Actress Jayna Sweet leads the ensemble cast in the teen soap drama Turnt which premiered August 1st on Facebook Watch. Created by Rachel Stern, Jayna took on the challenging role of “Natalie”, an awkward loner sophomore high schooler who doesn’t quite know who she is yet. Young Entertainment Mag spoke to Jayna about her character and what’s ahead for the rising actress.
Young Entertainment Mag: How did you first get involved in acting?
Jayna Sweet: When I was little, my dad played theatre games with me in order to teach me how to speak, and I just loved it. When I was three, I told my parents I wanted to be an actress and performer. I started in dance soon after that, and then at age five I was in my first-ever play with the Ahwatukee Children’s Theatre in Arizona. The rest is history – I’ve never looked back.
YEM: You’re in the teen soap drama Turnt. Tell us about the show.
Jayna: The show follows a group of high school classmates as they come-of-age and discover themselves. It’s a show that really dives deep into some taboo and difficult topics. The show is such a conversation-starter, which I find incredibly important. It’s really wild and kind of gritty – and a blast to be a part of!
YEM: Tell us about your character Natalie.
Jayna: Natalie is a sweet girl who is full of insecurity and doesn’t really know what to do with herself. She’s got so many great qualities – she’s incredibly smart, observant, funny, and caring – but doesn’t know how to put her energy to good use. She really longs to be loved and to feel a sense of belonging, and this causes her to start obsessing over her idea of “perfection.” She goes on a really crazy, life-changing journey over the course of the season and it was amazing to live through that.
YEM: Do you relate to Natalie at all? Do you and Natalie have any similarities?
Jayna: I do relate to her! I actually think almost everyone can relate to Natalie in a lot of ways. I’ve certainly become convinced that I wasn’t good enough or worthy of love and friendship without looking, acting, and being a certain way. I’ve made some poor decisions in order to try to fit in and find my place. I think we all have. I also consider myself pretty observant, and that’s one of Natalie’s biggest qualities.
YEM: Natalie is still finding herself. Is it challenging to play a character that is going on such a personal journey?
Jayna: Honestly, it was actually kind of cathartic. I’m someone who’s almost constantly soul-searching, and it was really poignant and wonderful to live through Natalie’s journey. It was certainly challenging as an actor since we shoot out of order – I had a binder and notebook where I kept super-detailed notes about her journey so no matter what scene or episode we were shooting, I could remind myself of where she was on that arc.
YEM: If you could collaborate with any actor, who would it be?
Jayna: There are so many! I really, really love Liana Liberato’s work and would love to work with her someday. I’m also a huge Reese Witherspoon fan – doing something with her would be beyond a dream come true. It’s also a major dream of mine to work with Donald Glover. He’s a genius.
YEM: Do you have any other projects that you’re working on?
Jayna: I’m currently writing a young adult novel as well as working on a non-fiction book with my dad. I’m always writing something. And, I’m constantly writing new songs and excited to see where that might lead. I am really looking forward to my next great role!