In my ongoing quest to highlight up and coming talent, the advent of Havana Guppy’s presence on the entertainment scene is a welcome addition as she is a remarkable young actress whose star has been on the rapid ascent in the last six months. She has the singular honor of appearing in three highly anticipated new series that are beginning to garner much attention. Recently, Havana and I chatted about how she began in the business, her current and forthcoming roles, and how she keeps an equable head in spite of obstacles, negativity, and pressures.
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RH: Why did you decide to become an actress?
HG: When I was pretty young, maybe around three, I loved being on camera. My dad would record me and my sisters, and I would always hog the camera time. And then my dad would put the recording on TV and say, “One day, you could really be on TV and see yourself and not just from this home recording.” And I wanted to do that. I’ve always been fascinated with doing that.
As I got older, I liked the whole storytelling thing. I wanted people to feel different emotions, and I thought it would be cool if I could make people happy or cry or get angry. That was the thing, and I liked that a lot. And that’s what made me want to pursue being an actor.
So when were you able to begin pursuing this professionally?
When I was four. That’s when I got an agent and started going out for jobs.
Oh, so your parents were supportive of you doing it when you were young?
Yes, they were totally supportive.
Sometimes young people I interview have brothers and sisters involved, so is that the case with you?
Yeah, I have three sisters, and we’re all in the business. I’m the oldest.
So when you were four, what kind of work were you doing?
I was doing commercials at first, but then I wanted to go into film. And that happened for me when I changed to my current agent when I was around eight.
Since you started out very young, how does school work for you?
Up until about six months ago, I wasn’t working enough where I was missing too much school. I could always catch up. When I booked Shut Eye and started filming it, I was also filming on Aftermath and Haters Back Off. Things started to get busy, and I did start to fall behind a lot. I had a tutor on set, but the end of the last school year was a bit rough. Now I’m doing part-time school, so I have a more flexible schedule. I didn’t know I was going to be doing this, but at the beginning of the school year, I felt like I wanted to be focusing on acting a bit more, so I went and talked to my school counselor about certain options. I was looking into online school, but I wanted to finish at my school. So she said part-time school was an option, and I thought that sounded perfect.
I think that was very smart to go to your counselor because sometimes I don’t think young people especially make use of all their resources. I think you were very proactive about it. That shows a lot of commitment and maturity.
Yes, and as you said, this has been quite a year for you with booking all these things. How did your role with Shut Eye come about?
I remember I got the audition request, and it was a director/producer session. I read the audition scene about the character Drina, and I loved her. I really did. I felt connected to her in some way. I just knew that was my part. I can’t even explain how I knew. I just knew. When I went into the audition, I felt so good about it. And then I got a callback for it, and it was super cool ’cause I hadn’t gotten a callback in film for a while. And that was nice for me. But I knew it was my role. I did the callback and felt good about it. When I found out I booked it, I was very happy ’cause it felt good to book something. I had been working so hard for years, and it was just really great.
What is it that attracted you to this role of Drina?
I could see that she was a passionate girl and very strong and independent. And there’s just something neat about her wanting to break free from her family. And I also thought she was very relatable for a lot of teenagers who were going through the rebellious stage. For the audition scene, it was a reading of a poem that she had written that unfortunately didn’t make it into the show, but it did show the softer side of her. In the show, she’s very bad. She swears a lot. She drinks, and she is not a very good daughter at times. But she has her reasons, and I guess for me, I saw her reasons and I understood why she did what she did because of where she is in her family, and what her family life is like. So I felt like I understood her.
So when you got this role, how many episodes did they tell you your character would be in?
They told me I was going to be in five episodes, and I was gonna have six days on set. But somehow, they decided to put my character in eight episodes.
I think the thing that is really amazing is that you haven’t judged your character. You’ve been able to look beyond that and delve deeply into the character to understand why she does what she does.
Well, I wouldn’t want her to just be a rebellious teenager and that be all there is to her. I wanted to add some depth to her.
What is some of the training that you have done that has really helped you as an actor?
I mainly train at Railtown Actor’s Studio, and I’ve been training there regularly since I was about nine. It’s very intense. I got kinda scared and decided not to come back till I was around eleven or twelve. But I’ve been there since. It is a scene study, but it goes super deep into character development and techniques you can use. And recently, I was invited to the adult class, which is by invitation only, so I just started that in September. And I am by far the youngest in the class. It’s pretty scary, but it’s really helping a lot. And I feel like it’s helping me mature more and kinda go deeper into characters than I have before. It gives me a lot of cool techniques I can use.
So you also mentioned that you are in Aftermath. How did you get involved with that show?
I actually got the audition on a day I was filming Shut Eye. I really had no time to unwind or get ready. I was driving to the audition from the set on Shut Eye while learning all the lines for Aftermath. So I went in there with all my Drina hair and make-up on.
What can you tell us about your character in Aftermath?
I play sixteen-year-old Mary, who is part of this religious group. I mainly had scenes with Mitchell Kummen and Taylor Hickson.
What was your experience working with Mitchell and Taylor?
I had a great time when we were on set. It was cool ’cause I had never been on anything like that or played that kind of character before. And it was great ’cause Mitch and Taylor and I got along so well. We just had a lot of fun together.
Mitch strikes me as one who can get along well with anybody.
Oh, yeah! And it helps me to be around him ’cause I’m a kind of shy person. I’m not one to be talking to everyone, so Mitch did help me feel included which was very nice.
So tell us about Haters Back Off. What can you tell us about your character and the show?
My character is a small part, but even though it is small, it was so much fun. I used to watch the American YouTuber Miranda Sings when I was younger, so just to be able to work with her was pretty great. Some people don’t know her, but I was kinda low-key excited to see her ’cause when I was about thirteen, I used to watch her videos. Just working with her was super cool. Everyone was so nice, and it was a fun set to be on. Everything was so funny. I had never done a comedy before, so it was kinda neat. And just watching the actors improv and make stuff up was so funny. I just had a lot of fun on that show.
Since you hadn’t done a comedy before, how would you compare comedies to doing shows like dramas and sci-fi?
For me, comedies are definitely a bit harder ’cause even though I’ve been told that I’m funny, I don’t always feel very comfortable. My comfort zone is drama. I love dramas. Even sci-fis are cool. But I really do feel like doing more comedies would be cool, and then I could get more experience with them.
Well, that’s great that you stepped out of your comfort zone. And my understanding is that the great comedians make comedy look so easy, but it is a lot harder than people think it is.
I noticed that one of the actors who is a series regular on the show had something different coming out of his mouth every time. It was so funny, and I was like, “How does he do that?” I was amazed. I wish I knew how he did that.
So how do you as a young person keep yourself positive and grounded and stay away from all the negativity?
For me, at school, I kind of stay by myself. I’ve never been in the popular crowd. And I’ve always tended to be more serious, so I never felt the need to do all that other stuff, I guess. The people that I’m close to in the acting industry–they’re kind of more like me, too. We all just don’t do that. I guess I’ve just stayed grounded by being myself and not trying to be someone else at school in front of other kids my age. I’ve always stuck with what I believe in, and I’ve always just been me. Maybe it seems fine for these others to get involved in that other stuff right now, but I’d rather spend these years working really hard on myself and my career and planning my future.
Havana, that is a great response. The reason I ask this is that older people tend to think that all the kids in entertainment are bad kids, but it’s a great encouragement to realize that there are young people like you who are doing the right thing.
Well, thank you.
Well, thank you for being a good role model for young women. There’s not enough of them out there. I am definitely looking forward to watching you on Aftermath and seeing more of your awesome work.
I am so glad you like it. Everyone on that show deserves all the best and more.
photo credit: Kyle Cassie
makeup: Kaily Grist
Clothing provided by: Holt Renfrew Vancouver
I cannot tell you what an inspiration and encouragement Havana is to me. Far beyond her years in intelligence and wisdom, not to mention acting prowess, Havana is yet another one of these gifted young women who have learned the secret of true success and happiness. It’s not about yielding to peer pressure to be something that you’re not, and it certainly isn’t about participating in risky behavior whose pleasures seem appealing at the time but in the end may lead to permanent physical or psychological scarring. Havana has chosen to pursue her dreams with a vengeance and never let anyone or anything keep her from her primary objective. She enters every role with a mindset bereft of judgment, but replete with an insatiable hunger to discover the motivation behind the character’s behavior and actions. For her, every job and experience in this business,as well as this life in general, is another opportunity to mold herself more into the person and actress she yearns to be. As long as she remains constant in her vision (and with the incomparable support she has, how could she become diverted?), I am convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that Havana will continue to spread her buoyant spirit, her uplifting outlook, and her diverse talent for many years to come. In fact, I am certain she will persevere in her mission to improve and succeed beyond expectations as she applies herself to her chosen craft. Be sure that you watch Aftermath on the SyFy Channel every Tuesday so you can catch a glimpse of this young woman as she breathes life into her integral role as Mary. Moreover, watch out for her in Haters Back Off (coming to Netflix this Friday, October 14). Also, watch out for Shut Eye coming to Hulu December 7. In the meantime, please also consider following her at the various links below lest you miss a moment of her extraordinary career and life.