Interview with Emma Galbraith

Emma Galbraith is an actress, musician, writer, and climate justice organizer. She stars in the upcoming film Inbetween Girl.

Introduce yourself! 

Hi! My name’s Emma Galbraith. I’m an actress from Austin, TX, currently based in the northeast. I’m also a musician and writer.

You are starring in the upcoming indie feature film, Inbetween Girl, which was the SXSW ‘21 Visions Audience Award Winner at its premiere.  What is this film about?

Inbetween Girl is about the growing pains of being a teenager, being a young girl, being Asian-American, and on top of all of that, trying to understand what it means to love others and love yourself. My character Angie holds all of those identities, and she starts a secret affair with the hottest guy at school, Liam, who also has a girlfriend that he won’t break up with. At the same time, her parents have just gotten divorced, and her dad’s new girlfriend has a daughter who seems like the perfect Chinese child—everything Angie isn’t. Just when she thinks her life can’t get more complicated, she starts getting to know the girl dating Liam. Drama (and some hilarity) ensues.

You play the main character, Angie, in Inbetween Girl, who is set off “on a journey of sexual awakenings, racial insecurities, and artistic expression” after a series of events.  How did you relate to your character (and how did you differ)?

I was extremely lucky to be able to help create a lot of Angie’s character. The script and story at the time when I was cast was in a lot of ways very different from the story of the finished film. The director-writer, Mei Makino, and I had a lot of conversations about who Angie was—particularly about her mixed race. Angie is Chinese-American because I’m Chinese-American. The city that her father is from, Fuzhou, is my mother’s hometown. So quite a lot of her racial identity is directly taken from my own experiences.

I also really strongly relate to how difficult it is to navigate first-time relationships, particularly as a teenager who is also coming into their own self. People who are assigned female at birth and people of color are often socialized at the earliest of ages to put other people’s needs above their own. Then when starting a relationship with someone else for the first time, there’s this baked-in understanding that to love someone and to be committed to someone is to avoid examining what one wants from the relationship, and thus to not advocate for one’s own needs. It takes experience and good influences to unlearn that idea that being a good partner means sacrificing your own happiness. Angie has to learn that through experience, but I hope that other young people who see this movie come away with it knowing how important their own happiness is.

I’d say one of my big differences from Angie is that I’m (hopefully) a little friendlier than she is at the start of the movie, haha. One of her journeys is learning to see other people—especially other women—as full humans and not just what she imagines them to be. She learns that the women in her life, from her mother, to Sheryl, to her friend Rebecca, are full people in their own right with hopes and dreams and complicated lives like her, and I think as a result she learns to give more love to others, especially women, and to not judge them too harshly off the bat. I think that’s an incredibly important thing for young people to learn early, because societal standards and preconceptions pit complete strangers against each other all the time.

This was your first feature film, though you’ve had experience in theatre and short films/web content—how was the experience of shooting Inbetween Girl?  How did it compare or differ to other experiences? 

Inbetween Girl was and is a dream come true. I can’t gush enough about the production team, the crew, the cast, and the community. I’d fill three hundred pages. We were working with a very low budget, and we had to shoot 92 pages in 15 days. That meant that from start to finish we were making the most out of basically every second we had; Mei and Ivy Chiu, Inbetween Girl’s DP, are geniuses and worked tirelessly to make the filming schedule fit. I’d also never experienced such a lovely, friendly community on an acting project. People held space on set for each other’s needs and emotions, which meant that even with the fast pace of filming, we could slow down to give each scene the emotional energy that it needed, and off camera we could take time to connect with each other and celebrate this art we were creating together. I believe that’s really a crucial part of how we could tell such a gentle story—because we practiced being gentle with each other as we told it.

What inspires you? Do you have any role models?

To me, storytelling is a type of magic. It can heal people, build communities, prepare folks for life experiences, help catalyze change, and so much more. I’m inspired by stories that make those kinds of impacts. I’m also very inspired by music—I listen to Janelle Monáe and Regina Spektor somewhat religiously, and I’m also a big musical theatre nerd. I love Eva Noblezada. Ming-Na Wen, and Lea Salonga are also two of my role models from way back (can you tell Mulan is one of my favorite films?). I also do a lot of political organizing, particularly in climate justice, and pretty much everyone I know in that field is a role model to me.

Is there anything you wish you knew when you were beginning to pursue performingIs there any piece of advice you’d want to share with other aspiring young Asian performers just starting out?

The biggest thing I’ve learned and relearned again is to trust my gut. Trust what feels good, and detach from what doesn’t. In addition: get involved with what you can, whether that’s auditioning locally, exploring your school’s theatre and film programs, and/or making your own content. Get to know yourself—what kind of art do you like to create and surround yourself with? What kind of people? Value your worth and stick up for yourself when you need to. Learn as much as you can about the things that you love, and that includes yourself.

This time of COVID-19 and the rise of anti-Asian hate has been difficult for the whole Overachiever community.  How have you been coping with this time and taking care of yourself?  How has your past year been affected? 

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to lay low during the pandemic. I decided to not go to college for the year and to focus on learning more about myself, my interests, and also devoting more time to climate justice organizing. I’ve been taking care of myself by staying off of the news, honestly. After the Atlanta shootings every fiber of my body said “okay, we’re going to stay all the way offline for the next twenty-four hours”, and that did wonders for my mental health. Going on walks, drinking lots and lots of water, and surrounding myself with people I love and things I love like great art and homemade food all help. But fighting the good fight, with work like mutual aid and community organizing, is what gives me the most hope for the future. This reality that we live in is not the one that should exist. For me, organizing for a better reality does the most for my mental health.

Here are some rapid-fire questions: 

Your go-to coffee shop order? 

Hot chocolate with cinnamon and a bagel with lox.

What item(s) can you not leave your house without? 

A scrunchie.

Any good films/TV shows you’re watching right now? 

I just watched I Care A Lot. Rosamund Pike is one of my heroes. WandaVision is also great and Elizabeth Olsen and Kathryn Hahn are amazing. Same goes for The Queen’s Bandit and Anya Taylor-Joy.

Ultimate comfort food?

Chicken udon noodle soup!

emma-galbraith-headshot.jpg

What has been the highlight of your day today? 

I made beignets for the first time this afternoon and they were divine.

What is upcoming for you and your work? 

I’m seeking representation currently and hoping to work on more amazing projects in the future!


Emma Galbraith is an actress, musician, writer, and climate justice organizer. She stars in the upcoming film Inbetween Girl.

Social Media/Websites:

www.emma-galbraith.com

Twitter: @em_magining

Instagram: @em.magining

Head Interviewer

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