Sofia Bryant talks her breakout role on Netflix’s “I Am Not Okay With This” and what’s next for her

PHOTOSAllegra Messina over FaceTime
TALENTSofia Bryant
STYLING: Britt Theodora 
WORDS: Thilda Riou
PRODUCER: Jasmine Perrier

This feature is taken from Grumpy Magazine’s ISSUE NO.16, available now in digital and print worldwide

For Sofia Bryant who grew up in Finland before moving to New York, the entertainment industry really called her. From visual arts to theater, and then TV and film, the 20-year-old American Finnish actress has been getting herself ready to amaze viewers with her undeniable talent since her childhood. Her big break came along no later than this year, as she was offered one of the leading roles in Netflix’s coming-of-age comedy-drama series, I Am Not Okay With This. We talked to Sofia to tackle everything from her journey in Hollywood to her work in the series.

As far as her earliest acting experiences are concerned, Sofia tells us all about her first-ever role, which happens to be the iconic Tiger Lily in Peter Pan. “I was in school in Finland, in second grade. My mom always knew I loved to perform, but that was so important to me because that was the first time I got to do it for a lot of other people.” Although she was first fascinated about visual arts, her interest shifted towards theater when she moved to New York. “When we moved here, I didn’t really have a lot of friends. I was 9 and all of my friends that I had up until then were in Finland. So my mom was like: ‘We’re gonna sign you up for some classes.’ From there, I went to this musical theater camp and I ended up loving it.” As she recently dived into TV and film, Sofia took the industry by storm back in February, portraying the lovable Dina in Netflix’s I Am Not Okay With This. Based on the comic book of the same name by Charles Forsman, the series follows high schooler Sydney [Sophia Lillis], navigating the complexities of her family, her sexuality, and mysterious superpowers just beginning to arise within her. “When I first read the character breakdown for Dina, I was like: ‘I totally know this girl,’” the actress remembers. “My best friend is exactly like Dina in a lot of ways. It was almost like stepping into shoes that weren’t mine, but [were] very familiar to me.”

We still need to not only diversify a lot, but also accurately represent every culture and every type of person

Dina is friendly, supportive, and fun. She is one of Sydney’s best friends alongside Stanley [Wyatt Oleff], and in a relationship with football-playing star jock Brad [Richard Ellis]. “What I really like about her is that she can recognize when she’s been wrong, and she can apologize. She is with this complete idiot boyfriend but she is such a whole-hearted person and really loves to see the best in everyone,” Sofia states. “Because the series is an adaptation and the book ends differently than the first season of our show, it was cool to take that same idea of Dina, but turn it into a way more complex version. We were able to give each character way more layers.” Set in high school, I Am Not Okay With This aims to portray teenage experiences in the most authentic way. “When I read the script, it was nice to see words that I felt true to a person my age and I knew other people could relate to,” Sofia says. “One of our goals was not to glamorize high school, because even though we’re playing characters, people like this exist all around the world and we want them to be recognized.” By doing so, messy and uncomfortable high school relationships are shown as well, like Dina and Sydney’s friendship slowing growing into romance. “This is a story that’s told all the time but needs to be told through this lens, which is so much more real. I would love to see their relationship flourish. They both deserve it.”

Dina is friendly, supportive, and fun. She is one of Sydney’s best friends alongside Stanley [Wyatt Oleff], and in a relationship with football-playing star jock Brad [Richard Ellis]. “What I really like about her is that she can recognize when she’s been wrong, and she can apologize. She is with this complete idiot boyfriend but she is such a whole-hearted person, and really loves to see the best in everyone,” Sofia states. “Because the series is an adaptation and the book ends differently than the first season of our show, it was cool to take that same idea of Dina, but turn it into a way more complex version. We were able to give each character way more layers.” Set in high school, I Am Not Okay With This aims to portray teenage experiences in the most authentic way. “When I read the script, it was nice to see words that I felt true to a person my age, and I knew other people could relate to,” Sofia says. “One of our goals was not to glamorize high school, because even though we’re playing characters, people like this exist all around the world and we want them to be recognized.” By doing so, messy and uncomfortable high school relationships are shown as well, like Dina and Sydney’s friendship slowing growing into romance. “This is a story that’s told all the time but needs to be told through this lens, which is so much more real. I would love to see their relationship flourish. They both deserve it.”

However, teen romance and superpowers can be a risky mix, as we’ve seen in the unexpected and explosive series finale depicting Brad’s head suddenly combusting in the middle of homecoming. “That scene took about one week to shoot,” Sofia shares as she recalls the unusual experience of being covered in blood from head to toe. “I was hot and it was sticky, but honestly it added to the intensity and made it so real for us. I was very excited because most of the effects we were using in the show were all manual.” Although a second season of I Am Not Okay With This won’t happen — as Netflix sadly recently announced the cancellation of the show — Sofia’s fans will be seeing more of her remarkable acting skills in the upcoming film Mark, Mary & Some Other People, a comedy about a couple embarking on an open relationship. “It’s about two sisters, and I play the youngest who helps her sister start this version of Tinder,” the actress tells. “We also have this all-girl punk rock band in the middle of it, which was a fun coincidence because I started playing drums a month before the audition.”

“It’s a very competitive industry, and the one thing that I always have to tell myself is to not overthink,” Sofia states when being asked about the challenges she’s had to face during her career so far. “You have that pressure knowing that there are so many other people going for the same role. You have to remember to just not overthink and do your best.” Moreover, the actress points out the ongoing lack of diversity in Hollywood and how she aspires to be part of the change. “We still need to not only diversify a lot, but also accurately represent every culture and every type of person,” she concludes. “I’ve always loved action, adventure, and empowering roles — not only for me but for all women. If I can do that, specifically for women of color, that would be amazing.”

WATCH I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS STREAMING NOW ON NETFLIX
Full story appears in Grumpy Magazine’s ISSUE NO.16. Purchase your digital or print copy!

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close