It felt a little inevitable that we would reach out about the chance to speak with You‘s Ambyr Childers in advance of the highly anticipated season 2 of the now Netflix Original. At the end of season 1, her character Candace, long thought to be dead and recurring only in flashbacks, confronts Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) about addressing some unfinished business. It was definitely not a similar degree, but in a way, it seemed Childers had the potential to speak with Brief Take, and the multi-talented actor / business owner / standout athlete / mother of two delivered on a recent morning by phone.
The following is a condensed and edited version of a very fun conversation with Ambyr Childers of the series You.
Brief Take: How do you feel about playing this particular role at this time as well as the series heading to Los Angeles where you are based, from New York in Season 1?
Ambyr Childers: As an actor, I am always trying to form a relationship with the character, if there are any similarities, and in terms of playing Candace, I have gone through quite a lot in my life over the past five years and I think that this role is really therapeutic for me to find the strength to be playing Candace. I believe that the universe does its job in order to possess a greater purpose to teach me a lot and I really felt like I learned a lot through this character that Sera Gamble created. I mean, she created it, but I obviously brought her to life.
One of the great things about filming in Los Angeles is that I can come home to my family, which I know that I’m very fortunate in my career. I’ve only worked in Los Angeles and New York, and you never have to make me go to New York, I love New York so much. A big part of my young adulthood was spent in New York and I have quite a bit of an emotional tie. You know how some people go back to their college town when they are in love or have friends? I feel that way especially about New York. I’m also really grateful that I had the opportunity to film in L.A. because coming home to my family every night, which I know a lot of actors don’t get to do, because so many shows and movies are filmed outside.
BT: Do you remember how many people came to this series when Netflix picked it up after Lifetime originally aired it?
AC: [laughs] I’m laughing because it’s funny, I feel like throughout my whole life, I’m always the last to know everything. I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. I don’t necessarily look at or follow the numbers right off the bat, and obviously Lifetime has a pretty committed following, but I know that there was a lot of changes going on at the network at the time, and we were fortunate enough or that Greg (Berlanti) was strong enough to be able to take it to Netflix, who had our international rights and they were able to pick it up. But I don’t really think that anyone was prepared for it to do as well as it did, I think that it was kind of a shock to everyone on that level, to achieve that level of success. So it was exciting, it was an exciting time for everybody.
BT: Joe Goldberg is a terrible person and yet some people to tend think that he is OK. What do you think it is about him that is so powerful?
AC: I really think that it’s important for people to understand healthy boundaries in terms of what love is supposed to be like…and also to be able to help is really important. I think raising two young daughters is really difficult and showing them what a healthy relationship does is nice and having the strength as a woman to set boundaries and accept yourself and love yourself and care about other people and know when to walk away. And every time someone asks me that question, I think of that charming guy in the 1970’s, who was really good-looking and killed lots of people, Ted Bundy, I find that so fascinating. Obviously I am not a psychiatrist, I’m not a psychologist, but the brain works in very interesting ways, which I have learned about in my own personal life doing brain research. There’s an obsession with really hot guys, and some men and women have fantasies of what they want, but again, that’s also not healthy. [laughs] I think that there are a lot of unhealthy people out there and we just hope that we raise our own children to have healthy relationships in order to grow and hopefully pass that knowledge down to their kids.
BT: What can you tell me about the upcoming season of You? Will Candace be able to attend to the unfinished business from the end of last season?
AC: I think that what you see this season is that you dive into Candace’s backstory and you really get to see what Joe did. In season 1, she’s kind of justified as the crazy ex-girlfriend, but then you obviously uncover all of this stuff to the determination that she’s not, she’s trying to stop him. And a lot of people in a similar situation out of fear, they turn their back and walk away, but I love the fact that she’s going up against Joe. And then we’ll get to see this cat and mouse game of her really trying to get him to own up to what he did and also protect Love (Victoria Pedretti) and her family.
BT: I really like the series and its overall sense of tone. How do you feel when you are filming the series?
AC: [Chuckles] I felt that. I definitely felt that while we were filming it, honestly, that goes back to how brilliant Sera is when creating this story, and all of the writers of these episodes that put in a lot of hard work and time. I’ve been in the Writer’s Room, I had the opportunity to go there last season, and seeing all the hard work that they put into crafting these episodes and making sure that there is a through line in all of them and they did a really, really fantastic job. It was really a lot of fun to be able to play all of the colours throughout the season.
BT: I read that you entered the acting business on a softball bet, that you were going to go to college on a golf scholarship. How have you enjoyed being able to show different sides of yourself on screen?
AC: I think that it’s fun to create all of these little nuances. If I have an opportunity to bring a part of me into the character and really connect, then I will, and if not, there’s other methods that I obviously use. But I grew up in a kind of well-rounded family in the sense that my Dad was super athletic and went to college on a basketball scholarship, my Mom was a very young mother and they’ve been together for a very long time, I have two sisters who both have their Masters in Engineering. I’m the middle child, I’m like the artistic geek, I guess you would say. So it’s great, it’s great being able to…conversations in our family during Christmas are never boring. [laughs]
BT: Do you enjoy hearing from fans of this show?
AC: Yeah, I mean nowadays because of social media we really get to understand how each character is seen through the eyes of the fans and they all have different perspectives and different desires, but it’s also kind of frightening because people write really weird shit on Instagram and it’s frightening. [laughs] So I can only take it in small doses.
What I don’t understand is all the people that are using the platform without knowing that there are predators all around and people who are trying to get information about you. We reveal so much of ourselves on social media and like I said, you have to be cautious and you have to think before you press Send or post what you are going to be doing.
BT: Tell me about voicing the East River Dragon in The Magicians.
AC: I loved playing the Dragon, it was one of my favourite things to do. My relationship with Sera Gamble actually started with Aquarius which was on NBC, in which I played Susan Atkins. And I think that some people understand each other and get each other and I think that Sera and I understand each other on the creative level, which is really great. And I was fortunate enough to do You with Sera again when I was able to audition for the role of Candace. After that, she was like: “Hey, by the way, do you want to play on Magicians and play this dragon?” I was like: “Uhhh…yeah! Of course I do!” Like if I get to come home and tell my kids that I’m a dragon, that’s amazing. So it’s fun, these are the fun relationships that I am truly grateful for Sera and all of the opportunities that she has given me.
BT: How important to you is having your jewelry line and how does this pursuit lead into what is on screen?
AC: I think that for me, having a business is something that I’ve always wanted to do. I think that it’s really important for actors to be able to do something outside of their acting career, just because the highs are great, but the lows are sitting there going: “Okay, what do I want to do now with life?”. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and my Mom and Dad have had a business together for many, many years. And I looked at it like a challenge. It is very challenging, and I have a lot of respect for people who own companies and are able to succeed and fail and back again. I love it and I love that I can show my children that Mommy is busy and working. It makes me a better Mom when I am able to bring my kids and show them what I do on set. When they are at school, they always ask me: “What do you when you drop us off?” and I go through all of the Mommy: “I have to run errands and then Mommy has to mail a package and then she has to go downtown and do something with jewelry and then I’ll be back to pick you guys up from school”. I really, really enjoy it. I think that I also need it for my ADD, I really am constantly having my hands in multiple things. Leven (Rambin) and I created a show together which I am really excited about, and hopefully we will be able to bring it to life in 2020. This makes me happy.
BT: You frequently speak about inspiring the generation to come. Do you feel like this series affects the next generation?
AC: I do. I think that there are things that are done on the show that are obviously like pure entertainment television and you can’t take certain things seriously, but there are other things that, one of the reasons why I got into this business is that when I was a little girl, I would watch movies and I would completely forget about everything else that was going on in the world and really look at these lives of different people and try to understand human interaction and who we are and why we make choices we do in those critical moments that we have as human beings. And I love that, I love being able to understand on a deeper level what is really going on. I truly believe that our world is chaos; I think that we are making progress, but we still obviously have so much work to do, and I think that the only way to do that is to inspire the next generation. And you do see it, you see the good things on social media in which the young kids are doing and in what they are taking pride, whether it is mental health awareness or saving the planet or hunger, and there’s so many different elements that we will continue to work on. I think that we have to keep inspiring people and encouraging people and continue to lead by example.
BT: What do you believe is a way that we can inspire small differences in order to lead to big changes?
AC: I think people need more hugs. Just hugs. No, I think a lot of people need love and I think a lot of people want to be heard and listened to. I think that if you have the time to put down your phone and listen, or simply say “Hi” to someone on the street or helping someone that needs help, even if it takes five or 10 minutes out of your day to help, which is nothing. People are on social media for hours and hours of the day. I think that’s what we have to do – we have to really start thinking about other people and not ourselves. I think that we live in a very narcissistic world, and I very deeply believe in self-love and self-care, but at the same time, we have to put our time and our efforts into the people around us as well.
You season two begins streaming on Netflix on December 26