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grace van dien: the laterals magazine


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The last few years have been big for Grace Van Dien—Greenhouse Academy on Netflix, White Famous on Showtime, as well as the coveted role of Sharon Tate on the Manson movie Charlie Says. Born and raised in Los Angeles, her road to Hollywood wasn't very far. Grace's roots run deep here, a progeny of renowned industry amalgamates. Yet, she stands amply on her own success in an increasingly omnipresent cinematic forum. She has more on her roster than the LA Dodgers, starring in a variety of movies and television shows from a relatively young age. As an actor, Grace finds that each role she takes on as somewhat of an education. She has an uncanny aptitude for capturing her characters, whether they are blithe or bittersweet. You can tell she doesn't take her work lightly. Her performances are profoundly striking, a rare quality for a young star on the rise.

Slated as even more emotive and refreshing than This Is Us, Grace plays a pregnant teenager on NBC's latest drama The Village. Rather than unraveling the intricacies of a family, this series is set in an apartment building, uncovering the residents' diverging emotional complexities and connections. Grace is without questions one of the most intriguing to watch, bringing a novel depth and vulnerability to her role. As her star continues to rise, we can look forward to her taking on the limelight as the lead in upcoming projects like Lady Driver and Riding Faith. Wherever Grace is taking us, she'll be keeping us on the edge of our seat.

You have an incredible career that started at a fairly young age. Share with us the "moment" that made you realize you wanted to become an actor.

I actually didn’t have an interest in acting immediately. I started really pursuing it almost four years ago. My dad would always bring me to his sets and throw me in a scene with a line or put me as background. But one day he asked me to play a role in a movie he was directing. I played Sleeping Beauty in his directorial debut. I was in a very unhealthy mindset at the time and playing this character allowed me to temporarily escape myself. That entire project would be my “moment”. About a year after was when I decided to focus everything on acting.

Most of us recognize you from your role as Brooke Osmond on Netflix’s Greenhouse Academy. What was it like working on this project?

I lived on coffee. We filmed a lot in a short period of time so I really bonded with my cast mates, particularly Reina Hardesty. She instantly became my closest friend. I really love her.

Can you talk about a role you've taken on that's allowed you to see yourself or your craft in a different light?

Oh gosh, every role! Every audition! Every script I read! You learn something new about yourself every time you take on a new person. A lot of the time, I read a character in my head a certain way but the second I read it aloud, it’s different. I’m never satisfied with my performance which is what motivates me to keep going. Every role is personal growth.

We are very excited about your new series The Village on NBC. Tell us everything about it.

The Village is the longest amount of time I’ve spent filming something but it wasn’t long enough. Every aspect of it was perfect. The scripts, the crew, the cast. Every day I thought I was only dreaming, that this couldn’t actually be my life. I really lucked out. Michaela McManus, who plays my mom, is fantastic. She is so talented and so lovely. I want her to be on every set with me.

As a young woman in the industry, what are some of the biggest challenges you face?

Nothing comes to mind right now that would be specific to being young and female. As with any actor, I get the “not old enough” “not young enough” “not sexy enough” feedback. But as long as you’re honest, whatever “you are” will work for some projects, and that’s what matters.

Who are some of the women who have helped shape who you are today? Did they give you any piece of advice that you live by?

My dad’s sisters, Sudi and Kri, and my grandmother Diane were my biggest female influences growing up. They taught me love, kindness, and strength. I wouldn’t be the same without them.

What is your point of view when it comes to social media? Does it have a role in your process as an artist?

I have a very common but true response to this. I hate social media but it’s great for representing things I believe in. I also get the chance to show who I am outside of the characters I play which is daunting, but also relieving.

You have exceptional personal style. Tell us what your favorite thing to wear was growing up. Is this something you would still wear today?

Oh, wow thank you! Growing up, I wore a lot of jeans that would get ripped or covered in dirt within days of getting them. I would like to say that I take better care of my things now but just two weeks ago I was hiking in the redwoods and went off the trail to explore and immediately slid down a hill and got covered in mud.

You’ve just wrapped up a number of new projects. What do we have to look forward to?

Ahhh! The Village is on right now on NBC and it will warm your heart! I also portrayed the lovely Sharon Tate in the movie Charlie Says which will be coming to theatres mid-May!

Share with us what you can't stop binging on these days.

Ah! Ah! I’m super late to the game but I’ve recently started binge-watching “Freaks and Geeks” and I can’t stop. I wake up and watch an episode and can’t go to bed ‘til I’ve watched another. I’m so sad it only has one season. I don’t want it to end.