TV Productions > The Act (2019) > Screen Captures > S1x01 [La Maison Du Bon Reve]
TV Productions > The Act (2019) > Screen Captures > S1x02 [Teeth]
TV Productions > The Act (2019) > Screen Captures > S1x03 [Two Wolverines]
TV Productions > The Act (2019) > Screen Captures > S1x04 [Stay Inside]
TV Productions > The Act (2019) > Screen Captures > S1x05 [Plan B]
TV Productions > The Act (2019) > Screen Captures >S1x06 [A Whole New World]
TV Productions > The Act (2019) > Screen Captures > S1x07 [Bonnie & Clyde]
TV Productions > The Act (2019) > Screen Captures > S1x08 [Free]
It’s that time of the year: fall weather, matching sweatsuit sets, and the impending election that has left many Americans on the edge of their seats. Joey King is ready for it all with a new Blumhouse horror film ready to promote, the LA sunsets to keep her golden, and her first election to prepare for. At just 21, Joey’s career is full speed ahead, appearing in countless projects and rightfully having the internet crown her the newest queen of Netflix. But if there’s anything the star wants you to know, it’s that she is just like you and me.
Joey is warm and natural like that friend from college that was always cooler than you but made you feel like you were an equal nonetheless. Our Zoom call vibe was girlie chat meets messy buns, tank tops, and our dogs. Mine: three loud ass hounds, Joey’s: a modelesque yorkie named Angel. And even though Joey and I have never met, it felt like we were catching up on old times. I forgot I was talking to an Emmy nominee, the girl who was my summer envy as she kissed all those boys in that booth. I was just talking to Joey.
Joey is the type of actress to never fall into a typecast. At just 11, the star made a name for herself alongside Selena Gomez in “Ramona and Beezus.” From there she’s bounced between music video appearances, quintessential rom-coms, horror, animated comedy, drama, and of course, The Kissing Booth (which deserves its own genre as a Netflix, young adult comedy filled with beautiful men.) And while it seems that no matter what Joey does it is impossible to hit new ground, she just proved us wrong: She will try her hand at executive producing her newest project of Netflix’s adaptation for “The Uglies” book series. Pre-COVID, Joey took her idea of a movie adaptation to network and they loved it.
“Ever since I was young, this was my favorite book series ever. I was always obsessed with the idea of playing Tally Youngblood and was always just hoping and praying that one day they made a movie of it so that I could,” she says. “I just have a desire to create things that make me happy and just work on things that ignite a fire in my heart. So I was like you know what? I’m just gonna do it myself,” she says smiling into the camera. She credits Scott Westerfeld, the author of the series, for allowing her to star and produce this project. I noticed her body shift closer to the camera as I felt her passion. “It’s been a dream of mine for a very long time,” she says.
She cites the series’ relatability as the fuel to her fire. “I got told when I was younger that I wasn’t pretty enough for a few roles,” she says. “People’s perception of you really changes your own perception of yourself and so this book was always something that was so near and dear to my heart. That these ‘uglies’ were finding ways to really embrace their own actual beauty.”
One thing about Joey that is quick to note is how confidently she carries herself. She knows she’s a badass – in the least Hollywood asshole way possible – and reminds people that it doesn’t matter what people think. “It’s really hard with the amount of people that say really creative mean things,” she says. “It’s important to remember that for every person who says something like that, there’s so many more that feel a different way about you. There’s also your family and friends who love you. So who actually cares about what these people who don’t know anything about you besides what they think they know? Who gives a shit!”
Besides serving as a role model to young people, she is also feeling the pressure to do something to ensure that 2021 doesn’t end up like the shit storm this year was–is. “My hope for 2021 is just overall betterness. But the thing is like, I think what’s kind of scary is that a lot of people are like, ‘oh, I’m so over 2020, I can’t wait for 2021’ as if New Year’s Eve is just gonna magically cure the world. Cause it’s not–it’s going to be a long road ahead of us.” But Joey says her hope for 2021 is a Biden and Harris administration and that, “the whole world stops burning,” she says with a giggle, but I know she’s not joking. This place is a mess.
Luckily though, Joey is 21 and can actually vote in this year’s election. “I voted yesterday and it feels so good,” she says smiling and dancing into the camera. “It’s the most exciting thing that you can do as an adult. You literally get a say in your future and others’ futures and the state of the world. It’s just the coolest thing you can do!”
Her personal tip is to do your research before trying to fill out the ballot and listening to each other regardless of party. “People are just listening to respond and no one is listening to listen. I think if you are a Democrat, if you are a Republican, or any other party, I think the most important thing is to not sit on your high horse about what party you’re in.” For Joey, the values are more important than elephant or donkey, red or blue, conservative or liberal.
While the election is definitely spooky, Blumhouse Productions decided to add to the scares by dropping eight new horror films on Amazon, including Joey’s new film, “The Lie.” “What initially attracted me to that role was that I liked that it was a Blumhouse movie but it wasn’t straight-up horror. It was a mental game,” she told me. Having watched the film the night prior, I would agree. The plot twist at the end left my jaw dropped and slightly uncomfortable with all that went down–in the best way. “Performance-wise I was excited to try and figure out how to make someone worth having empathy but also be the villain.”
As for keeping sane, Joey is settling down with her intuitions, not caring what people think, and listening to good music. “I am very eclectic with my taste. Right now I’m listening to the new Sufjan Stevens album, and this album called Lagoons by Tigers in the Sky, a lot of Sigur Rós. And then I sort of take it back, I’ve been listening to Steeler’s wheel a lot, a lil Frankie Valley in there, throw in some Billy Joel, I am all over the place.”
So are we Joey, so are we.
Spooky season is upon us, and there’s no dearth of horror movies and TV shows to watch. But there’s a movie that’s haunted me more than the ghosts of Bly Manor or the Grand High Witch’s fanged-smile. Radium Girls is Lydia Dean Pilcher and Ginny Mohler’s historical drama about the young women hired to paint watch dials with radioactive material back in the 1920s — and died as a result.
Picture this: A row of factory workers, most of them teenage girls, sit at their workstations in a sparsely furnished room. Almost in unison, they lick their paint brushes, dip them into pots filled with powdered radium mixed with water, and paint on the tiny numbers onto a watch dial so that they can glow in the dark. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Watching the scene feels like watching Craig Mazin’s Chernobyl HBO series: We the audience know how dangerous this all is, even as the women on-screen laugh and make small talk about their big plans for the weekend. Many of them will die in pain in the coming year. And the worst part? It all really happened.
Pilcher and Mohler’s film begins in 1925 with Bessie (Joey King) and Jo (Abby Quinn), two sisters who work for the American Radium Factory in Orange, NJ. From the start, you get the sense something’s off — their older sister Mary, also a dial painter, died three years previously from a mysterious illness, and now Jo’s starting to get similar symptoms. First, her teeth come loose, then start to fall out one by one. Her jaw swells, and her bones ache. Concerned, Bessie asks the factory foreman to send a doctor, who shames Jo into silence by telling her she has syphilis. It’s all part of ploy on behalf of the company: Gaslight any women who complain so they don’t make a fuss as you continue to put their lives at risk, knowing full well the nefarious consequences of radium exposure.
Much of Pilcher’s work as a director illuminates lesser-known events in history through the lens of the women who helped shape them. Just last month, her film A Call To Spy, about a network of women spies operating in France during World War II, premiered on VOD. Radium Girls is no different, but it does hold a special kind of urgency in a time when labor and environmental protections are being rolled back for greed and profit.
“We were thinking a lot about the water in Flint, Michigan,” Pilcher told Refinery29 in a phone interview ahead of Radium Girls’ October 23 VOD release. “It’s interesting now because we’re releasing the movie at a very rarefied moment. This idea of a corporation that denied science, a corporation that was telling you radium was good for you and was making profits hand-over-foot from all of this, is something that also makes the story quite interesting in the age of COVID.”
Though Bessie and Jo are based on composites of real people, the story itself is rooted in truth. Radium dial painting started gaining traction around 1917 in the United States, to provide watches that soldiers heading off to the trenches of Europe could read in the dark. There were three main factories in the United States dedicated to this work, but the most famous is the one in Orange, NJ, where Radium Girls is set. In the 1920s, a group of five women led by plant worker Grace Fryer decided to sue American Radium. For several years, the “radium girls,” as they were dubbed in the press, battled a company determined to let the proceedings drag on for as long as possible. The reason? They knew many of the women wouldn’t live out the decade. Indeed, by 1928, when the suit finally went to court, two were confined to their beds. Still, the women prevailed, and a jury awarded damages of $10,000 to each (roughly worth $150,000 in 2020), along with a $600 (about $9,000 now) a year payment for medical expenses. The case forced a reckoning within American industry, as workers realized they could sue their employers for unsafe working conditions, forcing the latter to better regulate potential dangers. And yet, as narrative text at the end of the movie reminds us, radium paint continued to be used well into the 1960s, putting countless lives at risk.
Given the stakes, it’s remarkable that these achievements have been largely forgotten. Pilcher says she knew next to nothing about the events depicted in the film before reading Mohler and Brittany Shaw’s script.
“I had been looking for stories about environmental justice or climate change, and when I read this story, it just spoke to me,” she said. “It was written in a profoundly emotional way. These two sisters are so different, but they’re dreamers, and this situation at the factory becomes a real coming of age for them.”
Intertwined with the plotline about radium poisoning is Bessie’s rising political consciousness, helped along by dashing young communist Walt (Collin Kelly-Sordelet). She represents a generation of young women who, newly armed with the power to vote, felt compelled to take a stand against injustice, and eventually played an active role in shaping the burgeoning labor movement in the United States. That too echoes our current reality, where many of our foremost climate and social justice activists, like Greta Thunberg, Jamie Margolin, or Flint, Michigan’s Mari Copeny, are young women.
“There’s a radium girls play that’s being performed in high schools around the country., and we get tons of mail from young girls who are just dying to see this movie. I think it’s because it’s about teenage girls taking action, and that’s something that’s very empowering. In a world where it often feels like we are helpless and we’re forced to be socially distant from each other, we actually have to sort of remember that we have voices and our voices can be our power. I hope this movie encourages them to go all the way.”