“When they say, oh you can’t do blah blah blah, I’m like great, watch me do this!” -Alanna Masterson
To Long Island native, Alanna Masterson, all the drama and backbiting that comes along with success in the acting industry doesn’t mean anything. The actress had previous stints waitressing, dog walking and working for a stylist before she made her mark in the industry. For her, it all comes down to hard work, and “If you pound the pavement long enough, remain a good person and keep your integrity along the way, it pays off… Three years later, I’m still on the show!” The show she’s talking about is The Walking Dead, the highest rated show on cable TV. It also happens to be a show where characters are killed off constantly, being about a zombie apocalypse and all.
Coming from a family of actors, Alanna started at a young age. “It was just by habit seeing my brothers all going to work and I was like, hey I wanna do that! I booked my first show, which was The Young and the Restless, and it was amazing.” Despite going to film school for directing and cinematography, her passion for acting took over. She grew up with brothers who were on That ‘70s Show and Malcolm in the Middle, and “it was always understood that [acting] was a job and a job can come and go.” Her current gig is a precarious one. “The actors call each other and they’re like, ‘So you think I’m dying this week?’” The setting isn’t glamorous either. “We’re in the jungle…there’s no makeup!”
Now in its sixth season, Alanna’s character on The Walking Dead is the show’s first lesbian character. “It shouldn’t feel different than any other character just because of her sexual orientation… [whether] you’re into men or into women or into animals, I mean, it’s an apocalypse, you shouldn’t care about such things…” It’s important for her to represent diversity on the show. “I want to set a good example for people, because a lot of people who watch the show may be more close-minded than that. And then maybe they love my character and I want them to accept people for who they are.”
Aside from her passion for acting, Alanna believes strongly in supporting arts in education. She recently traveled to Nepal to help build a school. “I went with The Creative Coalition to Washington D.C. to fight to keep art funding and education. It’s about giving back, it’s not about being successful and popular for yourself. It’s about helping others get there too.”
As her career grows from strength to strength, she finds it’s important to have a thick skin in the face of fame. “I grew up with a bunch of brothers, so I’m pretty hard. I got a thick skin, but it still hurts when they say you’re not this enough or that enough or pretty enough or skinny enough…it’s very funny how you get more success, and people just want to rip you apart!”
For her, supporting her girlfriends is the most empowering. “I think girls have a tendency to try and pull other women down or try and get ahead of each other, whatever it is. I think the coolest thing to do is to support your girlfriends, support your colleagues and support your peers and stick together because, hey, we’re women, we need to help each other, we don’t need to pull each other down…If you’re true to who you are as a person, it doesn’t matter what people think. I know that words sting…I’m not immune to people hurting my feelings, let me tell you. I get hurt all the time!” She recalls advice her mom gave her when she was young. “My mom said when I was a kid, hold on to your relationships with your girlfriends because that’s the most important relationship you’ll ever have!”
Interview by Marianne White for The Untitled Magazine
Photography by Romona Rosales for The #GirlPower Issue
Stylist: Kelly Brown
Hair by Derek Williams
Make-up by Liset Garza
Photographed at Maison 140 Hotel
This article originally appeared in The #GirlPower Issue of The Untitled Magazine (2015), pick up a print edition of the issue today!