Stranger Things Star Natalia Dyer on Balancing School and Her New TV Show
True story: I spent most of last weekend curled up under a blanket, glued to Stranger Things. I powered through nearly half of the episodes in just one evening, and if you’re anything like me (or the rest of the world), there’s a chance you did the same. Who can blame us? The just-released Netflix series is that scarily addictive. Also: Just plain scary. Set in the early ‘80s, the sci-fi thriller follows the residents of a small town in Indiana after a young boy disappears under some seriously mysterious circumstances. It’s one part The X-Files, one part Twin Peaks, with some ‘80s Steven Spielberg thrown in for good measure. If you’re not watching already, then cancel your plans tonight and do it. But if you are watching, get excited—because it just got renewed for season two! Ahead of this news, we spoke with one of Stranger Things’s many breakout stars, 19-year-old Natalia Dyer, about her character Nancy and getting creepy.
While everyone else is obsessing over your new TV show, what are you up to?
I just went back to school for the summer, so that’s been taking up a lot of my time. It’s been kind of crazy these past few weeks, but exciting. It’s been cool and so gratifying to hear all the positive things that people are saying about the show. I’m just grateful to be part of it.
Your character, Nancy, is a good girl who’s crushing on a bad boy...then she finds herself in trouble. What first drew you to her?
Nancy’s an overachiever who wants to do well; she reminds me a little bit of myself in high school and I think she’s relatable in that way. Just trying to figure out where you fit into things, and navigating the social sphere of high school can be terrifying. They’re still writing the series as we're filming it, and it became evident that Nancy has some big motivations and some big character choices that are important throughout the series. A dynamic character is really important; that’s what drew me to her at first.
What’s the toughest thing about balancing an acting career and being a normal teen?
It’s hard to balance, but I have to give a lot of credit to my parents. They drove me to auditions and stuff, even though they didn’t really know much about the industry. They were super supportive. They were also very keen on me always going to school. I grew up in Nashville, and so there’s not a whole lot of that Hollywood thing there.
Do you still stay in touch with your friends from back home?
My best friends are a group of girls who have known each other forever. It’s the type of friends who even if you don’t see each other for awhile, when you’re all together back in town not much has changed. Even with everything else that's been happening, it’s so chill.
What do you do on your days off?
During days off, I really like to sit in the park and read. I have so many books that I will probably never get through. I had never read The Bell Jar and I just finished it and it was so beautiful. Next on my list is American Gods. I hear they’re making a film version of it and I really want to read it beforehand. One of my indulgences is buying real, physical books...it just feels special.