In Up Next, Teen Vogue talks to up-and-coming talent about their journey to fame and the influences that have informed their extraordinary work.
Name: Kristine Froseth
Hometown: Drøbak, Norway and New Jersey
Big break: Playing villain-turned-BFF Veronica alongside Shannon Purser in Neflix’s Sierra Burgess Is a Loser
What’s new: Season 2 of Netflix's The Society is coming in 2020, and she also has a role in the upcoming drama The Assistant, starring Julia Garner.
Kristine Froseth remembers exactly the heartache she felt when the Looking for Alaska movie she’d been auditioning for fell apart. She’d been submitting audition tapes and taking calls for months, scouted by then-director Rebecca Thomas to play the complicated, conflicted, and controversial Alaska Young in a movie version of John Green’s novel that was announced in 2015. And then all of a sudden, the project was no more. “I'd read the book before and it was a story that really meant a lot to me,” Kristine tells Teen Vogue. “So, yeah, I was really bummed.”
But all was not lost. Through the initial Looking for Alaska process, she met her now-manager and got an agent, while also learning exactly what breaking into acting would entail. Before going into acting she was modeling for the likes of H&M, Miu Miu, and Armani. In the years after her Looking for Alaska audition, she would go on to star in Netflix films like Sierra Burgess Is a Loser and Apostle, and this year acted in the ensemble cast of dystopian YA drama The Society, also on Netflix.
And all of that led her right back to John Green: When the project was greenlit for a miniseries on Hulu, she snagged Alaska again, this time helmed by Gossip Girl and The O.C. developers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (“I'm a huge O.C. fan… it was so surreal,” Kristine says). On Oct. 18, the show’s eight episodes dropped on the platform, showcasing Kristine as the iconic titular heroine alongside Charlie Plummer as Miles, Denny Love as The Colonel, and Jay Lee as Takumi. “It was really because of Looking for Alaska that it all started,” she says, “which is so fun to think about now.”
That “now” is particularly important: now that she’s broken through those first hurdles, now that she’s making more decisions about what her career will look like, now that she’s got a brand-new New York City apartment of her own. Now that Kristine’s life looks quite a bit different now than it did at 15, when she began modeling after a catwalk audition at a mall in Norway.
She’d grown up knowing about fashion, both because her mom was a model and because she was an avid fan of Tyra Banks’ classic competition show America’s Next Top Model. “It all seemed super glamorous and fun,” she says. “I just wanted to travel and make some money.” She went on to forge a modeling career of her own — though she now knows it isn’t all that it appears to be. “There were bits of it that were super glamorous: the way we can be treated on set, and flying around, and being in nice hotels. But it's also a lot of work and discipline, and there's so many nos before you get a yes.”
Now, she’s acting full-time, and has so far chosen characters that she’s able to infuse with empathy, characters who work way beyond their initial premise. In Sierra Burgess, she played Veronica, a biting popular girl with family troubles who eventually wins over her former victim Sierra (Shannon Purser) and becomes her best friend. In Looking for Alaska, she takes on a character with a complex legacy: in the years since the book came out in 2005, Alaska Young has come to stand for the tired literary trope of the manic pixie dream girl, a female character seen only through the romanticized lens of her friend Miles.
Kristine’s take on the character helped to alleviate concerns that even the showrunners admitted to having going into the adaptation. Back in July, executive producer Josh Schwartz told Deadline the series would address the book’s “male gaze” problem, so that “Alaska exists in her own right.” Kristine pulls it off.
“That was definitely something we were really aware of. Because [the book is] through a guy's perspective. It's through Miles' eyes, and obviously, when you feel something for someone, you idolize them in a different way,” Kristine says. “We wanted to make clear that she has a full human beating heart. We tried to show her in more private moments, more vulnerable moments. You get a sense of who she is by herself, and you see her outside of campus with her boyfriend at this college party, and you see her out of her element, and then I think you really get a feel for why she puts on this tough front.
“I hope that you do feel like she's really just trying to find herself, and she's really lost, and she's grieving, and she's not just this like magic manic pixie dream.”
Kristine defies stereotype again in The Society, which will likely release its second season in 2020. In the series, she plays Kelly Aldrich, a pretty, popular student at West Ham High School. But when some kind of alternate universe/space-time continuum break occurs, a bus full of students become the only remaining residents, and they’re left to their own devices (read: to murder and pillage and form their own governing bodies at will). Amidst that chaos (“Oh, my God, there's so many of us. I know, there's so much happening,” Kristine jokes about the cast, which includes Kathryn Newton, Olivia DeJonge, and Gideon Adlon, among numerous others), Kelly transforms into a helper and hero, learning how to be a sort of stand-in doctor who can birth babies and address the after-effects of a poisoned Thanksgiving pie.
“I hope [in season 2] that Kelly can get some solo time,” Kristine says. “I'm really interested in why humans are the way they are and what happens in these different circumstances. You're in this fight or flight situation, I mean, you have to survive now. You have to create your own society, and these kids who are so privileged had everything handed to them.”
As her career continues to move forward, she’s prepping for a new project she’s not able to share too many details about, except that she’s “terrified and excited.” That description seems to be the goal mindset in how Kristine picks which movies or shows she wants to take on next.
“It comes down to if I feel challenged, if I feel connected,” she says. “If I feel like the character has layers, and isn't just there for convenience’s sake. If I really feel it, then I try my hardest to fight for it.”
Photographer: Emma Trim (@emmatrim)
Stylist: Michelle Li (@himichelleli)
Hair: Conrad Dornan (@conraddornan)
Makeup: Quinn Murphy (@quinnmurphy)
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Want more from Teen Vogue? Check this out: Kristine Froseth Talks "Sierra Burgess Is a Loser" and Making Veronica a Mean Girl in the Age of Instagram
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue