IN CONVERSATION WITH LUKITA MAXWELL
Lukita Maxwell is starring in the 10-episode Apple TV+ series ‘Shrinking’ alongside Jason Segel and Harrison Ford. The series follows a grieving therapist who starts to break the rules and tell his clients exactly what he thinks. You may also recognize Lukita from her most recent role in HBO Max’s ‘Generation’. The first two episodes of ‘Shrinking’ premiered on 27th January.
Lukita, you’re starring in Apple TV+ ‘Shrinking’ as the daughter of a single father, who’s a therapist, played by Jason Segel. This series sees nearly all of the characters in therapy at some point. Why do you think seeing mental health being so openly discussed in this series and on TV is important in today’s times?
We’ve had a weird, sad, lonely last couple of years, collectively. Talks of mental health have been strong through the pandemic and this show hopefully continues the conversation by normalizing therapy, therapists and finding a sense of community.
During this 10-episode we see your character develop a sweet relationship with Harrison Ford’s character. Tell us how was it sharing the scenes and the screen with such a Hollywood icon?
I played it cool. Or tried to. Harrison is simply an icon and I learned so much just from being in the same room as him and watching him work. Also, it was very fun eating a new snack every time I was on set with him. We just snacked through all our scenes.
Before you made your onscreen debut on ABC’s ‘Speechless’ in 2016, you studied Shakespeare. How did your love and passion for acting develop?
Watching movies as a kid. I watched an extended box set version of ‘Lord of the Rings’ with all those BTS videos and was infatuated with the process of filmmaking. And then I think the movie ‘Ballet Shoes’ with Emma Watson, Yasmin Paige and Lucy Boynton made me obsessed with acting. The love grew from there.
How did working with Jason Segel inspire you to love comedy and want to continue in comedy?
Before ‘Shrinking’, I was terrified of comedy. Joining a cast of seasoned comedic geniuses was overwhelming at first, but very quickly Jason made me feel supported and seen. I’ve loved seeing responses to the show so far, because almost everyone has mentioned how much they missed Jason and how happy they are that he’s back on their screens. Every day on set was a treat getting to watch him play on that tightrope, teetering between heartfelt pain and ridiculous comedy.
What kind of roles and characters are you most excited to play? What do you look for when being cast on new projects?
Right now I’m craving working on an indie set away from LA. I want to completely fall into a character that’s in the middle of falling apart. At the beginning of ‘Shrinking’, we find Alice learning how to cope, long after her tragedy has struck. But for my next role, I want to explore pain and the numbness and everything that comes before the healing.
Not only is mental health something that ‘Shrinking’ openly portrays on screen, but it is also being more openly discussed in society. Where do you personally see the reason for so much mental health issues among the younger generation?
Being Gen Z, I’m confident in saying that growing up with social media has affected conversations about mental health for younger generations. We’ve not really grown up with a strong taboo or stigma speaking about therapy, which is fantastic. Hopefully, this show continues that trend to older generations as well.
You are openly queer. How was your experience growing up as a queer young woman?
It’s just a part of who I am. I was never alarmed or ‘surprised when I realized’. Internally, being queer just felt like a fullness and boundlessness. It never demanded a name. Any discomfort around my queerness was not felt by me. My queerness is fluid and I literally just feel like I could love anyone.
There are still a lot of stereotypes about the queer community. What do you believe should or could be done to make it easier for young queer people, who are afraid to come out?
Of course there are still stereotypes, but wow, the community is thriving. There are so many people that understand the experience and are willing to lend an ear and support. As it goes with most things, continue conversation and continue education.
What are some of the things, besides acting, that feed your soul the most?
I love to surf. It became my therapy after moving to LA to shoot ‘Shrinking’. Cooking also literally feeds me, so I’ll count that as well.
Next, we’ll be able to see you in ‘The Young Wife’, a drama that follows a young woman grappling with the meaning of love and commitment. What can you share with us about this feature at the moment?
‘The Young Wife’ was the most magical film set I’ve worked on. The movie is about a ‘non-wedding’ wedding, where the main character Celestina, played by Kiersey Clemons, questions life and love and time. The ensemble is ridiculous and our north star, Tayarisha Poe, directed the movie. The cast became family to me that month we shot in Georgia. I cannot wait to see it premiere this year at SXSW.
What’s your view, as a young woman, on the meaning of love and commitment?
I can’t explain love. I wrote this in my notebook a couple months ago and maybe you can find love in the minutiae.
“I had a fire in my belly today. We listened to The Sunday’s entire discography on the way to the beach because we were trying to figure out which ONE song we heard in the bar last night. I think it was ‘Don’t Tell Your Mother’. “
interview by JANA LETONJA
photography EMILY KNECHT
styling RYAN YOUNG @ The Wall Group
hair DEREK YUEN @ A-Frame Agency
makeup AMBER DREADON @ A-Frame Agency