With raw talent and a deep understanding of her craft, it truly feels like American actor Myha’la is on the cusp of stardom.
Myha’la Jael Herrold, better known simply as Myha’la, is an exciting and relatively new actor in the film industry. After starting her career back in 2018, the creative has displayed an ongoing commitment to the art form which has led to her taking on a myriad of brilliant TV and film roles. Notable highlights include HBO’s young banker drama Industry, a captivating role in a blood-curdling episode of Black Mirror, and the comedy-horror, Bodies Bodies Bodies. They are just some of the roles so far that showcase Myha’la’s seemingly innate acting skillset. Alongside this, the Californian has a passion for the arts and even dabbled in musical theatre roles in the past.
Thanks to Myha’la’s latest role in the Netflix thriller, Leave The World Behind, which has dropped today, it feels like it’s only a matter of time before the actor is elevated to even greater heights. Her role as Ruth in the film is fun, sassy, and emotive. It’s clear to see that the actor doesn’t break a sweat when working alongside industry veterans like Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke and Mahershala Ali as her co-stars. The film itself is a tense, gripping, and mysterious flick. It will keep you guessing until the end and you’ll ruminate on the questions it leaves you with.
To celebrate the release of Leave The World Behind, Myha’la speaks to 1883 Magazine’s Cameron Poole about the film, Black Mirror’s Loch Henry episode, what keeps her motivated when auditioning for roles, and her hilarious Instagram profile picture.
Hi Myha’la, thanks for chatting with 1883 Magazine. Ruth is a very headstrong and self-aware character in the film trying to keep it together in the very weird situation she finds herself in. When you took on the film were you surprised that Ruth was reimagined compared to the book’s version of the character?
I was pleasantly surprised when Sam [Esmail] told me why and I was like ‘oh, okay, that makes sense’. It was important to add the middle generation’s perspective in those circumstances. I do feel like a Gen-Z/millennial-aged person would feel the most emboldened to be as outspoken, as opinionated, and as self-assured as Ruth is. I think it just creates even more dynamics in the relationship to her father, to Amanda, to the children and the world.
The whole cast is just so fantastic for Leave The World Behind. What did you take away from your time working with Mahershala Ali, Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke?
Yeah, I mean, besides the fact that I was in the room with legends, award winners and very seasoned actors, I think one of the biggest takeaways is that they were just like me. [Laughs] Celebrities are just like us, you know what I mean? We were all there doing the same thing, we all had the same common goal, and we were all committed to the work and storytelling.
They were respectful, so welcoming, and treated me as a peer which was a huge honour and it also challenges you to rise to the occasion in a way in which I felt safe to do that with them. I felt super safe with all of them. They also love to play, they’re not rigid people, they’re not jaded people. We were a company, which was a joy.
Just to pivot to your career so far, obviously, your role in HBO’s Industry, was a huge opportunity. What keeps you motivated and hungry to keep pushing forward with auditions?
It’s quite literally 99 noes and one yes [laughs] between projects. But for me, what keeps me going, is like this is what I do. It is the only thing I want to do and it’s the thing that I feel called to do. I also understand that if you choose to be an actor or a creative, of most kinds, you have to have tough skin and you have to accept the fact that throughout most of your career, you will face rejection.
You will get lucky that one time and then you’ll go back to rejection and you’ll get lucky again. The sort of masochistic thing about this work is that you get hired once and there is no guarantee that you will have a job again, you go back to square one every single time. So you really do have to love it more than anything else to take all of that rejection.
How terrifying was it filming the Loch Henry episode of Black Mirror?
It was actually so fun [laughs], filming Loch Henry was great. Sam Miller is sort of randomly coincidentally my boyfriend’s best friend’s dad. So I knew his previous works but I had known of him in a familial way, I just knew him more as Gil’s dad. Of course, I had been a fan of Black Mirror as so many people rightfully are. When that audition came through, I was like, ‘oh my god, Black Mirror, what an amazing opportunity’. And my boyfriend was like, ‘Wait, Sam Miller, that’s Gil’s dad’. So I was like, ‘Oh, cool. I finally get to hang out with Gil’s Dad if I get to do this’.
I was cast which was amazing, so I felt very much like I was going to work with a sort of friend. Sam Blenkin my co-star, Daniel Portman, and I, we all just got on so well. We were doing this creepy, intense thing but in between takes we were just messing around, playing music, getting to know each other, and going out for dinners in Glasgow. So it was just like a really good time and I’ve never been to Scotland, so it was kind of like a weird, fun vacation.
I think George and Ruth had the right idea about getting out of the city, what would be your hypothetical plan in a similar doomsday situation?
I have a friend who has property outside of the city that has a bunker in it already. So that would be my first phone call. It’d be like ‘Hey, so when are we going?’ I think they absolutely have the right idea to get out of the city. I wouldn’t want to at all, I love my apartment. I love all the things that I’ve collected and curated such as my photo albums. I love my cats. My cats will come with me, I love my neighbourhood but I think getting out of the city is the first step.
You of course have to bring your cats with you! What are they called?
My cats are Natalia and Bang Bang. They’re Siamese sisters.
So cute, what does a typical shoot day look like for you in general?
I mean no two shoot days are the same ever but I think like in a general sense, my sort of pre-work routine is to wake up, brush my teeth, wash my face, and have something caffeinated tea usually. I’m not a coffee drinker, so tea, and whatever music is going to get me in the mood for the day. Then we get to set, we do hair, makeup, and costume, and then we go to work.
Then afterwards depending on what hours we’re working, I’ll just have something to eat and put on whatever show I’m watching as a decompressor and then right before I go to bed, I like to review whatever work I’m doing the next day.
Very productive, so what music got you in the mood for Leave The World Behind?
Honestly, I’m not sure that I used music. If I’m just trying to wake myself up in the morning, it’s like an R&B or Hip-Hop situation that I’m into or some oldies maybe just to wake me literally. But all the music that feels right for this film was ominous, airy and kind of scary. When we weren’t rolling I wanted to feel very much in my own body. I don’t want to hold onto the anxiety and stress of this film, as that would be a little bit too much to take on for that amount of time.
You must have gone through many takes of the scene where you and Julia were scaring off the CGI deer? Surely it must have been a funny moment to shoot given you were in the field alone.
We did actually, we shot it from all the angles and of course it was CGI, so we did have to do it with the plate and silver ball thing but we weren’t entirely alone. Some lovely crew members were holding fake deer heads in front of us but for the most part, yes, it was just me and Julia, you know, screaming [laughs] by ourselves.
What is one thing you would like to manifest for yourself next year and why?
Well, I have just started my own little writing endeavour. I’ve been writing, so I’m manifesting my project being sold and getting to work on something that I developed from the beginning.
Are there any particular roles you would like to try your hand at next?
I really want to do a movie musical. I grew up in musical theatre, musical theatre was always my gig. I miss singing. So I’d love to blend my worlds and do a movie musical.
I’m dying to know about the context behind your Instagram profile picture, is that you as the Genie from Aladdin?
[Laughs] Yeah, that’s so funny. Nobody’s said anything to me about that. The picture is so hilarious to me. I don’t know how old I was, 8 or 10 maybe. I played the genie in Aladdin, in a community theatre production and they painted me blue and I have a fake weave on my chin for my little goatee and my mom made the little braid thing.
But nobody has said anything, maybe two of my friends and my boyfriend. He was like, ‘There’s no way you did that, that is so funny’. My best friend was like, ‘I’m gagging. Like what is that?’ But nobody else has said anything about it but I just thought it was funny.
It’s great! Anyway finally, why would you implore people to check out Leave The World Behind?
Okay if I wasn’t in it, but I’d seen it, I would say like Sam is a brilliant director. He’s an amazing filmmaker and there’s a bunch of amazing people in it. Julia, Mahershala, Ethan and some newcomer named Myha’la [laughs]. It’s like if you like creepy crawlies, a sort of make your skin crawl feeling, and then when you leave the theatre you have questions and you want to have conversations about the film, that sort of thing, if you’re into that, go see this movie.
Leave The World Behind is in select UK cinemas and on Netflix from today.
Follow Myha’la by clicking here.
Interview Cameron Poole