Olivia Scott Welch and the Haunting Art of Acting

Olivia Scott Welch and the Haunting Art of Acting

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Olivia Scott Welch and the Haunting Art of Acting

The ‘Fear Street’ star discusses adolescence, emotions, and getting to live her dream spooky life. 

The ‘Fear Street’ star discusses adolescence, emotions, and getting to live her dream spooky life. 

Text: Luana Harumi

Cliff diving in the dark or running away from an entity that’s trying to kill you and your friends may not be everyone’s idea of fun. For Olivia Scott Welch, it’s riveting. In the fictional realm, at least. A lifelong fan of horror classics, the star of the new Netflix slasher trilogy Fear Street finally gets to have her haunting moment as the ‘90s cheerleader Sam – a part that, in many ways, has been years in the making.

The films take R.L. Stine’s iconic book series to a drenching bloodbath level spanning over 300 years of killings, curses, and small-town conspiracies. When director Leigh Janiak asked the cast to share a brief list of their favorite horror movies, Welch turned in a lineup of no less than 40 titles, including American Psycho, Scream, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. So, the actor confirms, she was more than prepared to plunge into a project of the sort.

“I was so ready, I was like, ‘Whatever we do, I am so excited to do it,’” Welch says over a Zoom call from Los Angeles. “Getting to do those was such a dream.”

Photo by Jonny Marlow @ Early Morning Riot.

Growing up in the suburban city of Hurst, Texas, she and her sister were introduced to a wide array of movies early on, a passion passed down from their cinephile parents. It didn’t take long for the girls to naturally gravitate towards horror flicks.

“I just love the whole genre and the creativity that goes into them,” Welch says. “I remember seeing Scream for the first time and being like, ‘Oh it's so fun, they're aware that they're in a horror movie,’ and it was just a thing where every movie that I saw felt so homey and similar but also really different.”

This has been an especially thrilling summer for the actor, who also lends her blue Bambi eyes to Heather, the protagonist in the suspenseful Amazon series Panic. Based on Lauren Oliver’s 2014 YA novel by the same name, the show follows a group of small-town teenagers who face each other off in increasingly perilous challenges (see: the aforementioned cliff diving), motivated by the chance of grabbing a grand cash prize at the end. While not exactly a horror production per se, the drama’s dynamics are guaranteed to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

But, chill-down-the-spine moments aside, another factor that drew Welch to these projects was how relatable both Heather and Sam were. After all, at the end of the day, they’re still teenagers going through typical adolescent conflicts, predicaments, and discoveries.

“I felt very connected to both of them just upon reading the original audition sides,” she says. “I've thought these things before and I've put up walls in the same ways and they're both very emotional characters. I felt connected to what they're going through inside.”

Photo by Jonny Marlow @ Early Morning Riot.

At just 23-years-old, Welch’s high school experience stills feels quite fresh to her, but revisiting that period also gave the actor the opportunity to have fun with another side of adolescence. “I was very introverted in high school so I never went to parties or anything like that, and never did anything really crazy,” she says. “The Panic game is kind of like a heightened version of, you know, sneaking out and doing something with your friends. It was so fun to get to experience those things.”

It also helped that she got to live those adventures with actual friends.

Intense scenes that demanded so much physically and emotionally were balanced with a more carefree energy between the cast members off-camera. A quick visit to her Instagram and you’ll easily spot the names – and faces – of her Panic onscreen frenemy Jessica Sula (“One of my best friends”) and Fear Street co-stars Kiana Madeira and Benjamin Flores Jr. (“We all text all the time”), who populate her comments section with inside jokes and flattering fire emojis.

Welch occasionally uses the platform to provide fans with behind-the-scenes images of their good on-set times and also of unexpected production details: a close-up of a colorful Walkman covered by stickers, a crack on the wall, a corner of her fictional bedroom featuring promotional art for Suspiria and Inland Empire – posters which, in case you haven’t guessed, were chosen by the actor herself.

“I'm a big nerd for sets and stuff like that. I love making movies to see how they get made and so I love taking behind-the-scenes pictures,” she says. “[What surprised me in] both of them was the attention to detail. There was one day where I went into the production office [of Fear Street] and they had like, 30 different types of fake blood and they were trying to figure out which fake blood was the best. I was like, this is so cool.”

Photo by Jonny Marlow @ Early Morning Riot.

Although she didn’t get to pick a fake blood sample (for now), the experience of being on a movie set for a longer period and following the film-making process from beginning to end gave Welch a push to further explore the mechanics of being behind the cameras. Between the madness of promoting Panic and Fear Street, the actor has also been working on a “really spooky” script alongside two writing partners.

“That's something that I really want to move into and it's something I feel really passionate about,” she says. “I just want to grow my involvement in things that I do. I feel so passionate about acting and I feel equally as passionate about like, choosing a blood sample.”

But as much as Welch is excited about getting to do what she loves, she explains there’s also a different kind of thrill about her métier. “It really forces you to find out who you are and what you stand for and what you're going to put out into the world. It’s just made me really aware of the person that I am and how I'm going to be moving forward,” she says.

“The scariest thing for me is being an actor.”

Credits: Cover photo by Jonny Marlow @ Early Morning Riot. Team credits - Stylist: Erica Cloud; Makeup: Loren Canby; Hair: Clayton Hawkins. Leather suit look - Hat: Vintage Yves Saint Laurent from Aralda Vintage; Suit: Nour Hammour; Tank: The Row; Shoes: Prada; Necklaces: Retrouvai black onyx square pendant with Diamond; Jenny Bird thin, hold chain; Ring: Graziela black pave diamond pinky ring; Earrings: Maya Brenner gold oval. Orange dress look - Dress: Adeam; Shoes: Jimmy Choo; Earrings: Anne Sisteron silver huggie, Graziela silver triangle stud.

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