Actress and influencer Allegra Edwards has lived within the world of theater throughout her entire life. With a young start in modeling, the actress has evolved into theatrical roles both on stage and behind the screen. Edwards views herself as a comedienne, which can be seen in her various roles. She has had roles in television series such as Modern Family, New Girl, Friends from College, Orange is the New Black, The Mindy Project and Briarpatch.
Edwards has been acting for over a decade and currently, she plays the role of Ingrid Kannerman in the Amazon Prime comedy television show Upload.
Marianna Garcia: How did you come to be an actress and influencer?
Allegra Edwards: I started acting when I was really little; it’s always been something that I’ve been interested in, I never explored much else. What started as dance classes evolved into theater camps and acting classes. By high school, I was doing improv group musicals. I went to Pepperdine college on a theater scholarship; I was there for theater and television. That was not only my major, but my lifestyle and community. By the time I graduated, I knew I wanted more so I went to get my master’s degree at the American Conservatory of Theater in San Francisco, and then graduated in 2013. I started auditioning for everything that came my way; I didn’t book anything until around 2016. It’s a lot of working your way up to more and more noticeable roles. It’s been quite a journey, but it’s been characterized by my focus—this is what I want to do, and this is what I love to do, so I kept at it.
Marianna Garcia: Were there any challenges that you faced in choosing where you wanted to be?
Allegra Edwards: I didn’t have a backup plan, so I was pouring everything into this one avenue. It can be a good thing, but it can also create doubt and often made me question if I’d made the right decision. Continuing took a lot of self confidence, and constant reminders that life is a marathon and not a sprint—to keep the faith, maintain confidence, and persevere.
Marianna Garcia: What advice do you have for anybody starting out in this industry?
Allegra Edwards: My biggest piece of advice is to celebrate the small victories and remind yourself early on that even having an audition is a win. It’s hard to maintain perspective when you are not getting callbacks or you’re not booking. Try to remember going in that getting invited and going in for auditions is phenomenal. As I’ve said before, we’re all going at our own pace. There are hundreds of people that are not getting asked to be seen—yet. I’m also not a big believer in the word “rejection” as it pertains to this industry. A question that a lot of actors get is, “How do you deal with rejection?” I reject the word rejection because once you’re invited, then you’re invited. There’s no taking that back. Timing, direction, some other factor is the reason you’re not booking it, not because you don’t belong in the industry.
Marianna Garcia: Are there any roles that you really connected to, or one that you really wanted and got?
Allegra Edwards: I really wanted Ingrid on Upload, because I felt like I could not only imagine her, but I could see what I could try out with that role. Beyond that, I enjoyed the script itself, even the scenes that didn’t have her. That made me feel like I was in good hands, with storytellers that knew what they were doing. Anytime there’s a script I find gripping or interesting I get really excited.
Marianna Garcia: Is there any hypothetical role out there that you can picture yourself in?
Allegra Edwards: I know it’s been done very recently, but if there were another Lucille Ball biopic I’d love to take a stab at that. She’s phenomenal; comedian, technician, intellectual, she has great depth and played this really wild, physical person that changed the course of television comedy in general, much less the future of females in comedy.
Marianna Garcia: Going back, can you tell me more about the character Ingrid and your experience on Upload?
Allegra Edwards: Ingrid is the girlfriend of the main character, Nathan Brown. She’s in control of all of Nathan’s upgrades and purchases in his digital afterlife. He’s basically at her mercy because she’s in a different socioeconomic bracket than he is. In season two, she has joined him in Lakeview and starts the season off hoping that their relationship will thrive now that they can start eternity together like she’s always dreamed. But Ingrid is controlling and very particular, so when things don’t go quite the way she imagines she starts to implode. She’s a really interesting, complex character. I hope for the opportunity to see where she goes next because I’m just getting started with her.
Marianna Garcia: What does female empowerment mean to you, especially in the industry that you’re working in?
Allegra Edwards: I feel great privilege to be working at all in this industry, and to have the opportunity to participate in the creative process of this show. I’m excited to see how industry diversity continues to grow and progress and allow more space for a variety of female voices. There have been some amazing strides in recent years, and there’s definitely more work ahead, but I’m optimistic. I’m hopeful for the future of women in filmmaking in general.
Marianna Garcia: Do you have a mentor or any specific person that has inspired you to be where you are now?
Allegra Edwards: I had an amazing improv teacher at Pepperdine. Her name is Tracy Burns, she’s still an acting coach but primarily works with animators in the Bay Area, teaching them various techniques to infuse more comedy and human behavior into animation. She’s a fascinating person and an exceptional teacher. She helped me tap into some of my insecurities—my ugly side, my uncomfortable side—and helped me access a broad range of myself. It did wonders for me as a performer and as a person.
Marianna Garcia: Do you live by any specific mantra?
Allegra Edwards: There’s a Bible verse I think about often because my dad says it so much. When I was younger and he’d frustrate me, he wouldn’t even start talking and I’d say, “I know what you’re gonna say.” But any anytime I’d feel uptight or anxious, he would say, “Be anxious for nothing, but in all things give thanks.” It’s a really good starting place for virtually any situation. Whenever we’re afraid, or particularly anxious, choosing a position of gratitude is the best way to reframe the situation.
Marianna Garcia: Has your family played a large role in motivating you to get where you are now?
Allegra Edwards: Yes, probably more than anything else. My dad was an actor in the Bay Area before I was born. He was always really passionate about theater and he’s an excellent singer. Both my parents are very creative; my mom got her master’s in Music Education at Stanford. The two of them together shaped the way that I viewed the arts. For one of my birthday parties when I was six years old, my dad wrote a play for all of my friends. We each had a different role and we acted out the play when the parents came to pick up their kids at the end of the party. So the party was just one big rehearsal. He built a stage, with a curtain, got costumes, and he played the narrator. Needless to say, my parents certainly shaped the way that I perceived reality. Roleplay and acting were ingrained in our family vocabulary. They also took us to a lot of shows and made sure we were always involved in thee arts in some way. All of my siblings, and my sister-in-law as well, are professionally seeking the arts as a result. The big joke in my family is that we will sing at your dinner table, but you can never ask us to run a marathon.
Sometimes I think I’ve set a bit of a premature ceiling for myself, because for the longest time my big goal was to be a series regular on a beloved sitcom—which has now happened. So now I’m investigating what’s next for me. I’m rethinking a lot because clearly I was underestimating myself; I wasn’t aiming high enough. One thing I hope to do eventually is pour some of my personal resources into projects that need some help getting off the ground. I’m not certain that I’m the best person to captain a creative ship, but I love to fund other people so they can spread their genius. I’m not currently in a position to do that but I’d love to invest in the stories that I care about. And honestly, I just want to continue working on great projects with great people. I’m not chasing any particular role or medium, I just want to build that positive momentum and keep it going for a long time.
Interview by Marianna Garcia