Great minds, of course, think alike. So when photographer Max Papendieck met rising actress Alycia Debnam Carey, we knew it was meant to be. The Australian talents met in studio to discuss music, “Fear the Walking Dead,” and the unique struggle of being a self-supporting, young creative in America.
Max Pependieck: I was going to ask you about your childhood in Australia, but then I heard you were a percussionist!
Alycia Debnam-Carey: I feel like a lot of people don’t know what that is. They’re like, ‘’Does that just mean you like, play the triangle?” I did classical percussion from when I was eight until eighteen. My dad was a musician, and my brother is also a musician.
MP: How did that transition into acting?
ADC: My mom was actually a children’s television writer. From a very early age, she got my brother and me to help out with the segments that she had to write. We would just be in them, and she noticed that I really took a liking to that. So she kept me going.
It wasn’t until I was 17 that I started having interviews with managers — although nothing really stuck because I was too young at the time. That didn’t happen until I met my current management in Sydney. As soon as I turned 18, I signed there and I never left. I remember having to tell my drum teacher, “I’m going to LA! I think I’m going to be an actress!’’
MP: I guess, when you know, you know.
ADC: I mean, I’ve sort of always known.
Yellow, White and Orange crystal embellished skater dress by Miu Miu
MP: How about that initial year when you came to LA: Was it difficult?
ADC: Yeah. I knew no one. My mom came with me, and I stayed at the Homewood suite apartments, which, if you know anything about Hollywood, is an awful place to stay. It’s known to have a whole “child actors” vibe, which is really intense. All of us [child actors] in the same place: it was really bizarre. But I booked a job within the first six weeks.
MP: That’s pretty incredible, huh?
ADC: Really lucky. That job got me my visa and I went straight to North Carolina. I shot there for six weeks and then came back [to LA]. I stayed for two months and then I booked another job in Detroit. It was this film called “Into the Storm,” and that was amazing. My first year was actually pretty incredible.
The second year I moved to LA, I did not book one single job the entire time. It was one of those things where I had 1000 dollars left in my bank account by the end of it.
MP: I’ve been there too. Don’t worry about it.
ADC: I think everyone has [been there] and you kind of need that struggle. There’s always that one year for people that just sucks…. My parents were so supportive, but they could only do so much from afar.
I just sort of had to lose my ego a bit. Not to say that I thought I deserved so much. It’s just that it’s very easy for things to be good when they’re good. But it’s really hard to make things good when they’re hard. You know that’s the real testament to your strength.
MP: When you are acting, especially during “Fear the Walking Dead,” do you turn into your character or is it more that you can switch as you walk off the set?
ADC: I think I have more of a separation between the character and myself when I go home. I need that time so I can just replenish and revitalize.
Left: Pink, red and yellow woven wool plaid coat with fur collar by Miu Miu Crystal stars and moon hair slides by Sasha Samuel Silver sterling face rings by Lady Grey Right: Yellow, White and Orange crystal embellished skater dress by Miu Miu White and orange cat eye sunglasses by Celine Red patent leather knee-high boots by Miu Miu
MP: Are you good with feedback and criticism?
ADC: I’m good with feedback; feedback is what feeds me actually. I’ve always been pretty determined, and I’m very driven. My main objective is to keep growing and learning. There are some things that people just won’t like about you, and that’s a hard lesson to learn. But if you know what your style is and you love what you do, you can appreciate that when it’s right.
MP: Where do you want your career to go and what do you want to do in the future? Where do you see yourself in ten years? Is Australia in the cards again?
ADC: Australia is always on the cards, but it’s so hard to get a job down there. It’s one of those places where I would love to go back and work there. That’s one of my many goals and dreams: to do a film that I love in Australia…. I’d love to do a period film — something that I can sink my teeth into in a different way.
MP: It’s all about balance, isn’t it? You don’t want to pigeonhole in one sort of genre.
ADC: That’s also what I love about the nature of this job. You’re always moving around. You’re always changing and it’s always different. There’s not one day on this job that’s the same. When you get a new script, a new world that you get to play in, it’s so much fun to me. I love it.