‘Shadowhunters’ and ‘Grand Army’: See our exclusive Sydney Meyer interview
Sydney Meyer, known for her roles in Grand Army and Shadowhunters sat down with us to discuss her roles and any new ventures. The Canadian-born actress dives into life before the camera and how influential TV can be for young people.
Here’s our exclusive interview with Sydney Meyer.
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Sydney Meyer has recently joined the cast of Netflix’s new series Grand Army which is aimed at a young adult audience. The show focuses on a group of students at Grand Army High, the largest public school in Brooklyn. Meyer’s character is named Anna who is smart, opinionated and acts as the motherly figure of the group.
Throughout the series, Meyer’s character must navigate close acquaintance sexual assault and privilege disparity. Grand Army also highlights racial inequality and the significance of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Before Grand Army’s debut, Sydney made a name for herself in other popular series throughout her career. Netflix show V Wars was one of the latest roles that Meyer took on. She played the role of Ava O’Malley and the show focuses on Dr. Luther Swann as he enters a world of horror when a virus is released from ice melting due to climate change.
Now, let’s talk about the one and only – Shadowhunters. This show built a huge fan base over the seasons. Sydney describes her experience working on set as special as she began the process by joining in on table reads. Luckily, Meyer got cast as Helen Blackthorn in the supernatural show.
Sometimes teen dramas are known for glamorizing what many teenagers suffer through every day. Sydney Meyer’s latest role in Grand Army is important to her so she can highlight the real issues that many teens face. It’s her hope that young people will see themselves in the series and characters. Hoping that they feel less alone.
Being the oldest person on set, Meyer felt a bit separated from her character initially. However, taking herself back to her own personal experiences provided enough inspiration to continue portraying Anna in a way that felt more authentic.
Looks like things aren’t really slowing down for the twenty-five-year-old actress. Sydney Meyer mentions that she will be embarking on a new project with her fiance. COVID-19 has messed with other plans, but Meyer hopes her newest venture will blossom.
Make sure to read through our interview transcript below.
What drew you to becoming an actress?
Oh gosh. I mean, it kind of sounds like an accident. I honestly was at a school that I was very unhappy with when I was young, I was bullied. And I was in a small town and you had to go to your district school and my parents found this school that was a School for the Arts that if you audition, and you got in anyone from any district could go, and that seemed like the only way that I could get out of my home schools.
So I auditioned and you have to do all the arts and I played him, we kind of didn’t think I was going to get in. But I did. And I ended up going and from grade four to eight, I was at that school and we did a play every year, we studied Shakespeare, and I just really fell in love with the language of Shakespeare.
I at the time, was so academic minded, and I loved that and I loved being on stage. And I really got drawn into theatre. And I think that was kind of like my gateway into it. I love being on stage. I love Shakespeare, and it kind of like developed and developed and developed and I had a friend who had a TV show, she was on a being on stage.
I love Shakespeare and it kind of like developed and developed and developed and I had a friend who had a TV show, she was on heartland and she kind of like opened the door for me into film and TV and showed me that there were other options and I just fell in love with telling stories in that way.
No, I’ve never been on Heartland that was her show. But we just grew up down the street. So it was just, you know, it was just the matter of connections. Yeah, she had the show. And so we kind of like talked about it. And I started to understand that that was a world that was like possible.
My first TV job I think I ever did was like, a docu-drama series that was like, reenacting real things that happened. And I think I was maybe like, 15 years old. And then after that, it was to grassy, and I just did like guest stars for a bit. And then my first recurring role was on Shadowhunters.
What was the first project you ever worked on, and what did you learn from that experience?
Shadowhunters was so special to me, because, um, I mean, that was just such a mind blowing experience for me, because I got Shadowhunters. Because I worked the table reads for like two years, would go for two years, every week or week and a half. And I would fill in for the roles that weren’t there.
And it was amazing for me, because I was watching these incredible actors work. And I got to know them as people. And I got to know the writers and directors, producers, and I’m watching these people work at such like a high level. And to me, I had never been recurring on a show. And it’s just amazing to get to be a part of that.
And they were so welcoming. I, you know, I was invited to the rap parties, I got to like, be a part of their community. And they were so warm to me. And then they just kept being like, Oh, you know, you’re so great as a reader, like we should find a park for you on the show. And I didn’t think that that was real.
And eventually, it was and that was just so special for me that these people that I had worked with for years, like just welcomed me into the community of their show, and trusted me with that. So that was so special for me.
And I had to read the books by that point, because I’ve been doing the table reads and I thought Helen was amazing. And the books I thought she was so cool. So that was like just so special that I got to play Helen.
I’ve learned so much about like, the way that your personal attitude towards the work can permeate a set. I’ve been on sets where, you know, like on V Wars, Ian and Adrian were so incredibly positive and like having people at the top of the cast that were so warm and positive and generous with their time, that really radiated downwards.
And I think that that, for me was such a lesson of like, if I’m ever leading a cast, I really want to be that way. And I want to be aware of the fact that like, even if you’re having a bad day personally, you can bring that to set and it makes such a difference for everybody else.
If you’re being positive and you’re giving so much to the other actors and, like really just learned so much about taking You know the time that you need as an actor on set to make sure that the work is what it needs to be at the end of the day because it’s such a fast moving environment.
Sometimes you can get caught up in that and like Not wanting to take that extra time, but it makes such a difference sometimes to just take that extra 10 minutes in let it settle in, and it can change the whole scene. So I’ve really learned a lot from them about Like owning your space in your work and settling into it.
How was your experience working on Grand Army?
Grand Army was such a unique experience I think because I’ve never been on a set that was full of so many theatre-based actors and also like in a project sight. You know, our showrunner wrote the play and it was incredibly theatre based.
So there was a lot of room for that kind of work. Which are usually isn’t on a set and because it was Section emotionally dense show There was a lot of space for like process those emotions you know we had an incredible intimacy coordinator And they would be times that after A table read that was particularly emotional.
We would just all stop Like not go back to filming and we would sit And talk about what that was bringing up for us. We were feeling and work through that first before you Went back to filming and sometimes on a set.
There’s not space for that but I feel like it was, um, it was treated with such respect in that way that they understood that it was a very emotional storyline and our intimacy coordinator was always there for us.
If he wanted to go sit in the trailers and speak about what our experience was that we were going through emotionally to work That out so that we were able to do the work there was space for that which was just great and the cast became very close and like a family because I think there was a lot of trust.
When developing your character Anna, what did you draw inspiration from?
It was interesting for me, because I mean, I’m the oldest one on the set. So playing someone that 16 I had to really like, try and remind myself, there were so many times that I was very judgmental of Anna of like, Why is she doing that? That’s so stupid like that. So you’d have to be like Sydney, when you’re 16? Didn’t you do things like that and think like that, that. That’s what happens when you’re 16.
You know, you’re emotional, and you’re impulsive. And you’re not seeing things with the full spectrum. And I had to really, like have some grace and forgiveness for my character, for the fact that she’s 16, you know, and all these characters are of their age, but they’re also still children. And so there was a lot of like, going back to that place when I was 16.
In my experience in high school, and there were a lot of kids on the set that were still in high school. And so there was a lot of that kind of work for Anna and then I think so much of it was.
Yeah, like working with the intimacy coordinator and going into those vulnerable places and my characters, best friends with Joey and Odessa, who plays Joey actually was living with me while we were filming. So that came very easily, you know, we did build that relationship. We were so close.
And so that was very, very natural, like that relationship kind of built itself and that trust between her and I was there. And that was very easy.
How does Grand Army set itself apart from other teen dramas like Degrassi and Riverdale?
I feel like those shows try to make . . . I mean, those shows are so entertaining, and they’re wonderful and they’re fun, but I think they also in a way try to make the dark parts of teen life or the hard parts of teen life seem like fun or like glamorous in a way they’re very pretty and they’re shot beautifully in there.
It’s like an elevated visual plane of those type of experiences. And, and grind army kind of does the opposite. Like it dives into the gritty part of it and the way it shot. It’s like, it feels like you’re in there with the kids. It feels like you’re in school with them.
It’s not this like beautiful, pretty picture. It’s kind of goes the opposite direction. And there’s times that you’re watching and it’s uncomfortable. And I think it kind of tried to do the opposite thing of like, it’s not fun to go on these adventures of these dark things all the time. It’s sometimes it’s like this is real life and this is what kids are dealing with and we need to be able to have those conversations.
And talk about it in ways that people need to understand that maybe this is what your kids are going through. Or maybe this is what your friend is going through and you haven’t been able to discuss it openly. And so I think it kind of tried to like de glamorise, those things.
There’s so much misconception about what it is to be young today. I mean, there are so many comforts now today and I think that that makes a lot of adults look at youth and say you have it so good. When I was your age, it wasn’t like that. And I think it makes a lot of young people feel very misunderstood and makes them feel like they’re not heard.
It makes them feel like what they’re going through. They’re going through alone, and I think it’s important for shows to shed light on what is going on in In the lives of young people today so that it opens up conversation
Not only between young people But between adults and young people as well so that young people can watch the show. And feel seen and feel heard. See that there perience is not isolated that other people have gone through this They can find a way to speak about with their peers, with their parents, with the teachers with Whatever that this can be a doorway to open up those conversations in a way that it’s like you might think.
It’s all Instagram and whatever and it might be easier but there’s also So a lot of things going on today that kids have to deal with. It’s really tough and and it’s worth talking about and opening up those conversations.
What are you bingeing on Netflix right now?
Honestly, I feel like a few months ago It was all like dead to me and kind of Darker shows and I think since growing teen we’ve Kind of lightened it up a bit and now it’s like shifts. Creek and we’ve finished like selling sunsets and And we’ve been watching kind of later Later shows a little bit because I think that’s kind of like where we’re at right now, we go up and down. It’s a lot of that and also true crimes. We’re very into true crime. So we watch a lot of unknown household.
Oh my god, Chrishell. Are you kidding me? It’s ridiculous to me that so many people are like, I love Christine. I’m like, I’m sorry. I don’t understand that. I mean, I’m all for strong women, but I think there’s a difference between strength and just like cruelty. My gut might be Goodness.
What’s next on the docket for you?
Strangely enough, I have two projects that I’m shooting with my fiance next which I’m very excited about. That’s what An actor couple’s dream who gets to do that. That’s so weird. Which both happened like by them,
So we had our first workshop fitting today for a TV show that we’re shooting together. And we go to camera next week, which is awesome. I’m so excited so I get to shoot a TV series from him for several months and we play love interests.
It’s like a dream. The first project we were supposed to shoot to get There was a film and it was supposed to start filming like right when The first wave kind of pet and it Spin just kind of Definitely so definitely was held off because of COVID.
And then we kind of like had self tapes for COVID. I shot a guest are just recently but I think we were a bit more cautious than a couple of Like we have friends that we’re going back to set but I have an autoimmune disease. So we were pretty happy to let Like, stay at home.
When wasn’t that great? We were like, Oh, we don’t know if we really want to go back. Because that right now, because sets are so many, it’s just so many people. And we just weren’t gonna chance it until it was like a little calmer. But people did go back to work, but we were pretty happy to just let that rest until things calm down a bit.
Do you have any advice for any up-and-coming actors?
The thing I always was like, I think I read this in a book or something. And I was, for me, that was my interpretation of high school was like, if life were to suddenly get easy, I doubt it would happen in high school. You know, and I think that that’s something that I when I was in high school, if someone told me that I’d be like, Oh, thank God, like, I’m doing fine, you know, um, but also just like, trust your instinct more.
Your, you know, what you’re doing, you know, when people are fooling you, or, you know, you know when to believe in yourself, you know, when to take chances, you know, when things are being presented away that they’re not. And I think when you’re young, it’s so easy to put your trust in other people because you think they’re older than you and they know better. And sometimes you have to just trust yourself and what’s right for you. And I think I would have told myself to just believe in me more.