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With production grinding to a halt in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the entertainment industry has found itself navigating uncharted territory. To offer a better sense of how, The Hollywood Reporter is running a regular series that focuses on how Hollywood’s writers, actors, directors, executives and others are living and working in these challenging times.
Ten-year-old Brooklynn Prince was busy filming the second season of Apple TV+’s ripped-from-the-headlines drama, Home Before Dark, when the shutdown took effect. Staying put with her parents and nanny in Vancouver, the young actress, who broke out with her widely celebrated performance in The Florida Project, has spent the lockdown getting to be a regular kid for a change — complete with Barbies, Lucky Charms and a whole lot more time with her family. Shortly after her double-digit birthday, the young phenom opened up about her new normal (hint: soccer and sweats) and her best piece of quarantine advice: “[Don’t] use too much toilet paper because everybody poops!”
Let’s start easy. How are you doing?
I’m in Vancouver, and I’m doing good, thanks. I’m trying to have fun with my family. It’s hot up here for the first time, so tomorrow we’re gonna get out the Slip N Slide that my Mimi [grandmother] got me for my birthday!
What were you up to when the pandemic hit?
I was up here shooting season two of Home Before Dark, and we were literally just in a scene and then the producer came in after we finished and was like, “Hey, guys, I know this is really crazy, but I want you all to stay safe, so we’re shutting down production for two weeks.” We all knew it was going to be more than two weeks. And that was the last time I saw Jimbo’s [co-star Jim Sturgess’] face on set!
Meanwhile, season one premiered April 3. What was it like to have your show debut in the middle of all of this?
It was really a bummer because we all deserved a big premiere and a big afterparty. I can’t even talk about it, it almost makes me cry. But we had a little party here [at the home where Prince’s family is staying during the shoot] — we popped some sparkling grape juice and our nanny, who’s awesome, made guacamole, and we had chips and hung out and watched Home Before Dark, and then we [the people who worked on the show] all got on a Zoom call and were like, “Congratulations! Toast, toast, toast!”
On the bright side, more people were likely home and available to watch it.
Yeah, that’s the plus side of it coming out with this pandemic going on. People aren’t busy with their everyday lives. Like, they can sit at home and watch Home Before Dark — they can binge it in one day if they’d like.
If I have this right, May 4 was your 10th birthday. How did you celebrate?
My parents are awesome and they made the best out of quarantine. I came down in the morning and there were streamers, balloons, candy and a cake that we made. After school, we went out and made three surprise stops [staying in our car while driving past people’s houses]. First, was Abby Miller, who plays my mom on Home Before Dark, and we were like, “Oh, hey girl, hey!” She gave me a little present, and she has a little baby named Uve and I got to give him a little present, some Thomas the Train stickers. Then we went to Jim Sturgess’ house and I was so excited — he came out with his boombox playing music and he and his wife Dina had a present. I just wanted to reach out the window and hug him, but I couldn’t. And the third stop was Fleur [Delahunty], who played Sarah in Colours [a short 2019 film that Prince directed and starred in]. She decorated her whole gate with balloons and an awesome sign that her cousin made, which was a Disney thing — I love Disney, so it was awesome. And they baked us all these home goods like cakes and churros and mini-donuts and chocolate-covered strawberries. Then, when we went home, we did a Zoom call with my dad’s side of the family and we FaceTimed with my mom’s side of the family, which was so fun — they shared memories about me — and we finished off the day with cake and presents.
Your mom shared with me a video of a speech that you gave at dinner the night before your birthday. Can you remember what you said?
Well, turning 10 for me kind of meant I was becoming a person — like, I was starting to become a tween — so I was like, “Wow, this is really surreal for me.” I was like, “I want to let you guys know that this is the last day of my childhood, and that you guys have filled me with such joy for the past years that I have been younger.” I’m not turning, like, the big 18 or 16, but I’m getting close to that.
You mentioned school. What else is part of a typical day right now?
I wake up at 8:30, I go downstairs, eat Lucky Charms, then go back up and do my schoolwork, take a shower, come downstairs and eat lunch, and then try to do something fun or talk with my family or watch TV or something like that.
How would you describe your corona-era wardrobe?
I just throw on normal clothes, like a sweatshirt or a T-shirt — really, I don’t think about it. On weekends, I usually stay in my pajamas unless we’re going outside to play soccer or frisbee or something. But I put on nice clothes for some video interviews that I did for the show — you can’t have crazy morning-hair for those!
What’s been the easiest adjustment and the hardest one during this period?
The easiest adjustment is probably hanging out more with my family. I never really get to hang out with my family when I’m on set, but now we get to enjoy each other’s company — sometimes. Sometimes we drive each other crazy! The hardest adjustment would probably be not being able to hug people or have people come up and see me. I don’t really want to go home [to Florida] — I did in the beginning, but my mom was like, “Just think about it: you wouldn’t be able to do anything at home.” So, if people from there could come up here and see us, that would be nice — even just to have my friends come over.
Would you recommend anything that you are watching, reading, playing or listening to at the moment?
I would recommend playing with Barbies and getting outside and playing soccer. I recommend Ford v Ferrari or Fastest Car on Netflix — I’m getting really into car racing. Also The Princess Bride: I really cracked up at that, and I kind of barfed inside my mouth sometimes when people kissed, but oh, my God, the priest is so funny — like, I literally almost rolled off my seat! I really like the Home Before Dark soundtrack, and the song “Dance Monkey.” Me and Jim made up a few songs, too, and I like those, like “Wobbly Tooth” — I do have a wobbly tooth! And I recommend reading anything about Lucille Ball. Me and my mom are going to read Harry Potter tonight.
Have any go-to comfort foods during quarantine?
My dad’s vegan cupcakes and my mom’s grilled cheese, which is awesome. I’m good at making toast and cookies. I make cookies with [fellow child actress] Mckenna Grace on FaceTime — we’re friends and hers were probably way better, mine were a little burnt.
Have you dusted off any old hobbies or found any new hobbies?
I got a puzzle for Easter, and I got it out — but it was too overwhelming, so I let my mom do it. I’ve started gardening.
What’s been the most challenging decision you’ve had to make since this all started?
I mean, the adults make the challenging decisions. Mine are like, “What should I eat for breakfast?”
What have you learned about yourself through this?
That I’m a person who needs to go-go-go all the time — I never noticed that before, but now, if I’m sitting down, I’m like, “What can I do? What can I do? What can I do?!”
Is there a charity or cause that is particularly important to you right now?
Helping the Navajo nation. We’ve been making contributions to the indigenous people because they have been struck hard by the virus.
What is the best advice you’ve gotten or given during this time?
To not use too much toilet paper because everybody poops! Also, I’ve advised myself to find good in the bad — even though we are being driven crazy by being at home and trying to find stuff to do, just find some good in it, find the positive side to everything.
That’s great advice. What’s at the top of your to-do list once we can resume our lives?
To see my grandparents and my family and my best friend — I miss them so much! When this is over, I’m going to be like Oprah: “You get a plane ticket! You get a plane ticket! Everyone gets a plane ticket!”
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