The full version of this interview appeared in Issue 1 of Sense of Self Zine
Interview/Design by: Isabella Vega
Art by: Kristina Marie
Throughout the issue, we’ve spoken of blooming: both the growth of nature and the growth of our souls. When I think of my personal “blooming”, I think of all of the women around me who aided me in the process of forming my own opinions and not being afraid to share them. Barrett Wilbert Weed is at the forefront of my mind; her unapologetic-ness mixed with her natural authenticity was something that formed a role model, and after years listening to her (both in song and interview) I found within me the strength to take up space simple because I deserved it, and to never shrink myself down for others beliefs. I hope in reading this interview you are able to learn a little more about the heart she wears on her sleeve.
One of the keys to understanding Barrett is that she joined theatre as a way to find a community. She was fortunate enough to go to the Walnut Hill School, a private arts boarding school; think Hogwarts but for artists. She makes a point to mention that everyone was so incredibly kind on her first day of touring the school. “I felt like it was the first time in my teenage years where I was never expected to be anything less than what I was. It was also the first time I had teachers who would ask how I was and offer their help, because they genuinely cared.”
Barrett lost her father when she was a young child, and was raised by a single mother. Back in 2016, when she had a Twitter account, she posted a note of her thoughts on grieving and her father’s spirit. It was mostly a way for her to vent. I had the note saved on my phone, because I had just recently lost a family member, and seeing another person go through what I was going through brought me comfort. I tell her this, and ask her how her father’s death affected her in terms of empathizing with the emotionally charged roles she has selected.
“The trade off that you get when you lose a parent is that it broadens your emotional spectrum, especially when you’re young. It made me aware of the harm that I could do to others, because the pain was the worst I had ever felt, that depth of sadness. It occurred to me that because I was feeling this way, other people can feel this way. I never wanted to be responsible for having another human being hurt like I had hurt. Another thing that came of the experience is that for most of my life, I have been very quick to rage. I don’t direct it at people, now, I direct it sometimes on art making, unfortunately, sometimes myself. In terms of emotional performance, I never realized what I was capable of until Heathers, because it was so emotionally hard. There are some days, as an 8 show a week actor, you run out of sadness/tears or you run out of laughs. I could never run out of anger. The role of Veronica has served as a way for me to get the anger out.”
For stage-dooring, Barrett has never been in this business for the validation. She thinks that having to go outside after the show while she is already exhausted from a performance isn't necessary, and she doesn't think it's healthy for your mental health/ego to have that constant gratification. It isn't a system that works for her, so she doesn't partake in it.
“I love that people admire my work, and I understand that most people just want to meet me, but it's just not something that I feel comfortable doing. I do enjoy sharing pieces of myself in moments like these. I prefer doing meaningful fan experiences, like Zoom chats or Q&As or student forums. I would rather show themselves myself as authentically as possible rather than an exhausted and half there version of myself. I grew up in the early 90s-era that was dominated by Britney Spears-types. She’s an AMAZING performer, don’t get me wrong, but we never knew anything about her because of how she was portrayed. The famous people you grow up watching tend to imprint on your brain, when you’re an adult, you realize there's a mixed messaging there. I think its important to have genuine role models."
Find more of Barrett here: