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Sydney Sweeney is having her heyday in Hollywood after rising to fame in two widely acclaimed TV shows, Euphoria and The White Lotus. But as she tries to balance her work and personal life while in the spotlight, she has one major takeaway: "Women have to deal with a lot."
One of Sweeney's biggest battles has been the way that she is perceived in real life as a result of her portrayals of Cassie and Olivia in the respective projects. However, proving people wrong when it comes to who she really is isn't new for the 25-year-old actress.
"I like finding characters who challenge the viewer," she told British GQ. "I dyed my hair blonde and started dressing up for photoshoots and people thought that is who I am. I worked really hard to change that perception of myself, especially in high school."
She recalls feeling obliged to separate her personality from her looks, as they so often painted other's characterizations of her.
"I had boobs before other girls and I felt ostracized for it," she recalled of growing up. "I was embarrassed and I never wanted to change in the locker room. I think that I put on this weird persona other people had of me because of my body. So I did play every sport and I studied really hard and I did everything that people wouldn’t think I would do, to show them that my body doesn’t define who I am."
That battle continues for Sweeney, although "now it's on a whole-world scale." She said it's "completely disgusting and unfair" to see how she's been oversexualized by audiences and the media despite the point that she's tried to make as Cassie.
"You have a character that goes through the scrutiny of being a sexualized person at school and then an audience that does the same thing," she said. "I think it’s ridiculous. I’m an artist, I play characters. It makes me want to play characters that piss people off more."
To quiet the noise, she practices hobbies like working on cars and MMA fighting which she said is "more like who I was growing up," in Spokane, Washington. MMA, in particular, has also allowed her to reconnect with her bodily autonomy and strength.
"The thing I loved the most was how much I was teaching my brain to not give up," Sweeney said. "If my body thinks it's tired then my brain can tell me it’s not. Discipline is one of the first things that they teach you, and I really liked the respect I was teaching myself. Now I put that into everything I do."
The mental challenge has also helped her during moments where she felt she couldn't "quiet my brain" while working on projects. Eventually, she experienced burnout and panic attacks that forced her to take a step back. "I had seven days off. I went home and turned off my phone," she said. "I have to find a healthy in-between."
Despite the doubt that she's both experienced and faced through her journey in the industry, Sweeney believes that the work she is doing speaks for itself.
"I truly believe success is the best revenge," she said.
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