Wednesday Star Emma Myers on Fandom, SEVENTEEN, and ...
It takes roughly three minutes for Emma Myers, one of the young stars of Netflix's Wednesday, to show me the Mingyu sticker on her purple iPhone. It's a fan-made illustration of the 6-foot-2 Korean idol as a dog, a playful allusion to his puppy-like personality. She got it when she attended SEVENTEEN's Newark show in early 2020, her favorite concert ever, and she's had it in her phone case ever since. "I've never taken it out," Emma tells Teen Vogue over Zoom.
You can learn a lot about someone through the ways in which they love something. For Emma, it's effusive and all-consuming, forever expanding like ink in water. "I don't understand people who are sort of casual about something," the 20-year-old says. "When I get into something, that is my whole personality for a very long time." Emma has been a Carat, or a fan of SEVENTEEN, for just over five years. Her entry point was a meme that interpolated the group's sticky 2016 single "Aju Nice" into a viral Vine. Her bias is Jeonghan for reasons she still struggles to articulate ("there's just something about him"). And she most recently attended their Be The Sun tour in Atlanta, the city she's called home since she was 16. Talking to Emma about our mutual interest in K-pop is easy; we speak the same language, a sacred tongue shared among fans.
Emma has been a fan of things for as long as she can remember. "When I was younger, I would measure my life by what I was interested in," she says.
It started with The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars — two fantastical pillars of online fandom that shaped the way Emma saw the world and imagined herself in it. As an introvert, she had an overactive imagination and sought out works of speculative fiction. She liked Marvel and The Legend of Zelda, and she'd spend her free time away from the dance studio playing narrative visual novels and adventure games like "Ace Attorney" and "Professor Layton" on the family computer. She used to tape photos of Levi Ackerman, the ruthless antihero of Attack on Titan, into her notebooks. From a galaxy far, far away to the open-air vistas of Hyrule, she immersed herself in surreal tales of complicated heroes and charismatic villains, of orcs and monarchs and titans.
In middle school, she got into emo and alternative bands Twenty One Pilots, Panic at the Disco, and Fall Out Boy. She'd watch hours of creators Dan and Phil on YouTube. When she saw them live in 2016, she and a group of friends bought matching merch. The following morning, she wore her new t-shirt to dance practice. The other kids didn't understand her enthusiasm.
"I was kind of an outsider because I was into things more than the normal kid would be," she recalls. "And I got bullied for it." Now, years later and armed with the wisdom you only know through experience, she can see it all a bit more clearly: "Some people can't let go of the fact that people enjoy things that make them happy."
These formative fandoms, she says, became her "lifeline as a teenager." She clung to these characters, weaving them into the fabric of her own personality. To a new generation, she hopes Wednesday provides the same kind of comfort.
(L to R) Emma Myers as Enid Sinclair, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in episode 107 of Wednesday.VLAD CIOPLEA/NETFLIX
It's not hard to imagine the supernatural teen series attracting its own passionate fanbase. It has all of the hallmarks of a show destined to flood Tumblr dashboards and Twitter timelines with moody GIF sets and heated takes. There's a bold young heroine who's too smart for her own good; a slow-burning love triangle; a magical school for Outcasts; and a macabre mystery that racks up a sizable body count by the end of the first season. Wednesday follows 15-year-old Wednesday Addams (played by Jenna Ortega) as she reluctantly begins her first semester at Nevermore Academy, an elite prep school for werewolves, vampires, sirens, gorgons, and anyone who just feels different. (Notable alumni include Edgar Allan Poe.) There, she meets Enid (Emma), her cheerful werewolf roommate whose warmth and colorful demeanor immediately clash with Wednesday's morose attitude and goth wardrobe. Despite their diametric color palettes, the two forge an unlikely friendship.
Emma never had a traditional school experience in her hometown of Orlando, Florida. She was part of a homeschool co-op, so opportunities to interact with her peers were limited. "I didn't have a lot of social skills growing up," she says. "And being a nerd, or whatever, pushed me further out." It's something Enid could likely relate to. She's a bit of a late bloomer among her pack, having yet to wolf out under a full moon. So she feels ostracized from her own community, putting her at odds with her mother who just wants her daughter to be normal. Wednesday helps her accept herself for who she is. "I wish I had this message when I was younger, 'like what you like and don't really care about other people,'" Emma says.
Over Zoom, she looks nothing like her spirited lupine counterpart. Her hair is a rich chestnut, and she's wearing a black shirt, not a bright hue in sight. "I'm not very colorful or energetic," she smiles. In just over two weeks, Wednesday will hit Netflix worldwide, and she's trying not to think about the social media implications of that just yet. "My mom keeps telling me, 'This is the last time you can go out without washing your hair.'" For now, she's content to exist in a bubble.
Emma does, however, consider herself to be an optimist like Enid, a mindset she adopted through years of fantasy stories where the good guy prevails in the end — heroes like Frodo Baggins, who inspired her to take acting more seriously. A self-described community theater kid, Emma was booking steady commercial work and voice acting roles as a child actor in Orlando. But while watching a behind-the-scenes vignette of the making of Lord of the Rings, she had an epiphany: "Seeing the hobbits running around in New Zealand with these orcs chasing them, I was like, 'I want to do this so badly.'" When she and her family moved to Atlanta, she started pursuing bigger film and television gigs. She landed small parts in TV movies and series, until Wednesday came along.
Photos by Storm Santos
She admits that having executive producer Tim Burton on board to direct was a significant selling point. She's been a lifelong fan of his distinct brand of frightful whimsy. "It wasn't something that had to convince me to be a part of it," she says. "It was me trying to convince everybody else to please let me be a part of it." After several callbacks over Zoom, including a chemistry read with Jenna she thought she had bombed ("I literally got off the call and started sobbing," she recalls), Emma found out she booked the role of Enid after a prank call with her rep went awry. "I answered the phone and my rep was like, 'Hold on, my phone's having some sort of issue, so I'll call you back in a second.' So she calls me back, and she's like, 'Do you think you'll have this problem when you're in Romania?' And it completely flew over my head," she says. "I remember it washing over me, and I ran out of my room and screamed, 'Mom I booked it!'"
While filming in Bucharest, Romania, Wednesday also gave Emma the chance to get the high school experience she always wanted through Enid's eyes, complete with school dances, tailored uniforms, first crushes, and best friends who would do anything for each other — even if it meant putting themselves in mortal peril. "The scale of the sets were so large [it] made you feel like you were really going to school," she says. The season's fourth episode, "Woe What a Night," is her favorite because it's primarily set at a Nevermore school dance. It was her first proper prom night. "At my little homeschool co-op, we did country line dancing, like what you would see in Pride and Prejudice except it's much less romantic because you have a bunch of awkward, sweaty, stinky teenage boys trying to ask you to dance," she winces.
Filming so far away from home brought the cast even closer. Outside of set, they were constantly together, celebrating birthdays and hosting spontaneous parties where they'd play Jackbox games well into the evening. They'd go go-karting ("I got whiplash because Percy [Hynes White] T-boned me") and see movies all the time. "Sometimes it is a bit hard for me to connect with people, but I do try very hard," Emma says. This cast made it easy for her to open up. Johnna Dias-Watson, who plays Divina, asked her about SEVENTEEN, wanting to know more about their music. She talked about anime and binged Squid Game with Percy Hynes White, who stars as artsy loner Xavier. "I've never had a cast around my age before. I'm normally the youngest one on set," she says. "We got along so well." It also helped her realize that she can "relate to people and connect with people, despite being different."
It's about opening yourself up to new things and being curious enough to let other people in. Emma spent her entire childhood moving from one fixation to the next, letting herself love things completely and finding solace in fandom. "I hope I can give people that with the show," she says. "Because there were times where I was going through such a hard time, and the only thing that would bring me comfort was something that I was into."
She encourages viewers to find themselves in Enid's journey, to fall down the rabbit hole of Outcasts and werewolves and charming psychopaths. "I want people to know that I do not judge anybody for being obsessed with this show," she laughs. "I was the same way." And she still is. She's eagerly awaiting the third season of The Mandalorian, and she's had Le Sserafim's "Antifragile" on repeat all week, she animatedly tells me. And she's already started her Nevermore merch collection. "Of course I want to stan my own show!" Her eyes light up as she talks about buying Funko's new line of Wednesday Addams Pop! vinyl figures. Her smile widens, and I think about how wonderful it must be to love something as much as she loves everything.