IN CONVERSATION WITH ANTONIA GENTRY
Antonia Gentry currently stars as the titular character Ginny in Netflix hit original series ‘Ginny & Georgia’, which premiered its second season on 5th January 5. Season one debuted to a record viewership of 52 million subscribers and season two topped the Netflix charts, with 180.5 million hours viewed in its first week on the streaming platform. The series’ second season spent two weeks at #1 on Netflix.
Antonia, you’re one half of the titular duo in Netflix’ ‘Ginny & Georgia’, which just concluded its second season. The series follows Ginny, a fifteen-year-old who is more mature than her thirty-year-old mother. What makes this series so unique and contributed to its success, in your opinion?
I think our show, even though when filming it we primarily thought that it was going to be just for a YA (young adult) audience, it includes so many characters that have such a vast array of experiences that I think the demographic ended up being much broader than we thought. There’s really a character for everyone, of any gender, race, age to really connect with. And I think that that is something that is a huge strength for the show. It’s fun, it’s lighthearted, it’s kind of melodramatic, it’s out there, but it’s also real and it has darker themes and it really touches on a lot of important issues. It’s kind of this all encompassing show that we’ve created and I’m really happy that so many people all over the world have been able to resonate with it.
Ginny and Georgia have a a very rocky relationship, where both Ginny and Austin wanted to get as far away as possible from their mother after learning that she murdered someone. We would love to hear how you would sum up this dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship throughout both seasons.
The relationship between Ginny and Georgia is very complex. Georgia being so young when she had Ginny and going through so many challenges as a single mother, I think really does inform how she raised her kids. There’s not really this concept of boundaries, Ginny can only really base her behavior on what she’s seen in her own mother. And as much as she tries to be different from her mom, she’s actually the exact same. You really do see the complexities of how Georgia’s mistakes impact Ginny, Ginny’s mistakes, how they impact Georgia and it’s kind of a cycle that keeps continuing over and over again for them.
But as much as Ginny and Georgia are, especially in the first season, at odds with each other when Ginny finds out her mom’s secrets and she becomes frustrated with all the lying and of course in season two when we see them at this very low place, I love how we see them fall apart, but kind of build themselves back together throughout season two. That is something that I think is very important for them being mother and daughter. And also Ginny’s at an age where you can’t keep kind of saying ‘It’s going to be okay’ or ‘Shush, close your eyes’. You have to start to explain adult things to this young woman who needs to be able to grow into her own person. So it’s very complicated. Their relationship’s not the best.
The second season allowed Ginny and Georgia to slowly peel away their armor and expose their vulnerabilities to not only each other but to themselves. What do you believe and hope they have learned from this?
I’d like to think that Georgia now realizes that honesty and vulnerability is not something to be considered as a weakness and therefore allows space for not just Ginny to be able to have a voice and confide in her about hard things, but also for her to learn that you don’t always have to hide all of the bad or all of the negative emotions or things that you’re going through and pretend like everything’s okay. You can actually face those situations head on and deal with the consequences. I love how Ginny kind of encourages Georgia to be mostly honest with Paul about the things that she’s done in the past, because Georgia’s instinct is to just lie and hide things and cover things up and that’s never healthy and it’s never really worked out for them so far. Also, I think that Ginny is learning as well to be more comfortable in expressing her negative emotions in a healthier way. I love that she goes to therapy. I love that Georgia is finally taking accountability for how much her decisions have impacted her child. I think there’s just a lot of beautiful moments of healing for the both of them and I hope that they can continue doing that.
On top of Ginny’s drama with her mom, there’s also normal teen life drama. How do you think Ginny has balanced dealing with both her dramas so far?
I think Ginny’s a little overwhelmed, to be honest. She’s just a teenager. We see her in season one really trying to fit in, really trying to believe that they can set roots there and have a different life. And she’s never had friends before. She doesn’t know how to deal with being accepted and so she makes a lot of mistakes in season one because of that. And then in season two with them being broken down and at odds with each other, it seems like she has no one. But she has Marcus and I love her friendship with Bracia. She kind of starts to realize that she can put herself back together with other people and lean on other people. I also love her friendship with Abby this season, for example.
I think high school is just very hard. It’s a time in your life where you’re trying to figure things out and try new things and make mistakes and hopefully learn from those mistakes. But they’re all very young and I don’t expect them to have all the answers. And I certainly don’t expect Ginny to, considering what she deals with both at home and at school with the teacher and her relationships. But I did love Abby and Ginny’s friendship this season and I absolutely love Marcus and Ginny.
What makes you feel so connected to your character Ginny?
Ginny kind of feels like a little sister or like a younger, another parallel version of myself when I was that age. I can always connect to characters that feel out of place or lost and in playing Ginny I’ve kind of grown an understanding of what it means to struggle with certain things and an empathy for people who go through very challenging things in life, especially at a young age. I think the more that I play her, the more I care for her and the more I kind of understand her. I just wanna take care of her, I want her to be okay. I connect with her, her loneliness and her being lost, but at the same time the adult in me wants to be like ‘It’s gonna be fine’. But it’s just a fictional character. I have to keep reminding myself that.
Antonia, you knew pretty early that acting is something that you want to do. What made you interested in this industry at such a young age?
My parents were very big cinephiles. They love watching films and TV, they consume television like it’s air. And so growing up I kind of was always exposed to different films and performances. But also my mom would write plays and she would create sets and design costumes for our local community theater, so I was always kind of involved with performance and that kind of thing. I saw Adrien Brody in ‘The Pianist’ when I was really young and it changed my life. It basically was the thing that made me want to be able to perform something or do something that would move people or change their perspective in some way. I thought that that was kind of like a superpower, to be able to disappear into a character or a story and really get people to think about something new. I thought that was so wonderful.
I just got kind of lucky. I went to a school that offered fine arts classes, so I was always surrounded by performance and my parents were very supportive of me. And I didn’t start acting really, at least professionally, until college. But I always had that interest throughout my life and it was always supported.
The role in ‘Ginny & Georgia’ brought you success and recognition in the acting world. How do you deal with newfound fame?
It’s really surreal. I’m very grateful that people love the show and that my life has changed in a mostly positive way. This is something that I don’t think I ever believed it would happen, at least so soon after graduating college. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing, but I thought it’d be a lot less lucky than I am. It’s been nice, but it’s also been kind of overwhelming. It’s a huge adjustment. I’m a very private person. I’m very quiet and introverted in real life. And so being recognized on the street is nice and the fans are lovely and it’s always great to see, but it also is kind of nerve wracking. Doing interviews sometimes or going on talk shows I have to calm my nerves down cause I just still can’t believe it. It’s fighting that imposter syndrome. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it. And I’m also so lucky to have my friends, who keep me grounded.
While finishing your studies and graduating in 2019, you were also auditioning and held a part-time job at the same time. How did you balance it all at the same time?
Very poorly. I remember there were some times where I had to miss class in order to do an audition and my professors weren’t always very understanding of it. I remember sometimes I’d have to get people to cover my shifts at work because I had to tape an audition or go in for an audition and if I didn’t get it covered, I’d get yelled at. It was always kind of prioritizing certain things. During exams weeks I might not have done as many auditions as I wanted to, because I needed to pass all my classes. Picking and choosing when to go into school that I’m paying for, it was all very hard, but somehow I managed.
We’ve heard that one of your passions is also singing.
I don’t know where people are getting this idea. I think it’s because I just really like karaoke. I’m an okay singer, but I wouldn’t say that I’m a singer that’s gonna write an album. That’s not at all what anyone would want. I just really love going to karaoke and singing. I sing all the time, but I have too much stage fright to be able to go out on a stage or perform a song in front of people. It makes me wanna throw up. But you know, give me a drink and a microphone at a karaoke bar and I’ll do it.
While you and us all are waiting to see if there’ll be a third season of ‘Ginny & Georgia’, what’s next for you?
I have a few things, irons in the fire, that I’m really hoping work out. But for now, I’m really just kind of taking things in the moment and settling in on the success of the show again. Lots of really cool opportunities are coming and I’m just really excited to see what this year will look like for me.
interview by JANA LETONJA
photographer TYLER PATRICK KENNY @tylerpatrickkenny
stylist GLORIA JOHNSON @styledbyglo_2
makeup MISHA SHAHZADA @misha212
hair DAVID CRUZ @thedavidcruz
styling assistants ONDREA LEE & AISYA WASHINGTON @ondrealee_ @aisyawashington_
studio techs RENO RONQUILLO & MADI SILEO @renoronq @madisileo
nails GEE GEE @goldroomnails
editor TIMI LETONJA @timiletonja
cover design ARTHUR ROELOFFZEN @arthurroeloffzen