It takes a more than just talent to make it in the entertainment industry. The recipe for success calls for hard work, determination, unrelenting drive and a little sprinkle of luck. Most of all, it takes a true passion for the craft. A native of Austin, Texas, Violett fell in love with performing and took theatre throughout middle and high school. Though she always knew she was meant to perform, it was not until her senior year of high school that she focused on TV and in film. Fans of the CW series “The Flash” will instantly recognize Violett from her role as Jesse Wells, the daughter of Earth-2 Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), and soon-to-be speedster Jesse Quick in season two of the series.
Quickly becoming a familiar face on the scene, Violett’s film credits include the indie horror film “Flay” and the upcoming indie comedy “Slash,” alongside Michael Ian Black and Missi Pyle. “Slash” premiered at the 2016 SXSW Film Festival. Violett’s film “Tower” also held its world premiere at the festival. “Tower” focuses on the UT shooting in 1966, which was America’s first mass school shooting. Violett portrays Claire Wilson, who was eight months pregnant during the time of the shooting and lost her baby and boyfriend that day. “Tower” is executive produced by Luke Wilson and Meredith Vieira.
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Violett Beane to discuss her journey as a young actor, her time on the set of The CW’s ‘The Flash,’ her creative endeavors beyond acting and what the future might hold for her!
How did you get involved with the arts when you were younger?
I was in theater classes when I was in high school. In my senior year, I focused in on film and television and got an agent out in Texas. It has been a pretty fun and quick ride so far.
Who had a big impact on you as a performer, be it other actors or someone behind the scenes?
I think my mom has always been very supportive of anything I have wanted to do, so she has a lot to do with the person I have become. I think people who grow up with parents who don’t let you explore your creative side can make you feel it is a lot harder to explore that world. When it comes to actors, I have always loved anything Meryl Streep has done. More recently, Jennifer Lawrence has inspired me. I love her career and everything she has been doing.
Being a working actor in the entertainment industry is no easy task. Where do you look for inspiration?
I read a lot of scripts and I feel like I get to see a wide range of projects that are happening. I also like to make videos on my own. I am actually releasing a video soon, which is fun because I directed, edited and starred in it, so it is very much my project in a way. That video is for my boyfriend’s band, Eyelid Kid. It was a lot of fun to do a much more low-scale, minimal lighting, one-camera with a couple people shoot. It is nice to be able to bring out your own creativity with your own creative projects, as opposed to big, huge productions, which are largely out of your own hands.
That sounds like a great way to express yourself while learning more about your craft. Is directing something you have an interest in pursuing in the future?
Yeah, I think it is an interesting part of the industry, along with editing and all of that. I definitely would be interested in doing it again. On the project that we did for Eyelid Kid, I was doing a lot of stuff at the same time, so it was a little bit overwhelming. However, given the right circumstances, I think directing would be really fun for me to do again.
A lot of people will recognize you from CW’s hit series, “The Flash.” How did you get involved with the production?
It is such a fun project! I sent in a self-tape. I had watched a couple of episodes and I got the audition. I was pretty stoked about it because it is such a great show and everyone I know watches it. I sent in a self-tape and used mock-sides. It was a week or two-week process of waiting to hear if I got it or not. A week-and-a-half later, my manager said, “You booked it!” It was really exciting!
What appeals to you about the character and playing this role?
It is amazing that so early in my career I am able to have an amazing role. I am so grateful for that! I really love how strong Jesse is. More and more you are seeing strong female characters in film and television and I think it’s important to keep that because it is true to society. Girls aren’t just there to look pretty anymore! They never were but I think on TV and film, you are starting to see a more realistic side of that. I love that she is strong, funny and not afraid to talk back or to have her own opinion.
The show is well written but what did you bring to the character that might not have been on the written page?
You know, I don’t think they anticipated Jesse would become the character that she is. I think they might have originally been thinking it would be a three- to four-episode arc for the show. They have kept me around for a really long time! I definitely think that has something to do with what they are seeing in my capabilities with Jesse and the relationship with her dad. I was talking to Andrew [Kreisberg] the other day and he said, “The two of you together is beautiful because it gives Harrison [Tom Cavanagh] something to care about and something to live for, which was something that was missing in Season One.”
What I love about this series is how everyone from the actors to the creators to those behind-the-scenes seem to pour their hearts and souls into it. It shows on screen. What has it been like working with those talented individuals?
I have learned so much on this set! The first day I was so nervous and had no idea what I was doing. Luckily, Tom [Cavanagh] was there for my first scene and he is such a great guy! He is hilarious but, at the same time, he can be very serious if you have questions. He served as an amazing mentor to me. Working with someone that closely, I have done a lot of scenes with him, and being comfortable helps so much! The rest of the cast is awesome too! Everyone is a lot of fun and sometimes we hang out on the weekends to get to know each other. I feel like that really helps on any set! I feel so lucky to have worked with such talented actors!
Do you have a process for bringing a character to life?
It depends. With this project, I used different skills for different scenes. In the big group scenes, I just try to have fun with it because those are generally lighter and people are making jokes and we are standing around. However, for scenes like the ones in the earlier episodes where I was in the cage with Zoom, I stayed in those shackles in between setups and I wanted to stay in it to keep those high emotions intact. I felt that more method way of approaching it really helped in that situation. There is a huge toolbox that actors have and you just pull out what you need for whatever a scene might call for.
I’m sure you can’t tell us much about the upcoming season but where do you hope to see Jesse go?
I definitely would like to see her get some speed at some point. They hint at it all the time in the show and, to be totally honest, I want to try on the suit! [laughs]
What has been the biggest challenge for you as an actress as you move further into your career?
In this industry, it is really hard to stay true to yourself and not let anything go to your head. I feel like I am doing a good job at staying true to myself but it is really hard, especially with all of these younger people looking up to you. You feel like you have to stand up for something and maybe do something other than what your team wants you to do. It is really difficult and I want anyone who is aspiring to enter this industry to think about it before they do. It is really hard and it is really easy to lose yourself along the way.
You have other projects on the way. What can you tell us about those?
I have two films that went to SXSW in March. The first one is “Slash.” It is a dark comedy about a guy who writes a lot of fan fiction and gets picked on for it in high school and then he meets a girl who is also into it. That was a lot of fun because they go to Comic Con and it is sorta nerdy and fun! The other one is “Tower,” which actually ended up winning best documentary at SXSW. It is going on to a bunch of different film festivals all around the United States and Canada this summer. That one is really great! It is a documentary about the first school shooting in history. It was really emotional and I have been working on it for the past two years, on and off. To finally see it come together was amazing! It was a very beautiful piece of work and I am very excited for the distribution of it because I want a lot of people to see it.
You kept it diverse when it comes to the roles you played. Where are you headed in the future?
I definitely want to get into something darker. I love “The Flash” but I definitely want to do something a little different from it because sometimes it can be light and a little more fun. I want to do something dark and gritty, maybe even an indie, to change it up a bit!
Looking back on your career, how have you most evolved as an actor?
I think I have learned a lot about the industry in general over the past few years. With my first couple of gigs, I felt like I went on set without knowing the things I was supposed to know. Now, I feel like knowing all of those things helps you. Knowing everything that goes into the process gives you a better perspective. I feel like I am more grateful for what I have now because I do understand everything that goes into it.
What is the best lesson we can take from your journey?
It goes back to what I was saying earlier. It’s important not to forget who you are. Social media can be overwhelming and start to run a lot of people’s lives, whether it is, “I want to look like this or that.” Just be the size, the person and the style that you are. Don’t try to conform because the more original you are and the more of yourself you show, the more people will love it and be able to identify with it.
As we wrap up, I want to ask about any causes that might be close to your heart?
Definitely gun control. I live in Texas and we actually just passed a law that will take effect on August 1 — Campus Carry. I have a lot of friends at The University of Texas and I used to live around there. It is a very scary thought to me that anyone sitting next to you in class could have a gun in their backpack legally. I just think it is something we need to rethink. I feel like it is too easy, especially in Texas, to get a gun and it is something we all need to start talking about to see the real problems behind it.
Thank you for your time today, Violett! We look forward to seeing what you have in store for us in the years to come!
Thank you so much!