Her big-screen debut came at the age of 10 playing the memorable ‘Blithe’ opposite Jonah Hill in “The Sitter,” a Disney Channel gig followed, as did a role in Netflix’s “Fuller House,” and now Landry Bender has made the not-so-easy-transition from teen star to 20-year-old. On tap this summer: “The Republic of Sarah,” releasing on CW June 14, before moving over to HBO Max. Bender recently chatted with us via Zoom from her bedroom in Los Angeles to talk social-media stress, Disney-star pressures and why Supergoop! makes the best sunscreen on the planet.
Congrats on the new show. How was it different than other projects you’ve worked on?
“We had planned on starting filming last March and, basically on our first day of production, we got shut down and sent back because of the pandemic. Then, once all the rules and protocols were put in place, we all got to resume production in September. We filmed in Montreal, which had very strict COVID protocols, like the strictest in Canada. We kind of had to learn the ways of life on set with this pandemic.
It was weird for those of us who had set routines and ways we normally approach our job…we kind of had to find our way around all of that, which was a really different experience. Even things like kissing scenes were very different—they had to block scenes differently sometimes because there’s a lot of, ‘Oh, you’re not in my bubble, you have to stand six feet away from me.’ It’s was just a lot of protocols you wouldn’t even think of, so all of it was super different.
It was still really great though. We got tested, we knew we were safe and we could spend time and bond with our cast mates during this terrible, scary time. I think we all had each other to lean on, which was really special. I think we’re all proud of the bonds we made.”
The show is coming out at a time when the world is opening back up. That has to come with an added level of excitement.
“It was cool. It’s always weird when you’re working on something and you don’t really know what it’s going to look like or how it’s going to come about. But, sort of midway through season one, our creator, Jeff, was saying that the plan was to give the show this really optimistic approach—because the plan was to premiere coming out of the pandemic. It’s just sort of this fantasy world of what would you do if you had the opportunity to start something from scratch, which I think, considering the pandemic and the hard year we’ve all had, it’s a really cool way to approach it.
I think we’re all really proud of what we made, and it felt like such an insular, tight-knit bubble where we didn’t even think about the world seeing it because we were so into doing the work. But now that we’re out of it, I think we’re all very much, “Ooh, yay. Now we get to share it! It’s cool.”
I’m sure you’ve used and tried a ton of products on the shows you’ve been on. Do you have any favorites?
“My favorite moisturizer that I’ve lived by for a few years—and every makeup person I’ve worked with loves it too—is the Belif Moisturizing Bomb. I have really, really dry skin. I always wake up and my skin feels super dry and then I put that on and it feels like water on my face. I love it. That’s a really good one. There’s also a Supergoop! sunscreen that I really like. I’ve been trying to wear sunscreen more often, and I like that it’s clear and you can put it on under makeup. It makes it easy.
I also love Hourglass mascara. It comes in a gold tube. A lot of times, when I’m not on set, I love just curling my eyelashes and putting on mascara and putting on eyebrow gel—and that’s it. That does the trick for me. That’s my really toned-down, basic makeup look.”
You use your social media for communicating with fans, but is it something that you like to be completely open on?
“It’s been an interesting thing for me…I think I got Instagram when I was about 11 or 12, which is obviously a really pivotal point of life when you’re trying to figure out who you are and not really knowing your place in the world. For me, I’ve always sort of wanted an element of my life to be private; when I feel like I’m sharing too much, it brings me a lot of anxiety.
My team will actually tell me, ‘You need to be posting more!’ because I’ve gotten pretty good at just living and forgetting to share stuff as much as I probably should. On the other hand, there are times where I’m posting too much.
It’s sort of this give and take. It’s really nice to be able to put things out there and have them well-received and feel like you’re sharing the parts of yourself that you want to share—but it’s also really scary to feel like you’re perceived or misunderstood or things are taken out of context. That part of it makes me anxious, even though I probably shouldn’t care at all. I think it’s just that push and pull that’s going to always go along with social media.”
Do you feel certain pressure coming up as a Disney star?
“Yes and no. I always looked up to Disney kids when I was growing up, and it was always a thing I wanted to do, but I also knew that that wasn’t going to be my whole career. I think that was the best way of looking at it—keeping it in check that it was just a job, even though they gave me so much, and I’m still in touch with everyone at the network and they’re lovely people. I’ve found that it’s important to remember that you get hired by a company here, you get hired by a company there, and you really shouldn’t worry too much about the labels of it all because, if you’re thinking of your whole career as one company, I think that’s kind of where things get a little bit wonky. I just had to believe that I was going to work somewhere else after working with the channel, and I’m lucky enough to have been able to.
I’ve talked to some of my friends who are Disney kids and we all are kind of like, ‘As long as our mind space can be focused on the fact that we are actors and we, hopefully, can get to do this for the rest of our lives, there is not really anything to get hung up on there.'”
Photographer: Kelsey Hale (@kelsey_hale); Stylist: Ryann Lanel Redman (@ryannlanel); Hair and Makeup: Jordan Fox (@JordanFoxBeauty)
Dress: H&M; Boots: Dr. Martens; Earrings: Jenny Bird
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