Are you ready for Paulina Singer’s meteoric rise to stardom? Because it’s happening—and faster than you think. I don’t mean the cover of Us Weekly, “Who Wore it Better” bullshit we’re told is acting success “stardom.” I mean, she’s about to be recognized as an actor you see in everything because she can do anything. If you look at her upcoming credits on IMDb, it’s clear. But beyond her resume, it’s Singer’s unique and, honestly, comforting perspective that proves she can take any project by storm. Currently, Singer can be seen on Freeform’s terrifying hit Dead of Summer as Jessie Tyler, where she shows off her dynamic range to make even the most supernatural of situations believable. In this interview, read all about Singer’s approach to acting and living in the realest, most genuine way possible.
When did you catch the acting bug?
I was probably about 5 or 6 when I realized I had an infinite number of personalities inside me and they were looking to be fulfilled, created, and brought to life via storyline. I didn’t know which art they would be expressed through, then when I got to NYC I was fully aware of my purpose at that time and it was more of a stampede than a bug. I still have a strong stampede inside me for music, painting, sculpting, and creating in general.
Did anyone or anything inspire you to pursue a career as an actor?
Shia LaBeouf in his early days inspired me because he was someone who, to me, didn’t look like they were “acting,” and made everything really human and realistic. [This] makes sense now because its humanity as a whole that inspires me to keep getting better and tell people’s stories in order to try [to] change perspectives. The intensity of human emotion and situation is motivation for me to be able to spread the knowledge of others’ stories. [I want] to make people more humane, to show them everyone loves and everyone suffers. As humans we are very quick to judge someone based on their surface or how they appear to be. That can be detrimental to the person who is judging and to the person being judged.
What training did you do to help set you up for success?
Anthony Abeson is a God and a king and he would never accept these titles because he’s also humble but he is the genius behind my growing love for actors and what we are truly capable of as artists. He taught me that we have the universe inside of us. Through dedication to craft, technique, imagination, and play, we can channel whoever and whatever we need to in order to be truthful in telling someone’s story. As someone who believes we are all one, that concept was absolutely necessary for me to be able to relate to acting, especially when the craft is often made very superficial and perceived as an ego boosting machine rather than a potentially perspective-changing art.
You went to the New School for a year and then decided to pursue acting instead. What went into making that decision and how did you know you were ready to take on the real world?
I’ve always thought school in the US was very strange in that they only teach you what has already been written and then ask you to rigorously study and regurgitate that information rather than show all the information and theories that are available and could possibly be true and let you decide what resonates with you. The real world was more of a teacher for me than I figured school could ever be. Being someone who loves good company and meeting new artists I thought the New School would be different. While it was more liberal than most colleges, it still had the same general repeat and recite concept that led me to question what I was being taught. Also I went there for dance and I was paying too much money to do something I could do for free in the streets.
You’re on Dead of Summer now. What did you have to do in the audition?
I just had to read the sides, take suggestions and make the situations real. It was a regular audition
The show is supernatural horror. What do you do to make that horror element real for you? How do you get yourself to that genuine sacred place, especially when so many of the scary elements come in during post-production?
There are a lot of techniques I use. Most of them include substitution: using someone or something close to me to bring out real emotion. But if you just listen to your body, it will usually tell you how the situation makes you feel. If I let what’s happening in the scene sit with me and overcome me without pressure to [act] how anyone wants me to, and then channel that energy into the scene, my body does the rest. Your mind knows your acting, but studies show that your body thinks you’re really in the situation. I try to keep it as simple as possible when there’s so much going on.
In addition to the show, you’ve been doing a bunch of movies. What do you think have been some of the most important elements to building a dynamic and steady career?
Maintaining a healthy relationship with myself and never straying too far from nature. Listening to my spirit and my instincts is the most helpful tool I’ve had in and out of my career. That comes with a lot of rest and connection to the earth where we came from. You are always going to have people telling you what is right and wrong, and sometimes this is necessary, especially when you don’t know the business you’re in really well. But it can also be deafening. Most people in Western culture don’t take responsibility for their own wellbeing. We are taught by media, and schools, and society that there are things outside of ourselves that will make us better, cooler, healthier, more traditionally successful people—by society’s standards. I think this leads us to become lazy and stop listening to ourselves. They could put poop in a sock and tell us to keep it under our pillows to lose weight or become more ambitious or book a certain part. People would do it if [it were] marketed right. We start to feel that how others see us is all that matters and that we should listen to outside sources in finding out what we need. At the end of the day though, you go home to yourself, and to yourself is who you need to seem successful, first and foremost. I give in too, because being human and trying things is fun. But the truth is you can find everything you need without all these external additives. Once you’re able to listen to yourself, you can better determine if what you’re being fed by media and society, or your manager and agents, is good for your ascendance as a person or not. Always having a way to zoom out and see things from other people’s perspectives is what keeps me making the right decisions. I’ve gotten into a lot of trouble in the past when I didn’t. I do artistic things for the reasons I feel are most important. This way of thinking also keeps me from getting bored because I know I can stop whenever I want because life isn’t that serious.
Check out this sneak peak of Paulina in Tuesday’s episode of Dead of Summer
What’s your advice for aspiring actors?
First and foremost, I say, have fun. Nothing should be so stressful that you’re not having fun anymore because then people won’t have fun watching you. Being able to have fun comes from a few different things but in my eyes it eventually comes down to confidence. I think it’s an interesting concept to see yourself as “aspiring actor” as opposed to just an actor. If you believe you already are what you want to be, it’s much more likely that it comes to you with the hard work you’re putting in. This is because you’re exuding the energy that makes your brain and your body think you’re already living in that reality…In relation to that, don’t worry about getting a part. Prepare for it, do the best job you can at telling the truth about each action you deliver, let it resonate with you, and HAVE FUN. And then bless yourself with the knowledge that you are going to get the parts that are meant for you, because you are YOU and no one else is. In my mind, being competitive isn’t the [way]. We are all on this planet to find love and success in some form and to think you deserve something more than someone else will always set you back. Knowing things are going to happen how you wish for them to and not needing to control the how, will set you free of a lot of worry and disappointment. You have something that no one else does. Concentrate on that. Your energy goes where you put it. ♦