don't really know much about you. Do you think you could tell me a little bit about you in general?

J: Yeah! Okay. I was born in Santa Monica and we lived out there for a year. My dad was an actor, so he was on a show for a couple of years. Then when I was born and the the show got cancelled, we moved to New York. I don't remember living in California; I was only a year and a half old. So I grew up right outside of the city. Then I went to Skidmore College and was studying philosophy.

C: I was going to ask — but I figured!

J: Yeah. About three fourths of the way through the experience I was wondering what am I going to do? Am I going to be an academic? I’m still on the fence about that though, it’s comforting to me — the idea of having the support structure of academia.

But I had these other things; I performed when I was a kid. I thought why am I going to end my life before it has a chance to start? Why don't I try this? So I went right into performing and, as soon as I did, I caught the bug again. It served a totally different function in my life than it did when I was a kid. That decision took me through the next five years and to where I'm at now. It was such a correct decision that a bunch of doors opened and ushered me into being a professional actor. I'm still taking it a day at a time. I'm trying to follow intuitively what I am really passionate about and see where that leads me.

For now I think it was the right decision, because here we are.

C: That's pretty lucky, too, that you got a character so soon that’s at least a little bit similar to you. 

J: Yeah. It's the chicken or the egg thing, though. I'm not exactly sure. Because yes, I was studying it all, you know, but then once I got there, it was sort of weird and synchronistic. The first day that I showed up, I met José [Julián]. Somebody asked me if I went to school, which I guess is pretty rare among young actors. Someone — maybe [Alex] Fitzalan — asked me what I studied and told me that José was really into philosophy, too. As soon as we met, the first thing we started talking about Heideggerianism; [Laughs] so we ended up becoming good buds and then reading every day through the whole thing. It deepened the whole experience and made it so much more profound. 

So I don't know. The characters’ circumstances and situations are on the surface. A lot of the stuff that we were doing behind the scenes doesn't actually make it into the show, but I like to think that it somehow weirdly influences what happens. That bond and the connection to the character behind the scenes and all that work. I'm still trying to figure out where the chips actually fall depending on the amount of behind the scenes investment that you put into the work — how it actually translates into the product.

And in terms of returns, the characters are the property of the show. We're going back again, people seem to like it. I, in my weird sort of way, think that it's causally connected to the amount of investment that we put in.

C: Yeah, I believe that to be true about most things, too. 

J: So, I don't know if it's so much that I got lucky that I found a guy [Grizz] that was kind of a shared interest to me. Or if through playing the guy I kind of took on his interest as my own. I don't really know. 

C: That’s some philosophical stuff right there.

J: Yeah. I know it can sound like stupid, or conceited. 

C: No, not at all.

J: But that's what's cool to me about doing it, and what's exciting to me about doing it more is things that I really want to do or the experiences I have in doing this profession is walking into things and being inalterably changed by the experiences as you go along. That's the most exciting part of it for me. So I'm really grateful to be able to keep doing this and then my entire interest going forward in the margins and where I can make it, you know, um, the amount of leverage I have to, to, to choose my own path. At this point in my career, I'd really like to be able to keep doing things like take me totally out of my comfort zone and put me in completely different experiences from my own and see how that changes me in the process.. So yeah. That's a long way around the barn of saying it was a cool experience. 

C: I don't know if you've seen it, but I — within hours of it coming out — binged the latest season of “Stranger Things.”

J: I haven't seen it yet, but it's on my list. Of course. 

C: It’s so fucking good. In watching Billy's character in season three and watching interviews with the actor and him talk about—

J: That’s Dacre Montgomery, right?

C: Yeah. I watched a couple of interviews that he recently did and he talked about how much he put in into the character that audiences don’t see. His performance this season was mind-blowing.

J: Yeah! He was great in season two, too. Stole the show.

C: Yeah — but he has a real character arc and is a really important part of season three. But just hearing him talking, he's almost seems kinda method. It was just really interesting hearing that he put so much into the character and it's the most important part of this season. People really resonated with it. He also just released a podcast of his poetry — it all makes so much sense for him. [Laughs] 

J: I definitely have to check that out because that sounds exciting. That's what's really cool about doing a gig and then also being part to Netflix — that’s this whole fleet of young adult actors that are emerging and are doing a bunch of really cool projects. It feels really cool to be part of the community and to just sit with a bunch of people who are at the front of their careers. Watching them figure out when they want to do and how they want to go about their work and what projects they take. Just being a fly on the wall and watching other people figuring out as they go. 

That was one of the most exciting parts for me doing it, and already in the first season just seeing how many different styles, how many different routes people use to get from A to Z, across the board. I was trying to soak up as much as I could. 

C: Yeah. I don't know if you've ever heard of The Wing? It’s a coworking space for women.

J: Yes, yes I have.

C: It's based in New York, but they have them all over now. I think it’s a good example of somewhere that’s really worth being part of, just to be a part of a place that has so many resources, you know? Some of my friends that applied, I'm like, it's worth it because of the amount of connections you’re going to have. I feel like that's kind of how Netflix is, too. 

J: Totally. It's also sort of why I was so stoked on academia too in the same way. And you think about early 20th century artist communes and things like this — it's not a coincidence that people came up with these ideas. It's really cool to be in one space, one time, consolidated and have it be your entire life. You can draw inspiration from everybody and enjoy whatever space that you've chosen to be in. I don’t know, I think it's individually cool, but it's also cool to see what the product of the group is, just to see what everybody comes up with. 

And a lot of that is — I don't know if it's lost nowadays, especially as you get older — I find myself more and more solitary. You don’t realize this until you leave something like academia. It  is just this massive, consolidated amount of resources. It's not that it goes away permanently when you're out of the gate, but never again do you have the youth and naivety in order for people to kind of glom onto you and want to help you as much as they can. And streamline you in any — internships for whatever you want to do. And I think that it's really healthy to be part of that community of people with shared passion. It changed my life! Once I got involved in this avant-garde program that they have over at Skidmore for performing arts — being around people that were passionate, it changed my life. It opened my mind, there's so many perspectives, always projects going on, people collaborating all the time...I knew it was special then, but it’s so much more valuable when it’s not readily accessible, you know? You have to carve it out for yourself as you go along. I wish for everybody who is creative to find their niche, find their home. 

C: Yeah! It's really refreshing to hear you talk about school — I mostly talk about school negatively because my college was very...let's find a word to use…

J: [Laughs]

C: It is very small. It was like 5,000 students, but I’m guessing Skidmore is small, too?

J: 2,500 undergrad. 

C: Wow. Okay. Well, my school is 5,000 but it was really conservative religiously because it's in the south. I worked in a lot of good liberal, more progressive areas on campus and I was like an English writing major. I dabbled a little bit in the communications department, like making short films and stuff, but it was just a very suffocating place. 

J: Sure.

C: I just feel like it went against everything — them telling students to keep their minds open, when really, they have a way that they want you to be that they think is right.

J: The same can be true on ultra-progressive canvases too. It can be suffocating at the same time. The middle way seems to be the hardest thing to cut out. 

So, I feel like I don't really know much about you. Do you think you could tell me a little bit about you in general?

J: Yeah! Okay. I was born in Santa Monica and we lived out there for a year. My dad was an actor, so he was on a show for a couple of years. Then when I was born and the the show got cancelled, we moved to New York. I don't remember living in California; I was only a year and a half old. So I grew up right outside of the city. Then I went to Skidmore College and was studying philosophy.

C: I was going to ask — but I figured!

J: Yeah. About three fourths of the way through the experience I was wondering what am I going to do? Am I going to be an academic? I’m still on the fence about that though, it’s comforting to me — the idea of having the support structure of academia.

But I had these other things; I performed when I was a kid. I thought why am I going to end my life before it has a chance to start? Why don't I try this? So I went right into performing and, as soon as I did, I caught the bug again. It served a totally different function in my life than it did when I was a kid. That decision took me through the next five years and to where I'm at now. It was such a correct decision that a bunch of doors opened and ushered me into being a professional actor. I'm still taking it a day at a time. I'm trying to follow intuitively what I am really passionate about and see where that leads me.

For now I think it was the right decision, because here we are.

C: That's pretty lucky, too, that you got a character so soon that’s at least a little bit similar to you. 

J: Yeah. It's the chicken or the egg thing, though. I'm not exactly sure. Because yes, I was studying it all, you know, but then once I got there, it was sort of weird and synchronistic. The first day that I showed up, I met José [Julián]. Somebody asked me if I went to school, which I guess is pretty rare among young actors. Someone — maybe [Alex] Fitzalan — asked me what I studied and told me that José was really into philosophy, too. As soon as we met, the first thing we started talking about Heideggerianism; [Laughs] so we ended up becoming good buds and then reading every day through the whole thing. It deepened the whole experience and made it so much more profound. 

So I don't know. The characters’ circumstances and situations are on the surface. A lot of the stuff that we were doing behind the scenes doesn't actually make it into the show, but I like to think that it somehow weirdly influences what happens. That bond and the connection to the character behind the scenes and all that work. I'm still trying to figure out where the chips actually fall depending on the amount of behind the scenes investment that you put into the work — how it actually translates into the product.

And in terms of returns, the characters are the property of the show. We're going back again, people seem to like it. I, in my weird sort of way, think that it's causally connected to the amount of investment that we put in.

C: Yeah, I believe that to be true about most things, too. 

J: So, I don't know if it's so much that I got lucky that I found a guy [Grizz] that was kind of a shared interest to me. Or if through playing the guy I kind of took on his interest as my own. I don't really know. 

C: That’s some philosophical stuff right there.

J: Yeah. I know it can sound like stupid or conceited. 

C: No, not at all.

J: But that's what's cool to me about doing it, and what's exciting to me about doing it more is things that I really want to do or the experiences I have in doing this profession is walking into things and being inalterably changed by the experiences as you go along. That's the most exciting part of it for me. So I'm really grateful to be able to keep doing this and then my entire interest going forward in the margins and where I can make it, you know, um, the amount of leverage I have to, to, to choose my own path. At this point in my career, I'd really like to be able to keep doing things like take me totally out of my comfort zone and put me in completely different experiences from my own and see how that changes me in the process.. So yeah. That's a long way around the barn of saying it was a cool experience. 

C: I don't know if you've seen it, but I — within hours of it coming out — binged the latest season of “Stranger Things.”

J: I haven't seen it yet, but it's on my list. Of course. 

C: It’s so fucking good. In watching Billy's character in season three and watching interviews with the actor and him talk about—

J: That’s Dacre Montgomery, right?

C: Yeah. I watched a couple of interviews that he recently did and he talked about how much he put in into the character that audiences don’t see. His performance this season was mind-blowing.

J: Yeah! He was great in season two, too. Stole the show.

C: Yeah — but he has a real character arc and is a really important part of season three. But just hearing him talking, he's almost seems kinda method. It was just really interesting hearing that he put so much into the character and it's the most important part of this season. People really resonated with it. He also just released a podcast of his poetry — it all makes so much sense for him. [Laughs] 

J: I definitely have to check that out cause that's sounds exciting. That's what's really cool about doing a gig and then also being part to Netflix — that’s this whole fleet of young adult actors that are emerging and are doing a bunch of really cool projects. It feels really cool to be part of the community and to just sit with a bunch of people who are at the front of their careers. Watching them figure out when they want to do and how they want to go about their work and what projects they take. Just being a fly on the wall and watching other people figuring out as they go. 

That was one of the most exciting parts for me doing it, and already in the first season just seeing how many different styles, how many different routes people use to get from A to Z, across the board. I was trying to soak up as much as I could. 

C: Yeah. I don't know if you've ever heard of The Wing? It’s a coworking space for women.

J: Yes, yes I have.

C: It's based in New York, but they have them all over now. I think it’s a good example of somewhere that’s really worth being part of, just to be a part of a place that has so many resources, you know? Some of my friends that applied, I'm like, it's worth it because of the amount of connections you’re going to have. I feel like that's kind of how Netflix is, too. 

J: Totally. It's also sort of why I was so stoked on academia too in the same way. And you think about early 20th century artist communes and things like this — it's not a coincidence that people came up with these ideas. It's really cool to be in one space, one time, consolidated and have it be your entire life. You can draw inspiration from everybody and enjoy whatever space that you've chosen to be in. I don’t know, I think it's individually cool, but it's also cool to see what the product of the group is, just to see what everybody comes up with. 

And a lot of that is — I don't know if it's lost nowadays, especially as you get older — I find myself more and more solitary. You don’t realize this until you leave something like academia. It  is just this massive, consolidated amount of resources. It's not that it goes away permanently when you're out of the gate, but never again do you have the youth and naivety in order for people to kind of glom onto you and want to help you as much as they can. And streamline you in any — internships for whatever you want to do. And I think that it's really healthy to be part of that community of people with shared passion. It changed my life! Once I got involved in this avant-garde program that they have over at Skidmore for performing arts — being around people that were passionate, it changed my life. It opened my mind, there's so many perspectives, always projects going on, people collaborating all the time...I knew it was special then, but it’s so much more valuable when it’s not readily accessible, you know? You have to carve it out for yourself as you go along. I wish everybody who is creative to find their niche, find their home. 

C: Yeah! It's really refreshing to hear you talk about school — I mostly talk about school negatively because my college was very...let's find a word to use…

J: [Laughs]

C: It is very small. It was like 5,000 students, but I’m guessing Skidmore is small, too?

J: 2,500 undergrad. 

C: Wow. Okay. Well, my school is 5,000 but it was really conservative religiously because it's in the south. I worked in a lot of good liberal, more progressive areas on campus and I was like an English writing major. I dabbled a little bit in the communications department, like making short films and stuff, but it was just a very suffocating place. 

J: Sure.

C: I just feel like it went against everything — them telling students to keep their minds open, when really, they have a way that they want you to be that they think is right.

J: The same can be true on ultra-progressive canvases too. It can be suffocating at the same time. The middle way seems to be the hardest thing to cut out. 

So, I feel like I don't really know much about you. Do you think you could tell me a little bit about you in general?

J: Yeah! Okay. I was born in Santa Monica and we lived out there for a year. My dad was an actor, so he was on a show for a couple of years. Then when I was born and the the show got cancelled, we moved to New York. I don't remember living in California; I was only a year and a half old. So I grew up right outside of the city. Then I went to Skidmore College and was studying philosophy.

C: I was going to ask — but I figured!

J: Yeah. About three fourths of the way through the experience I was wondering what am I going to do? Am I going to be an academic? I’m still on the fence about that though, it’s comforting to me — the idea of having the support structure of academia.

But I had these other things; I performed when I was a kid. I thought why am I going to end my life before it has a chance to start? Why don't I try this? So I went right into performing and, as soon as I did, I caught the bug again. It served a totally different function in my life than it did when I was a kid. That decision took me through the next five years and to where I'm at now. It was such a correct decision that a bunch of doors opened and ushered me into being a professional actor. I'm still taking it a day at a time. I'm trying to follow intuitively what I am really passionate about and see where that leads me.

For now I think it was the right decision, because here we are.

C: That's pretty lucky, too, that you got a character so soon that’s at least a little bit similar to you. 

J: Yeah. It's the chicken or the egg thing, though. I'm not exactly sure. Because yes, I was studying it all, you know, but then once I got there, it was sort of weird and synchronistic. The first day that I showed up, I met José [Julián]. Somebody asked me if I went to school, which I guess is pretty rare among young actors. Someone — maybe [Alex] Fitzalan — asked me what I studied and told me that José was really into philosophy, too. As soon as we met, the first thing we started talking about Heideggerianism; [Laughs] so we ended up becoming good buds and then reading every day through the whole thing. It deepened the whole experience and made it so much more profound. 

So I don't know. The characters’ circumstances and situations are on the surface. A lot of the stuff that we were doing behind the scenes doesn't actually make it into the show, but I like to think that it somehow weirdly influences what happens. That bond and the connection to the character behind the scenes and all that work. I'm still trying to figure out where the chips actually fall depending on the amount of behind the scenes investment that you put into the work — how it actually translates into the product.

And in terms of returns, the characters are the property of the show. We're going back again, people seem to like it. I, in my weird sort of way, think that it's causally connected to the amount of investment that we put in.

C: Yeah, I believe that to be true about most things, too. 

J: So, I don't know if it's so much that I got lucky that I found a guy [Grizz] that was kind of a shared interest to me. Or if through playing the guy I kind of took on his interest as my own. I don't really know. 

C: That’s some philosophical stuff right there.

J: Yeah. I know it can sound stupid, or conceited. 

C: No, not at all.

J: But that's what's cool to me about doing it, and what's exciting to me about doing it more is things that I really want to do or the experiences I have in doing this profession is walking into things and being inalterably changed by the experiences as you go along. That's the most exciting part of it for me. So I'm really grateful to be able to keep doing this and then my entire interest going forward in the margins and where I can make it, you know, um, the amount of leverage I have to, to, to choose my own path. At this point in my career, I'd really like to be able to keep doing things like take me totally out of my comfort zone and put me in completely different experiences from my own and see how that changes me in the process.. So yeah. That's a long way around the barn of saying it was a cool experience. 

C: I don't know if you've seen it, but I — within hours of it coming out — binged the latest season of “Stranger Things.”

J: I haven't seen it yet, but it's on my list. Of course. 

C: It’s so fucking good. In watching Billy's character in season three and watching interviews with the actor and him talk about—

J: That’s Dacre Montgomery, right?

C: Yeah. I watched a couple of interviews that he recently did and he talked about how much he put in into the character that audiences don’t see. His performance this season was mind-blowing.

J: Yeah! He was great in season two, too. Stole the show.

C: Yeah — but he has a real character arc and is a really important part of season three. But just hearing him talking, he's almost seems kinda method. It was just really interesting hearing that he put so much into the character and it's the most important part of this season. People really resonated with it. He also just released a podcast of his poetry — it all makes so much sense for him. [Laughs] 

J: I definitely have to check that out cause that sounds exciting. That's what's really cool about doing a gig and then also being part to Netflix — that’s this whole fleet of young adult actors that are emerging and are doing a bunch of really cool projects. It feels really cool to be part of the community and to just sit with a bunch of people who are at the front of their careers. Watching them figure out when they want to do and how they want to go about their work and what projects they take. Just being a fly on the wall and watching other people figuring out as they go. 

That was one of the most exciting parts for me doing it, and already in the first season just seeing how many different styles, how many different routes people use to get from A to Z, across the board. I was trying to soak up as much as I could. 

C: Yeah. I don't know if you've ever heard of The Wing? It’s a coworking space for women.

J: Yes, yes I have.

C: It's based in New York, but they have them all over now. I think it’s a good example of somewhere that’s really worth being part of, just to be a part of a place that has so many resources, you know? Some of my friends that applied, I'm like, it's worth it because of the amount of connections you’re going to have. I feel like that's kind of how Netflix is, too. 

J: Totally. It's also why I was so stoked on academia too in the same way. And you think about early 20th century artist communes and things like this — it's not a coincidence that people came up with these ideas. It's really cool to be in one space, one time, consolidated and have it be your entire life. You can draw inspiration from everybody and enjoy whatever space that you've chosen to be in. I don’t know, I think it's individually cool, but it's also cool to see what the product of the group is, just to see what everybody comes up with. 

And a lot of that is — I don't know if it's lost nowadays, especially as you get older — I find myself more and more solitary. You don’t realize this until you leave something like academia. It  is just this massive, consolidated amount of resources. It's not that it goes away permanently when you're out of the gate, but never again do you have the youth and naivety in order for people to kind of glom onto you and want to help you as much as they can. And streamline you in any — internships for whatever you want to do. And I think that it's really healthy to be part of that community of people with shared passion. It changed my life! Once I got involved in this avant-garde program that they have over at Skidmore for performing arts — being around people that were passionate, it changed my life. It opened my mind, there's so many perspectives, always projects going on, people collaborating all the time...I knew it was special then, but it’s so much more valuable when it’s not readily accessible, you know? You have to carve it out for yourself as you go along. I wish for everybody who is creative to find their niche, find their home. 

C: Yeah! It's really refreshing to hear you talk about school — I mostly talk about school negatively because my college was very...let's find a word to use…

J: [Laughs]

C: It is very small. It was like 5,000 students, but I’m guessing Skidmore is small, too?

J: 2,500 undergrad. 

C: Wow. Okay. Well, my school is 5,000 but it was really conservative religiously because it's in the south. I worked in a lot of good liberal, more progressive areas on campus and I was like an English writing major. I dabbled a little bit in the communications department, like making short films and stuff, but it was just a very suffocating place. 

J: Sure.

C: I just feel like it went against everything — them telling students to keep their minds open, when really, they have a way that they want you to be that they think is right.

J: The same can be true on ultra-progressive canvases too. It can be suffocating at the same time. The middle way seems to be the hardest thing to cut out. 

"It's like life bulldozes you over as soon as you think you've got it figured it out. It's crazy how the terrible situations lead to the most radical transformation of your psyche."

"It's like life bulldozes you over as soon as you think you've got it figured it out. It's crazy how the terrible situations lead to the most radical transformation of your psyche."

"It's like life bulldozes you over as soon as you think you've got it figured it out. It's crazy how the terrible situations lead to the most radical transformation of your psyche."

"It's like life bulldozes you over as soon as you think you've got it figured it out. It's crazy how the terrible situations lead to the most radical transformation of your psyche."

"It's like life bulldozes you over as soon as you think you've got it figured it out. It's crazy how the terrible situations lead to the most radical transformation of your psyche."

C: Yeah, definitely. Finding a balance, I guess.

J: But yeah, no, I mean, same thing for me. It wasn't all peaches and cream. The first three years I was there, it was hell. I hated it. And I don't think it was so much the place or the institution of people, but just a me thing. When I was 18, this switch flipped in my head and I went from being a very effusive, extroverted person to being almost agoraphobic. I almost failed out of school like four or five times because I couldn’t get out of the room to go to classes. It felt like this institution — I didn't really fit in anywhere. I had no place and I honestly felt like I'd been sold on this idea that you go to school, they teach you everything that you need to know about yourself, and that you find it immediately — find your place and are ushered into the new world, you know? I didn't feel that way at all. I felt like everybody around me was following their passion and that it's opening all these doors for them. For me it felt like I was drowning when I couldn't — no doors were opening, no connections were being made, there were no professors I ever had a real conversation with — it just felt like me alone. And then something about like taking the leap — again, finding a support structure, people with shared passions that I didn't even know that I was passionate about — sort of transformed the experience and I found the niche within the niche. A smaller community within the larger community. It changed my relationship with the whole place. It’s not an easy thing to do. Also it's a weird thing, too. I was in a downward spiral, and getting to the ground level of my experience was like purging; it gets everything off of you and becomes very simple. Not what to do, but what matters and what doesn't matter. 

I feel like it's only from that ground-zero position that you can actually have an honest perspective about what it is you should do. You have nothing to lose. You're just abysmally lonely when you’re at the bottom of that. Then it's much easier to find a lifeline. I would never wish it on anyone to be in that position ever again, but somehow it's like those moments have been the most transformative in my life. I found myself almost like an early hominid — that's how basic my lifestyle had become because I was so low. But, yeah. I don't know if it was worth $250,000. [Laughs] 

C: That’s a big mood. [Laughs] 

J: Yeah. But through the experiences of doing it, I ended up where I’m at now and that's a kitschy, cliche thing to say, but it's true. 

C: Yeah —  you seem like an optimist. 

J: Now! [Laughs] You should have caught me three years ago. Oh my god.

C: I’m a big optimist as well — at least I try to be. I also think I was about two years into college, halfway through, when I became very isolated and lonely specifically because...well, this is why I started the brand—

J: Oh, cool.

C: So my brand, Midnight Woman, I started it a year after I graduated, in 2018. When I was in college I was assaulted by a fellow student who was a big part of campus, very popular all-around. I think getting to that place where it happened to me when I didn't think it could...it almost snapped me out of a very arrogant way of thinking. I thought I knew everything. I think spiritually, I also thought that. I came into this conservative place and thinking all my values were correct. 

J: Yeah, totally. 

C: Snapping out of that and realizing I don't know anything — that was really important. And I think that happens to a lot of people in their college experience. It happened to me in a really unfortunate way. [Laughs] But I think every single way that I think changed because of that experience. And like you said, I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but I wouldn't have this company if it weren't for that. And I think it's helped people. 

J: There you go, yeah. That's an important thing too. It's crazy too, huh? It's like life bulldozes you over as soon as you think you've got it figured it out. It's crazy how the terrible situations lead to the most radical transformation of your psyche. And also of your literal circumstances, what you're doing. So when I get into really, really hard moments now, I try to think about it in retrospect. As I will think back on the moment, but as it's happening. It's really hard too, but it helps me get clarity on my decisions. Approaching it almost as if it was expected, helps me weather the storm and figure it out. 

C: That's pretty good advice. 

J: I don't know — it’s worked so far.

C: So what is next for you? What are you looking for, project-wise? 

J: Well you know, the second season [of "The Society"] we’re going to come back and do. I'm going to do a movie in October — I can’t say anything about that I don’t think, but I’m excited. My schedule has been switched around a bit, so I have some open time and I’m having to figure out what to do. I'm back in auditioning again. I don't know. Also, we talked about — follow your passions. It sounds kitschy. But I want to write. There’s also this farm that my grandparents own upstate that I might try to work on. I'm only a year and a half, two years into this thing. I'm still trying to figure out how to make it work for me and then also not have my life be entirely dedicated to just one thing. So I don't know exactly what it's going to be, but I'm positive about it. I'm optimistic. I'll just be hitting the bricks on auditioning and doing a project or maybe I'll go away and do something else.

C: What would you be interested in writing?

J: I have this novel I’ve been kicking around for a couple years. I'm working on it. I mean there's 1,000,001 novels in the graveyard. I didn't have any strategy about it in the past. Now, with room in the margins for improvisation to figure things out on the fly, I try to do character sketches, situational sketches, and plot it all out as much as I can strategically before I go into it. That way I don't dry up, question everything, and then wonder where the whole thing is going 10 or 20 times. Some of the older ideas are being ground up as meal and put it in the new one, too. So yeah — talk about things you have to get done before you die. That's one of the things. So maybe that.

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For general inquiries, please contact us at hello@midnight-woman.com

 

For advertising opportunities, please write to us at goldie@midnight-woman.com

 

Have you been to Midnight Woman? That's our sister.

Midnight Woman is an online platform that welcomes contributors of all kinds to submit personal experiences anonymously.

We aim to redefine the way we talk about what's happened to us, no matter the subject. l'Odet exists for the named to encourage the nameless.

Midnight Woman is an online platform that welcomes contributors of all kinds to submit personal experiences.

We aim to redefine the way we talk about what's happened to us, no matter the subject. L'Odet exists for the named to encourage the nameless.