By Emma Benshoff
At sixteen, Ysa Penarejo has more on her plate than most typical teenagers, including a starring role on an Emmy nominated show. Project Mc2 follows a group of four extremely intelligent girls, including Camryn Coyle (portrayed by Ysa), the hyper-analytical member of the group. The team joins a secret spy organization called NOV8, and plenty of excitement ensues as the girls solve crimes and complete covert missions.
Ysa, a Filipino-American actress, describes the show as an inspiration because of its positive depictions of smart young girls, sisterhood and how embracing one’s quirks makes all girls stronger. She cites Zendaya as one of her role models, which is fitting, as Zendaya has proudly embraced her responsibility as a role model to children. With shows like Project Mc2 and actresses like Ysa, I’d say young girls will have plenty of role models and positive programming, even when Zendaya’s Disney days are over.
On Finding Her Passion:
If you’re not sure what you want to do when you’re older, no worries – like Ysa, you can try out different things! “I first started in the business as a dancer. I was doing commercials and modeling and wanted to give acting a try and see how I felt about it. My mom put me in acting classes and after doing a few months of classes, I got my first audition! After booking my first job, I knew acting would be something I would love to pursue in the future.” As for her favorite part about being on set? Ysa is always eager to learn from other actors. “I love learning little tips and tricks from actors on and off set.”
On Her Dream Role:
Though I can’t watch anything remotely scary without having nightmares, Ysa isn’t scared of anything. “I would love to star in either a horror movie or an action movie. Those two genres are my favorite, so to do a role where I either haunt someone or to be a really cool superhero that does a lot of crazy stunts would make me the happiest girl alive!” In terms of a TV show to guest star on, there was a clear choice: “I would love to guest star on Pretty Little Liars, it’s my favorite show!
On Her Sleepover #SquadGoals:
It was hard for Ysa to make a guest list, mainly because she couldn’t narrow it down! “My dream sleepover would be a party because there would be so many people that I would want to invite! If I had to narrow it down to three, it would be Shay Mitchell, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Zendaya. I look up to these lovely ladies as actresses and as people, so it would be really cool to meet and hang out with them.” As long as there’s no scary movie, count me in.
On Doing What She Wants:
She Did What She Wanted is all about encouraging girls to do what they want, take chances, and live unapologetically. Like most girls in the entertainment industry, Ysa had to make sacrifices in order to reach her goals of being an actress.
“My friends at school treated me differently just because I would miss many days and not see them,” she recalled. “It made me worried that it wasn’t worth it. I had to get over my fear and just go for it and not worry about anything. This taught me to not listen to anyone and commit 100% in whatever I do. I really believe in this and I think everyone should do their best in everything that they do!”
Photo by Brett Erickson Photography.
Girl Talk is a series that aims to highlight a variety of women in the entertainment industry, from singers and actresses we love to the behind-the-scenes team that we don’t always see. We hope to bring attention to both the pros and cons of the media and entertainment industries and to help start a conversation on what needs to change. If you have anyone you’d like to hear from, please email email@example.com with suggestions.