IN CONVERSATION WITH TALIA RYDER
interview by JANA LETONJA
Actress Talia Ryder starred in Sony Pictures’ film ‘Dumb Money’ this September, based on a true story of a Wall Street short squeeze that momentarily turned GameStop stock into the hottest investment in town. Talia started her career in the Broadway production, ‘Matilda the Musical’. Currently, we can watch Talia in Sean Price Williams’ buzzy directorial debut ‘The Sweet East’,which she leads opposite Jacob Elordi, Simon Rex, Ayo Edebiri and Jeremy O. Harris. Indie film ‘The Sweet East’ premiered on 1st December.
Talia, we are currently able to watch you in indie film ‘The Sweet East’, which you lead opposite Jacob Elordi, Simon Rex, Ayo Edebiri and Jeremy O. Harris. How exciting was taking on this lead role, and opposite such a cast nonetheless?
This was such an exciting role for me to take on. Lillian is such a complex and confusing person, I am honored I got the chance to be the one to figure her out. A lot of the cast was attached before I was, which made me even more excited about this already exciting script.
The film was a collaborative experience between the filmmakers and performers and even resulted in an original song ‘Evening Mirror’, which you are singing. How fulfilling is it for you to merge two of your passions in a project?
Yes, this was an extremely collaborative experience. Working with someone as confident as Sean is a wonderful thing. He always knows what he wants, but he left the creation of Lillian up to me. I think it takes a lot of strength to say “I don’t know this person at all, but it seems like you do”, and let me make her into a real person. But the addition of the song actually wasn’t my idea. We shot the film in two segments, the first in winter 2021 and the second in spring 2022. A few days before we were about to begin shooting the second half, which actually was the first half of the movie, Sean sent me this song that his friend Paul Grimstad wrote and asked if I’d be willing to sing it in the movie. I hadn’t really sung in a while, but it ended up being such an inspiring experience for me. Not only did it add an additional layer to the character where I got to break the fourth wall and acknowledge the camera, but it reminded me how much I love to sing. I ended up getting back into music during the actor’s strike and wrote a few songs that I hope I get the chance to release. I’m hoping to make a record with Paul soon, since we had so much fun making the song in the film.
stockings SAINT LAURENT
You started your career on Broadway, in ‘Matilda the Musical’. What got you passionate about acting and performing before making your on stage debut?
I grew up dancing, so I already had an affinity for performing. I loved being on a team where we could work on pieces all year and go to competitions in the spring. It was always my favorite time of the year. My grandma took my sister and me to ‘Matilda the Musical’ for our birthdays, my 12th and MiMi’s 9th, and we left the theater asking our mom if we could audition for the show. I never considered acting before that. I was just so moved by the joy the kids had on stage when they were dancing. It seemed like something I could do.
Performing both on stage and on screen, which of the two would you say excites you more?
I don’t think I prefer one over the other. I choose projects based on the story rather than the medium. I’ve done more films at this point, but I did a play at New York Theatre Workshop called ‘How to Defend Yourself’ earlier this year and really enjoyed the challenge of keeping the story fresh every night. I’m just looking to dance more, whether that be on stage or on screen.
full look ZADIG & VOLTAIRE
What do you find the most exciting and the most challenging about portraying different characters?
I love getting to play different characters. I don’t really see that as a challenge of acting, it’s just part of the job. I love making playlists for the people I play and I love obsessing over wardrobe choices and backstory. It’s a lot of fun.
It’s just hard to say bye when you fall in love with a character. Lillian is a good example of that, but you get to take the good parts of the characters you play into your life and hopefully leave the bad ones behind. I’m fortunate to have played some special people.
For your performances you received many critical acclaim so far. What are your goals and dreams for the future?
My goal is to keep making work that I’m proud of and to keep making work that makes people feel good, even if that just means making them feel seen. I also would like to direct and choreograph. I directed a music video this year for Del Water Gap and it was an eye-opening experience for me. I always knew I wanted to be on both sides of the camera, but having the chance to try affirmed it. I have such talented friends, I really want to direct a film at some point.
top, trousers and jewelry CHANEL
shoes SAINT LAURENT
You are also very fashionable. What does fashion mean to you?
I love clothes. I express myself through the clothes I wear. According to my mom, I’ve always been very particular about my clothes and apparently refused to wear clothes with words because I was unsure if I’d feel aligned with the words all day. I love putting outfits together for myself and I really love getting to put outfits together for the characters that I play.
You are currently a YSL global ambassador. What makes you connect with YSL’s vision and values the most?
I’m very lucky to have worked with YSL and the brand’s creative director, Anthony Vaccarello, since I was 18. I have always loved fashion and clothes, but I knew very little about the world of high fashion. When ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’ came out, several brands proposed a partnership. I was immediately attracted to Saint Laurent and the shapes and attitudes of their clothes. Upon doing further research, I was so inspired by Anthony’s specific vision and his eye for detail that the choice was obvious. Since working with the brand, I feel like Anthony taught me what it means to be an artist in a lot of ways. There’s no rulebook and there’s no limit to what you can do if you do it well and have good people around you. I love watching how he continues to elevate the brand and extend his artistry to different mediums. Also, nobody throws a party like Anthony. I’ve had some of the best nights of my life at his shows.
full look SAINT LAURENT
Tell us more about your hobbies and passions outside of acting. What are the things you enjoy the most in your free time?
I like taking pictures. I like making up dances and songs. I like making things even when I’m not making movies. I’ve been DJing more this year, which has been fun too. Anything that lets me work on something with my friends is a good time. I mostly made music with my friends over the actor’s strike. I love watching movies too. I live by some really great theaters in New York City that show old movies, so I go pretty often. I love the Roxy, IFC, Metrograph, Anthology, Film Forum. I love the website Screenslate, which shows you all the old movies that are playing in the city every day. I love seeing movies in Paris too. There are some really great theaters there.
What can you share with us about your exciting upcoming projects?
‘Dumb Money’, another film I am in, is playing in theatres right now. It’s a really incredible movie I wish we got the chance to celebrate more. Another film I am in, called ‘Little Death’, is premiering at Sundance in February as well. I just saw the film for the first time the other day and I’m very excited about it. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. I’m also slowly working on my ‘Sweet East’ tour film. I’ve been bringing my camera around on the press tour and will hopefully make a film for Blu-ray when we have one. I know I keep mentioning it, but I’m very excited about my newfound love for music. I performed my first concert with Paul Grimstad and some other friends of the film just recently and it got me really excited about what’s to come.
talent TALIA RYDER
photography JACQUES BURGA
styling ANGEL MACIAS
make up NAT CARLSON
hair GONN KINOSHITA
nails LOLLY KOON
production OBJECT & ANIMAL
executive producer KELLY MCGEE
producer REESE LAYTON
location ELLA FUNT NYC
set designer BJELLAND + CLOSMORE
lighting director ALEKO SYNTELIS
collage artist DARIA WAGNER
O&A coordinator BOMIN AHN
co-producer MIKE MORETTI at Go Atticus
editor TIMOTEJ LETONJA
interview JANA LETONJA
cover design ARTHUR ROELOFFZEN
special thanks to LOUNES MAZOUZ, KYLE ALLEN at Faster Faster, ESMERALDA LOUVAT and KELLY MCGEE