Actress Amanda Warren Talks 'The Purge' TV Series & Her One Piece of Advice for Young Women (Exclusive Q&A)

If you’ve been keyed into the pop culture landscape over the past few years, chances are you’ve seen Amanda Warren. The actress has kept busy appearing in hit television dramas like This Is Us and The Leftovers. She also had roles in three critically acclaimed filmsmother!, Roman J. Israel Esq. and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri—in 2017. Now, she is taking on the role of Jane, a finance worker who is hoping to overcome professional obstacles, in USA Network’s highly-anticipated series, The Purge

Her Campus caught up with Amanda to get the scoop on her new show, what it's been like to work on so many high-profile projects and the advice she has for young women.

Her Campus: You’ve had a busy year! What it's been like working on so many high-profile projects at a time?

Amanda Warren: It’s definitely something I never would have anticipated, having completed all of those projects by the age of 33. That’s just crazy to me, to have worked with Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Darren Aronofsky—all in one awards season. That just doesn’t happen every day and it’s been an embarrassment of riches. I take on the task with a tremendous amount of humility and gratitude. It’s been quite a fulfilling experience and nothing that I could have imagined happening this early in my career.

HC: You're starring in The Purge TV series—where would you say the series fits into the larger story of the Purge franchise?

AW: We are meditating a lot more on the human condition than what you see on the feature side of the franchise. The feature side of the franchise has given the viewers, including myself, so much as far as entertainment value and a meditation on what could be, and American society. But with that said I think that there’s a lot more character development, and therefore a lot more thought on the human condition and meditating on that just as well. 



YO!!!!!!!! This time it is so televised Viewing party... #ThePurgeTV @usa_network @blumhouse #ThisTimeItsTelevised

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HC: How would you describe your character, Jane?

AW: Jane is a young, ambitious, driven, self-made woman in corporate, white collar finance America who’s just hit this roadblock with her boss. She’s quite ambitious and she’s quite deserving of all of the opportunities she’s received. So when she hasn’t excelled or advanced at the pace she’s supposed to, she finds a way to remedy that by hiring a Purge assassin. 

HC: Is there anything that was particularly terrifying about filming such a scary show? 

AW: It was scary for me because there is such a fan following. For me the actor, I just tend to follow the story, but I come from more of the, for lack of a better phrase, the "arthouse world," the "indie-feature world," so I’m not used to being a part of franchises like this. It’s been an exhilarating and exciting experience. Then again, at the same time, [you] just want to tell great stories and fulfill fan’s expectations—you just want to make sure you get it right, whatever that means. I just tried to really follow the story and concentrate on that because it was very exciting, but a little nerve-racking in a beautiful way. 

HC: What do you hope viewers take away from this show?

AW: Just trying to understand one another as human beings. And looking each other in the eye. Putting the laptops down, turning the phones on do not disturb, and trying to understand one another and what each other’s plights might be and where we all come from. I think that is the beginning of people appreciating and respecting one another in society, especially in this time in the global climate where people are very sensitized about a lot of major issues. I think that if we take the time to look each other in the eye and ask each other where we come from, why do you feel that way, what’s happened to you, or why do you want this, I think that we can begin to understand a lot more. And hopefully that’s something we can ignite with people across the board, as far as our viewers. 

HC: That’s such a wonderful message! 

AW: I think so! We don’t do it anymore. We just don’t do it. We don’t look each other in the face anymore and I think a lot of stuff gets lost in that, especially miscommunication. You text one another, there’s a lack of vocal inflection, so you don’t know what things really mean. You just have these words and there’s no warmth. There’s no warmth with this technology and communication. I think we just need to go back to basics. I think that’s really important and hopefully with the decisions our viewers will see our characters making on the show, hopefully that will propel people to do just that. 

HC: You’ve had the chance to work with some legendary filmmakers like Darren Aronofsky and Martin McDonagh. What have those experiences been like?

AW: A gift. A true gift. Life-changing. And also, the cinematographers too, like Ben Davis and Bob Elswit, who was on Roman J. Israel Esq., and Matthew Libatique. It doesn’t get any better than that. You’re just standing in the midst of some really special people who aren’t like the other children on the playground and you don’t just want to hear what they’re saying, but listen and observe, and watch how these people work so you can stay in good company, like I’ve been so fortunate to have done the past 10 years. 



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HC: You’ve had the chance to work extensively in film and television. Do you prefer one medium over the other?

AW: I just prefer to tell really great stories. I’m quite looking forward to getting back to stage work whenever that happens. I believe that a moment occurs when it needs to, and a moment is as long as it needs to be. So, I just really follow the story. And with that, it has never really steered me wrong. Speaking of my body of work, just following a really great story is what I can appreciate and what I come from as far as education, as far as having watched movies and television shows with my mother and father, and friends and family. So, it’s really important. A great story is always going to gravitate great viewership and great appreciation for the craft and for entertainment, and for the human condition. So, I just try to follow the story and usually that leads me to where I need to be in the moment. 

HC: What has been the highlight of your 2018?

AW: The Purge and before then, the SAG Awards and getting up on stage with Fran [McDormand], and Kerry Condon, and Woody [Harrelson] and Sam [Rockwell], and everybody, and collecting that Best Ensemble Award. And then to come into a franchise with 10 episodes on two different networks, SyFy and USA, with the full backing of Blumhouse Productions and UCP, it’s been quite the blessing. And, I’ve been able to stretch some muscles and reach in certain choices with my storytelling that I haven’t done in quite some time, probably since graduate school. So, it’s been a really beautiful experience. And, I’m in love with the city of New Orleans. It’s been great, and I’ve had the great fortune of working with some really fantastic people. It’s been humbling, it’s been beautiful, it’s been exciting and I’m just truly looking forward to how people receive the show. 



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HC: What is one professional goal you hope to accomplish in the future?

AW: My personal goal is just to keep working and keep telling some great stories. I think that with that will come a lot of beautiful opportunities and things that will have exceeded my expectations, like it’s done in my 10 years so far. That’s all I really want to do—tell great stories and be able to not just survive, but live a beautiful life and just have access to all the joy in the world. That’s really important to me. And that’s all happening. It’s been a really beautiful thing and I just want to continue on that path.  

HC: What is one piece of advice you have for young women?

AW: Follow your gut and do things without apology. If you stand by your convictions, then don’t apologize for it. I think that sometimes we can get a little caught up in what’s expected of us, and I think it’s very important to exceed expectations. Not just ours, but other people’s. Just keep going and do what you believe in and not really worry about anyone else. I don’t think anything can do you wrong if you stand firm in your convictions and what you believe to be good for you.

Catch new episodes of The Purge on USA and Syfy, Tuesdays at 10 p.m.