'13 Reasons Why' Star Chelsea Alden Talks Tyler's Intense Storyline & What She Wants From Season 3 (Exclusive Q&A)

Whether or not you've seen the latest season of 13 Reasons Why, chances are you've seen Chelsea Alden in the previews, or images from episode scenes in the news. Her character is intertwined with the controversy that has been at the center of why many people refuse to watch. Despite the series' controversy, the series has been celebrated for tackling tough issues and Katherine Langford has been nominated for a Golden Globe; the cast also recently attended the MTV Movie & TV Awards for a nomination for “Best Show.” Alden also isn't defined by the single role—in fact, she has also produced a short film and will be starring in Unfriended: Dark Web, which heads to theaters July 20. 

Her Campus chatted with Alden about her opinion on the graphic scenes in 13 Reasons Why, what she learned by producing a short film, what's next on her Netflix binge-watch list and more. 

Her Campus: In season 2 of 13 Reasons Why, you play the artistic, witty Mackenzie who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. How would you compare your high school self to Mackenzie? Do you think you would’ve been friends?

Chelsea Alden: I was actually homeschooled through high school, so it was not your typical high school experience. Part of that was because I was so artistic. I was taking dance classes, and I was sort of all over the place. My mom was really supportive of that, so she allowed me to be homeschooled and then basically pursue all of my artistic endeavors at the same time. In that way I think Mackenzie and I are kind of similar. She's sort of artistic but definitely way smarter than I was. I would like to think that I would be friends with her. I think she's a really cool character, and I think she has a lot of spunk and a lot of independence. That's a quality that I really admire. I was not that confident in high school, so I think I would've liked to have been friends with her and maybe have some of her confidence rub off on me.  

HC: You played Tyler’s love interest. He was sodomized by bullies and attempted a school shooting. These scenes were extremely graphic and controversial for many viewers. Do you think these scenes were important to portray? What positive impacts and negative consequences could you see resulting from them?

CA: Mackenzie does play Tyler's love interest. Obviously, he has a very intense storyline this season. What I think is so powerful about this show, and particularly their portrayal of what happened to Tyler and what he goes through, is that these things aren't just made up. There are statistics of things that happen in high school on a daily basis that we don't really want to talk about or hear about. I really admire Brian Yorkey and the show for bringing these subjects to light because I think that's what really important. You can't have a conversation and try to heal or mend a problem in society if you're unwilling to talk about it. I'm really impressed and excited to see the positive impacts from telling these sort of storylines, and seeing how people can maybe feel less alone or like they don't have to hide if something has happened to them. Maybe they'll be more willing to come out and move forward.

HC: What was your favorite memory of being on set with the cast? Any funny mishaps you could share?

CA: What's funny is we're such a huge cast of amazing people, but as you can tell, most of my interaction is with Devin, who plays Tyler, and Bryce, who plays my brother Cyrus. The three of us just sort of bonded a lot over music, and we would sing a lot of Paramore songs and just really had a good time together. I think my favorite part of being on set was that I had just wrapped filming for the day right before they shot that huge fight scene in the hallway, and Mackenzie leaves before the fight happens, but I stuck around. I was like, "This is going to be awesome." Watching the amount of work and choreography and fun and dedication that went into making that scene happen was amazing to me. It was cool to be a bystander and watch it all come together.


. . . camera wizard: @thereelmarcus beauty exec: @shesabean

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HC: It was just announced that 13 Reasons Why will be returning for a third season. If you could help write the script, what would you want to see happen in the upcoming season?

CA: There are so many loose ends I think that we could explore. I'm particularly interested in obviously Tyler and Tony at this point. Like, where did they go? I feel like there are so many possibilities! I'm hopeful that maybe we can see more from my own personal character—maybe some of the history of Cyrus and Mackenzie, or more of their dad. He's a really cool character. I would also love to see Mackenzie sort of act as a healing, supportive friend to Tyler. He's been through so much and obviously has a lot of his own personal issues to overcome and deal with. I would love to see her continue to not give up on him and be willing to be his friend through everything. I think that would be a really beautiful and fun storyline to explore.

HC: You also starred in and produced The Human Project, a short film currently being shown at various film festivals. Can you tell us a bit about it? What was it like being the executive producer?

CA: The Human Project is a short film that I produced and starred in. It was written by very good friend, David Beatty. It's the story of a brother and sister who are many years apart, and their father has just recently passed away. Now they have to come together and find some similarities between them to understand and move through the death of their father. I came to be the producer on that because David wrote it originally as a stage play, and I just fell in love with the story and with the characters. I asked him, "I've never produced anything in my life, but I would really love to try my hand putting this story on film. Would you let me do that?" He agreed, and it kept going from there. I find with new and exciting projects you've never done before that when it's meant to be, things just sort of roll. We found our director, and then we had our location. It was an overwhelming experience, but I'm so glad that I did it. I learned so much about the behind the scenes and making film. It definitely gave me the bug for wanting to start my own production company or learn how to direct in the future, and just take a different appreciation away from the process.

HC: Are you binge-watching anything at the moment, or is there a show you’ve been meaning to watch forever?

CA: I one hundred percent just binge-watched all of Barry on HBO with Bill Hader. Literally I watched the entire season in one sitting. I couldn't stop. I think it's brilliant and so well-written. Bill Hader is a genius, and I recommend it to anyone. It's suspenseful and funny. What I've been meaning to watch is all five, or six, seasons of Peaky Blinders. People keep telling me it's so good. I just keep meaning to watch it, and I haven't gotten into it. That's next on my list.