Freeform bravely explores the world of teen addiction in its new drama, Recovery Road. In the series, 17-year-old Maddie is a highly functioning addict whose party-girl world comes to an end when she’s busted with booze at school. When she has to choose between rehab or expulsion, she begins a double life: normal teen by day and recovering addict in a sober living facility at night.
Jessica Sula is the actress taking on this challenging and beautiful role and I asked her our fun, and light “5 Questions,” which the joyful actress effervescently answered. But she also shared a message of hope and compassion for those dealing with addiction, which is also below. Sula embodies her the goal of the show: to give dignity to addicts and show that their world isn’t all bathrobes and coffee in Styrofoam cups. People in recovery can laugh, love, cry, screw and screw-up. And through it all, despite it all, and because of it all, the are — and can — be real people.
The actress has high hopes for how fans see Maddie’s journey. “I hope that they recognize that Maddie is going through a situation that a lot of people go through, where they don’t realize their drug abuse is turning into a drug addiction. And it’s not a bad thing to be open and honest about where you are in your life, and how you’re feeling. Addiction is a disease and you can seek help. Maybe they’ll watch Recovery Road and seek help in their own way and in their own time.” Sula also has a message for fans unfamiliar with addiction. “Just think empathetically, ‘I understand it now.’ Addiction is not a subject that we should avoid; this is a subject that we should be open about.”
The Welsh actress also dealt with difficult topics in her role on the British teen drama, Skins, which also starred her Recovery Road co-star, Sebastian De Souza. Sula says that if she wasn’t an actor, “I think I would also want to be a journalist or study human rights,” so it’s no surprise that she wants to use her station to teach compassion for others and educate people about a devastating disease.
If you have a problem with addiction or you think that you think that someone you know needs help, contact Above The Influence, SAMHHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration) or an addiction specialist near you.
Now, on to the charming world of Jess Sula.
1. If your TV carried only three shows or networks, what would you be watching?
What would I be watching? Oh my goodness, this is so difficult! I guess I would always watch TCM, because I love to watch a lot of different classical movies. And then I like to watch a lot of documentaries and HBO usually has really good documentaries, and I really like to watch light-hearted, fun , young shows, so Freeform would be another one
2. Since you’re an old movie lover; what’s a movie you can watch over and over again?
Oooh, that’s a good one! Oh man, I guess for some reason, I really like to watch Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews in Laura. I like the whole melodrama of the situation and the Agatha Christie-style suspense of “who killed who?” I love to watch all sorts of femme fatale roles like Rita Hayworth, and ladies like Ava Gardner; their faces are so beautiful that you want to watch them all of the time.
3. What are three things that you have to have in your fridge or pantry?
Hot dogs. I love hot dogs! [laughs] I like to have spinach or arugula in my fridge because I eat so many hot dogs, I feel bad and I think I should have salad. And I love to eat blueberries [pronounced with Jess’ gorgeous Welsh accent, so it sounds like “blu-burries”]. Oh my goodness, I love blueberries!
4. What was a time when you were completely and utterly starstruck?
Ooh! I was binge watching The Tudors with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and I saw him at Paddington Station and I just stood there and stared. I didn’t do anything, but he was Henry VIII and I was like “Oh. My. God!”
5. What has been your strangest or funniest fan encounter?
This one funny one was when someone clearly was trying to be nice, but they said, “Oh, you’re much cuter in person!” And I went, “Thanks, mate.” And then we both started laughing because we both realized how bizarre the interaction was. And clearly I understood that the person was coming from a good place, because they weren’t giving off a terrible vibe. But it was just so funny.
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Recovery Road > Freeform > Mondays at 9pm ET/8pm CT