Skyler Samuels | How to live off the "Fuck it Motto"
“I’m living off this ‘fuck it’ motto.”
In a world where nothing is certain, Skyler Samuels gets it. But it’s an ethos I hadn’t expected coming from the blonde, blue-eyed, perfectly poised actress who plays the ice-cold Frost triplets in Fox’s The Gifted. The series sees Marvel manage yet another successful spin off, casting mutants against mutants, where Emma Frost and her two identical sisters (played by Samuels and the miracle of post production) have a fierce agenda. If anything, they give too many fucks. They are part of the Inner Circle, a band of mutants who believe they cannot live in harmony with humans, and are willing to fight attempts at reconciliation by any means necessary. Samuels manages the hat trick of bringing three individuals to life, and they’re a vision of vengeful beauty, wielding wild telepathic powers with sinister intent, while always maintaining a chilling calm.
Talking to Samuels, though, there’s none of the Frost sister’s malice to be found. She’s sweet, thoughtful, and empathetic. Her words are liberally peppered with variations of the aforementioned “fuck it” ethos. She describes to me what it’s like being in the throes of the fan-crazy Marvel universe that has consumed so much of our modern media.“The Frost Sisters have existed in the comics for decades, so I feel a major responsibility to uphold the vision of the characters to fans who grew up on the X-Men,” she tells me.“It’s important to me that they’re happy, and our show is really good about hearing fan feedback and putting that into the actual writing of the show.”
Season 2 of The Gifted aired at the end of September, and Samuels is beaming with pride when she tells me about how far the show has come, especially with regards to representation. “Not just in race,” she says, “but in sexual orientation and beyond. Diversity doesn’t mean that you have someone of every color; diversity means you have people from all walks of life who look different and breathe different, who live differently, but know how to live together. Season 2 really talks about that and I’m proud of it.”
Her role as The Frost Sisters is evidence of this evolution. Though they’re an arguably villainous force, the sisters are a welcome step forward from scantily-clad, thinly-motivated female foils of the genre’s past.“This is the first character that I have ever played who is not motivated by a man, not at all,” she exclaims, proud of where her humble Disney beginnings on Wizards of Waverly Place and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody have led her. “The sisters don’t have a love interest, they’re not boy crazy. They’re power hungry for sure and they’re ambitious, at moments reckless. I really like getting to play characters in a world where it’s about fighting for what they believe in, defending others, and standing up for themselves. At no point are they motivated by a man and I think it’s pretty fucking awesome!” Her last two words have a pointed punch to them, and I think I might know who they’re aimed at.
Samuels’ early twenties have brought their fair share of knocks, as they do for many of us. There was a tough breakup, time spent figuring out which direction to take. Then, just two months ago, she tragically lost a close friend. But Samuels isn’t the type to stay down after taking a hit. Rather than wallow, she got on a plane to Miami to dance, cry, be grateful for the life she has, gave blind-dating a spin, and is doing just fine with the new “love of her life,” a one-eyed Shih Tzu, named Matey, she rescued on a whim, who has his own Instagram account with 4,000 followers. “I think it’s really easy to talk the talk of living in the moment and enjoying the now,” she tells me. “But when you experience loss you realize that you really have to do it and mean it.”
I catch a glimpse of vulnerability in Samuels, which reminds me that her range goes beyond kickass stoic mutants. Last year she shot the emotionally-taxing movie Spare Room. Samuels plays Lillian, a young widow navigating life after her high school sweetheart is tragically killed in Afghanistan. “It was hard,” Samuels says about taking on such new territory as an actor. “I didn’t wear a stitch of makeup in the movie. It was the most emotionally vulnerable I have ever been in my life. I had just gone through a really hard breakup and was on eggshells as a human person and this beautiful little project came into my life. It was such a cathartic process, to put all my own thoughts and feelings that were so present at that moment and time into this character.”
Spare Room and The Gifted are projects that Samuels prides, a sentiment she says is rare among actors and especially for herself. “I think actors are the worst at being proud of themselves,” she says. “I’m a type A, perfectionist, super-student personality, so there’s always room to do better. There’s always those questions of, how can I improve? But in the midst of my ‘fuck it’ motto, you do what you do and that’s it, you can’t overthink all these things!” It sounds as though she’s giving herself a pep talk, and I am here for every second of it.
Rewind five years and a young, perfectionist student at Stanford is shooting Sharon 1.2.3., a romantic comedy that stars Matt Bush boning three women named Sharon. The film was released in late September of this year, a startlingly long time after the final cut was made. But it serves as a time capsule for Samuels, to look back at what a 19-year-old sophomore in college was feeling and to see how far she’s come. “I wonder if little Skyler knows that after she does this movie, so many things are going to happen to her. I’d never been in love at this point, but I was playing someone who was falling in love. I had no idea what it would actually be like, though.”
I ask what she would like to have said to her 19-year- old self, pursuing a degree in marketing, yet to ever hear the name Emma Frost. She thinks for a moment. “Be kind to yourself and just calm down, woman. I love you,” she says, her voice quieter and even more earnest than it’s been the entire interview. “It’s going to be fine. I really felt like I had to have all the answers, but the older I got, the more I realized that you never have the answers. No one does.” It’s an attitude she’s bringing to her career going forward. Although she plans to stay with The Gifted for as long as she can, Samuels is open to whatever comes next. “Fuck it,” she says. “Anything can happen.”