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Sofia The First

Wingman Wednesday

Harley Graham

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The eerie new series “Light as a Feather,” which premieres Friday on Hulu, has more going for it than your average, run-of-the-mill episodic horror story. According to star Harley Graham, who plays little sister Lena, the 10-episode first season has struck the perfect balance between jump scares and that squirm-in-your-seat uneasiness that makes a thriller so thrilling.

It is refreshing to see a production that falls into the thriller genre not fall into the trap of relying totally on jump scares because there can be so much more to a show/movie,” she says, eager for audiences of all ages to discover the series.

We recently sat down with Graham to discuss her own love for the genre, why her character is going to put viewers on edge, and the reason she is living the spookiest of all seasons right now.

TrunkSpace: Your new project “Light as a Feather” centers on some mysterious happenings that occur after a group of teenagers play a seemingly innocent game of Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board. That’s a great concept because it’s a game kids have been playing for generations at parties and sleepovers, so it’s relatable to multiple audiences. Based on what you know of the project having been involved in it, is the series one that teens and older generations will both enjoy, and if so, why?
Graham: Obviously, the show is centered more towards a younger audience, but I think it is something that adults can enjoy as well. There are so many factors that go into making a show great. Teens and young adults are going to gravitate towards the characters and the plot more so than their parents while adults are going to be able to appreciate the cinematography and the natural, professional acting that is a center-point in the creation of this production.

TrunkSpace: People will turn out for horror because they’re fans of the genre itself, and because of that, it seems like audiences are more willing to try something new from that world than say comedy or drama. Do you feel a series like “Light as a Feather” has a bit of a built-in audience, especially in the month of October where people are looking for seasonal scares?
Graham: I think that this is going to be a great show all year round, but I think that premiering around this spooky season does add to the experience of watching. People are just naturally more inclined to seek out a good scare this time of year. There is so much more to the horror genre than the scares. Our show in particular has so many other elements and we cover so many topics in this show that anyone can find something that they like.

TrunkSpace: Are you personally a fan of the horror genre, and if so, what are some of your favorites?
Graham: Oh I am the absolute BIGGEST fan of thriller/horror movies. My mom and I love watching the newest spooky shows and movies really late at night so it’s extra scary. My personal favorites are old, cheesy horror films like “The Blob,” “Mars Attacks!,” and “The Birds.” When it comes to shows, there are so many great ones out right now like “American Horror Story” and “Castle Rock,” which was also created by Hulu, but I tend to gravitate towards the old ’90s shows. “The X-files” is one of my all-time favorites. Spooky Mulder and Agent Scully are I C O N I C. I could go on forever.

TrunkSpace: Circling back to “Light as a Feather,” what can you tell us about your character Lena and where she falls into the overall story?
Graham: Lena is a character much younger than her counterparts. She is the typical, eavesdropping little sister, which I have totally mastered being a younger sister myself. She joins the series fairly late and is the sort of “messenger” that brings information that is helpful to the protagonists. The creep factor that comes with her really adds something to the character that isn’t seen with the others. The way that she presents herself gives the viewer an uneasy feeling, maybe that she knows something we do not.

TrunkSpace: Having shot the series and been involved in the process of seeing it all come into fruition, what are you most looking forward to for audiences to see and experience when they sit down and watch it October 12? Is it filled with jump scares or more uneasy scares?
Graham: I think that “Light as a Feather” has struck a perfect balance between your basic jump scares and the creep factor of the whole show. It is refreshing to see a production that falls into the thriller genre not fall into the trap of relying totally on jump scares because there can be so much more to a show/movie. The editors really utilized all that they had to create an environment in the show where you are immersed in the experience of it all so the spook is really genuine. (Personally, I jumped a few times during the premiere and I am not one who is easily scared.) What I am most excited for people to find watching this show is the relationship between the viewer and the characters. We have such diversity among the characters it is easy to fall in love with one, if not all of them.

TrunkSpace: The series will stream on Hulu. As an actress, how exciting of a time is it given the current television landscape and not only the quality of content being produced, but the quantity as well? Are there more jobs available now than when you started your career?
Graham: The “new media” world has really expanded what an actor can do as well as the experience of shows to viewers. I often fall victim to the “binge watch and eat everything in my house” shenanigans when a new show drops. I think that this new form of enjoying television allows viewers to connect with characters and form relationships with the shows that they may not have been able to watching a show from week to week, maybe missing some episodes here and there. I think that this change makes an actor’s job a little more important because now their purpose is not just to be a character, but be a character that other people find themselves in.

TrunkSpace: We know you spent some time working on soap operas in the early days of your career, including “Days of Our Lives” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.” Given the breakneck pace at which those series shoot, did those early jobs serve as a boot camp for what to expect on set?
Graham: Being on a large, multifaceted, professional set for the first years of my career really gave me the experience that I am able to take onto any set I go on. Being a part of such a large production while I was just starting out as a young child gave me professional tools that it takes other actors years to develop. Learning how filming works at such a young age gives me an advantage because I now have a better understanding of how to be a fundamental part of a set dynamic.

TrunkSpace: What job have you learned the most from, the one that you find yourself still applying the lessons from, even with the jobs you tackle today?
Graham: Working with amazing directors is one of the best learning experiences an actor can have. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with not one, but two directors whose reputations precede them. On the set of “Chasing Mavericks” I worked with both Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted. Working with Curtis was so wonderful because he is a director that works very closely with the actors and knows what he wants. Working with him specifically taught me about how creating relationships between a director and actor can bring a film to the next level. After Curtis suffered from medical issues during filming, Michael had to take over. What I remember most about him is that he had a strong presence on set and knew what he wanted which made for a seamless transition from director to director. It is so easy for things to get hung up when there is a big change like that, but he was very professional coming into the middle of all the madness.

TrunkSpace: You also do voice over work, giving life to Princess Clio on the series “Sofia the First.” Was voice work always in the plan or did it come about more as a happy accident?
Graham: Voice over was not something I anticipated of my career, but I was never opposed. Voice over is really an awesome job to have because what you look like does not limit your opportunities, it is just how you sound and, how you guys so wonderfully put, “give life” to a character. Sometimes, voice over can be even more challenging than on-screen acting because you cannot rely on your facial expressions to help convey emotion, all the nuance and feeling must come from your voice. “Sofia the First” has become an especially meaningful project recently as we were just awarded a Sentinel Award for diversity in our cast. I was asked to present the award to our writer and story editor Matt Hoverman and Michael Stern. They made an amazing speech about how our work can have an impact on our viewers and the world around us. I hope that I will continue working with people who understand the importance of our work. “Sofia the First” was not my first job with voice over work and definitely will not be my last.

TrunkSpace: You’re still at such an early stage in your career and have already accomplished so much. Where do you hope to see your career go in the next five years? What would you like to accomplish next?
Graham: Currently, we are in the spookiest season of all… college app season. The goal I am focusing on most is getting into a college with a good drama program. I would love to utilize the experience of a college campus to further my education in my profession. Of course, I would love to work through my semesters and I am applying to colleges that will work with me so that I can continue my career while I am studying. When it comes to professional goals, I just want to continue to work with casts and crews that love what they do, because one of the best parts of the business is the people you connect with on set and off.

Light as a Feather” premieres Friday on Hulu.

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