Although Alana’s vulnerability is both unexpected and striking, Stenberg’s version of the character is not a foil for Evan Hansen, the title character and protagonist of the antihero, repeated by the inimitable Ben Platt. Rather, Beck is a mirror that reflects the usual trope of adulthood: Appearance can be deceptive. “In fact, there are a lot of people who feel similar [to Evan], and Alana reveals herself as one of these people, although you may not assume this for her, “she said.
The film, which is as heavy as (if not more than) the original show, debuted on September 24, but Stenberg and I caught up earlier in the month on Zoom. Between the madness of New York Fashion Week and the preparations for her trip to the Toronto International Film Festival, she talks to me about Dear Evan Hansen and her character, as well as her personal style and most of all her passion to talk about mental health. “It was really exciting for me to play a black girl with anxiety and depression,” she said. “It took me years to get to the point where I could seek the help and treatment I needed, because this treatment is not super normal. So playing a black girl on medication was really nice. ”
It’s no coincidence that we asked Stenberg for the October cover of Who What Wear (in addition to her expanded role in the long-awaited film, Depression and Mental Health Screening Month), so it was great to be able to have a refreshingly candid, vulnerable, and a little therapeutic conversation. We called from our homes in Brooklyn and Stenberg chose to do this interview without video. This is just one of the ways she chooses to set boundaries and maintain her resilience during this busy period of publicity and high visibility.
It is not lost for anyone that music plays an important role in how Stenberg takes care of her mental health. In particular, several of her past projects include her singing, whether in character or over credits. The time of Dear Evan Hansen is also predictable, according to Stenberg’s release of her first original single and music video, which she produced and wrote herself. “I’m in this really exciting moment when I’m less afraid or at least feel developed enough as a musician to show this to the world,” Stenberg said. Although she is still arguing about the title of the song, which she admits is a critical element in her extensive to-do list.