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Rising Star Sophia Hammons: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started

1. When doing a scene, just because you’re not talking doesn’t mean you’re not acting. Most of acting is listening.2. Only worry about the stuff you can control. You can’t change your height or skin color or whatever. You can only change what you can change.3. Failure is part of acting. You can’t succeed if […]

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1. When doing a scene, just because you’re not talking doesn’t mean you’re not acting. Most of acting is listening.

2. Only worry about the stuff you can control. You can’t change your height or skin color or whatever. You can only change what you can change.

3. Failure is part of acting. You can’t succeed if you quit. Someone said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

4. Never stop learning and getting better.

5. Acting is a lot of work. It’s not just saying lines in a script. It’s ten million things all at once, and it takes a lot of people, each of them doing ten million things, to make a movie.

As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Sophia Hammons.

Sophia was born in South Pasadena, California and moved to Boulder, Colorado at the age of six. She discovered acting through singing and dancing in musical theater and landed her first role in Les Miserables. She performed as “Amaryllis” in The Music Man at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse and in several productions at the Boulder Dinner Theatre where she was part of “the Children’s Choir” in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, “Tessie” in Annie, and “Nancy” in Christmas Story.

At age 10, Sophia was drawn to the subtly of acting for film and television. She began training with Su Coffey in Denver and appeared in short films, including festival favorites Lemonade and Dirt. Most recently, she played the title role in Rumor, a contemporary Western about a girl who must deal with the violent actions of her brothers and other boys. In 2019, Sophia was cast as “Alma” in Keyhole Garden alongside Zoe Saldana and Garrett Hedlund and can also be seen in the hybrid documentary The Social Dilemma which premiered at Sundance Film Festival and can currently be seen on Netflix. The Social Dilemma was released in September of 2020 to critical acclaim including the poignant performance by Sophia who plays the young “Isla” in the provocative docu-drama. Keyhole Garden will be released in 2021.

When Sophia is not acting she loves to sing, dance, and travel, especially to islands and big cities. She is repped by The ESI Network and Amsel, Eisenstadt, Frazier & Hinojosa Talent Agency.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Sophia! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up? Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was born in South Pasadena, California and moved to Boulder, Colorado when I was about six years old. I was in the choir in elementary school, and the teacher said that I should do musical theater. So I auditioned for Les Miserables and got a part! After that, I auditioned for another musical, The Lion King, and I got… a blade of grass. And that was when I realized that I definitely wanted to do something more. I really liked the realism of acting in film, so I started taking classes for film and TV. I trained with Su Coffey in Denver, and that led to getting an agent. And with a lot of hard work and luck, that led to where I am now.

Acting allows me to connect with other people. If young girls see me on the screen — if someone who’s been bullied for their ears, and I’ve actually gotten a comment for this — they can relate to me. They have something in common with me. I want to make a connection with someone, and through acting, I can do that. It makes me happy that this girl was like, “Oh, I also get bullied for my ears because they’re perky. This [The Social Dilemma] made me feel really good because I thought I was alone, and now I know I’m not the only one who goes through this.”

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your entertainment career?

Oh, there have been so many things. In Keyhole Garden, I play a girl who lives on the U.S.-Mexico border, and there are a lot of really emotional scenes. When we were shooting The Social Dilemma, we were preparing for the crying scene, and the director Jeff Orlowski was so immersed in the message that he started crying, and I started crying — I’m gonna cry now just talking about it — but he gave me a big hug and said, “Action!” In Extra Ordinary, I got to work in some incredible locations. In Palmdale, they built an entire fort on this beautiful rock formation for my character. And we did a night shoot in a sanitation facility with green screens and flashlights.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When we were shooting Extra Ordinary, there was this one guy on the crew — I won’t say his name — but he was always pulling pranks on me. We were in the sanitation facility, and he said to me, “You know, when they open that tank, it makes a huge fart noise.” And I’m so gullible that I believed him. So when they were about to open it, I covered my ears, and everyone was like, “Why are you covering your ears?” And when we were shooting the very last scene of the entire movie, there were lights and green screens and people running around everywhere, and the director said, “Action!” and I completely forgot the one line I had. In The Social Dilemma, we were filming the scene when Isla breaks the box, and they told me not to break the box. Just pretend to break it. But I hit it so hard, I broke the box. The lesson I learned was… don’t break the box.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Who do you think that might help people?

Besides The Social Dilemma, Keyhole Garden is coming out soon. It’s a romantic drama set on the U.S.-Mexico border, with Zoe Saldana, Garrett Hedlund, and Tom Waits. It’s got a really important message, and I can’t wait for people to see it.

Most young people your age don’t have to balance work and school. Can you tell us how you manage to balance your schoolwork, auditions, and time on set?

My teachers at school have been really supportive of my acting, and they’ve always worked with me to make it possible. And when you’re on set, there are special teachers to help you, Everyone knows that kid actors are still kids, and they’ve all been so supportive.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My dad. He does everything for me. Literally everything. But I also have to mention my music teacher Doug Haley, who said that I should audition for Les Mis. He saw something in me, and if he didn’t encourage me, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s jump to the main part of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. When doing a scene, just because you’re not talking doesn’t mean you’re not acting. Most of acting is listening.

2. Only worry about the stuff you can control. You can’t change your height or skin color or whatever. You can only change what you can change.

3. Failure is part of acting. You can’t succeed if you quit. Someone said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

4. Never stop learning and getting better.

5. Acting is a lot of work. It’s not just saying lines in a script. It’s ten million things all at once, and it takes a lot of people, each of them doing ten million things, to make a movie.

You are a person of great influence. How do you think you can use social media as a platform to be a positive influence to your fans, and for society at large?

As Jaron Lanier says at the end of The Social Dilemma, there’s a whole world out there. Get outside and enjoy it! If you have to use social media, do it conscientiously. Stop and ask yourself, “Do I really need to do this? What I am getting out of it? What are other people getting out of it?” And only put out positive messages.

If you had the ability to choose to work on any TV show or film, or work alongside any co-star, or with any director, what or who would that be, and why? You never know who might see this article, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I really want to work with Emma Watson. I really look up to her as an actor and as a person. Also Zendaya. She’s incredible. They both put out positive messages and are conscientious about social media. And I would love love LOVE to work with Wes Anderson.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

My only social media handle is @thesophiahammons on Instagram.

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