EXCLUSIVE: We spoke to ‘Dead of Summer’ star Amber Coney ahead of today’s premiere

She’s on her ninth collaboration with James Franco this year

dead of summer

Amber Coney, Hollywood starlet in her early twenties wrote and starred in the the Lifetime movie released on June 18th, Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? – it was directed by the one and only James Franco. She has a new camp thriller coming out on FreeForm called “Dead of Summer” where she plays Carolina Diaz, also known as Cricket.

“Dead of Summer” is a new thriller television series premiering on FreeForm that takes place in the 1980’s at Camp Stillwater, which already sounds like a place you don’t want to go. After ancient mythology is awakened at the camp, a summer of fun turns into a summer of terror that has the camp counselors on edge.

Coney stars as a camp counselor and the girl who seems to have it all, but secretly has an iceberg of emotions pushed down that is full of insecurities. This show is full of young adults which means hormones are going crazy during all of the terrifying events, but will that be able to confine summer love?

We were able to catch up with Amber Coney to talk about her new series, as well as how to handle crushing hard, motivating yourself, and James Franco’s role as a jack of all trades.

Screenshot 2016-06-28 at 11.37.03 AM

credit: Lesley Bryce

It has been just under a week since the release of Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?  How is that going?

It’s good. I love hearing the different reactions. All of my friends loved it, and it’s fun to see what people thought. It was kind of how I expected in that like some people really appreciated it and loved what we did and thought it was totally bonkers but still totally awesome. Some people were also not too keen and weren’t on board, but I guess that’s just how it goes. But the fact that it is a lifetime movie getting this much attention, praise, and criticism is kind of honestly an anomaly, so that is obviously really cool. We have to take it with a grain of salt as well in terms of the fact Lifetime movies aren’t meant to get this much attention, but this one is.

I have to ask, is James Franco as hot in person as we all think?

Of course! The camera does not lie – it’s hard to fake looks. That’s the least interesting thing about him once you get to know him.

You’re involved in so many projects- do you prefer being in front or behind the camera?

Definitely in front – I’m an actor first. I good couple hits of screenwriting because I’ve always loved to write. I started working with James as an actor, and he knew I would also like to be a jack of all trades. He kind of [pushed] me to try to write my first play, so I did and I did it really quickly so that kind of started our collaboration. Now we’re starting our ninth screenplay within a year together.

I started writing at the end of college, but I’ve been acting my whole life, so that is my focus. It’s nice to be able to write because it has opened my eyes to growing deeper into the world of my characters that I play and understanding there is a story as a whole really helps my part in it and what I can contribute to the story as an actor. Honestly writing has helped my acting so much. Also knowing you’re part of a bigger picture is humbling and helps quell the ego which is a goal in this art form.

I read that you wrote the script for Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?  in only 5 days, that’s amazing! We have a ton of college readers, can you tell us your secrets for staying motivated and awake?

As corny as it is, you just have to think you can do it. I think it is like if someone pointed at me and was like “I want you to do this.” It just happened. I’m not like James – he can not sleep but function really really well. I need to get a good night’s sleep, then I’m on point for the whole day. I still slept during it, but I just commit. You just have to commit.

This new TV series, “Dead of Summer,” is coming out today! You play the young and insecure counselor, Cricket. I was wondering what part of yourself you tapped into to form your character, Cricket?

I love this story because my character has this facade of warmth and happiness, but underneath is a lot of deep-rooted insecurity and need for acceptance. I think that is so universal- I don’t know any one person who hasn’t dealt with the need to belong and the need to be loved. So in a way it is easy for me to tap into that, because obviously I have experienced that and to an extent as a young adult so have you. It became a story I really want to tell because it is so universal.

So there a boy on the show named Alex that you are falling for. I read that your character is trying to play it a bit cool in front of him. Do you have any advice for our college readers about having a crush on someone and trying to be coy about it?

I just say don’t even try. I think the most attractive individuals are those who have developed this strong sense of self love where it doesn’t really matter because you can take it or leave it. Budding relationships or a potential relationship is always exciting, but I think the most attractive individuals are those who are strong enough in their own skin that it becomes an addition to their life and in no way an attachment. Those situations when you’re young- they are meant to be fun. You learn who you are and what you want, so I think that a lot young people will attach themselves to the outcome. We are all working as individuals keeping that in mind. Do what you want to flirt because that is the fun of it.

This cast for “Dead of Summer” is very young, what was the vibe on set?

It is so great. It is one of the best sets I have been on. All of the actors- first of all, they are amazing. Everybody holds their own, and that is rare essentially because it is a big ensemble piece. Everybody who appears regularly is a really big part and have to pull their weight or else you can’t tell the story, and there are so many group scenes- it is insane. Yesterday we spent 4 hours filming a group scene. There are so many aspects to it and all of the covers you need. 7 people in a scene is totally different from a one on one situation. Everybody is really cool, and we all hang out outside of work a lot. We’ve gotten to know each other which has been fun.

Screenshot 2016-06-28 at 11.38.21 AM

Credit: Lesley Bryce

I know the producers have been involved in shows like “Lost” and “Once Upon a Time” so what’s some of the best advice you’ve learned from the seasoned talent and producers that you’ve worked with?

I guess it’s something that I’ve also learned as an individual. Don’t be insecure about wanting to commit to what you do. Especially if you’re a creative who wants to be 100% involved, it is easy to feel like you’re missing out on social life. Especially when you’re starting to create. In the beginning of starting a career or what you want to do creatively- it can be a very solitary experience.

Seeing these people who have committed their lives to their creativity is just so inspiring and makes that not even hurt at all to have to spend time alone or spend the hours to put into your project that is necessary. Also, love working with Adam and Eddy because they are a team, and at this point they are so well established as a team. What they did [was] they partnered up, so also have your eyes and ears open for potential creative collaborators because you never know who could become your partner. Then you’ll work on the next “Once Upon a Time” and create that whole empire. So stay open and don’t be afraid to commit yourself to what you want to do because it will pay off.

I know that you studied acting and are fascinated with film. Who are some of your acting inspirations?

The list is so long. I love Michael Fassbender. I think he is amazing, and I love watching him. I love all of the movies he’s done, and he is a true artist. That is what I want to be and what I am. I love Kate Winslet. I really admire her career, and her work is fabulous. Michelle Williams is another one. I love the projects she has done ranging from really awesome indie films to commercial stuff to Broadway- she is also someone I really want to emulate her career. There are so many more. Obviously Meryl Streep but that’s any actor.

What do you want people to know about “Dead of Summer” before the premiere?

I want them to remember to pay attention, because it is so multifaceted that if you watched it after having multiple series you will notice how many clues are present to the cliffhanger about what may happen next. Keep your eyes and ears open because it will make it a lot more fun to watch it that way. Really paying attention is the fun part of it. People will be able to make theories about what is going on and do what we’re doing [which is] just trying to figure out what’s happening in the story. So, open your ears and eyes and have fun with it- trying to figure out what’s happening to all of us.

Amber Coney has a promising career ahead of her as the creative and hardworking talent that she is. Make sure to watch “Dead of Summer” on June 28th on FreeForm!