Actor Misha Osherovich, currently seen in Peacock’s The Girl in the Woods, has been sharing their story about addiction and mental health.
True to life, Misha’s character, Nolan Frisk, has similar truths, so bringing the character to fruition is a bold step in the realization that fiction can help people in real life.
Misha didn’t sweep their past and present under the carpet. Instead, they used their experiences to build an acting career from the ground up. Being non-binary and queer, Misha took the odds and ends of their existence and formed a creative outlet (which also includes writing and producing!)
Let Misha Osherovich be a role model to everyone in every space.
Misha Osherovich – The Girl in the Woods – Photo by Scott Green – Courtesy of Peacock
You play Nolan Frisk in the Peacock original series The Girl in the Woods. Tell us about your audition.
This was probably the most exciting self-tape appointment I’d received in a while. It was a non-binary role, in a genre I already know well (horror) with a young queer-friendly company. I was pumped. What was even more remarkable was the marathon 4+ hour Zoom callback / chemistry read process. Krysten Ritter ran the whole session, and what struck me was how GOOD she was at directing, even over Zoom and all the limitations that come with that.
As far as prep, this story hit so close to home on many levels. My queerness, my history with substance abuse. So ultimately I had to put “super nerdy pre-heavy” Misha to the side. Trust I knew the lines and my intentions, and just be a human with my scene partners.
In The Girl in the Woods, you interact with a mostly young cast. What kind of wisdom did you bring to set? Your experiences when you were a teen far outweigh the average teen experiences.
You’re not wrong, I had an unusual adolescence. But honestly I mostly watched and listened and played on this set. Sofia Bryant and Stefanie Scott are both such creative forces: not to mention our powerhouse “adult” cast like Will Yun Lee and Reed Diamond.
TV moves SO quickly. So you need to show up with your lines learned and character homework done. But I’d like to think my secret weapon on set was giving into play. Being ready to take a whole new direction on a scene at a moment’s notice. That’s strength working on camera. And that comes from a lot of listening, not so much a lot of talking.
You were also in the horror comedy Freaky with Vince Vaughn, playing the gay best friend, Josh Detmer. As a queer person, what are your thoughts on gay characters being played by straight actors?
I do not think we are in a place in modern history where queer roles can rightfully be played by straight actors. To be clear: I firmly believe in the principle of “best artist for the role.” But at the moment, queer trans and NB folks have been silenced in their storytelling for so long: right now, the best person for a queer role IS a queer person. Give us a platform to tell our stories authentically. Give it to us unconditionally for years. That way we can make everything from groundbreaking cinema to cheesy queer Christmas Rom Coms. That’s representation. Wholistic representation.
We sometimes hear that actors bring a piece of themselves into the roles that they play. Regarding you, is this true?
I like to think I bring a piece of me into any role I bring. It’s my eyes, my voice, my physical being entering a role. Especially with a story like Nolan’s in this show – queerness and mental health struggles are both part of my story, as they are a part of Nolan’s story.
But equally important is the self-care. The “letting go” ritual when I get back home after a long day of shooting. If you don’t shed the character skin when you walk off the set, for me at least that leads to burn-out and a shitty performance as the weeks of filming go on.
You came out as non-binary during quarantine. As an actor, how will being non-binary affect the roles you are offered?
I don’t think about that, to be very honest. I know for me, detangling from the constraints of gender – especially male-presenting gender – was a matter of mental and artistic health. I’m finally moving through the world honestly. Therefore, I believe my art is better and more honest. Cast me as you will, I’m an actor and my craft is play-pretend. I certainly hope more authentically queer roles come my way. I also intend on writing many more of them, for myself and other actors. I see change on the horizon in Hollywood absolutely, but I do not spend time thinking about when someone will give me permission as a queer person to benefit from that change. I’m historically bad at waiting for permission.
Your story about your family sending you to a youth residential treatment facility in Utah during your teens is one that many do not get to hear. Being an advocate for mental health, please get us into the mind of what exactly happened that your family felt you needed to go there.
That’s a larger conversation, and a long story. But the gist is: I struggled with my mental health, growing up in a fairly conservative household. My parents didn’t understand my burgeoning queerness, or my incredibly self-destructive and addictive behaviors. They were scared, and they sent me into the Troubled Teen Industry because that industry markets a “magic solution” to scared parents.
Now, years later, I’m lucky to work with organizations like Breaking Code Silence to advocate for teen rights and educate parents. I also work with NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) and Project Heal to generate more opportunities for treatment of eating disorders – especially within the queer community.
What is your current everyday schedule?
It’s a lot of Zooms, phone calls, writing sessions and self-tapes. I swear by my digital to-do list and my old-school paper calendar.
You are very driven to succeed and help others. How does being an actor help you get more visibility when it comes to your social activism?
The entertainment industry (hand-in-hand with social media) is one of the largest public platforms that generates social change. I care deeply about helping young people access mental health resources that they might not otherwise be able to reach, and I’m lucky enough to work a public-facing job. To me, that’s a perfect storm.
You’ve also delved into producing and writing. What is it about being creative behind the scenes vs. in front of the camera that attracts you?
I love that we are in a day where multi-hyphenates are celebrated. Take our first block director Krysten Ritter. Her history as an actor makes her that much better at being a powerhouse director. I believe the same principle goes for my writing and producing endeavors. It’s all storytelling, how exciting is it that folks in the entertainment industry are able to work in multiple lanes more easily than ever now?
Love *love* LOVE your curly hair! What products, if any, do you use?
Have to give a shoutout to my curl guru Dusty at Thairapy Salon here in LA. He turned me on to Innersense products. That stuff is life-changing for curly folks.
What advice do you have for young people looking to get into show business?
Your authentic weird quirky voice is more valuable than EVER. Different is good. Weird is even better. Don’t shy away from what makes you unique, and embrace the truth of your identity. With that bedrock, the work will come.