Pop-Culturalist Chats with Meghan Rienks
It was back in 2010 when Meghan Rienks began sharing her original content with the world. Since then, she’s transformed her personal brand into an empire and established herself as one of the industry’s most dynamic personalities. With her boundless talent, Meghan continues to wow Hollywood. This fall, she returns as Zoey Parker on Hulu’s breakout hit, Freakish. Pop-Culturalist chatted with Meghan about the upcoming season, how her character has evolved, and spoke about an exciting new project she’s working on.
P-C: For readers who are not familiar with Freakish, can you tell us about the show and your character?
Meghan: Freakish is a story of a group of students who are at school on a Saturday, all for various reasons. My character is a cheerleader, so she’s at practice. Her boyfriend is on a sports team and there are kids there for detention. It’s a diverse group, all from various walks of life. On that Saturday, there happens to be a lockdown at the school and there’s a chemical breach. Because they grew up near the plant, they’re pretty used to it, but it turns out this time, there’s been an explosion, which has caused the air outside to be contaminated. Throughout the course of the season, we start to figure out that the people who were our classmates and friends begin breathing in the air and turning into these mutant freaks. The show is about survival in a post-apocalyptic world.
My character, Zoey Parker, is a cheerleader. She’s got her boyfriend, LeShaen Devereux, and she’s in this dark love triangle with the computer geek, Barrett. She’s really trying to figure out what she brings to the group, just because everybody has their strength in the situation and I think she feels vastly underestimated by her classmates, but at the same time, she’s not really even sure why she survived and why she’s lasted this long, and so she grows to be a strong character and learns that the reason why she’s survived is because she’s pretty resilient herself.
P-C: What drew you to this project?
Meghan: I’ve always been a fan of the sci-fi and supernatural genre. It’s funny, I’m actually terrified of horror and thrillers in general, so for me, it’s super fun to be actually scared while filming and be a part of something that while you’re filming is creepy, but when you watch it, scares you!
I also really identify with Zoey, which is something that’s fun for me. I’ve played a lot of mean-spirited cheerleaders in the past, but what’s really cool about Zoey, and it’s a testament to our writers, is over the course of season one, she has this arch, but then, who she becomes by the end of season two is a changed character. It’s so fun to play somebody that has such a drastic evolution and an awesome story arch. That really drew me to Freakish.
P-C: At the end of the first season, Natalie sacrifices herself for friends. What impact will that have on the group in season two?
Meghan: It’s intense! We’re picking back up with season two right where we left off. There’s that feeling of extreme loss, especially for Zoey because she and Natalie were friends growing up and they were able to reconcile and come together right before her passing. It’s something that rattles Zoey. Natalie is the character in season one that has the most relationships with everyone in the group. Also, her death was preventable, if the group hadn’t trusted someone that they had, she would still be alive. It makes the group more protective of each other.
P-C: What is Zoey’s greatest strength?
Meghan: Her greatest strength for surviving is the fact that she’s incredibly stubborn. She doesn’t want anyone to underestimate her. She wants to prove to everyone, herself included, that she can do it. It’s her stubbornness that makes her so resilient and enables her to survive because she doesn’t have any other option. Everyone thinks she’s going to be the first to die and she wants to prove them wrong.
P-C: Can you tease a little bit about the love triangle that you mentioned a little bit earlier?
Meghan: This season, there are a lot of new characters coming into the school that will tests the ranks between the characters who originated in season one. Relationships—both old and new—will be tested, and it’ll boil down to them figuring out who they can trust. It’s an extreme situation and Zoey is trying to figure out who’s being honest with her.
P-C: As a returning character, what is it like working with this new cast that’s joined this season?
Meghan: It’s awesome! I think we were a really welcoming cast. I hope that’s what the new cast says! It was really fun and cool to have a new group of people on set. Zoey was a little bit of a villain in season one, so it was nice to have other people take over that role. It was cool to see the changing dynamic between the characters. That’s been really fun to explore.
P-C: If you had to summarize season two in five words, what would they be?
Meghan: Trust, loyalty, betrayal, exciting, and surprising. We really go there this season. It’s definitely very scary. We watched a couple of episodes and I brought Aislinn Paul, who played Natalie in season one, and she was like shocked!
P-C: The show has a diverse cast like traditional actors and social media influencers/content creators. What did you guys learn from each other and how did you bond?
Meghan: It’s such a great harmony in both respects. I think, right now, digital and traditional media are merging a lot. There’s a ton of crossover, and a lot of people are watching things specifically on streaming apps.
I definitely tried to make Leo’s Instagram feed better! It was really cool because we had a lot of kids who have grown up on set and then, there are people who have never been on a set before. I was pretty lucky. I’m right in between—I grew up acting and I’ve been on sets before, but I’ve never been a series regular on a show before, so I definitely had a lot to learn from the cast, which was so rewarding. I think one of my favorite mentors was Adam Hicks who plays Diesel. He’s the sweetest guy ever. If I was ever stressing out, he would pull me aside and give me some words of wisdom from a kid who grew up on film and television sets his entire life.
P-C: Besides Freakish, do you have any other upcoming projects that you can chat about or tease?
Meghan: Yeah! I am constantly doing my podcast which is called Don’t Blame Me, and funny enough, the episode that just got released is with Leo Howard, who plays Glover, and then, the next episode is Aislinn Paul, who played Natalie. I’m filming Honored with Sasha Pieterse and Arden Cho, which is really exciting. It’s a project that I brought to Lionsgate. It’s one that I pitched them and it’s a story I created.
Pop-Culturalist Speed Round
P-C: Guilty pleasure TV show?
Meghan: Anything on TLC!
P-C: Guilty pleasure movie?
Meghan: Killer Klowns from Outer Space or Bring It On (the most recent one).
P-C: Favorite book?
Meghan: Harry Potter
P-C: Favorite play or musical?
Meghan: The Lion King
P-C: A band or artist that fans would be surprised to learn is on your playlist?
Meghan: Super old-school Soulja Boy.
P-C: A favorite social media platform?
Photo Credit: AwesomenessTV