“Santa Clarita Diet” Star Liv Hewson On Teenage Love, Zombie Moms, And Feminism: BUST Interview

by Bri Kane

You probably recognize her from Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet or Marvel’s Inhumans, but Liv Hewson is so not the walking dead — from acting to practicing aerial silks, she’s a “wandering enigma” of talent. As a bright and energetic 22-year-old, the up-and-coming Australian actor demands your attention with her big smile and bigger heart. She sat down with BUST to discuss relationships, the woes and wonder of being a teenager, and the importance of acting like a feminist.

In Santa Clarita Diet, Liv plays Abby, the daughter of Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant). They’re a typical suburban family, trying to plan family dinners and barbecues with the neighbors…that is, until Abby’s mom Sheila becomes a zombie. But Hewson reminds audiences that you can fling any situation at a teenager and it’s all whatevs because “everything is out of control when you’re a teen.” Hewson explains, “The idea that you’re flung into circumstances out of your control, whether that’s just emerging into adulthood or your mother needing to eat people to survive, responding to that with humor and a lot of sarcasm…and trying to do your best while trying to look cool — I really relate to that, I think a lot of people do.” Being a teenager and all the finding yourself that comes along with can be a lot to do deal with for anyone — but being able to laugh, even while your mom eats someone alive, is the key to cool-teen-ability.

Netflix tackles a lot of teenage issues in Santa Clarita Diet, but Liv Hewson’s approachability and badass-chick demeanor may be even more fun than watching Drew Barrymore eat a foot. One of the most intimate relationships explored is the mother/daughter dynamic between Abby and Sheila (Zombie Mom, not Soccer Mom) and how universal it is to watch yourself turn into your mother — and maybe that’s not the worst? Hewson tells BUST, “There’s a real love, and a real understanding [between Sheila and Abby] and Abby realizes as the story progresses…exactly how alike her mom she is, and what an awesome thing that is.” I mean really, who doesn’t want to be exactly like Drew Barrymore, even zombie-fied? It’s special to see Abby and Sheila learn about each other and learn from each other, because as Hewson adds, “It’s a really beautiful thing to see between a mother and daughter on screen and unpacking that with Drew is really rewarding” — women working together to show how women interact with each other? –feminist chef kiss– We love it.

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Abby’s relationship with Eric is another highlight of the show — no basic AF gender roles in sight. As Hewson explained, Eric and Abby’s relationship is “grounded in such a respect, and a deep care for each other, whether it’s romantic or platonic or something else entirely, their relationship is really solid and they really look after each other.” Their best friend or maybe more tug-of-war is a guilty pleasure we don’t need to feel guilty about — as Hewson tells BUST, “Regardless of what direction their relationship ends up going, you know they’re gonna be fine and that’s really special.” Seeing best friends navigate their feelings, their hormones, and ya know, zombies, is just down right fun.

Santa Clarita Diet, as much else in Hewson’s wheelhouse, doesn’t much care about gender roles or rules; when asked if Hewson considered herself a feminist, she quickly chirps, “Oh yeah, for sure, big time” in the same matter of fact tone you’d use to tell someone the time. How can she not be, with Lisa Simpson being where she accidently learned her American accent — “[Lisa Simpson] is the female character that keeps on giving.” When not working, Hewson is a “big fan” of Roxane Gay’s writing and loves Maria Bamford, telling BUST “I could happily watch her all day.” But, as Hewson told BUST, feminism is more than just calling yourself one but acting like one. As Hewson grows, she is “less interested in calling [herself] a feminist as an identity, and more interested in doing feminist things.” She says you “gotta walk the walk,” and that involves checking in with yourself about what you believe, are doing, and what more you could do. When looking to the future, Hewson stays positive, saying, “I think especially with the political and social climate of the last 18 months or so, I’m really hopeful that more and more action on an individual and group basis will continue to happen, and that’s really exciting to me and I want to be a part of that.”

Hewson will win over your zombie-loving-heart in season 2 of Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix’s March 23rd, as well as Australia’s popular TV comedies Homecoming Queens and Back in Very Small Business. And always remember the lessons learned from Hewson: Even if your mom is a zombie, you can still be an angsty teen — just keep it feminist and funky.

images via Santa Clarita Diet

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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