THERE are not many lingerie campaigns that get as much publicity as a Hollywood movie.
But actress Sydney Sweeney’s collection with swimwear brand Frankies Bikinis comes close.
The 25-year-old, who stars in Netflix smash Euphoria, has racked up plenty of column inches over her provocative promo shots — but she is far from apologetic.
Having grown up in poverty and seen the struggle break her family apart, she is determined to make as much money as possible.
She said: “I take deals because I have to. They don’t pay actors like they used to, and with streamers, you no longer get residuals.
“The established stars still get paid, but I have to give five per cent to my lawyer, ten per cent to my agents, three per cent or something like that to my business manager.
“I have to pay my publicist every month, and that’s more than my mortgage.”
Sydney certainly has the figure to promote her new range — but she does not want to be judged on her looks, which is something she says has happened throughout her life.
She explains that the biggest misconception about her is “I have big boobs, I’m blonde and that’s all I have” — and she is determined to prove that wrong.
From humble beginnings in Spokane, Washington, her family moved to LA and went bankrupt trying to help kickstart her career.
Sydney, who has also starred in Sky Atlantic series The White Lotus and Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, knows what it is like to have to fight for her place in an industry dominated by “nepo babies”.
‘I never cried more’
And she says she can never take her foot off the pedal when she compares herself to her peers from families with connections or money.
She added: “I might have had to work longer to get through the same door they were able to walk through. But there’s nothing I can do.”
She describes her own family as “mostly Rues”, referring to the recovering drug addict on her show Euphoria, who is played by Zendaya.
And she has spoken of a “really deep, deep streak of addiction” that runs through her family.
It means that she has hardly touched drink or drugs herself.
She said: “I’m terrified that I’m going to have that addiction. There’s something in my family’s blood that just hits a different way when they do stuff.
“I drink maybe once a year, because I have social anxiety. It’s hard to watch someone want to destroy themselves.”
The actress has been a grafter since she was 11, when the opportunity to star in a low-budget zombie movie came knocking.
Her parents were not keen for her to take it, so she created a slideshow to show them how serious she was about becoming an actor.
The presentation consisted of a five-year business plan that illustrated the possibilities of what she could achieve if they allowed her to audition for the zombie movie.
Sydney managed to win them over and landed the role of Lisa in 2009’s Zombies Of Mass Destruction.
After that she started auditioning for whatever she could — and her family sacrificed everything to support her.
They would frequently travel the 1,200 miles from Spokane to LA and rent places there while she worked on small parts in films including The Ward and Spiders 3D, which did not make a lot of money.
The family ended up relocating to LA but when her dad lost his job and went bankrupt, they were forced to sell their house and move into a motel.
Sydney said: “We lived in one room. My mom and I shared a bed and my dad and little brother shared a couch.
“Looking back now, it makes no sense, because if they couldn’t afford going back and forth, they were not going to be able to afford living in LA.”
Everything went downhill from there, and her parents got a divorce. Even now, Sydney blames herself for what happened.
She said: “They always say, ‘It wasn’t your fault’. It was.”
Sydney was desperate to get her family back together, and had always planned to buy back their family home with the money she earned from acting when she hit 18.
However, despite having had small roles in big TV shows Heroes, 90210 and Grey’s Anatomy, she had “nowhere near enough money”.
She said: “I only had $800 to my name. My parents weren’t back together and there was nothing I could do to help. I never cried more in my entire life.
“I hated going home and friends or family members being like, ‘When are you going to come home and get a real job?’.
“There were a lot of really condescending statements that would make me disappointed in myself and guilty that my parents had given up so much to allow me to follow my dreams.”
In 2018, after years of feeling like she was working for nothing, Sydney landed Netflix show Everything Sucks! as well as the role of child bride Eden Spencer in hit TV show The Handmaid’s Tale.
The following year, Tarantino cast her as Dianne “Snake” Lake in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and she also got her breakout role in Euphoria as evil teen Cassie.
Playing troubled Cassie brought with it scrutiny of her body, a throwback to difficult years at school.
She said: “I had boobs before other girls and I felt ostracised for it.”
Nude scenes in Euphoria also led to her being trolled.
One storyline saw her character’s naked videos being shared around her school. Inevitably, the pictures were screenshot and shared online in the real world too.
She said: “It got to the point where they were tagging my family. My cousins don’t need that. It’s completely disgusting and unfair.
“You have a character that goes through the scrutiny of being a sexualised person at school and then an audience that does the same thing.
“I think it’s ridiculous. I’m an artist, I play characters. It makes me want to play characters that p**s people off more.”
Her role in Euporia was followed by appearing in the first series of The White Lotus. Her film Reality, out last month, achieved a rare 100 per cent on review site Rotten Tomatoes.
Now she is set to star in two high-budget blockbusters — Spider-Man spin-off Madame Web and Sony’s Barbarella reboot — both due out next year.
She has also fronted fashion campaigns for Miu Miu and Armani.
But she has never shaken the fear that she will end up back in poverty and confesses that spending money still feels “so stressful”, having seen her parents lose all of theirs.
She also has strong feelings about nepo babies, which, awkwardly, include her Euphoria co-star Maude Apatow, the daughter of Hollywood director Judd Apatow and actress Leslie Mann.
She said: “I had no idea getting into this industry how many people have connections. I started from ground zero, and I know how f***ing hard it is. “Now I see how someone can just walk in a door, and I’m like, ‘I worked my f***ing ass off for ten years for this’.”
Another difference with her family is they are a far cry from the liberal Hollywood stereotype.
She was criticised after photographs of her mother’s 60th birthday party appeared on Instagram, showing guests wearing Donald Trump Make America Great Again baseball caps and T-shirts.
Sydney was typically withering about the online fuss, saying: “Honestly I feel like nothing I say can help the conversation.
“It’s been turning into a wildfire and nothing I can say will take it back to the correct track.” Her father, who has remarried and lives on a ranch outside the US without phone service, has never seen Euphoria, or much of what she has done.
She said: “When I go home my family doesn’t understand me or the world I’m in any more. But then in this industry, my home and the place that grounds me is so vastly different to how people live there. I’m in this in-between place where I feel like neither side understands me.”
Someone who does understand her is her restaurateur fiancé Jonathan Davino, 37, who lives in Chicago and shies away from the spotlight.
And it’s clear Sydney, who has said she wants to be a “young mum”, is going to instil the work ethic she has learnt in any children they may have.
She said: “I want to show younger generations that you can do anything, even if you don’t have the means or the connections.”
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