Photo: Courtesy of Kyla Hemmelgarn
At the young age of fifteen, Julia Sarah Stone is already tackling material many actors wait a lifetime for as 'Lyric' on The Killing. Not only is Stone fearless, gorgeous, and wise beyond her years, she does it all with an effortless grace. Couple that with her work wowing audiences, and it's easy to see why Stone is an "artist to watch."
In advance of tonight's season finale, Stone was kind enough to give us some insight into 'Lyric' and what is next for this star on the rise.
The Reel Spin: You are tackling very mature material as 'Lyric' on The Killing. How did you prepare for such a challenging role?
Julia Sarah Stone: The most difficult aspect of playing 'Lyric' was the emotional depth and vulnerability that she has. She's always open and doesn't hide her emotions as much as a lot of the other characters. It was my first time having to keep that level of emotional availability for such a long period of time. In terms of preparation, I often used music to help me access the emotion. I created a playlist for 'Lyric' which included various artists and genres depending on the tone and emotions of the scene. I also used poetry; reading and writing really helps me to get into certain mindsets. I created 'Lyric's' backstory and did research using books like Girls Like Us (first hand narratives of trafficked girls) and by watching the documentary Streetwise. I also live very close to some areas of Vancouver where the street youth population and culture are highly visible. I didn't have to go far to actually see it as it really is.
TRS: What was the audition process like?
Stone: I did one audition and one callback, which had an additional scene. The audition and callback scenes were some of the more difficult ones, which really gave me a sense of how well-developed the character is and how well the show is written. A couple of weeks after the callback, I found out I got the role! It was one of the most incredible moments of my life so far. I'm so grateful to Veena Sud and The Killing producers for giving me the chance to play 'Lyric.' The writers on the show are exceptional, and I'm honored to be part of the story they wrote, and to be giving 'Lyric' a truthful life.
TRS: Do you feel the show is helping bring awareness to teenage prostitution?
Stone: The show definitely shines a light on a world that people don't necessarily see every day. Even worse, if they do see it, they've become numb to it, to the extent that our society tolerates it. It's the only way I've been able to explain it, because by not making it a priority, it seems like we're sort of accepting it. There's a bit of denial about these kids and what they go through. I think that it's because it's so cruel that it's easier for people to turn a blind eye or blame the kids, instead of doing something about it. By depicting it so truthfully, I hope that the show helps bring awareness to the fact that this is happening all around us. I hope it stimulates meaningful conversations about this issue, because that's the beginning of action.
TRS: You share a lot of scenes with Max Fowler ('Twitch') and Bex Taylor-Klaus ('Bullet')... are you guys close off screen as well?
Stone: Max and Bex are such awesome people and artists, and getting to work with them was a great experience for me. When you work with someone so closely for that length of time, a real bond forms. We also got to spend some time together off set; sometimes on the weekends they would come over to my house, and we would make dinner and have movie nights. We share a big common love of film, characters, and stories.
TRS: Why do you think 'Lyric' is so drawn to 'Twitch'?
Stone: 'Twitch' is very much 'Lyric's' source of the love and attention that she was deprived of in her own family. He fulfills many roles for her. He is her protector, and she's completely dependent on him emotionally and mentally. His attention is like a drug to her. She's very tuned in to everything he does. She can tell right away if he's even the least bit upset with her, and she's constantly trying to make him happy, which is exhausting.
TRS: The entire cast of The Killing is pretty amazing. As a young actress, it must have been exciting to have the opportunity to seek advice and learn from such a talented ensemble. What will you take away most from your experience?
Stone: Unfortunately, I didn't get to work very closely with many of the other, more experienced actors. The storylines are very separate. When we were together off set, they were incredibly kind and encouraging, which I really appreciated. However, working with a different director and writer for each episode was an amazing learning experience for me. It gave me a great opportunity to see or explore the scenes differently, and to talk about the character with people who have unique points of view. A special thing about The Killing is that the writers are on set at all times. Above all, talking directly to the writers, the people who were actually giving 'Lyric' life on paper, was really great. The most important thing I took away from being on The Killing is that exploring characters directly with their writers is an amazing gift to actors.
TRS: What's next for you? Do you hope to continue to challenge yourself with more dramatic roles?
Stone: Right now, I'm auditioning and taking acting classes over the summer. I hope to continue to be part of meaningful stories. In particular, I'm drawn to stories that interest or move people, inspire them to see or feel things differently, or that open their minds to new possibilities. It doesn't matter whether it's through drama or comedy. Actually, as an actor, I find comedy to be more challenging!
Interview by Pamela Thomas