Alexa Swinton is a young performer who sparkles joy and graciousness. She has been part of more than 23 films and TV credits, including the popular TV series Billions and M. Night Shyamalan’s mystery film Old. But recently, we can see her in the widely expected And Just Like That…, the series that brings back the legendary fashion icon women of the unforgettable Sex and the City.
She sings, acts, writes, and entertains, but, most importantly, she is a young lady who never misses an opportunity to demonstrate the ways she has been loving family and standing up for equality.
We invite you to read the conversation we had only for Vanity Teen.
Not something you can do on your own!
VT: How did you get into the entertainment industry?
AS: My mom, Inna, has been in the industry forever, and, when I was younger, she thought I had an acting spark.
She was always doing these videos of us (my brother, Maxim, and my sister, Ava) dancing and singing. And since she is an actress, she thought it would be fun for us.
She made me a profile on ‘Actors Access’ and submitted me for some projects.
At age three, I had my first audition and was cast in my first film – a Zombie movie, of course – a very cool one created by artist Matthew Barney and starring Paul Giamatti, Elaine Stritch, and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
I was scared of the zombie (who I learned later was a famous jazz musician), but my mom tried to help me, so she hid under the bed and was like: it’s just pretending! But from that first experience, it has been through the support of my mom, my dad, and my grandparents, who all help!
As a kid, you need help. Definitely, it’s not something you can do on your own! And you have to put in the work. As well as have a good attitude because most of the time, you are auditioning, so you have to like auditions.
VT: Yes, you started at a very young age and have already worked with Hollywood big names like Paul Giamatti, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ellen Burstyn, Donald Faison, Kate Walsh, and the directing legend M. Night Shyamalan. So, how would you describe this magnificent journey in acting you have been having so so far?
AS: It is a really important part of my life.
I think of it a bit like a competitive sport. My older sister is a rower, and she works hard at her sport, with lots of training and occasionally a race where she gets to perform at her best ability. Acting is like that for me – it is something I love doing.
Often acting means working on auditions at home – just my mom and me, or sometimes with my brother, Maxim. Also, my mom’s friend, who she has worked with a lot, is a brilliant Russian director, and I have been fortunate to learn from her.
Every audition is like a world – you get to learn about the history and different places and people. I also did musical theater classes – I remember singing: “kids, what’s the matter with kids today!”
At home, we watch a lot of movies, go to many Broadway shows, and spend a ton of time in comedy clubs – my mom and brother both do standup. So I think the journey has many parts!
When I was just getting started, we did many student films in which we worked with graduate directing students at NYU or Columbia. That’s been super fun, and I have worked on those with my mom, brother, and sister as too!
I have also had the opportunity to do live theater, which was incredible. I had the lead in a play called ‘Make Believe’ written by Bess Wohl, where I was one of four children who were the only actors for the first act, and we had to carry the whole show. I also did Annie Warbucks and played Molly. I can’t wait to get the chance to do a play or a musical again.
And I am very thankful for the chance I have had already to work with so many incredible artists and producers – so many directors and actors! I learn from all of them.
When I was filming Emergence, I was nine during the pilot and ten during the show, and it was a lot of responsibility to have a leading role. I was so lucky to get to work with really generous actors like Alison Tollman and Clancy Brown, who were always pushing me to learn to improve my skills and were there teaching me.
Working with M. Night Shyamalan taught me how to work successfully with your family – seeing him involve his wife and his daughters in Old. Also – I got the chance to see M. Night’s intense storyboards. He is so specific in his vision and loves actors. He also had to deal with the pandemic and filming in the DR – he had to have an excellent team.
Last year, I acted in a fun scene in Billions – the scene where Paul Giamatti makes an omelet – which is an homage to a Stanley Tucci film, Big Night. Apparently, it’s has been voted one of the best television scenes of 2021!
And now, to work with Kristin Davis, Michael Park King, Cynthia Nixon, and Sarah Jessica Parker has been an honor. They are all so talented and creative and so kind. Kristin is such a wonderful actor and such a lovely person. I’ve also learned from the designers and makeup artists. Molly and Danny [Santiago], as well as their team, are like costume superheroes!
VT: What role has your family played in your career?
AS: My family is the reason I have a career – which is a pretty big role. My mother, Inna, is an actress, comedian, writer, and lawyer. She has been essential to my success. She is my acting coach, my acting partner for nearly every audition, especially now that they are all virtual, my mentor, and most importantly, my mom.
She has traveled with me to every shoot and is there every day on set with me, unless my grandmother, grandfather, or dad gives her a day off. And not only does she work with me to ensure I am at the top of my game professionally, but she is also working with me on my schoolwork to ensure I am always on track there and that I’m investing in myself through sport, art, and music. It is a commitment by her to help me, and my brother, and my sister, pursue acting and performing.
My grandma and grandfather have been key to helping me and my brother Maxim get into New York for the countless auditions we went to. Sometimes we would have to drive into the city two times in the same day.
And my dad has been helpful as well – if my mom is the director in the family, he is like the producer. I also appreciate my other grandmother – we have loved visiting her peaceful house in the Arizona desert all these years to relax and unwind after our hectic life in New York.
We also create our own work! I love to write. When the pandemic started and we were all inside for days, I created plays just for our family to watch in the basement. I sold tickets, made my brother wear tights a wig, and had to pay him for his services.
We have a family YouTube channel where we, basically, put up videos; so they don’t get lost. We do a news comedy show. We also post song covers and originals. As a family, we do work on film and theater together. We all acted in Kooky Spook – a play my mom wrote and in Off-Broadway. We also worked on the movie of that.
Too young to have watched the full Sex and the City series
VT: Currently, you are part of the highly anticipated TV show And Just Like That… What can you tell us about your character in the show and the experience of being part of the legacy of one of the most iconic series of all time?
AS: I had no idea how big the show was really. I was – and still am – too young to have watched the full Sex and the City series. I knew the show through all the amazing memes! Especially Carrie and her shoes! But I only came to really understand how much love there is for the show, and the characters, when we were filming late one night in Manhattan out on the street.
It was about 2 am and, there was this huge crowd watching the shoot. Hundreds of people came to watch, and in the city where no one pays any attention to anyone, ever. They were there to see the characters they love! I was in awe at how important the show is to its fans. And I love that fans already developed strong opinions about what kind of child Rose/Rock is going to be.
Coming into the production on And Just Like That… was like joining a huge welcoming family. The first day of production was a table read. Kristin came up to me to introduce herself and told me how, when she saw my audition, she knew they had found their Rose/Rock.
She was so warm, open, and supportive. She immediately made me feel welcomed into this new family. And that has been the case with everyone I have had the fortune to work with: from Molly Rogers (the costume designer) to Michael Patrick King (the showrunner) to the producers and writers: Julie Rottenberg and Elisa Zuritsky. Also from Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, and, of course, Kristin Davis.
MPK is impressive as a showrunner – he is on top of everything from the big creative vision to the smallest details! He and I worked closely on figuring out Rock’s haircut – it was a real collaboration. Cynthia Nixon directed an episode, and she was so thoughtful; it was inspiring. And SJP, she is awesome! She’s so focused and so kind. I feel lucky to be here.
VT: Besides acting, we know you are also a recording artist. Could you tell us more about this facet of yours?
AS: I have been so fortunate to be able to develop my skill in recording music. I have been working with some great artists and producers for the last few years and have had the chance to write and record some original music as well as record some wonderful covers. I enjoy writing and creating, so this is another outlet for me.
My first two singles – ‘You, Me, and My Purple Docs’ and ‘Happy As I Wanna Be’ were recorded at the historic Sunset Sound studio in Los Angeles!
I worked with the amazing producer Dawn Elder. She brought together the most incredible musicians to record with me. And more recently, I had the chance to record some new music we will be releasing soon at Cove City Studios.
The Cove City Studios is where we worked with Richie Cannata, the amazing musician who accompanied Billy Joel on the saxophone for New York State of Mind and many other huge hits.
My mom and I co-wrote and created a music video for ‘You, Me, and My Purple Docs’ that we were able to shoot during the pandemic – you can see that on our YouTube channel, The Swinton Show, and check out my music on iTunes or Spotify!
Loving family and standing up for equality
VT: What are your plans for the future?
AS: Besides continuing to act, I’m really into design, art, fashion, and makeup, so I definitely think that I’ll build clothes or makeup brand in the future. I think the future is going to be in creating sustainable clothing as well as beauty, and I would like to play in that market.
One of my biggest goals in life is to go to Yale University because both of my parents went there, so we visit there from time to time. I love the campus and have met so many inspiring people there. I would love to have that experience, so that’s another plan.
Also, I have this huge dream to be in a Marvel movie one day since I have a huge obsession with Marvel, so it would be pretty cool to be a new Marvel character someday. I know I may need to do a backflip or something – so I started doing pilates to work on my abs!
I love being physically active and playing sports – biking, hiking, and climbing. And since rowing is also a family tradition (my dad rowed for Yale and Cambridge, and my sister rows competitively), I am also now rowing!
I hope to put in the effort for things I care about. I love animals, care about gender equality and LGBTQ+ issues, discrimination based on religion or race, and I just hope I can help our world be a better, kinder place for all of us. I like that acting can give you a platform to help others.
VT: Besides yours, which book would you recommend and why?
AS: I forever have been into murder mysteries. One of my favorites has to be One Of Us Is Lying. It’s a very popular book and one which I heavily enjoy. I just love the characters, the different points of view, the relationships, and also the many plot twists. I haven’t met a single person who read it who hasn’t loved that book.
VT: When you are not acting or performing, which simple thing do you enjoy doing?
AS: I absolutely love the Sims 4 and Minecraft. So, that takes up a lot of my time. Making cute houses is something I find really relaxing, and both those games offer me that.
Sometimes for inspiration, I find photos of real and interesting buildings; and then I work to recreate them. It can take some creative hacking! I made a haunted English village; I would like to make a YouTube video telling the story I made up with my sims and my design process.
I also seriously love music. At the moment, you’d probably find me listening to “Folklore,” “Lover,” or “Reputation” by Taylor Swift blasting in my headphones.
VT: What message would you like to share with those who follow your work and, despite the difficult times, find rejoice in films, TV shows, and music?
AS: I am with you! I love movies, TV, and music. Please, keep watching and supporting the arts! And also, live theater. Artists need support during these tough times.
I find a lot of joy in music; recently, I’ve been obsessed with Taylor Swift; I listen to her albums all the time! My favorite today is Daylight, and yesterday was Marjorie!
VT: Anything else you would like to share with Vanity Teen?
AS: Please, follow me on Instagram @alexaswinton, and, please, subscribe to our family YouTube channel at The Swinton Show.
Also, I would like to celebrate this wonderful organization I have been supporting called Saving Our Daughters (SOD), which reaches out to girls of multicultural backgrounds in an effort to encourage them within the arts to help deter bullying in their communities.
SOD creates tools to get teen girls discussing key issues and fired up to take the power away from bullying: cyber, gossip, face-to-face, date abuse, hate crimes, school violence, violence against women, and other esteem slayers.
Before we go
Alexa Swinton invites us to share joy through arts, love family, promote equality, and not allow bullies to steal our light and power. If I’m sincere, I could not agree more with her values and would adore seeing all of us joining her in this path for a kinder world.
She also has more projects coming in her way and lots of music and content for everyone to enjoy, so do not have second thoughts on staying tuned with the lovely Alexa Swinton.