Thursday, February 26, 2015

Meet 18 YO Actor - Writer - Netflix Lover: JUSTINE WINANS

Welcome to We Hear YA! 

Connecting YA Writers with their Teen Audience.

TODAY! Blast off in a YA time machine with JUSTINE WINANS, who's taking us from the age of 15 to the ripe, young age of 18, to see how (dramatically?) her mindset has shifted over this time frame. 

Justine Winans  is a senior in high school, where she studies Performing Arts in a half-day college preparatory program, along with regular, less-exciting academic classes. When she is not at rehearsal for a play, she can probably be found writing, reading, or watching Netflix. She definitely watches too much TV, and makes references to a variety of movies that most people her age don't understand. Although currently living in Northeast Ohio with her family, she's hoping to continue her studies out-of-state in the fall.

Okay @JustineWinans, We Hear YA! has our seat belt fastened.

Q: Most YA characters are 16/17. So between 16/17  to 18 - What differences have you noticed in your choices, mentality, personality, etc?

To be honest, there's not much difference in personality. To me, the biggest difference between 16/17 and 18 is that the whole Holy shit, I have to do adult things is thrust onto you. Most other changes stem from that. 

When you are 16, sure, you have your dreams, but everything seems farther away. You focus more on the little things. What is happening now. One stupid test or date or premiere of a TV matters. You also rely more on your family, even though they probably annoy the hell out of you. You care about everything. But when you get to be eighteen, you have to start worrying about different things, and making that transition into independence (for the most part). Filling out college applications, scholarship applications, financial aid documents (which is excruciating), figuring out where you're going to live. When you are 16, money issues are of the wow, I need to buy books or movie tickets or new mascara. 

At 18, it's more along the lines of wow, I'm going to be drowning in debt for the rest of my life. I better teach myself to like ramen noodles. I recently starting thinking of all the things I have to do for myself, which is new and crazy. Or even that I'll need to buy a bunch of things I currently share with my mom and/or sister because I'll be off on my own soon. It's the age of being overwhelmed, that's for sure. But I also think that it's around the time you are able to see the bigger picture, and be a little (little) more realistic. 

Also, and this is something that I think plenty of writers might overlook, but relationships with family and friends are one of the biggest things that changed for me. When you're sixteen and all angsty and whatnot, it's so easy to get annoyed with your family and definitely prefer to hang out with friends. I'm not saying that now, at eighteen, my family doesn't get on my nerves, because they do, but knowing that I'll be leaving soon has me wanting to spend more time with them. I enjoy shopping with my mom, and have even declined invitations to hang out with friends because my family had something planned (not all the time, but occasionally). I mean, believe it or not, some of us teenagers actually have good relationships with our parents! 

When it comes to friends, at 16, they are more of a main focus. Not just best friends, but all of your peers. But when you get close to leaving high school, you realize how much bullshit other kids will give you, and it's hard to deal with that. It's easier to see who your real friends are, and that anyone else isn't worth your time. Which is fine, because, as you constantly remind yourself, you're leaving soon anyway.

Q: How do you communicate with your friends? Phone calls ever? Text? Twitter? FB? And how has this changed for you in the past 3 years, since you were 15?

The only time I call my friends now is if someone is driving and can't text. Really, we rarely talk on the phone. I know some people in relationships who do, often, but I'm not one for phone conversations if I can avoid them. Although I'm a person who prefers to speak face-to-face (is it just me, or does everyone always seem angry or annoyed in texts if they don't overuse smiley faces and exclamation points?). texts are definitely a go-to. Snapchat has also gotten pretty big lately, which is great for minor cases of blackmail, if that's ever needed. I still sent texts when I was 15, although I believe Facebook was much more popular at the time. Another difference is that, through websites like Facebook or GroupMe (group texting app) or Skype, it's easy to talk to friends that don't live near you. Or even friends you've never actually met in person. As far as Twitter, there's a few comments made, but it definitely wouldn't be a first-choice for communication.

Q: How have your concerns about the future changed over the past 3 years? 

When I was fifteen, I sort of had an idea of what I wanted to do, but I always had so much time that I didn't really have to think about it. Mostly, the plan outline was pretty much do well in school so you can go to college. Of course. Whatever. No big deal. But your senior year of high school is basically plan out the rest of your life and make choices that will affect your entire future, don't screw up. On top of school, and homework, and rehearsals or practices, possibly a social life. All you really want to do is hide in your bedroom and binge-watch Netflix or sleep for more than five hours, but hey. 

There is so much pressure. Pressure to, if you don't know what you want to do with your life, figure it out. Now. Or, if you are like me and know exactly what you want to do, convince your parents that majoring in theatre is not an awful idea. (And, if you want to go into the arts, people will be condescending to you and try to convince you otherwise. Both family members and not. It's annoying, but so very true. Because adults will ask you where you are going to college (even in the fall when you've hardly applied yet) and they will ask you your major. When you say "theatre" or "acting", they will give you that "oh." and then go on about how their kid is going to be a chemical engineer or something.) But, you also tend to focus on what you want more. Did anyone manage to convince me that going across the country to study acting was a bad idea? No, of course not. And nobody could either. But financial concerns are DEFINITELY amplified. I sort of went into this before, but it isn't until you really start worrying about college and independence that you realize how screwed you are financially. Some teens are in a pretty good spot, but there aren't many that can afford $50,000 a year. There's a lot of cringing. So much cringing. Three years ago, I thought paying four bucks for candy at the movie theater was ridiculous. Hah.

Q: What do you think most people may have forgotten about being 18?  

I think a big thing that is missing is having passion for something. People tend to remember that 18-year-olds are delusional and hopeful and self-serving and, oh boy, are we. But I think a lot of that stems from being passionate about something. Maybe it is not everyone, but I really don't see it enough with characters. And I don't just mean a kid who has a hobby. I mean a real passion. I fell in love with acting, and I really can't imagine doing much else with my life. It's what I'm choosing to study and eventually turn into a career. Because, at 18, we have dreams and as crazy as they are, we believe with all of our beings that they will come true. There seems to be endless possibilities, and no matter what other people say, you truly think you can do something great. Maybe that is delusional, but it's also a beautiful feeling. In a strange way, it sort of feels like your life is just beginning now, and as incredibly stressful as that is, you know that you're going to do something with it.

Q: As an 18 year old - do you read YA, New adult, Adult? What types of books interest you most and why?

I read YA. That's pretty much all I read, although there are a few exceptions. I feel like I should probably start given NA a try, although it seems harder to find books in that category. Maybe it isn't marketed as much? Maybe it's just because I'm a Young Adult enthusiast? I'm not sure. But, regardless, I've been reading YA for many years, and I'll probably keep reading it for many years to come. When it comes to genre, I read books all across the board. Genre doesn't matter to me. I care about characters, I want to be able to connect with them, which leads to why voice is also a biggie. But the most important thing is a book that draws me in. I want to be able to escape into the pages. I also tend to love the darker side of YA more. I like messed-up characters and brutally honest writing. And I'm a sucker for a good villain. I want more villains (or antiheroes) that are evil, but do it with some class, and/or have some redeemable qualities. Like, if anyone knows of or has a YA with a character like Pierre Despereaux (Psych) or Francis Underwood (House of Cards) PLEASE pass word to me.

Thank you Justine for the tour! 

BTW Y'all - JUSTINE was also in this year's Pitch Wars by @BrendaDrake. GO TEAM PITCH WARS! GO 18 yr old ROCK STARS! Hunt her down @JustineWinans

To keep up on teen life, follow We Hear Ya! @WeHear_Ya - Thanks all.