Olivia Rouyre on finding her place and not taking herself too seriously


“Everyone in this world is lost in trying to find their place, not only within themselves and their communities, but in the grand scheme of things — especially teenagers who are facing all these really big emotions for the first time. I personally had a hard time in high school. I think everyone does, and I still struggle to this day trying to figure out all the pieces. I don’t think we’re necessarily meant to define ourselves and then never change from that. I think we’re constantly re-finding and reinventing ourselves in our relationship with the world.”

In our Summer 2023 issue, Olivia Rouyre, who stars as Phoebe in Amazon Freevee’s High School, reflects on reinvention and the importance of prioritizing her mental health. Olivia opens up about learning how to trust herself, letting go, and getting out of her own way.

Dress LAPOINTE, shoes SAINT LAURENT, earrings and ear cuff MELINDA MARIA, rings L11 STUDIO BY LARISA PAVEL.

Did you always know that you wanted to be an actor?

Honestly, yeah. I always knew. I don’t even remember making the decision. I was in theater camps and classes since I was a kid and just was really drawn to it. I think a lot of that came from my dad, because he was just so cool to me when I was a kid. He was always putting on different voices and doing little characters to make us laugh, and I wanted to be like him because he was so funny and so animated. That definitely was the first draw towards being in this world and playing different characters.

From watching High School and looking at your filmography, it seems like there’s almost a juxtaposition between how your dad inspired you through comedy and the more serious or dramatic roles you’ve done recently. Do you see yourself doing comedy as well?

Oh, I think it would be so much fun. I love comedy and I think it would be a great time, but I definitely feel more of a pull towards these more serious roles right now in my career. But who knows? I think I want to dip my toe in everything, so comedy’s definitely somewhere I wanna land eventually and try out.

That’s really cool. I ended up going into the arts, and I’m also interested in acting, but I was like, you know what? This is the result of sticking through with chemistry which isn’t horrible, but it’s not really what I want to do. In the American Horror Story episode, did you do your own stunt at the beginning? And if you didn’t, do you want to do more stunt work as well?

The swimming shots that you see were me. We did all of our own stunt work, but we also had stunt doubles on set who did some of the diving and swimming scenes. I’m 90% sure that the stuff you see in the episode is actually me and the other actor Bobby, who played my brother — it was us and the divers. The stunt doubles were there as a safeguard just in case. It was so much fun. We had a whole day of dive training as well. I would definitely love to do more stunt work. I think it pushes you to different limits and new things. So I would a hundred percent in the future, maybe not Tom Cruise level, but I definitely want to do more stunt work.

Ever since I saw that Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad did a lot of her own [stunts], I was like, that sounds really fun.

It’s just so cool and it pushes you in a different way. It’s a different added layer to the work. 

Let’s go back to High School. How do you bring your roles to life? And specifically, how did you bring Phoebe to life as a character who was also based on a real person?

Tegan and Sara gave us so much freedom within the characters, they really didn’t want to give us too much information on what they were like in real life because they trusted us to bring them to life in our own way. My process changes every time with every character. I don’t have a set checklist of steps, but most of my prep time before shooting is familiarizing myself as much as I can with what the story is, who the characters are, why they’re doing what they’re doing, what their purpose in the story is, and trying to find ways to ground myself in these people. The hardest part of that is getting out of your head and getting out of your own way. Just trusting yourself and trusting your work and then letting it all go. But mainly I try to familiarize myself as much as I can with [the story] and then feel it out and let it be what it is.

That’s fair. So just going off of the moment or going off of what your partner’s giving you, because I’ve taken a couple classes and acting is more reacting than it is about establishing something.

Yeah. It’s definitely all listening and I think you can do as much prep work as you want for the character or for how you think it’s going to be, but it changes every day on the day. But like you said, you’re reacting off someone else, so just knowing the character enough to feel safe in playing around and being thrown off.

Jacket and shoes vintage MOSCHINO, earrings JENNIFER FISHER, sunglasses PETA + JAIN.

Regarding Tegan and Sara’s story, what was it like being part of a story about coming to terms with who you are and where you fit in the world? Did any of it relate to you?

Yeah. Oh man. What a life changing experience, in every aspect. I think everyone who watches the show can relate to at least one character and if not a character, then these immense, crazy feelings that permeate each scene that Clea and Laura wrote so, so beautifully. Everyone in this world is lost in trying to find their place, not only within themselves and their communities, but in the grand scheme of things — especially teenagers who are facing all these really big emotions for the first time. I personally had a hard time in high school. I think everyone does, and I still struggle to this day trying to figure out all the pieces. I don’t think we’re necessarily meant to define ourselves and then never change from that. I think we’re constantly re-finding and reinventing ourselves in our relationship with the world. So I can definitely relate.

Out of all the projects you’ve done so far, which has been your favorite and which has been the most challenging to you as an actor?

Each one has honestly been so special. It’s really hard to choose which I enjoyed the most. I think each one showed me new things about myself, and I got to work with such amazing actors and crew members. Shooting High School was definitely the most intense that I’ve experienced in terms of longevity. It was my first time shooting for that long away from home. We shot for three months in Calgary so that was definitely a newer experience. And so was Slotherhouse. We shot [Slotherhouse] in Serbia for six weeks and that was a whole new world. It was so intense because it was a different environment and I think such a big part of being able to do the work comfortably is being grounded in your environment. Being in a completely different world definitely added a new challenging layer. But I mean, I can’t pick a favorite. I feel like they all taught me so much.

Back to your actual high school, did you ever do any plays or musicals? 

I did plays throughout middle school and high school and did theater camps as well. I was definitely more shy in high school though and more insecure. I felt so new compared to the upperclassmen in my theater group. In high school, I was mainly doing side characters and just having fun being in that group. But I was Annie my eighth grade year. That was so much fun. I had the time of my life, but my wig was terrible. It was terrible, but it’s okay.

Which acting techniques do you use or find most applicable to your roles?

Each role changes, but I take a little bit from each technique and find what works. I’m currently taking a Chekhov intensive and I’m also studying Meisner right now, and I love both. I pull what resonates with me from each technique. I have an amazing acting coach who teaches everything from the greats, so I feel really lucky in that sense, but I definitely don’t feel like I am boxed into a certain kind of method.


I’m familiar with how the performing arts in general are riddled with rejection after rejection until you finally book that one thing. How important has your mental health been to you and has the acting industry affected it in any way or taught you some things?

Mental health is so important. It should be such a priority for everyone. The industry especially can be a hard place. There’s so much uncertainty in it, but it’s led me to really prioritize my wellbeing and my state of mind and focus on what I can control in my day-to-day life that leaves me feeling good and feeling grounded. Especially as an actor, you have to be very in touch with your emotions and having to tap into those big feelings and then quickly snap out of them can really take a toll on you. The most important thing that I’ve learned for myself is to always stay grounded and to never take myself too seriously. It should just be fun, you know? I try to take the pressure off myself of having to have it all figured out right now.

I’m really glad to hear that because I know for myself that’s been one of the more difficult parts because I’m already doing that just in college. It feels like high school 2.0 and then also trying to put myself out there, it’s a lot.

Yeah. I feel like throughout all of life, everyone needs to take the pressure off, you know? Because it’s hard. We’re always going through new things and reinventing ourselves and facing new challenges. Just don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t be too hard on yourself.

I looked at your YouTube channel and a couple of your vlogs. What inspired you to start making videos?

I started making videos when I was 15 or 16. Those are just all private. I started [YouTube] my sophomore year of high school. I was going through a rough time and didn’t really find comfort in my peers, so I turned to the internet. I don’t even remember making my first video. I just wanted to do something that was creative and have a place to express my thoughts and find a home for that. The allure was never being an influencer or getting money from it, it was mainly just an escape and a place to land.

Do you have a hobby that people don’t really know about or something that you love doing outside of acting?

This ties into acting, but eight or nine months ago while we were filming in Calgary, I started taking ballet. I used to take it as a kid, but everybody does. When you’re a kid, you take two years of ballet and then you’re done, but I wanted to restart it. I love ballet right now. I go every week and I would go every day if I could, but I started just because I wanted to. I love how graceful it makes you feel. Ballerinas have such an insane amount of control while making everything look super graceful. I wanted to have fun and heal my inner child, and do something that I did as a kid, but I also wanted to increase my bodily awareness as an actor. I love [ballet] so much, and I love being a little ballerina.

I love ballet. You called me out when you said, “… took it for two years when they were younger.” I took it for exactly two years, ballet and tap, and then I left.

And then your parents are like, “okay, we’re not doing this anymore.”

I’ve watched a day in the life of a ballerina and I’m like, “you’re so strong but so fluid.” What is going on? It’s such a beautiful art.

So much control while making it look so graceful and it’s hard. Like that shit, it’s hard.

What’s your hardest move or position that you’ve done in ballet up to this point? Or is it the posture?

It’s just that, it’s the posture and the sense of it. Controlling everything and holding everything in the right place is the hardest. Just making it look nice while being like, “oh my God, I’m dying right now.” I think that’s the most challenging thing, but it’s been so much fun to learn everything.


I read that you have two cats. I love cats. Do you still have these two cats?

Oh, of course. Are you kidding? I’ll never, ever, ever get rid of them. You would have to pry them from me. I have two cats. Their names are Henry and Richie, and they’re both a little older than two and I love them so much. They saved my life. I got Henry first during Covid and then six months later I got Richie because [Henry] was a little lonely. I actually brought them to Canada with me when we shot [High School], so that was really nice to have them there to come home to every day.

Are they both lazy or is one of them skittish and the other one’s lazy? What are their energies?

Henry loves to be pet — he loves it so much, but he also has really bad attachment issues and anxiety. I think because he was a Covid cat, he’s very, very attached to me and gets stressed out really easily if he’s not in his routine. He loves to be pet, but he’ll only snuggle with me. Richie is super skittish. When you first meet her, you won’t see her for two days, but after that second day, she’ll be the one that comes and snuggles a random person. They both have such interesting personalities, but Henry definitely is the more anxious one and he is loud. He talks all the time. He just walks around my house meowing all the time.

I think I also heard somewhere that you like cooking.

I love to cook. 

Do you have a favorite sweet or savory dish to cook? Or do you prefer to bake?

When I was a kid I loved to bake way, way more with my mom and my stepmom. But now as an adult, I love making dinner. I love more savory flavors as an adult and proper cooking rather than baking. But recently my favorite thing has been any kind of soup or stew. I love soup, I’m a big soup girl. I love to throw a bunch of different stuff in a pot with seasonings and make a really good stew. That’s what I’m on right now.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to do this interview. Thank you for being so nice. 

This was awesome. Thank you so much as well.

Photography IRENE CHEN





Photo Assistant PETER NGUYEN

Fashion Assistant AVA ALAMBEIGI  



Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *