Interview with ALEXA SWINTON | I Do My Best To ENJOY And Have FUN
As we grow, we become too serious about life; we often try to control the outcome of a situation by asserting or pushing to make things happen. We give away our innate inner power by complaining and judging why things didn’t go the way we wanted forgetting to have fun.
Children remind us how to enjoy life. Regardless of what we physically want to have or experience, we do so, because we think that by having that which we desire it will make us feel good and happy. When we intend to be playful with each other while creating the life we consider is best for us, we will feel fulfilled and satisfied. We can’t control the conditions, but we can control how we feel and how we react.
The ten-year-old actress, writer, and creative being Alexa Swinton say, “My family believing in me is a big deal, and it also makes me believe in myself. I had to know that if I didn’t get a part – it wasn’t my fault. As long as I do my best and have fun – that is what I can control.”
Alexa can be currently seen on ABC’s drama thriller Emergence, starring as Piper. She is also co-writing her first book Skyline alongside her mom, Inna.
In this insightful interview, you will discover more of how much fun and joy acting and storytelling brings to Alexa, you will learn about her many projects as well as her multicultural inspiring family and their unconditional support.
- Please introduce yourself briefly. Who is Alexa Swinton?
Hi, I’m Alexa Swinton. I am a ten-year-old fifth grader in New Jersey. I am currently playing the role of Piper on ABC’s hit TV show Emergence. I love to cook, code, act, write and create. I have two siblings, an older sister, and a younger brother – (yes, I am the middle child) and a chihuahua named Lola. I live in a multicultural – multigenerational house. My roots are Russian Jewish on my mom’s side and Canadian Scottish on my dad’s. And I come from a family of performers! Even my grandfather, on my mom’s side, is an accomplished dancer, though his profession is engineering.
- Does growing up in a family where your mom and your siblings are also actors have influenced your decision in becoming an actress?
Yes. My mom, who is an actress, was the one who put me into acting at age three. It was something she could teach me and she coaches me for my auditions. I always sang and danced at home and on the streets! My mom would take little videos – one was a mash-up of when I was two or three of Beyoncé’s Single Ladies and Wheels On a Bus Go Round and Round. I just started doing it and she was like, “that is so funny.” I think this video may be online somewhere… My mom prepared me for my first audition for a small part in a movie River of Fundament – and I booked it! I was in a scene where a zombie bursts through a kids’ room and I had to cry – well – this was easy because I was three and scared. My mom hid under the bed to remind me it was just a game. ‘Cause every actor has to start with a zombie movie! Lucky for me- this zombie movie was special because it was based on a story by Norman Mailer and was directed by Matthew Barney and starred some amazing actors – Paul Giamatti, Elaine Stritch, Maggie Gyllenhall, Ellen Burstyn. For my first manager audition – I sang How Much is That Doggie In The Window. And I’m still with that manager!
Also – my brother and sister and I love to perform and create together. I sing duets with my sister – we sing the song Sisters around the holidays.
My brother and I also make comedy videos and my mom writes a News Show Segment for us on our YouTube channel The Swinton Show. My sister and I post singing videos there too. It’s a variety show.
We have a lot of fun making stuff and performing stuff together!
- At just ten years old, you have been part of many major projects within the entertainment industry. What does it mean and how does it feel to you being either on stage or on set filming playing in becoming someone else?
I’ve been doing this for so long that it feels like second nature. And I really love it – it’s so much fun. Playing someone else is fun – really all these characters are versions of you in a different situation. And it is PLAYING, so playing is fun and imagining is fun. It’s cool that it’s a job that I love.
- Even though acting is a profession and many talents take it very seriously during the process of acting, for you personally, what is the role of having fun in all of it?
The thing that’s fun about it is the experience – you get to learn from everyone. All these talented collaborators. Also, what’s the most fun is telling a story. I am a huge reader and I love stories and writing and being a part of telling a story. It’s fun to play a different person in a different situation because you get to be out of your life a little bit. It’s fun to not be you for a little while. Because you don’t have the same problems – you don’t have to clean up your room! And all my castmates and the crew working on the show all really have a lot of fun. What can be more fun than figuring out how to tell the most interesting story we can, together. Also – of course – HMU – that’s hair and makeup and let’s face it – getting paid to get your hair and makeup done and learn all about it – is also fun. I know the perfect shade of lip gloss.
- Many young talents look up to you, especially those who also dream of becoming part of the entertainment industry. How does believing in yourself has influenced you in what you are living at this moment?
My family believing in me is a big deal, and it also makes me believe in myself. I had to know that if I didn’t get a part – it wasn’t my fault. As long as I do my best and have fun – that is what I can control.
So, my motto is, “work your hardest, strive to do your best, believe in yourself, and then good things have to happen. You just don’t know when.”
- On ABC’s drama thriller Emergence, you play Piper, the child whose identity is at the center of the series storyline. Who is Piper and how was your process of getting into your character’s shoes?
Funny the hashtag #WhoIsPiper was used to promote the show for the beginning episodes. No spoilers for those of you who haven’t seen it yet – but of course – go ahead and catch up ASAP – but the beginning of the answer comes rather quickly. However, we are now filming episode 112! – and it just gets more and more exciting and mysterious. There are clues in every episode, and we are so excited about each script because we don’t know what happens either. I play Piper very natural – she is like me but in very different circumstances. And at the beginning, she has no memories. But just like me – she is intuitive, very observant, intelligent and loves people. And she learns quickly! She is also resourceful – and I am too – I am a middle child so I must be in order to survive in our crazy house! And as Piper grows in experience and knowledge with each episode, so I grow too!
- How would you describe the relationship between Piper and Jo, the police chief who takes her in when Jo finds Piper near the site of a mysterious accident?
Jo is a strong loving person and funny too, and Piper feels like she’s home. She looks up to Jo and she loves her, really. It’s a mother/daughter relationship.
- Why do you think our readers will feel excited to tune into and watch Emergence?
It is an amazing mystery and really relatable too – because it is a family that is very typical in a way but also dealing with something extraordinary. Two of the writers are from the ABC hit show Once Upon a Time – one of my favorite shows – and there is a fairy tale feel to the story too. Like an ordinary family but also a fairy tale and genre thriller.
It’s a great mystery at the heart of the story! Jo is searching for who Piper is – where did she come from? How did she come to be on her own? We find out early that Jo was left by her mom as a child. So, Jo feels very empathetic to Piper and wants to help her. Piper is also working out who she is – Piper is helping herself, she is on a journey and trying to figure out who she is.
And the show is funny! Many of the actors have done a lot of comedy. Allison did improv, Clancy Brown – is – well, he’s Clancy Brown and is in everything – but I especially love that he is the voice of Mr. Krabs on Sponge Bob! And Donald Faison is just the funniest – he is always making all of us laugh.
- Recently you also wrapped a role in a film Sometime Other Than Now playing Molly. What can you share with us about your character and its connection with the film’s storyline?
Molly is the granddaughter of SAM played by Donal Logue – who is an amazing actor and person. Sam has been out of touch with his daughter for many years and does not know he has a granddaughter – he is a traveler and is always moving. He comes back to his small town and reconnects with his daughter and also meets Molly – me. Molly is artistic. She is nine. I was nine when I filmed this. In the movie, Donal’s character teaches Molly how to play guitar. What was cool was Donal gave me a wrapped gift of an amazing guitar from his collection. I’ve been learning to play it – Donal got me started! I write songs – so it will be really wonderful when I can play my songs. I also worked with Kate Walsh from Grey’s Anatomy who is super nice.
- Are there any other exciting projects you are currently involved in?
Yes! I just shot a short film Kooky Spook – which is based on my mom’s short play we performed Off-Broadway together. The film is about a Russian immigrant girl’s first Halloween in America in the eighties.
My mom and I worked on the play together – She plays herself now, and I play her when she was nine and ten. In the film – it was fun – we are using some documentary techniques – I wear the costume my mom wore in the eighties, and we filmed in the exact NJ apartment complex where she lived, and we even cast local kids from the town of Fair Lawn – which is where she lived – in the Halloween scene.
We even went back to Latvia this summer and went to the exact train station where she said goodbye to her grandmother forever – it was (during) Communism and once you left, you never went back.
I am also working on some original song recordings for my EP! I hope to have it ready to launch this Spring and will be recording them in LA in January, once shooting for the first season of Emergence has wrapped!
Yes, I have many goals – lol! My parents always tell us to work hard and not give up. Talent is 1 percent of it – 99 percent is the work. My mom says every day, “Dream Big” – she even has a joke about it in her stand up. And she also says with acting “It’s the journey – not the destination”.
My dad says, give the job an extra boost of effort. He is a rower and is used to finding that little extra burst of energy, even when you feel exhausted. It is what’s needed to get something over the line ahead of anyone else, or better than anyone else. Everyone works hard, but it’s always that bit extra that helps you distinguish yourself.
- You are currently working on your first book alongside your mom, Inna. How does it feel to share the passion for writing with your mom? What inspired you to write a book and what it is about?
Our book is about a ten-year-old girl named Skylie who goes to a regular school in NJ and who is an actress and singer. She lives with her siblings in a multi-generational multi-cultural house (yes like me!), and she addresses the problems of the day in her school and her world.
It’s sort of like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Eloise but more grandparents and more cultures and less gluten (smiling). It’s funny and real, and it also tackles some important issues of our time – like the environment, kindness, and mental health. But funny. Definitely funny.
We kids are very aware today of many things that adults don’t realize – ‘cause we have the Internet, social media, and even the 24/7 news cycle. Way more than probably any kids should have.
I will be doing the illustrations and my mom, who does comedy, is writing. I am also writing and also sharing my stories about school with her. Like the day someone at school wrote a four-letter word on my crayon…
- How do you balance your traditional studies in school with your professional career?
On set, we have a tutor for three hours per day. When I am not on set, I go to school. My school has been supportive, and so I keep up with the assignments. I like going to school and seeing my friends and teachers. I also have fun on set with the tutors. I am very lucky that my school teachers have all been very supportive of me pursuing my dreams. So, a big thanks to them!
It all works pretty smoothly, but there are times when it’s hard. Like when I have a lot of auditions. You have to leave school early and do all this work, and you don’t have a tutor. I think auditioning can be difficult to balance with school because it requires a huge amount of work in a very short period of time, and it is unpredictable. So being very organized, very on top of my work, and being ok about being flexible is really key.
- Are you involved in any charity organization or humanitarian cause you would like to mention?
I am passionate about the environment, animals. I’m almost a vegetarian. It would be easier if I liked fish, but I don’t. Too smelly for me. I have a very sensitive nose!
- The spirit of The Hedonist Magazine is The Essence of a Joyful Living. How does Joy during the creative process affect your own experience and in consequence the final manifestation of your actions?
I love this question. I LOVE creating – drawing, writing, having ideas for businesses, coding games, and it makes me so happy to do this. Whether it’s writing a play with parts for all my friends coming to my birthday party, or making a short film with my siblings and parents on our vacation (“Veggie Burgers” – my first vampire movie).
- When you hear: “You can be, do and have anything you want,” words from the Abraham- Hicks teachings, what is your take on such a statement?
I think if you put your mind to it, and stay positive, and work hard, and be kind, and appreciative of all those who help you, especially your family – well, you can go for anything! Just ensure you are going for something that you are really interested in, and that you are really motivated to go for it so you can give it your all and love giving it all that energy. Life is short – so make the most of your passions and energies!
I also think it’s important to appreciate what you have, to be grateful. I am fortunate for having so much already. I am grateful every day.