Growing up in Hollywood with an actor as a mother and a director as a father, Natalie Alyn Lind was always familiar with being on set. Now, Lind takes on the entertainment industry as an actress herself, playing mutant “Lauren Strucker” in Fox’s The Gifted, a sci-fi television show about a post X-Men world. The show continues to discuss and portray the same themes as the X-Men series did with a focus on the mutants left behind. Lind describes what it’s like being on a show that has so many parallels to real life issues with minority groups, exclusion, and societal norms and why it is important for the show to discuss these issues. Read on below!
First off, let’s talk about your new show on Fox, The Gifted, which exists in a post-X-Men world. For those who have never heard of the show, how would you describe the show?
The Gifted takes place in the X-Men universe at a time where being a mutant isn’t as cool as it is in the movies. It’s a gene that is seen as a curse and a threat by the government. Our show is about survival of the fittest and making a pathway for the future. With the constant worry about not making it to the next day, without being hunted down…
What drew you to the script of The Gifted?
I have always been a huge Marvel fan. One of the things that I love about our show is that it takes you outside of the movies.. and shows you what it’s like to be a mutant in everyday life and how that can be difficult at times. Our show also shows what it’s like to be different.. and how accepting your true self is so important.
In The Gifted, you play “Lauren Strucker,” who is labeled the popular girl. Can you explain that label and what other characteristics your role embodies beyond it?
Lauren has always been the popular girl, with the perfect grades, perfect boyfriend and a perfect family. What you find out in season one is that she is not as normal as everyone makes her out to be. My favorite part about my character is she puts her entire life and image on the line to save her family when her brother finds himself in trouble, and finds that embracing the fact she’s a mutant is so much better.
Can you paint a picture of what it’s like working on set of The Gifted? What’s something the audience would not know that goes on behind the scenes?
Working on set of The Gifted it is truly a blessing. The entire cast and crew have become my second family. My favorite part about working on the show is how fun and playful we are with each other. We will be doing an intense action scene, where our characters will have five seconds to diffuse a bomb before mutant kind is wiped out forever.. then someone will make a gross fart joke and we’ll all be on the floor laughing. It’s so great knowing that I have made lifelong friends.
The X-Men series has always tackled issues about societal norms, minority groups, and exclusivity. Does The Gifted continue addressing these issues? If so, how does the show execute them?
It saddens me that the world we live in today has any sort of “groups” or “labels.” The Gifted shows how extreme the mindsets of certain people can be toward individuals that are just trying to be themselves. This season, the show is tackling how wrong it is to discriminate against groups of people with gifts or quirks. We meet two different groups called “The Purifiers” and “The Morlocks,” who (without giving too much away) really show the different point of views of Human vs Mutant. It’s shocking and disturbing.
Do you believe that is important for a non-political show like The Gifted to use the platform to discuss societal issues, even though the show itself is fiction?
I am so proud to be working on a show that addresses issues that are happening in the world right now (with a slight sci-fi twist). In several circumstances, our storylines are direct parallels to today’s society. Our characters are refugees who are being hunted by the government. Sadly, we had a storyline this season about children being held and taken because their parents are being wrongly accused of crimes they did not commit… you see these children being torn away from their families. I think it’s important that viewers are seeing relevant scenarios like this, and hopefully [the show] opens their eyes to what’s happening in the world around us.
How do you think the fictional storyline resonates with audiences?
Fictional movies/TV shows will always be one of my favorite genres. The world of superpowers and action gives the viewer a chance to live out their childhood memories of wanting to be a superhero, especially for the characters in our show, who are also seen in the comic books.
What messages do you believe The Gifted does a good job of relaying?
I think the strongest message that our show relays is to be yourself, in any circumstance. And make sure that you’re always putting family and friends first.
What have you learned from being on the set of The Gifted that you think will help you later on in life, personally or career-wise?
Definitely. The show constantly helps me develop my acting skills and is helping me to grow as a person as well. Lauren Strucker will always be a huge part of my heart. I love every member of my cast dearly and I admire them as actors.
Let’s trace back to your background and your roots in acting. What was it like growing up with parents who are successful in Hollywood?
Growing up in Hollywood I was constantly surrounded by actors and adults… and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Some of my favorite memories as a kid were on set, having the time of my life. There are so many crew members that both of my parents worked with their entire lives that I am now working with on my shows. It gives me such a warm pleasant feeling inside being surrounded by family. “Cut” and “action” have been a huge part of my vocabulary since I was one.
Did you ever feel obligated to go into the same field as your parents? How did you know that you wanted to act?
Ever since I was born, I had a passion for acting (aka being extremely dramatic at times). When I was super young, I had to beg my mom to run lines with me. I fell in love with it. There is something so special about taking a script and making it your own. Luckily, that is something my parents let me do at a young age and have continued to support me in doing.
Your parents have been public about guiding you and your two sisters, Emily and Alyvia, to stay grounded in this industry. What do you personally do to stay grounded?
Staying extremely grateful is the number one key element to staying grounded in this industry. Every single day I am thankful that I get to wake up and do the job that I love. Also working on projects that I am so passionate about helps me to stay focused and to continue to put 100% into what I do.
I heard you and your sisters are all very close. As you are the oldest, do you ever feel a responsibility to set an example?
We are all extremely close, my sisters are my best friends. We grew up extremely tight. So at times I feel like I’m their second mom and they’re my little babies. I am so happy that we have a relationship where we can talk about everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. We all help and support each other. At times they’re so mature, that I find myself asking them for advice. I try to set a good example, but sometimes I’ll ask them how I’m doing as a role model… hahaha!
A goal for me, and hopefully for others, is to create a safe environment for women to feel special and loved.
Society’s standards of beauty can be frustrating, especially for Hollywood stars in the age of social media.
Social media has definitely taken over the world and unfortunately I have found myself sitting on my phone for hours wondering if a certain selfie that I took is “postable,” which is slightly ridiculous considering everything else that is happening in the world right now. Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat can be extremely dangerous, especially in the hands of young people. But it can also be a beautiful thing that allows people to come together, have fun, and learn important messages. A goal for me, and hopefully for others, is to create a safe environment for women to feel special and loved.
How do you perceive Hollywood (given your background)? What are some pros and cons of working in the entertainment industry?
If I am being completely frank, Hollywood is filled with creativity, opportunity, and failure. Something I learned at a young age, is to strengthen my back bone and even when others don’t, give myself unconditional love, and to believe in yourself no matter what. Every industry has pros and cons. A pro for me is being able to express myself as different people every day. My biggest goal as an actor is to create characters that people can relate to, or to help people understand what it’s like for others in a life that’s completely different than theirs.
It seems as though women are always pitted against each other, competing with one another instead of lifting each other up.
I completely agree with this. The film/television industry has always been extremely competitive. What I have learned from my experience in industry is that there is a character for everyone. Sometimes I’ll find a part that I fall so deeply in love with, that I will end up not being able to play for one reason or another. And I’ll see one of my friends or someone who I admire playing that character and I will completely understand where their creative standpoint comes from. Everyone is different and special in their own unique way. I’ve loved every character that I’ve played and for the ones that I haven’t had the opportunity to create. I’m so extremely happy for the ones who put a completely different twist on it.
Lastly, is there a specific type of role you hope to play one day?
I would love to take a step back from television for a while and possibly head into the world of smaller Indies. I’ve always wanted to play a Mia Wallace (pulp fiction) meets/ Lisa Rowe (Girl, Interrupted) badass psychopath, who takes it from no one. I love projects where you’re able to be extremely grungy.
STORY MEGHANA PATNANA
PHOTOS MARTINA TOLOT
HAIR DEREK YUEN
MAKEUP KAYLEEN MCADAMS