Olivia Holt is entering new acting territory: Marvel. The 20-year-old actress, who came up through the Disney pipeline, is the star of the latest comic book-based story to makes its way to TV.
Debuting June 7 on Freeform, Holt leads “Cloak and Dagger,” as Tandy Bowen, i.e., Dagger; Aubrey Joseph is her costar. The show has already garnered positive reviews from critics, particularly for its handling of hot-button issues. While the characters were created in 1982, the actress points to the topical themes of the show — race, class, sexism and drugs, among others — as the show’s anchor in current culture circa 2018.
“I feel like it’s such the perfect time to be able to portray their story,” she says. “We hit a lot of heavy topics, from addiction to police brutality to sexual assault. And not just the aggressive topics, but also empowering topics like female empowerment, and shining a light on black culture,” she continues. “To be able to create a space that opens up a conversation versus shoving it under the rug or keeping it so hidden, and being able to be so open about it is our goal. Yeah, it’s a show based around two kids who develop these superpowers, but it’s so much more than that.”
It’s certainly Holt’s heaviest role yet.
“I’ve worked in comedy for so long, and I think the time I spent working on sitcoms was perfect timing for me. It gave me room to grow, it gave me room to understand this industry and also just to soak up as much knowledge as I possibly can,” she says. “I feel like in the past, I’ve taken on roles without really resonating with them, and I feel like with this one, I feel [really connected] to Tandy.”
The actress has embraced her unique position — with five million followers on Instagram and a Marvel show, she has a lot of people watching — by supporting social movements, including the March for Our Lives, #MeToo and Times Up campaigns.
“There’s so much happening in our culture right now; there’s such a massive paradigm shift. So the fact that I’m young, and I’m alive to be able to witness all this happen and to have a voice and to use it and to not be afraid to do all of those things, is pretty inspiring,” she says. “My entire generation — it’s our turn to step up our game and push the culture forward a little bit,” she adds. Last summer, she went to Africa with WE Initiative to volunteer building schools and wells. “I’ve learned so much about what it’s like to not just impact your community or make a change locally, but even globally,” she says of the experience. “I went hoping to make an impact and difference in their lives, not realizing they’d do the same for me. I’ve done a lot of growing in the last year.”
She’s also honed her professional focus, which since the beginning of the year has been largely on creating music.
“I’ve been keeping it on the DL on my socials, but yea, I’ve been in the recording studio almost every single day this year, writing and recording, making music,” she says. “I’m excited for everybody to listen to all the stories I’ve been writing and I’m excited for them to go on that journey with me.”
Holt points to travel as the inspiration behind the music she’s been creating lately. “I feel like it just keeps me alive and keeps me more curious and helps me breathe and listen and observe,” she says. Appropriately, travel — and more music — are on her agenda for the summer, as is some downtime. “I just want to enjoy summer and see friends and family and make sure I’m prioritizing not just the work life, but the personal life as well,” she says.
Holt has also been dipping her toes into the fashion world. Last season, she sat front-row at Marc Jacobs and Zimmerman, and she adds that the experiences have given her a deeper appreciation and respect for designers. As for her personal style, Holt is just like any other Gen Zer.
“I like to be comfortable, but I also like to keep things fun and fresh and effortlessly cool,” she says. “I don’t know if I have one specific style, because I feel like it’s just an evolution of change depending on my mood or where I’m at. I think right now I’m in a really comfortable place of exploring, but also staying in a realm that I feel confident in.”
Makeup: Amy Orseman
Hair: Marissa Marino
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