Jayna Sweet takes on the challenging role of Natalie on the new Facebook Watch original series Turnt. We spoke with Jayna about what viewers can expect from her character, what inspired her to take on the role, and what fans can expect from her music career moving forward.
Read on for our exclusive interview with Jayna Sweet below:
What motivated you to initially pursue acting? Is there anyone who influenced or inspired you?
Jayna Sweet: I’ve always wanted to be an actor and just really had an affinity for it from the start. Even though there aren’t other professional actors in my family, my family has been the biggest source of inspiration for me. I’m surrounded by people who are incredibly hard-working and who dream really big. No one in my family gives up very easily, so I’ve grown up seeing everyone really pursue their dreams and ideas – and make them happen. That’s taught me the power of perseverance and inspires me daily to keep working my hardest.
You can next be seen on the Facebook Watch series Turnt. Can you tell us a little about your character and what attracted you to the role?
My character in Turnt is Natalie. She is someone we can all relate to in some capacity. She struggles with self-esteem and spends the season really trying to discover who she is and where she fits in. Natalie becomes convinced she has to change a lot about herself in order to be perfect or likeable, and I think we’ve all been there. That’s mainly what attracted me to Natalie – how relatable and real her journey is. I have certainly experienced an unhealthy level of perfectionism and how debilitating that can be. It was amazing (and honestly cathartic) to bring that perspective to life through the show.
Facebook is the latest streaming platform to branch out with original content. Was it exciting for you to join a project that was relatively new and breaking boundaries for the company?
Yes, it was (and is) really exciting! It feels special to be a part of something so new. It’s fun, and a little nerve-wracking, to be involved in the beginning of something. I can’t wait to see where and how the platform grows from here.
Speaking of streaming, what are some of your favorite series and movies to binge-watch lately on a night in?
I got super into Riverdale, which I binged on Netflix. Schitt’s Creek is my go-to on basically any day. It’s probably the funniest show I’ve ever seen.
Turnt features characters struggling with sexuality and gender identity. Would you say these are important stories to tell? What are you hoping that viewers take away from the series?
I think they are incredibly important stories to tell. I think so often stories about sexuality/gender identity struggles are invalidated, and that breaks my heart. Art and media have such a huge impact on our culture, and I believe we also have a responsibility to help everyone feel heard and understood.
What can viewers expect from Turnt? What are you most excited for them to see?
Viewers can expect some really wild moments and relationships. They can expect a pretty hard look at the coming-of-age experience. I’m really excited for them to see the growth Natalie, in particular, has throughout this season.
Do you have musical aspirations going forward in your career? Is that something you would love to branch out and pursue?
I have always been, and will always be, a songwriter and look forward to continuing my growth as an artist. Music will always be a part of my life, and I’m open to the possibilities in that realm. I really hope I get to put the two together and play some musical characters.
What do you enjoy about music when comparing it to acting? Is there one you prefer over the other?
While I find all art extremely vulnerable, music is more personal. When I’m acting, I’m doing my best to portray another person and, regardless of how much I relate, I don’t view the story as my own. On the flip side, music is all about my own extremely personal experiences. Songwriting is how I journal, so it helps me work out issues and feelings in a unique way. If I had to choose one to pursue, I would pick acting, but they are so different that it feels like comparing apples and oranges. I hope I never have to give up one or the other.
How has the fan support been for you so far? Do you enjoy interacting with them on social media?
People have been loving Turnt and it’s so cool to see. I have loved seeing people comment on the later episodes that they just discovered our show and binged a whole bunch of episodes at once. I love that people will continue to discover and fall in love with it as it goes on. The unique thing about Turnt is that we are on social media – we get to hear the fans’ thoughts immediately, which is something really cool and special about being on this platform. I got really excited when someone commented “#darknatalie” on our eighth episode – getting to witness firsthand what spoke to a fan was really, really meaningful.
You are also heavily involved with philanthropic work including the Human Rights Campaign and the World Wildlife Fund. Can you talk a little about that and why it was important to you to get involved?
I have given financially to HRC, WWF, and the ASPCA for a long time. I was raised by extremely generous, give-back people so I always saw the benefit and blessing it brings not only to the receiver but also the giver. I hope to always use whatever means I have available to support people and causes that I believe in. I look forward to continuing to be involved in giving back, and hope to do so in an even bigger way someday.
What else are you working on? What can your fans look forward to from you next?
I’m always working on new songs and look forward to seeing where that leads. I’m also currently writing a young adult novel and working on a few other writing projects that I’m very excited about. I was and am really stoked to see what Turnt becomes and how it grows. And, of course, I’m eager to find my next exciting project!
Thank you so much to Jayna Sweet for taking the time to answer some questions for us!
Don’t forget to check out Turnt on Facebook Watch!