We had an exclusive chat with the ‘Arrow’ actor about life and stuff.
It’s no secret that our e-pal Emily Bett Rickards is a massively successful actor and a smashing human being. Her journey up until this point is inspirational in itself; she paved her own way in the industry by being her best self – her character Felicity Smoak on the American television series Arrow actually became extended after she gave an incredible appearance in her first episode. We had a chance to talk to this real-life baddie about the start of her career, Hollywood life and her own unique worldview.
Can you remember a piece of advice that your mother has given you during your life that you kind of hang on to or use to guide you through anything? Good situations, tough situations…
My mom is so good at advice honestly – she is full of it. One thing that she has always said to me throughout my life is about self-boundaries and taking time for yourself. That if you’re trying to help others and understand others, if you don’t understand yourself you will never be able to understand or be of service to other people or the world – not to say that you necessarily have to be of service to other people or the world as your life purpose but if that’s what feeds you – if you don’t understand yourself, it’s not gonna work.
That goes with so many different pieces of advice about being able to have boundaries, expressing yourself and really staying true to who you are. My mom is a big advocate of that – she’s an incredible human being. She also happens to be a therapist so I grew up on a lot of time spent talking and position feeding and associating and analyzing things and thoughts of that world, so that always helps.
I guess you probably have to say ‘no’ a lot in your life. Do you think that her advice has helped you figure out how to do that in a good way or did you sort of figure that out by yourself?
Absolutely. I think being able to say ‘no’ is a bit harder these days because we have so many options at our fingertips and we’re used to instant gratification. On a smaller scale, it can be about being able to say ‘no’ to yourself if you’re about to dive into your phone or something. Or being able to say ‘no’ to your friends if they try and pry you from your house when you don’t feel like going out. Being able to say ‘no’ to more serious things, like for certain jobs or when it comes to morality or things like that… It’s definitely a skill and skills only get stronger with time. But yeah, it’s super important and it might sound scary because we think ‘no’ sounds innately negative, right? But I think it’s really positive to set up these types of boundaries in life and for ourselves.
Speaking about your career, or even your personal life, can you you think of a moment where you felt like ‘oh, this is real now,’ and that all the hard work had paid off, in a way? Do you have a defining ‘champagne moment’?
To be honest, I’m pretty hard on myself but I’ve never really felt that way and I wonder if anyone really does. I wonder if there is sort of tangible landmark goal. I don’t know if anyone gets there and is like ‘I made it.’ I think the term, ‘making it’, can only be from an outside perspective because it sounds like such a different type of ‘want’ that ‘making it’ can not really fulfill, if that makes sense. So I don’t know if anyone ever feels that way. I think you can feel proud, though.
It’s also changing because we change as people as we spend so much time getting somewhere – wherever that may be. And in the process, your goals probably change, expand and transform a little bit as well. When they transform even though you made it to the place where you wanted to be, it’s that moment of needing to just get somewhere and be happy with that instead of chasing something that you don’t already have.
Def makes sense. What made you fall in love with your job?
It started with talking about things like this to be honest! Acting is such a different thing to different people. For me, it’s about exploring vessels and transformation and understanding stories. It helps me understand people and understand the world better, basically.
I love stories so much – I always have and I don’t think that’ll ever change. Everyone’s understanding of stories is different so I don’t know if you could ever fully grab it and grasp it but it definitely gives me life. You have to fully understand a person that’s written on a page and bring that person and their story to life. There’s a freedom in that that exists unlike any other; I don’t really know how to explain it. There’s so much freedom in being able to lift a human being and bring them to life off a piece of paper.
We’re super interested in the Shethority movement that you’re kind of involved with. What’s that about and how involved are you there?
Yesss, I’m involved and we’re still kind of growing it. Like I mentioned a few months ago, we’re not really sure what it’s gonna become. It’s really interesting to find out where you can take these things and make a good job of it. The intention behind it is love, support and trying to understand where we’re going in this world and trying to get some communication about deep concepts with things that are confusing and being able to relate to other people. Mostly people just share their stories or read stories and feel like they’re not alone.
A big part is celebrating women, celebrating the world that we live in and carrying this through the negative aspects of the online world that we have and make it somewhat safe and in between interesting and educational. Ultimately, it is a platform that keeps expanding in front of us and it’s starting to have a powerhouse behind it that we can’t really explain but meanwhile we’re figuring out what it should become. Like I said to you before we’re trying to figure it out but keep it moving and expanding.
So you have a massive Insta-presence but your whole vibe is very natural and un-forced. You’re not trying to edit or product place anything, which is really cool. How did that kind of unfold to being such? Is it literally through the role of Felicity?
I’m like a middle millennial because I’m 27. I had Instagram before my work popularity grew. Through my Instagram, I try to not overexpose some of my friends and attmenpt to avoid over-sharing. I keep things private, I don’t put up a ton about my family and my home. I wish I did more, actually. But I’ve always thought about Instagram as hopefully being the photo album that I have when I’m older and the photos that I really like, I want to see later and again. Physical photos are really important to me. My apartment is covered with some more personal photos and polaroids.
I struggle with Instagram as a work platform quite a bit. I wonder if I should have a personal account and a work account but I try to make my life a little simpler. I don’t have Facebook, I’m rarely on Twitter. But I don’t know, it’s almost like over-exposure to me sometimes. There’s positives and negatives, as with anything of course!
Have you had any speed bumps, hurdles, anything you’ve had to get through in those realms? How did you get through it – any advice for those listening?
Yeah, at some point I hit a pretty big speed bump that I would say lasted like 2 years and that sort of ended recently. You come out on the other side thinking you knew you were lost or you knew something was wrong and couldn’t figure out how to fix it. I think sometimes when you get to the other side, you’re like ‘oh this makes so much sense now’ but the tricky thing is that those things can last a long time.
I don’t really have any specific advice besides the fact that if you do feel inauthentic or in breach of yourself, and you’re having that thought, then you probably are and checking in is the most important way to go about it. And, you know, talking to people and explaining is so important and you will find that you’re not alone in that. Speed bumps happen every day from minute to minute from trying to organize your day to losing a family member or living with an illness. Those things make you go and live life and figure out who you are in that because at the end of the day, you will always be you. You’re always growing and maybe you can reach inside and find a new piece of you, which is a beautiful thing.
How did you discover Girls Are Awesome and can you be our ambassador?
I discovered you guys on Instagram! I started following you guys because I liked it. I was like hell yeah, girls are awesome. I was in the airport on Thursday and I had a Girls Are Awesome sticker on my backpack and this dad tapped his daughter on the shoulder. I thought she was maybe 14, 15 and he was like hey – I can’t remember her name because I was just passing by – but he was like hey, look at that sticker it says “girls are awesome!” isn’t that cool? And then they were gone. Haha, it was so cute.