Antonia Gentry | A Delicate Approach, A Considerate Condition

Via Issue 185, The Cocoon Issue, out now!

Written by

Tamara Jiji

Photographed by

Alvin Kean Wong

Styled by

Gloria Johnson

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LORO PIANA sweater, briefs, and legwarmers and OMEGA watch.

Landing a leading role in a major Netflix series fresh out of college is almost unheard of, and to most, virtually unattainable. Yet for 25-year-old Antonia Gentry, the feat was seamlessly accomplished. Gentry plays the titular role of Ginny in Netflix’s Ginny and Georgia, a compelling, gut-wrenching, suspense-filled series that explores themes of love, trust, and trauma—all necessary ingredients to create a story true to now. The show’s second season premiered January 5th, and has since accumulated a viewership of over 180 million hours, garnering the attention of teenagers and young adults alike. 

Centering around the relationship of a mother (Brianne Howey) and daughter (Gentry), Ginny and Georgia follows the lives of the two, riddled with the secrets, lies, and ties that hold them together. In season two, Ginny, fairly new to the town of Wellsbury, is still acclimating to her surroundings, and navigating the ever-stressful hardships associated with the high school experience. The subjects explored in this season—particularly that of mental illness—are rather heavy. Gentry, acutely aware of this, approaches the material with the utmost delicacy. A young adult herself, Gentry is not far apart in age from the character she’s portraying, and was able to draw upon and tap into her own lived experiences to craft her character.

During our conversation, Gentry remarks that she considers her apartment a haven from the outside world, and aptly refers to it as her ‘safe space.’ We are reminded that when confined inside, be it due to rain or storms, sometimes there isn’t anything else to do but look inward. And that she does. Here, Gentry speaks on the subtle evolution of her show’s character, the steps she takes to ground and center herself, and how, much like a caterpillar on the cusp of its chrysalis, she finds comfort in solitude. 

KATE SPADE top, TIFFANY & CO. earrings, necklace, and ring, and OMEGA watch.

Diving right in, being that this show has served as your quote-unquote ‘breakout role,’ how has it been navigating everything?

It’s been pretty surreal, but I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. I don’t know. I’m very to-myself, so the attention is definitely something I have to start getting used to. And I’m not complaining—it shows that the show is doing really well, and that’s all we really wanted. It’s super exciting and surreal. 

How would you say Ginny has evolved since the last season of the show?

Ginny is in the dark a lot about pretty much everything, and so she kind of is flailing around in season one. And then in season two, we see her really broken, we see her kind of at rock bottom, struggling to deal with this huge moral secret that she can’t really tell anyone about. We see her mental health dipping really, really low. But luckily we also see her try and heal. We see her kind of take a journey of healing and going to therapy and being able to express her emotions in a more healthy way, or at least given the tools to do so. She’s still just a kid, though. I know if I had to deal with half the things she deals with at that age, I wouldn’t know what to do. I’d have no answers. 

LORO PIANA sweater and pants and TIFFANY & CO. bracelet and ring.
LORO PIANA sweater and pants and TIFFANY & CO. bracelet and ring.

To that point, I feel like as an adult, I can kind of point out feelings that I first felt as a teenager, but didn’t really have the vocabulary or language to identify. Do you see any of your younger self or maybe even your current self in your character? 

I think we can all relate to not really knowing who we are at that age, and especially feeling so emotional at that age. I didn’t really know how to deal with my emotions in a healthy way. Everything felt life or death. A lot of what Ginny goes through in that regard, I definitely relate to. 

Speaking of mental illness, this season in particular shed a lot of light on it and the many forms that it can take, as well as how different people cope with their individual struggles. Was it difficult to tap into that perspective of the role?

I knew that we wanted to be as responsible as possible when portraying mental health in this series, especially with Ginny and her self-harm. It’s not something to be taken lightly, and it’s not something to put in the show for the sake of having it. And I think we do a pretty good job of showing how serious it is, showing how generational trauma can affect people. How different people express things in different ways. For Georgia, she kind of pretends like everything’s okay while silently having panic attacks. For Marcus, he withdraws and doesn’t really engage with his friends and family. And for Ginny, she’s highly emotional and it builds up to a point where she unfortunately harms herself to find some sort of release. Because she feels like she doesn’t have a safe space to express that.

DOLCE & GABBANA dress, top, bra, shoes,and bag and TIFFANY & CO. ring

And what is that like for you—going back-to-back with crying scenes and handling heavy material? Does that manage to stay on set, or does it sometimes go home with you? 

I think I underestimated just how exhausting it can be. Your body doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and what isn’t, when you still physically have to put yourself through these things. So even though in my mind I know it’s just a fictional character, I’m doing this for my job, going home as Toni, leaving ‘Ginny’ on set, it’s kind of… Ginny’s scars kind of follow me home. So it’s been a learning process of how to decompress and de-stress because it’s difficult when you’re crying for like five hours every day. You’re dehydrated, you forget to eat. It was tough. So hopefully I can get better at managing.

TORY BURCH dress, TIFFANY & CO. earrings, and KATE SPADE hat. 

When do you feel most at home with yourself?

I definitely do feel more at ease when I’m alone, just because, especially with this job, you’re constantly… even when I’m in character, even when I’m doing press, I’m still promoting the show ,and I’m still presenting what I hope to be the best part of myself, but no matter what you do, people will pick apart every little thing. So coming home and being able to unwind and just be alone with my thoughts and sit in my own space has really been helpful in sort of reminding myself, ‘That’s the outside world, that’s my job,’ and I can just kind of take a breather. I’m really fortunate to have good friends. I have really great friends who are supportive, but also couldn’t care less about what I do. So they just treat me like how they’ve always known me. And so it’s nice to find comfort in what’s familiar.

ALEXANDER MCQUEEN top, skirt, and shoes. 

Your character goes to therapy this season—one could argue she’s needed therapy since the very beginning. How did you approach this arc? 

Therapy is unfortunately a privilege. It’s not accessible for everyone. I didn’t always have it. I didn’t always have access to it, and now that I do, it’s been such a game changer, and it makes me really sad because I just know that there’s so many people who simply don’t have the access. Either they can’t afford it or the resources aren’t available to them.

I think it’s super important and I think everyone should be able to have access to it. I think it’s absolutely absurd that we, as a society, have not normalized therapy, or at least normalized resources for mental health and safe spaces. Because that’s the first step to healing—not to be preachy, but like that’s what it means, right? To be human, is to be able to feel like you can express what you go through as a human, and get the tools to be healthy. In an ideal world, everyone would be able to do that. 

PATOU top and hat and TIFFANY & CO. rings.

Photographed by Alvin Kean Wong

Styled by Gloria Johnson

Written by Tamara Jiji

Hair: Marty Harper

Makeup: Misha Shahzada

Location: Cafe Studio

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Antonia Gentry, Netflix, Ginny & Georgia