When a twentysomething actress on the brink tells you she was writing romantic comedies from her bedroom as a 12-year-old, you want to roll your eyes — right? But Sarah Ramos — actress, screenwriter, web series producer, short film director, creative writing grad and podcaster — sidesteps any eye-roll-worthy cliché, and instead might just be the coolest girl to come out of Los Angeles in a while.
Ramos, a native of Orange County, Calif., is until this point most well-known for her role as Haddie on “Parenthood.” Having acted since childhood, she’s only recently back on the film scene following a four-year break to attend Columbia.
“I wanted to take time off because I’d been [in L.A.] my entire life, and I’d been acting since I was a kid,” the 25-year-old says, occasionally shushing her Rhodesian-ridgeback mix, Freddy. “I was on a TV show when I was 10 and then 16 and 18, and I was just feeling like this could very well be the rest of my life, and it would all feel the exact same as it had when I was starting out when I was a kid. I’d always wanted to write, and I decided to apply and go study creative writing, writing fiction and short stories — I didn’t want to study anything that had to do with film. [I wanted to] broaden my horizons.”
Her experience as a creative writing student would prove useful character research for her role on “The Affair” this season, where she played just that.
“The first story I wrote at Columbia was atrocious — I just didn’t understand how long it would take to write something that you wouldn’t want to tear your hair out if somebody other than you read it,” she says. “I remember writing the story in the hours before class, printing out 20 copies of the first draft of it and handing it to everybody in my class. And [you] don’t want to give out 20 copies of your first draft of something to be ripped to shreds.”
Her time at Columbia, though intended to be a complete break from her film mind-set, inadvertently led her to a better understand her original craft.
“Before I went to Columbia, I’d directed a short film with some friends [“The Arm”] and it ended up winning an award at Sundance,” she says. “And I didn’t understand what that meant — I didn’t really understand Sundance; I wasn’t looking at it professionally. I was just like ‘Let me experiment,’ and that kind of made me think ‘Oh, maybe there’s something more to this than studying.’”
With a dress under her belt, she’s back to creating; in 2016 she released the short film “Fluffy,” starring Max Minghella and Holland Roden, which she wrote and directed, and at the Tribeca Film Festival she’ll be seen alongside Zosia Mamet in “The Boy Downstairs.”
She balances this with a webseries, “City Girl,” and a podcast, “This Week Had Me Like,” done with childhood friend Caroline Goldberg, the brains behind the Instagram account @officialseanpenn. “Caroline and I took teen improv classes together at Second City — as you can see I was very proactive with my career when I was a kid,” she deadpans.
The summer she’s back on NBC in the new series “Midnight Texas,” from the book series by “True Blood” writer Charlaine Harris. “The show was set in a small town, and because of ‘Gilmore Girls’ and ‘Friday Night Lights’ I’ve always wanted to live in a small town,” she says of the part.
Web series, podcast, short film, major network series lead — got all that?
“I feel like just being flexible with what you make is super important,” she says.