One of this summer’s hottest rising stars is, who not only stars in Freeform’s summer drama DEAD OF SUMMER, she also starred in the Lifetime thriller “Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?” In an exclusive interview, talks about her role in DEAD OF SUMMER and working alongside James Franco.
What drew you to the role of Cricket and DEAD OF SUMMER?
AMBER: I was primarily drawn to the multifaceted nature of the role, and intrigued by this character who acts a certain way on the outside but feels entirely differently on an internal level. I was attracted to DEAD OF SUMMER as a series for similar reasons; there is a dual nature to the project in that each episode is an execution of the horror genre while simultaneously serving as a character study for each individual main cast member on the show.
How would you describe Cricket? What drives and motivates her?
AMBER: Cricket is externally fun-loving, playfully snarky, and warm-spirited. However, she is dealing with issues of self-acceptance and has very deep-seated insecurity that is a daily struggle for her. She is motivated by the desire to be validated, wanted, and loved. During Cricket’s summer as a counselor at Stillwater, she realizes that the only way she can ever defeat her feelings of unworthiness is if she first cultivates respect and love for herself.
What do you most admire about Cricket?
AMBER: I admire the fact that she is capable of inner strength in spite of the recent experiences that have brought her down. Episode 3 of the series is a prime example of that — she goes through a major breakthrough in her ability to bring out her inner strength and is able to grow and evolve because of it.
What has been the most fun about working on DEAD OF SUMMER?
AMBER: The cast! I love my colleagues so much, as artists and as people. Working with them has been an absolute dream.
Has there been any challenges in working on the supernatural side of things on the show?
AMBER: Most of the challenges are in terms of production. The only challenges the actors face are the long hours necessary to make a complex show like DEAD OF SUMMER possible.
What do you think you learned from this experience?
AMBER: My experience on DEAD OF SUMMER has been monumental in my process in terms of harnessing an open, free flowing mentality that is conducive to creative work. I have felt so supported by my fellow actors and everyone involved in the show, which has allowed me to do my best work. I have never felt insecure on set about my process, and I have cultivated a focus and confidence that I know will serve me throughout my career.
For fans tracking the ominous death toll on the show, should they be prepared to lose any character at any time, or are some of the characters considered “safe”?
AMBER: No one is safe at Camp Stillwater…. End of story.
What is going on between Cricket and Alex? How would you describe their relationship/friendship?
AMBER: Alex has been Cricket’s long time crush, and when she comes to camp as a counselor she is determined to hook up with him, thinking that it would somehow prove her worth. They end up coming together for very selfish reasons on both accounts, but Cricket stops it before it goes to far — she finally has the realization that Alex is not able to give her what she truly wants, which is someone who cares about her for who she truly is. They have a history from childhood and are still friends even after that moment, but until they attempt to see each other truly, there won’t be any further romantic interaction between them.
What is it like working with everyone in putting together this kind of creepy show for television?
AMBER: It’s been amazing. As I said, my entire cast is extraordinary, and each person involved in the show has been doing their best in order to tell the best story possible. I’ve had a great time working in this genre; the scares have come to me quite easily acting-wise because I am easily shaken by anything in the horror vein. Doing this show with a cast and crew that puts their best foot forward no matter what has made it an incredibly gratifying and fulfilling experience.
There definitely feels like some of that LOST vibe carried over in the tone of the show. Would you say that Elizabeth Mitchell brings that aura of mystery from her work as Juliet on LOST to her character Deb Carpenter in DEAD OF SUMMER as well?
AMBER: I have actually not seen LOSTt, but I can say that Elizabeth does a fantastic job in bringing the right sense of mystery to her character. She is an astounding actress, so it’s no surprise to watch her nailing the role.
What can you tease about what is upcoming in DEAD OF SUMMER that viewers can look forward to?
AMBER: More twists and turns! Expect the unexpected… there might be characters who you love and trust that turn out to be darker than you could have ever imagined.
You are a busy performer and creator having just wrote the Lifetime remake of “Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?” What draws you to being an actor in one project versus writing for another? And how do you find the time for both?!
AMBER: I am foremost an actor, so I am always seeking opportunities in that realm first. However, if I had to choose between a role offer and a writing gig that was clearly superior, I would obviously choose the project that I was more excited about.
What can you share about your upcoming projects: “L.A. Series”, “Kill The Czar”, and “Actors Anonymous”? Are you writing, starring in, or otherwise working on these projects?
AMBER: Those are all projects that I’ve acted in, all under the umbrella of Rabbit Bandini, James Franco’s production company. I play small parts in “L.A. Series” and “Actors Anonymous,” and am one of the leads in “Kill The Czar”.
Finally, under what lucky star were you born to get to pair up wit James Franco in so many amazing projects?! Seriously, what do you credit with that good fortune and which of your projects with him are you most proud of to date?
AMBER: I met James through USC, where I studied acting and film, and worked with him as an actor on smaller projects to start. I am most proud of my screenwriting work with him — I’ve collaborated with him on 9 or so scripts, and I never would have imagined that I would be writing that many features within the span of a year. I am grateful for the creative partnership and for the focus and drive I have harnessed through working with him at such close proximity.
To see if Amber’s character Cricket manages to make it out alive and unscathed in this summer’s supernatural thriller, be sure to tune in for all new episodes of DEAD OF SUMMER on Tuesday nights at 9:00 pm on Freeform.