Antonia Gentry and I are on a tea date. Virtually, of course: Gentry (aka Toni) is in her NYC apartment and I’m in my childhood bedroom, sipping on a strawberry lemonade-flavored JOYBA bubble tea and chatting about the part-time jobs we’ve had in college. Besides our shared experience of working at Barnes & Noble, Gentry has been an Abercrombie cashier and a waitress at a fancy burger restaurant. “I probably made more money as a waitress. At Abercrombie, I put all of my money back into buying the clothes that I was trying to sell people,” she laughs.
During her time at Emory University, the Ginny & Georgia star juggled a full course load and part-time gigs while auditioning for acting projects (including the role of Ginny). She’d gotten quite good at the balancing act by the time she got to college — she’d been working part-time jobs from the age of 16. On the days when her schedule got way too overwhelming, Gentry learned to swallow a self-sufficient person’s hardest pill: asking for help.
“There were a lot of moments where I had to reach out to my professors and let them know that I was overwhelmed. I definitely missed some assignments because I was busy working and doing other things. For the most part, they were very understanding of my situation,” she says. “I learned how to communicate and ask for help when I need it, even if it’s really hard to do so.”
Because of this, Gentry now realizes how invaluable it is to take care of her mental health, especially in the face of her budding career. “It took me a while to go to therapy because I was convinced I could figure everything out on my own. But once so many things started changing in my life and in the world, it was definitely something I needed,” she admits. “I’m a very analytical person. I like to know the exact reason for when, why, and how something happened. Therapy has been really helpful by giving me different tools I can use to deal with stress.”
Her therapist encouraged her to reconnect with her lifelong passion for singing and playing piano; music has since become Gentry’s ultimate de-stressor. “If my head’s scrambled, I sit at the keys and start playing pieces I’ve already learned or things that I want to learn again,” she says. “[Music] is a form of human connectivity that reminds me to center myself.”
Don’t expect her to put out an album anytime soon, though. “It would change the relationship I have with music. It’s very personal to me, so I don’t know if I’ll ever be at a stage in my life where I’ll feel comfortable making it more external. Acting’s where it’s at,” she asserts.
Since the current Hollywood strikes have halted production on Season 3 of Ginny & Georgia, Gentry is focusing on finding moments of everyday joy, a phrase she’s reflected on through her partnership with JOYBA. “Happiness and success can become these big ideas that seem so impossible to reach until you break them down into smaller pieces,” Gentry says. “Something as simple as drinking tea, going on a walk, or talking to your friends brings you joy in that moment. The more you do those smaller things, the bigger the joy bank is.”
Gentry’s favorite happy habits are journaling without self-judgment and people-watching in a park. “Sometimes I feel a little creepy ’cause I’m like, OK, I’m watching people too much,” she laughs. “But it helps me realize that we’re not actually as alone in our experiences as we think we are.”
If you’ve ever held a childhood tea party or sipped lemonade in your backyard, you’re not alone: You share an inner child self-care ritual with Antonia Gentry. “My friend and I were talking about how the things you drink at tea parties change over time. You start with water or juice in fake tea sets as a kid. Then you get a little older and you’re like, I’m gonna drink coffee now! I’m a coffee person! And then you get even older and suddenly you’re a wine girl. At the end of the day, we end up going back to the things we loved as a kid,” she reminisces.
It’s then that I realize that Toni and I are at a professional tea party. We may have grown-up jobs now, but the fruity drink in my hand gives me as much nostalgia as a pink, Disney Princess-themed plastic teacup. This is my moment of everyday joy today — and Gentry wants you to find yours too.