Debate continues on why? brothers, the first LGBTQ romantic comedy to get a studio release, couldn’t have had more luck at the box office and what this says about the market for comedies, especially those with queer themes. While it’s unclear whether the Billy Eichner movie starring would have made a bigger splash on a streamer, one movie that recently proved that streaming projects can quickly attract a fan base among the LGBTQ community was take revengedirector Jennifer Kaytin Robinson’s high school comedy about Camila Mendes’ fallen queen bee who befriends Maya Hawke’s newcomer as they plot to take out each other’s nemesis.
One of the film’s countless meme-generating moments since it hit Netflix in September is a scene in which Eleanor (Hawke) kisses on the grass with free-spirited Gabbi, played in the film by Talia Ryder. For Ryder, 20, who has steadily made a name for himself since a breakout role in the 2020 Sundance hit Never Seldom Sometimes Alwaysit was the confirmation of her younger TikTok-loving siblings, including brother Tre, that drove home how many fans limited her take revenge screen time. “He was really excited to have edits by me and the film on his ‘for you’ page,” Ryder said. The Hollywood Reporter. “That was a really big deal in his eyes – I made it.”
By whatever rubric, even if unrelated to social media algorithms, Ryder has indeed made it. take revenge is part of a 2022 for the rising star, which will include attending Oscar parties as Steven Spielberg’s cast member West Side Storyappear opposite Regina Hall in horror film Master and co-starring with Jordan Fisher in Netflix’s July Romantic Drama Hello, goodbye and everything in between. Ryder hasn’t always felt part of the crowd, though, and says playing the confident Gabbi reminded her that she wasn’t feeling particularly social in her own high school experience, which included dancing four hours a day after class during her freshman year and second year.
“She’s definitely cooler than I was when I was in high school,” Ryder says of Gabbi. “Even though not everyone is confident, she’s really good at putting on a really cool look, and I wasn’t as good at that as she was. It brought elements of me and also of who I wish I was a little bit in high school because she’s openly queer, dresses differently than some of the other people in her circle and finds out who she is and isn’t afraid to be different . She’s fine with not having a crew and hiding in a theater, as she says. I wish I could march a little more to the beat of my own drum in high school.”
Ryder grew up in Buffalo, New York, but her family moved to New York City when she was 12, where she was able to pursue her love of dance and get closer to the exciting world of Broadway. After she and younger sister MiMi, a fellow dancer, saw Mathilde the musical on the Great White Way, they urged their mother to let them audition for the production; they both played a part in Mathilde in 2015, with MiMi cast as the title role, while Talia played Hortensia. She now sees that life could have been different in many ways if she hadn’t ended up in the Big Apple.
“I wasn’t really exposed to, or at least I knew, queer people growing up, and it wasn’t until I got to town that I was exposed to that community,” Ryder says. “When I was growing up in Buffalo, I thought there was a formula like, ‘I go to school for something sensible — like biology or something, not dancing — and I’ll go to college and get a good job and a house and a have a family.’ Not that I was mad about that; that was exactly what was on my mind.”
Ryder had no credits on the big screen when filmmaker Eliza Hittman cast her Never Seldom Sometimes Always as teenage Skylar, who joins the challenging journey when her cousin Autumn (first actor Sidney Flanigan) ventures from rural Pennsylvania to New York City to have an abortion. Hittman’s eye for new talent was clearly spot on, and the project has become one of the most important recent films helping to bring to life the struggles arising from limited access to abortion in the United States.
“When Talia Ryder Auditioned For” Never Seldom Sometimes Alwaysshe possessed a rare sensitivity and sincerity that is almost impossible to find in a casting session,” Hittman said. THR. “Wide-eyed and full of curiosity, she effortlessly connected with everyone in the room. She brought that same warm energy every day to set up.”
The film, which won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and has a 99 percent approval rating on Rotten tomatoes, launched the careers of both Ryder and Flanigan, a lifelong Buffalo resident who has also continued to work steadily in the industry. Ryder proudly calls it her all-time favorite movie and says her heart breaks for girls like Autumn and Skylar after the Supreme Court’s destruction Roe v. Wade. Her efforts to influence the issue are not limited to her on-screen characters; Ryder and a friend sold shirts with silkscreen drawings of the female body at the Big Ash vintage clothing store on New York City’s Lower East Side, and the sale raised $3,000 for Planned Parenthood in August alone, the actress said.
“Working with Talia was a really special experience,” says Flanigan THR. “From the moment we met, I felt an almost familial bond with her. That way she is warm and approachable. She was my rock on set and kept me grounded as the days got long. Ever since Never RarelyI watch and stick with all the work she does and feel a great sense of pride in what a badass Talia still is.”
Indeed, not many artists immediately follow a critically acclaimed first film project with a project receiving seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, as Ryder did with Spielberg’s West Side Story. Combining her two loves – acting and dancing – the film gave her a first look at how Spielberg creates a safe space for actors to take risks despite being involved in a massive production: “It makes sense why he’s one of the GOATS is.” As for the Academy Awards, she was unable to attend the ceremony, but says she likes the idea of potentially finding herself in future Oscar talks (“It would be sick”), despite stressing that it is not her main motivation.
Her carefully composed CV is of course not just passing by. Michael Lewen, who directed her in Hello, goodbye and everything in betweentells THR that he met Ryder in 2019 when she was auditioning for a pilot he was casting, and that she actually turned down the part when it was offered. In front of Hello GoodbyeHe didn’t want to miss another chance to work with her, and this time they talked through Zoom so Lewen could pitch the film. He says, “Talia’s dedication to finding the right way in everything she does has pushed me and everyone else in the film to give our best every day.”
Her close relationship with her siblings also came in handy when MiMi was an early fan of Olivia Rodrigo’s and helped put the singer on her big sister’s radar. When Ryder was offered to star in Rodrigo’s music video for ‘Deja Vu’, her second single from Rodrigo’s debut album Pickles, MiMi made no effort to hide her approval. Ryder, whose bathroom selfie with Rodrigo at the 2021 Met Gala made the rounds on social media, says she and the music star are still exchanging lyrics and reminiscing about their first connection: “After zooming in with Olivia and hearing how articulate, poised and smart she was for her age I thought, ‘Okay, I get it. I’m a fan.'”
With the popularity of take revenge to further raise her profile, Ryder has a few film projects up his sleeve, including starring as ballerina Joy Womack in the upcoming biopic Joika, plus some projects she can’t name yet. Eager to continue finding ways to incorporate dance into her life, she hopes one day to direct her own work and maybe even dabble in choreography. Ryder continues to prove there is no formula for her path, but her handful of years since high school has helped her learn who she is and what makes her happiest. “I’m most myself when I dance,” she says. “Even when preparing a character, I just dance like that person would dance. I feel like that’s when we let all our guards down and can be ourselves for a while.”