On screen, Sydney Sweeney knows exactly how to dig deep and bring particularly complex characters to life in every project she signs on to. With all that talent, the star has picked up two Emmy nominations this year for her prestige HBO series Euphoria (as Most Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series) and The White Lotus (as Most Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series). While both the performances and accolades are incredibly impressive, Sweeney recently got candid about the pressure she feels to keep pushing forward, telling The Hollywood Reporter in a new interview, “I still can’t get my mind to shut up, and I don’t sleep.”
The 24-year-old described suffering from panic attacks in June after dealing with burnout due to her rapid momentum of her career. “I was losing my s**t,” she said, which prompted her to have a two-week phone-free break in the Pacific Northwest with family. But her jam-packed schedule, constant work, campaigns and events is something she’s been hustling for for years.
“I had no idea getting into this industry how many people have connections. I started from ground zero, and I know how f****** hard it is,” she said. “Now, I see how someone can just walk in a door, and I’m like, ‘I worked my f****** ass off for 10 years.'”
Spending her childhood near Spokane on the border between Washington and Idaho, Sweeney grew up in a financially insecure household. After the family moved to L.A. in support of Sweeney’s acting aspirations, they were forced to downsized exponentially, causing Sweeney to pick up any project she could. “I thought that if I made enough money, I’d be able to buy my parents’ house back and that I’d be able to put my parents back together,” she says. “But when I turned 18, I only had $800 to my name. My parents weren’t back together and there was nothing I could do to help.”
Sweeney told the publication that she was almost not cast as Euphoria‘s self-sabotaging Cassie Howard, and that her experience filming for The White Lotus was her very first time at an exclusive resort, which highlighted the class divide she still feels she has to battle. “If I wanted to take a six-month break, I don’t have income to cover that,” she said. “I don’t have someone supporting me, I don’t have anyone I can turn to, to pay my bills or call for help.”
While she’s not complaining or looking for sympathy, Sweeney just wants to bring the realities of the business to light. “They don’t pay actors like they used to, and with streamers, you no longer get residuals,” Sweeney said. “The established stars still get paid, but I have to give 5 percent to my lawyer, 10 percent to my agents, 3 percent or something like that to my business manager. I have to pay my publicist every month, and that’s more than my mortgage.”
She went onto say, “If I just acted, I wouldn’t be able to afford my life in L.A. I take deals because I have to,” continuing, “I couldn’t believe I was even able to buy a house.”
Lately, she’s been racking up an impressive amount of brand partnerships and high-fashion campaigns, from Miu Miu, to Cotton On Body, Armani Beauty, Tory Burch, and many, many more.
She may have taken a short break this summer, but the star is still busier than ever. She runs her own production company Fifty-Fifty Films, is in post-production of her forthcoming film National Anthem, and is training for her upcoming role in Marvel’s Madame Web alongside Dakota Johnson.
Hopefully, she can take time to sneak away again for another phone-free outdoor vacation (and show off more water-skiing skills).