SOPHIE SIMNETT [DAYBREAK]
WORDS: IRVIN RIVERA
Bristish actress SOPHIE SIMNETT with her blonde bob gives you Debby Harry vibes right off the bat. Like the rockstar, Simnett’s charm and star power is undeniable and obvious. Add to that the fact that she is one of the sweetest talents we worked with who adores dogs.
The 21-year old actress from London stars as SAMAIRA DEAN in the latest Netflix post-apocalyptic genre-bending series DAYBREAK. In a world where adults were turned to zombie-like ghoulies and teens get to live and lead their own cliques and rule their world in chaos, Simnett’s character provided a good sense of balance.
Daybreak is not your typical highschool drama. It promises a wild ride full of nostalgia, 80’s references and easter eggs for pop-culture fanatics.
In this exclusive interview, SOPHIE SIMNETT tells us about her experiences on set, how she booked her role, Samaira Dean, her favorite actors, social media and why she would be The Very Hungry Caterpillar book.
How did acting start for you?
It started when I was really young. I remember going to theatre in England and seeing kids on stage and being like, oh I could do that and I really want to do that! and I asked my mom and she was like, oh, ok I’ll see, whatever. And I went into a Saturday school, basically for my mom to be like get out our house for three hours. (laughs) I loved it. I was never any good. I was a Christmas tree for a long time. Yeah, a tree in plays and shows. And then I was just like, you know what, let’s just give it a crack. Let’s see if I’m any good and if we can work it out. So I put myself out there as an actor and I end up getting a couple of jobs, getting agents and eventually I wrote a play about Oscar Pistorious and an agent came to see it when I was in it and scouted me from there.
What would you say is your first job?
My first job was in a BBC series called Dickensian (2015) where I played a niece in a couple of episodes. It was the most exciting times ever. To be honest with you it was like, “This is what dreams are made of!” It was great.
“She’s a badass. She holds her own. She wants everyone to be happy and it’s really nice to see that in a female lead rather than just pitting females against each other.”
Tell us about Daybreak and what makes this show different from any post-apocalyptic shows out there?
Daybreak is unexplainable. It’s a genre-bending show. It’s a comedy, a drama, it’s an apocalypse, samurai-saga, coming-of-age story, a love story; it fits into all of these categories that’s why it is so exciting and original. And that is what drew me into the show in the first place and why I’m so excited to see it. It got everything for everyone and it’s full of 80’s pop culture references and nostalgia, kind of like what Stranger Things have. So even though it’s pushing boundaries, there’s always something that people can relate to.
There’s an apocalypse, where some sort of a nuclear bomb and the adults were wiped out and turned to Ghoulies, which are like zombies but not quite the same. They go around saying the last sentence they said before the bomb went off. So they all go around saying hilariously mundane things over and over again.
Yes! Like Pokemon!
The show follows Josh Wheeler played by Colin Ford. He is searching for his love (which is my character Sam) during the apocalypse and in his search he meets other people and navigates his way to what is now the post-apocalyptic world which are basically composed of the cliques in highschool that are now in the apocalypse who have taken over parts of Glendale. It’s wild. It’s nothing like I’ve ever read or seen before.
How did you book the role of Sam?
I got a self-tape from my manager and immediately I was like this is something different. This is something really cool. And I only got two scenes from my character for the tape. And I remember my agent being like, wow you know that character well. At the time it was pilot season and I was just doing tape after tape of auditions and this one just felt really right with me. And I think sometimes as an actor you just know that something is really right for you.
You felt it.
Yes. You really feel it. And they liked the tape and they asked me to tape again and after that I got the job. I got really lucky. It was a really short process.
I was working as a waitress at the time and got told in the middle of my shift that I got it. And then they were like, can you move out to Albuquerque in two weeks? And that was it. I was like, bye guys!
Do you remember the first time when you got your script?
I remember thinking, this could be one of the best things and could be one of the most confusing things. And I asked my agent, Are you sure? What is this? At that time, I wasn’t personally really into these types of shows. And I was like is this gonna be another one of those and they were like no. And they can see how it’s gonna be. And I’m so glad I trusted them because it was the best decision I ever made. It’s brilliant.
Tell us about your character Sam, Samaira Dean.
She’s great. I wish a bit more like Sam. She’s really funny and intelligent and charming. She’s the popular girl in school and was the queen of Glendale but she’s not in the cliché popular girl way. People like her because she’s kind to everyone and looks after everybody. She’s a badass. She holds her own. She wants everyone to be happy and it’s really nice to see that in a female lead rather than just pitting females against each other.
What’s the best part about playing her character?
The best part about playing Sam for me is probably the fact that she holds her own and she doesn’t need anyone else to tell her who she should be. It’s interesting in this show because you see her in other people’s eyes. So you see her mostly in flashbacks and particularly, she is defined by Josh’s memory of her. You see her through Angelica’s eyes, Wesley’s eyes and so her character is created by their opinions and that’s what the audience sees. It’s very interesting to see how that develops. It’s also interesting how that mirrors real life. I feel a huge responsibility being a teenage girl on a TV show, making it authentic to the actual teenage experience. Obviously we are in a post-apocalyptic world which is not actually the same but you need to have authenticity to the character, the way she’s defined by everyone else to see the best things in her.
A lot of social media has amazing pros but also a lot of cons. The idea that you don’t need to put what’s not good out there that you only need to put the best parts to your life. And so many young people see it and well my life isn’t like that all the time. There are times when there’s something’s wrong. There are times when I’m unhappy. What’s cool about the way Sam is told, it’s like that so when we see more of her history, we can see her more as a real person which is a much more interesting character than the one that’s been created by the people.
What’s your favorite moment while filming the show?
There’s so many. It’s such a crazy show to work with. Even though we’re reading the script, we’re all like this is crazy! We go to set and there’s a nuke that’s been built or there’s like a new school or a mall or the witches’ house. You just never know what you’re gonna see or expect. Our set designer and our costume designer created this world and you’re thrusted into it as you start watching it.
I really liked it when we all filmed together.
I was in flashbacks a lot so I don’t really get to be with the other characters much so we did get group scenes and it was really nice to be with everyone. So anytime that I get to be with the whole gang.
Which actors inspire you?
Oh so many. Diane Keaton. Merryl Streep, Viola Davis, Jodie Comer, Olivia Colman- she is the queen. Well literally the queen in the Crown. But Olivia Colman is everything that I want to be.
If you were a book, what book would you be and why?
I would be The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It’s a Caterpillar that eats loads of food. It’s a children’s book. Each page have little holes in it. I would be The Very Hungry Caterpillar because I’m a very hungry person. I’m reading an amazing book, poems by John Berger, And Our Faces My Heart, Brief as Photos. It’s a gorgeous book of poetry and musings by John Berger. It doesn’t necessarily describes me but it’s a beautiful book. He sees life in a strange way and I’d love to see it in a film.
Catch Sophie Simnett as Samaira Dean in Netflix’s DAYBREAK streaming on October 24, 2019