At only 19 years old, actress Sophie Reynolds already has an impressive resume. She got her big break as a Disney Channel star mere months after she started acting, and only a few years later Sophie is fresh off the set of “LA’s Finest,” a spin-off television series based on the “Bad Boys” movie franchise. She plays Isabel, the rebellious teenage daughter of main character Nancy, opposite big names Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union. In anticipation of the show’s premiere (May 13th), I interviewed Sophie about her experiences on set, life lessons from the entertainment industry, and the importance of women’s empowerment.
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Tell me a little bit about working on L.A.’s Finest. Was it intimidating to be on set with Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba?
I was definitely super nervous the first day! But the two of them are the friendliest and most supportive people ever. It’s been an honor to work with them and they’ve both been amazing. Everyone on set has made it a really awesome place to create and collaborate. We have all the intensity of a cop drama, cut with this comedy that gives the show its own sort of tone and style. It’s been a pretty incredible experience, it’s a ton of fun to work on.
Is there a big difference between working for Disney compared to other projects?
There’s an energy shift from Disney Channel, where we make content for kids and it’s higher energy and more over the top. Now I’ve gotten to adapt to this quieter tone that I like doing so much. But the number one thing that I learned at Disney was how to be professional on a set, how to take notes, and how to build relationships with the people that you work with. And I think I’ve taken that with me through every project, no matter how different it’s been.
Is there anything else you’ve learned from acting that applies as a life lesson? Or just any advice you’d give to other young people?
Believing in yourself and knowing how to stand up for yourself is huge. That’s actually something Jessica Alba told me, and she’s right. Some of the best advice I could give a young actor is to just have confidence in your own decisions and beliefs. And it’s okay to constantly be figuring life out, is what I like to tell people. It’s okay to be evolving and to embrace the process of figuring yourself out.
Do you feel like there’s more pressure on you to figure yourself out, as someone in the public eye?
I think it can be tough. I think people do have expectations of you that don’t always exist in normal life. But it gives you a lot of freedom for growth. With L.A.’s Finest, I buzzed my hair off for the show. Before that I was sort of stuck in the stereotype: long blonde hair combined with the roles I’d been taking. But having someone acknowledge that I could be different was really fun. And now I’m getting to experience life in a different light, and I think people are seeing me differently.
What’s it like being a young actress in the era of #metoo?
As a woman in the industry, it’s been really exciting to see a shift and to see women feeling empowered to speak for themselves and to talk about these issues. I have two females leading L.A.’s Finest as executive producers, so there’s a heavy focus on making sure that everyone is equal. When I go to work every day and I’m seeing more female crew members, and I’m seeing more female executives, that’s exciting. That’s when I think the real change is being made. In terms of women’s equality and empowerment, it’s been an exciting year or two.
Is that a social issue that’s important to you?
It’s been a big focus of my energy. I’ve been in a pretty male-dominated industry, and I see how that affects young girls around me. When I have young girls come up to me and ask about being actors, I always want them to know that you can be vocal, and you can be strong, and you can be opiniated, and that’s okay! Because I didn’t know that when I came into this industry, and I learned it because I’ve had some incredible female role models. When I’m looking at scripts, it goes back to the ways that women are portrayed in film and television. I want to make sure that I believe in my character and that I believe she’s being represented as a whole person and not just an object. Hermione Granger was my idol as a child, and that was because I saw very few characters that were like her: smart and opinionated and hung out with the guys, and aren’t just a love interest. Whenever I can, I try to support those kinds of roles.
What’s the most important thing you want people to know about you after they read this interview?
I really love what I do, and I’m really grateful for anyone who allows me to do it and who watches my stuff. I feel so lucky, and I don’t think it always gets portrayed in the media.
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