After crashing on an alien planet, Mina's character, Penny Robinson, and her family must fight against all odds to survive the deadly dangers of their new home.
The third and final season of your Netflix series, “Lost in Space,” just came out. How did you change from the first to this last season?
I started when I was 15 and I’m 20 now, so in many ways I’m a completely different person. I look back on some of the first episodes of season 1 and am shocked by how young I looked – now I’m old and bitter, ha!
Of course I am young and there is so much room to grow. I’ve just started the “adulting” part and it’s a long road. In the five years we had, the scope of the show was so big that we had a kind of intensive class in different parts of filmmaking – from massive VFX and green screens, to stunt training, to working in a collaborative environment, to maintaining stamina for six months at a time. In our first season I made a switch from high school requirements to a world that expects professionalism no matter your age. In the beginning I felt an intimidation that came from the size of our show; I had to mature quickly and become comfortable with feeling ridiculous at times. Absorbing as much as I could from the adults around me was always a comfort. I’m becoming more secure in my voice, my values, and what I can bring to a set.
In the series you play Penny. What drew you to this character?
I did originally audition for Penny! From the first time I read episode 1, I fell in love with her. She’s funny, brutally honest, and never puts up a front, even though it would be easier. She isn’t a rocket scientist or an action hero like her family but she’s a guide… her power is in empowering others, and that’s a different kind of saving the world. She’s smarter than she thinks she is and sometimes understands people better than they understand themselves. And yet, she’s still a teenager; insecure, contradictory, says the wrong thing, doesn’t know what to do with her feelings, and tired of being told what to do. There’s no cookie-cutter involved in her personality.
You also have a recurring role in DC’s “Legends of Tomorrow." What is the BTS process of getting into character as Lita and how it differs from any of your past roles?
I prefer to do the prep work first and then play when I get to set. With a show like Legends there was an established cast and they had already been filming the season, so it can be easy to get caught up in everything that’s going on around you; especially when you film out of order. I found different ways to keep myself in the moment and feel free enough to play when I got there, like using music to get into the mentality of the scene. Working with that cast was a plus, they’re all lovely and a lot of fun.
At only 8 months old, you had your first role in a movie. At 20 years old now, what has it been like being in the entertainment industry from such a young age?
Ah yes, my proudest role… I’m kidding. I’ve always had a need to tell stories. It’s like a little voice in my head that won’t shut up. So any opportunity I get is exciting and fresh… I don’t expect that to die down anytime soon and I focus on that. It’s not lost on me how rare it is to work at all in this world, sometimes you learn more from rejection than anything, navigating that frustration and knowing that it’s not personal has made it more fun. As teens we realize that we understand more than people give us credit for. I’m slowly moving into the part of life where people take you seriously by nature. For next steps… I’m ready for it to smack me in the face. Ha!
Which actors make your dream collaboration?
This is a tough one… maybe Juliette Binoche, Idris Elba, and Sarah Paulson in a utopia/dystopia City of Lost Children-esque world. Directed by Julia Ducournau.
What advice would you give to young people who want to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?
Experimentation is an opportunity and it’s better to give 100% and fall flat on your face than give 50% out of fear of embarrassment or playing it safe. Even in auditions. Probably the best piece of advice I ever received was from an acting teacher who said, “There’s a 90% chance you won’t get the job… so your audition may be the only place you ever get to be this character. Why wouldn’t you give it everything?
Watch "Lost in Space" now on Netflix, and make sure to follow Mina Sundwall on Instagram.