In case you’ve been hidden under a rock for the last year, the noise surrounding Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why has been deafening. And with a slowly unfolding mystery central to the plot and executive producer Selena Gomez as a driving force, it’s not exactly surprising why. And with season two imminently dropping today, here’s what happened when ASOS Magazine caught up with two of the main cast members, Tommy Dorfman (Ryan) and Alisha Boe (Jessica) and talked about sexuality, race and why it’s OK not to feel OK…
STYLE AND CULTURE
STYLE FILES: ALISHA BOE + TOMMY DORFMAN
By Style Feed Staff, May 18, 2018
The show highlights so many things about being a teen today that people often shy away from — what was your reaction to reading it?
Tommy: I remember reading it and being like, “I have to do this. I don’t have any qualifications, I barely have an agent, but I wanna be part of this story in whatever capacity.”
Alisha: We knew it was going to be controversial because of the topics we were covering, but the reaction was coming from both sides — people saying that it was controversial and people saying it was helpful. People feel uncomfortable because they don’t want to see teenagers going through that, and they’re not used to it being shown in such a realistic way, but that’s what happens in high school.
How did you approach the second season?
A: I felt the same way [as everyone] — Hannah’s tapes are over, what more can we do? But there’s so much story left unexplored. We heard Hannah’s side, it’s one perspective that needed to be told. But there are so many unresolved stories.
T: There’s not one side to every story. To see Zach’s, or Ryan’s experience, versus Hannah’s, sheds light on all facets of what happened.
How did people’s reactions to the storylines educate you?
A: Filming the first season was like a crash course in women’s rights, sexual assault and rape. I started opening up and being honest with myself about, well, what is assault and what is harassment? It made me have an open dialogue with my mom, my family members and close friends.
T: I’ve learnt how powerless teenagers feel and I hope, in showing teenagers speaking out, our show inspires people to know that whatever your age, you have a voice.
What particular stories do you think need to be represented more on television?
T: Disabilities. I’ve had people reach out and be like, “Hey, do you think in season two there will be representation for kids with disabilities?” That is a reality you don’t see represented in TV shows often, and when it is, it’s a person without a disability playing the character. It’s like now they never let gay people play gay leads in movies and TV shows.
A: It’s unfair because straight actors get to play the gay and the straight roles.
T: Yeah, they don’t get typecast. It’s not to say straight actors can’t play gay roles, but let more gay actors play straight roles, and let them be publicly queer and open about their sexuality, just like straight people are. 99% of the roles are straight and then 90% of the gay roles are being given to straight actors.
So from day one on set were the two of you best friends?
A: 13 Reasons Why was an overnight sensation, none of us were prepared for the personal effects of it. I’m fortunate with this show, but you have to learn how to live your life a little differently. My life has changed so much over the past two years and personally, it messes with you. It would be a terribly lonely thing if I didn’t have Tommy.
T: I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have Alisha. She’s why I moved here [to LA]. She’s such a strong ally. We both deal with our own frustrations within this industry. She’s the person I can call and complain freely to and that’s important. It’s OK to vent sometimes.
Season two of 13 Reasons Why is on Netflix now