I was lucky enough to have seen the screeners about a month ago for the full season of the new Netflix series I Am Not Okay With This, and I have not been able to shut up about it ever since. I am obsessed! Think Everything Sucks! meets Stranger Things, with a huge John Hughes influence, and you’ve got this show, which yes, I have now seen several times (it’s only seven episodes so it’s very binge worthy).
A few weeks ago I was privileged to chat on the phone with rising star Sofia Bryant and the following is an edited and condensed version of our fun conversation. (*WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD*)
Brief Take: Dina is such a unique character in the teen drama genre. She’s kind to everyone, is a loyal friend and yet isn’t afraid to call Sydney out on her crap, but without judgement. What did you like best about playing Dina?
Sofia Bryant: Oh definitely [laughs] you just listed all of them. I just really take notes from her sometimes, because she’s so confident and effervescent and she’s definitely the best friend that everybody deserves. I really just love her confidence and the fact that she knows who she is, and she doesn’t have to tear down other people to feel good about herself. That’s really, really what I like about her.
SB: Yeah! I mean she’s popular, but she’s also liked by everyone, it’s such a good mixture that she has. [laughs]
BT: When you first got the script, was there a moment in which you thought: “I have to do this?”
SB: Definitely. I feel like I was so in love with it the second that I read the script. As you say, it’s just so real. It’s kind of refreshing to read something and go over lines of a character and think to yourself: “well this is something that I would actually say”, or “this is something that I’ve actually seen happen or experienced myself”. It was really refreshing to have it feel so real, and I think that’s instantly what drew me to this project.
SB: So it’s based on a graphic novel, but I’m so lucky to have a Dina in my life, I mean, I’ve had a best friend that I’ve known forever and the second that I read her character breakdown, I was like: “Oh my Gosh, this is exactly like..”, I kind of stepped into her shoes, because I know a person like that, I have a Dina in my life. That really made it easy for me and was able to identify off of that of who she was.
BT: That’s sweet! Has she seen episodes with you?
SB: [giggles] No, she hasn’t! I’m really excited for everyone to see them.
BT: I think that many people are going to connect with this show.
BT: The connection between Dina and Sydney works extremely well. How did you bond with your namesakes Sophia Lillis as well as Sophia Tatum?
SB: [laughs loudly] Yeah, there were a lot of Sofias on set. [laughs] I obviously spent most of my time with Lillis, she’s so so great, I feel like everyone, and not just us Sofias on set, [laughs] but all of us in the cast were so like our characters, in the sense that we’re so honest and sweet and kind and we had so much fun together. It really was just such an easy process, I mean [laughs] we were always having a blast both on and off set, yeah, it’s really just that simple. [laughs] We just love each other! It was nice and it helps, too, that our cast was very small, but sometimes we have too much fun and it’s like: “Alright guys”, [laughs] “let’s get to work”. [giggles]
BT: You can tell that you and Richard had a close bond.
SB: Oh, Rich and I are besties. [laughs] We are definitely, definitely friends. It was so nice because you have Wyatt (Oleff) and Sophia (Lillis) who have worked on all of these projects together already. So Rich and I were really dipping our toes into the water and we were coming kind of from the same place, and so we definitely became close first. I think that after the first day, it was already like: “Oh yeah, we’re buds now”. [laughs] I mean it’s been so great. I think that we got really lucky. But yeah, Rich and I, we text all the time as well. Because we’re like: “Oh my Gosh, did you see that?” every time that another trailer drops. We’re like: “Oh my gosh! Holy shit!”. [laughs]
BT: The trailers have been great so far!
SB: Oh yeah. We’re excited.
SB: Oh my Gosh, this is hard! I have a couple of them, for different reasons. I’m a huge John Hughes fan, I loved the heist scene, that was just so so much fun. It reminds me too, just aside from it being very Breakfast Club-y, it reminds me of back home (Finland), being rambunctious and going really crazy with my friends and just having fun. It just really, really reminded me of that fun, rebellious, youthful time that you would have with your friends. [laughs] That was really, really just such a wholesome moment. We shot that kind of close to the end of the entire shooting process as well, so by the end, Sophia, Wyatt and I had gotten a lot closer, but it was also really nice because we kind of got to share that moment together as well. And it was just exciting, [giggles] we’re running around hallways! [giggles] running from our principal, doing things that we definitely shouldn’t be doing, like eating a burrito [laughs]. So that was definitely a lot of fun.
BT: What was the second favourite scene?
SB: I actually finished my last two years of high school online. So I never got to do a prom. [giggles] So when we were doing our prom scene, I was like: “Yeah!” [giggles] It fulfilled my want for a prom and my need for a prom. It was just really nice and it was a full circle moment. Everyone was anticipating that scene that entire week, actually, so it was really, really fun.
BT: What do you like to stream on Netflix?
SB: Oooohhhh, there are awesome shows that are now on Netflix that I love. I love Twin Peaks, I love Charmed, I actually do love Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. [giggles] Sabrina is…oh yes, oh yes. I’m obsessed with Peaky Blinders, actually Rich and I are so annoying anywhere we go, we introduce ourselves as the Peaky Blinders, which can actually get so annoying. [giggles] Yeah, but those are my shows! I love H2O: Just Add Water, because I am obsessed with Mermaids. The Craft, oh my gosh! There are definitely some classics on this list.
BT: Dina is faced with a pretty big trauma and a really big change in the friendship with Syd at the end of this season. Where do you hope that Dina goes from that ending?
SB: I really, really want Dina to kind of recognize that she’s worth it, because I think that a lot of her and Brad’s relationship in general was her kind of feeling like she needed that company, because she thought that was what was right. And I think that we can see toward the end of the season that she is kind of realizing that she doesn’t need Brad, and Brad isn’t the only person that’s going to come her way, and that high school isn’t forever either, and she really started to understand that. But of course, you know [giggles], the very end with what happens…I mean, yeah, that’s trauma, so I really, really want her to find a love of herself and go through what is really important for her, and I think that she’s done that already and kind of realized what she does and doesn’t need. But I also hope that she doesn’t completely shut people out now, because that could be a way and what she gears towards, because obviously what happens is very traumatic. [giggles] I am hoping that she can come out of that and…to just survive! [laughs] Dina doesn’t even yet know that she caused that. I hope that she can…I don’t want to say “move past that”, because you can never really move past something like that, but I want her to understand that there are still people that care for her and that she should not shut them out, because they are the people that do really care for her.
BT: What do you miss most when you’re not in Finland?
SB: I actually have a lot of family back there, so of course I miss my family when I’m not there, but I also just [giggles] I miss the food, I miss the berries, I miss the air. [laughs] It’s a lot cleaner than Manhattan, New York. Definitely those are the main things that I miss, but I have one of my very close friends that lives there actually now, she’s going to college there, and yeah, I have most of the mom’s side of my family there, but I do try to visit as often as I can!
BT: Is there going to be a season 2, do you know?
SB: Ooohhhh…we will see!!! [laughs] [singsongy] We will find out!