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Priah Ferguson – Stranger Things’ Breakout Performer – Talks to BGN

Priah Ferguson – Stranger Things’ Breakout Performer – Talks to BGN

priah, priah, priah, stranger things

Season 2 of Stranger Things brought fans all kinds of surprises and expanded the story considerably. Priah Ferguson played Lucas’s little sister Erica, and though her part was on the small side, she made up for it by her presence.  Lucas’s sweetly normal family seemed so far removed from this town’s macabre quirks, but Erica unwittingly made contact with the otherworldly shenanigans when she gave Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) the runaround via walkie-talkie.

Priah turned the ‘bratty kid sibling’ trope on its head by playing Erica with a unique spark. She and Caleb, who plays Lucas, had a real-life sibling chemestry as well. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for Erica in season 3!

priah, priah, priah, stranger things
[Courtesy of Mayhem Entertainment Public Relations]

Crystal Sparrow: The Duffer Bros were so impressed with your work, they actually added scenes featuring Erica and plan on expanding her story next year. Were you aware while shooting that you were making such an impact on the creators? 

Priah Ferguson: Well, working on set with The Duffer Brothers and the entire team was so much fun. Everyone was very nice. Mr. Matt & Mr. Ross trusted my work and let me do my thing naturally. While working, I’m sort of in my zone, but after each take people would walk up and say “Great job, Priah!”, hi-five me, or crack up. A few times they’d mention having me back. Honestly, I was just happy for the opportunity to do those few lines on my first day. I didn’t really expect to return, but I appreciated their feedback. I thought, well it would be nice to return but it was a blessing either way. In Atlanta, many young actors of color don’t get as many opportunities. I just wanted to do my best and hoped that people, especially fans, would enjoy Erica and respect my work. 

Crystal: What was your casting process like? How was the work on set?

Priah: My agents at People Store send over audition requests called a breakdown. Most times a breakdown will give you a lot of information about the character, but it only described Erica as “Lucas’ little sister. She thinks he and his friends are nerds.” That gave me some room to explore the character, plus I like to improv. When I read the script, I loved the character, the writing, and I had heard great things about the show. I really just wanted to show my best work. The audition tape was due within two days but I submitted it in 24hrs, I wanted to get it in early lol. Two weeks later, my agent called to let me know I booked it! My mom and I started screaming and jumping around. Although it was a minor role, just to be chosen to work on Stranger Things felt like a dream. It still feels like a dream. 

Crystal: Of the main cast, you were only physically in a scene with Caleb McLaughlin who plays Lucas. Were you able to play against Gaten Matarazzo who plays Dustin when you did the Walkie-Talkie scenes? Did you get to meet the rest of the main cast?

Priah: Unfortunately, I didn’t play against Gaten but it was so amazing to watch them blend our parts together. When The Duffer Brothers asked me to return for the walkie-talkie scene and the doll scene, I was actually pretty concerned. Lol. I didn’t want to hurt Gaten Matarazzo’s feelings with the whole “Code Red Lucath” line. On the other hand, as an actor, this was part of my character’s personality and I figured Gaten probably wouldn’t trip about it. I met Millie, Sadie, and Finn on different occasions headed to wardrobe fittings. They were all very warm and friendly.

priah, priah, priah, stranger things
[Courtesy of Mayhem Entertainment Public Relations]
Crystal: You mentioned in another interview that one way the Duffer Bros could incorporate Erica into the group is by having her snooping around Lucas’s room and finding things out. Let’s say Erica gets to join their adventure party; what do you think Erica would bring to the group? Do you think she’d be scared initially, or immediately ready to jump on board?

Priah: Hmmm.. I think it depends on what she discovers and how she discovers it.  There are so many different directions they could take Erica and I’m excited to see that. The writers left the story wide open. Erica’s sassy, so she brings a light-hearted comedy feel, which I think is great. We all know she has this “It is what it is” attitude but Erica may be a low-key nerd too. I have no idea what will happen, but I am excited to learn more about Erica and if we have more things in common.

Crystal: What’s something that turns you into a ‘Black girl nerd’? Do you have anything you absolutely love and get “geeky” about?

Priah: Yes! I treated myself to an Apple MacBook Pro. I love gadgets and giving advice to my family, especially my little sister and grandparents on ways to update their phones or iPads. I can stay at an Apple Store ALL day. My parents keep an eye on everything, but I love kid-friendly apps, Pinterest, and working out bugs. Oh! I know it’s a little different for a child to be geeky about this, but I love to clean and organize my room. Lol. I’m actually moving into my own room around Christmas. Another thing I’m really nerdy about are box braids. I watch YouTube braiding tutorials for new styles every day. I always ask my mom to stop by beauty supply stores to purchase several packs of braiding hair, just to practice on my dolls. They turn out pretty good too.

Crystal: You’ve also done spokesperson work. How did the opportunity with The United Way come about? In the future do you think you’d like to focus on acting or mix it up with hosting and spokesperson work?
Priah: Actually, the opportunity with United Way of Greater Atlanta was similar to Stranger Things. I was hired to do one simple video, but it turned into something bigger. I auditioned for a role as “Spokeskid” for a video, explaining what their organization does in a kid-friendly, simple way. Everyone liked my delivery and the video got quite a bit of buzz, so they asked me to create a few more. I’m often invited to speak at events to help share their message of partnership and service to the community too. Through United Way, I’ve learned more about ways to serve, especially with the homeless. I want to do more, especially for homeless children. Last year,  my little sister and I collected books for a women’s shelter and read stories to the kids. Homelessness doesn’t look the way some people think, some people are just trying to get on their feet from a bad situation. I really wish I could visit more children’s hospitals and brighten the patients’ day, reading stories and giving out balloons, but because of my age I can’t really do that yet. Hospitals are strict. In the future, I still see myself as an actress, but more focused on the casting or directing side and helping children. I really admire Ms. Regina King. She started young, but she’s still in the game and she’s a very strong actor trying different things in front of the camera and behind the camera too. 
priah, priah, priah, stranger things
[Courtesy of Mayhem Entertainment Public Relations]
Crystal: You have a very rich tone to your speaking voice. Do you sing? What’s your favorite song right now?
Priah: Oh, thank you! Well, singing isn’t my first talent, lol. I have to constantly practice at it but I’m a lot stronger and I select songs that work for me. I’ve always had a deep, raspy speaking and singing voice that surprises people. My vocal coach helps me find songs to compliment that. I love singing Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” and I’m a big fan of Mary J. Blige. People say I have an old soul, most of the songs I like are from the 90’s. TLC, Mariah Carey, Brandy, OutKast…my favorite songs right now are from Destiny Child’s, “The Writings on the Wall.” Their songs tell great stories.


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Crystal: Where can we next see you?

Priah: I’m currently working on a pretty cool project, but not allowed to say much about it. I’m just having a good time working on my craft, staying focused on school, and balancing it all. It’s been really fun, I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Crystal: Where can we find you on social media? 

Priah: You can find me on Instagram  Twitter and Facebook:  My mom handles all my social media stuff. I have Snapchat but that’s private because she hasn’t really figured out how to work it yet. I’ll help her with it soon.

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