IN CONVERSATION WITH ALI SKOVBYE
Interview by Jana Letonja
Ali Skovbye was the breakout stars in season one of the Netflix series ‘Firefly Lane’. In its first week the series shot to the top of the Nielson streaming list with over 1.31 billion minutes viewed and was the #1 show globally on Netflix. The first part of the second season was released on 2 December 2022 and the second part is set to be released this June.
Ali, you are starring as young Tully in Netflix’s hit series ‘Firefly Lane’, based on a bestselling novel, which follows the story of two best friends and their enduring, complicated bond, spanning four decades, from the 70s to 2000s. Part 1 of the second season ended with a cliffhanger, leaving the viewers wondering if Tully and Kate will be able to repair their friendship. What can we expect when the series returns for Part 2 with its final 7 episodes?
A lot of love and a lot of tears. Get your Kleenex ready.
You play teenage Tully in the 1970s, a smart, gorgeous, effortlessly cool wild child. How would you describe Tully has grown in the series since her teenage years to being an adult?
I think she finally learns to let people in. For most of her life, the only person she would allow in is Kate, which is partlydue to their beautiful friendship, but also because she felt she had no one else. As she gets older, she learns how to love people and accept love, to be vulnerable despite the possibility of getting hurt. She allows herself more and moreto let down her tough, strong exterior and feel how she’s feeling, which in turn only helps her heal from her trauma more and get stronger. It is really beautiful to watch.
In the series you play a teenage girl, growing up in the 70s, which is quite different than how you experienced your own teenage years. What are the biggest differences and maybe similarities that you see between Tully’s and your own teenage years, in such two different decades?
Honestly, I think they were a lot more similar than different. I would say the biggest difference would be that I grew up in a time with social media and cell phones, whereas Tully didn’t, which is quite a drastic difference and there are things that I dealt with as a result of that that Tully didn’t. However, Season 2 shows a lot more of Tully and Kate’s high school experience. As I was reading the scripts, I could relate to a lot of the things they were going through. Being bullied, getting in trouble for something out of your control, sneaking in places, riding bikes, experimenting and trying new things with your best friend. Being a teenager is a universal experience and I think Tully dealt with a lot of similar things that I did when I was younger, just in a different format.
You began your acting career very young, booking a supporting role in ‘Personal Effects’ alongside Michelle Pfeiffer when you were only 5. How much do you actually remember from those early years of your carrer with being so young when you started?
I don’t really remember too much unfortunately, although I really wish I did. I remember moments and I remember being really shy. A lot of memories I have from my younger years are feeling really awkward and doing new things to get me out of my comfort zone. When I started, I didn’t know that this was what I wanted to do as a career or that it was even an option, so a lot of my memories are things that I found really cool at that age. For example, on ‘Personal Effects’ the 3rd AD’s name was Allie and I remember that being the coolest thing. I also actually fell asleep during a scene where I was supposed to be asleep. I remember Demi Moore telling me how good I was at pretending to be asleep and being too embarrassed to say I actually fell asleep. Doing toy commercials and them letting you keep the toy after was always very exciting. I did a movie with dogs when I was 12 and 90 % of my memories from that movie are only about the dogs. I remember the simple things that brought me a lot of joy in that period of my life.
Your performances have named you as the ‘one to watch’ in the industry. What is your biggest driving force in your career?
I think the fear of not being able to do what I love. Not being able to create things and be creative for a living. I feel extremely lucky to be able to do that now and hopefully i can continue to.
You are drawn to complex and complicated characters and you have an innate ability to play the more disturbed or flawed characters. What excites you the most about the challenges that these roles present for you? What draws you to these characters?
What draws me to these characters is how real they are. Life is messy and people are messy and I think the reality is everyone is a little flawed. Some people just feel too embarrassed or ashamed to embrace it. By showing more nuanced characters that deal with hard, real life struggles, it normalizes different parts of people and ourselves that society continuously tells us is wrong. I think that’s the beauty of art. Being able to create something that people can relate to and it hopefully makes them feel a little less alone. The more complex a character is, the more you get to work on really understanding who they are and why they do the things they do, which isn’t always easy, but that’s what excites me the most, really trying to immerse yourself in a whole new and different way of thinking.
You developed a true passion for acting and are incredibly dedicated to it. How do you constantly train to hone your acting skills? And why do you believe perfecting your skills is so important?
Acting is just like anything else. If you don’t keep doing it and practicing, you get a little rusty and have to find your groove back into it, which can be kind of annoying. I grew up doing classes because I had so much fun doing them. I still do classes now, mainly theatre, when I’m in between jobs because I want to stay in the rhythm of things. I also get to work a different muscle doing theatre that I don’t get to with film and TV. I don’t think it’s possible to fully perfect your skills as an actor because the possibilities of what you might have to do are endless. It’s impossible to prepare for everything. Anything that gets me out of my element and allows me to play is what I prioritize.
You’ve done quite some guest starring roles in TV series. We’ve been able to see you in ‘Supernatural’, ‘Smallville’ and ‘Once Upon a Time’, among others. Is there any guest TV role that you auditioned for and didn’t get, but really wanted to? What made you really want this role?
I can’t remember any specific guest role I really wanted, but I do remember auditioning for ‘Twilight’ when I was either 10 or 11 and wanting to book it more than anything because it was ‘Twilight’.
When you’re not on set or in school, what do you enjoy the most in life?
I’m finding joy in a lot of things in life lately. Hanging out and spending time with my friends and family is what I enjoy most. But I also enjoy travelling, more than is probably healthy, long walks by the water, cuddling my dog, a good iced coffee, reading a really good book, sunshine, writing down how I feel, cookie dough ice cream, going to the park with my little cousins, Christmas and my bed after a long day, just to name a few. Growing up, I used to feel sad waiting forthe next exciting thing to happen, whether it be a trip or a holiday or a job. But as I’ve gotten older, I’m really proud of my ability to enjoy the little things too.
‘Firefly Lane’ will be ending this June with the release of Part 2 of the second season. Where will we see you next? What can you share with us about some of your upcoming roles?
I can’t say anything just yet, but soon.
Photographer SARAH KRICK
Stylist DOUGLAS HICKMAN
Hair MICHAEL DUEÑAS
Make-up RAQUEL MORENO