To reminisce on one's childhood may spark nostalgic memories of cliché activities, those of which consist of intermediate athletic events and playing dress-up. As it would be irrational to suggest that every individual’s childhood was merely replicated, it’s safe to say that Zoe Colletti’s upbringing consisted of playing dress up on a much larger scale: wardrobe changes. As the young starlet details, she grew up in front of the camera, as she reminisces on taking part in auditions and screen tests since the mere age of four. As her fascination for the entertainment industry progressed, her craft, ultimately, escalated. Now, Zoe’s talents can be seen in AMC’s hit spinoff series, Fear The Walking Dead, along with several exciting upcoming projects for the new year. In this exclusive interview, we had the opportunity to chat with Zoe to discuss her newest role as Dakota in Fear The Walking Dead, an inside look into her budding career thus far, and her infinite appreciation for fashion, specifically, thrift shopping.
Megan Morgante: Did anything/anyone, in particular, inspire you to pursue acting?
Zoe Colletti: I would say my older brother Ian. He was my built-in acting teacher throughout my time growing up. He began acting when he was little and I followed in his footsteps when I was young. Starting off, we did a ton of commercials together when we were younger, he's amazing and I seriously don't know what I would do without him.
MM: What did your life look like before you entered the entertainment industry?
ZC: I honestly don't remember a time when I wasn't acting. I got my first job when I was four-years-old, so looking back I don’t remember a time where I wasn't in audition rooms; I've always loved it. I began by easing into commercials and then started getting more TV spots and movie roles. It’s been a crazy journey, I remember times during my career when I had to learn lines through my mom reading them back to me, because I didn't know how to read yet. It just reminds me of how early it was that I began to do auditions. It’s also crazy because other than my brother, Ian, who is also an actor, no one else in my family is connected to the industry. It's just me and my brother who decided we wanted to enter this world.
MM: Can you give an overview of your past projects in the industry and how it led you to your role in Fear The Walking Dead?
ZC: As I said before, I started by doing a ton of commercials when I was young. I did a few shows here and there called Past Life and Mercy. The first movie I did was the 2014 remake of Annie, where I played one of the orphans, Tessie. I was twelve-years-old when I filmed that, and it was one of the first jobs where I felt a “whoa” moment, where I felt I was truly getting started. At that point, I felt I was definitely starting to come into my own in terms of trusting myself creatively and really allowing myself to move forward within the industry. From there I was a part of an independent movie called Skin, which was very challenging for me creatively and was a movie that pushed me. The movie really helped me trust myself and realize that I can depend on myself to read scripts, really understand them, and trust my creative choices. My first lead role was the 2019 film, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, which was a huge milestone for me. It was a bit overwhelming where I knew I was going to be in every scene and learn all of the lines, so I felt a lot more pressure. But, it went really well and the movie did great. From there, I ended up screen testing for AMC’s, The Walking Dead: World Beyond, and ended up getting flown back and forth to LA to audition, and I ended up not getting the role. However, from there, I was contacted by some of the writers of the show in regards to them writing a new character on Fear The Walking Dead that they wanted to see me play. I also have a Christmas movie coming out called, A Boy Called Christmas coming out next Christmas on Netflix. That’s where my journey has taken me up to this point.
MM: Speaking of Fear The Walking Dead, you recently joined the cast of the hit spinoff series, congratulations! What has your experience been like working on this series thus far?
ZC: Thank you, it's been amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to enter the crazy Walking Dead universe with. Everyone has been phenomenal, from the directors I've gotten to work with, to the rest of the amazingly talented cast, I couldn't ask for anything better. I was a huge fan of the show growing up, so it has been really cool for me to get the opportunity to be a part of The Walking Dead universe.
MM: Tell us a little bit about your character, Dakota. What can we expect to see from her in season six?
ZC: She is really strong and she's really interesting. I think Dakota's character has a lot of layers to her that you don't necessarily see, even up to the point that we're in the season so far. I think she has a very interesting relationship with her older sister, Virginia. The sister bond and that relationship generally are always interesting, but on top of that, the fact that you're in a zombie apocalypse and your sister is the head of this colony would cause some extra strife. I think you're also going to see her getting to know other characters that you know and love from the series, and we’ll discover who Dakota likes and doesn’t necessarily get along with.
MM: Do you have any new or upcoming projects that you’re particularly excited about for the new year?
ZC: The Christmas movie that I was previously talking about, A Boy Called Christmas, that film was supposed to come out this Christmas, but they decided to push it over to next year. I'm very impatient [laughs], but I’m super excited about that movie. It was one of my favorite projects to work on so far, getting to play a little three-foot-tall British pixie fairy was very fun, so I'm excited for it to come out. But as of now, I’m just auditioning. The business is a little bit slow at the moment, considering all that's going on, but as of recent it seems that more auditions are starting to pick up, so I’m getting back to the grind of auditioning and waiting for the Christmas movie.
MM: What advice would you give younger actors who are looking to break into the industry?
ZC: I would say that you should of course follow your dreams and give anything that you want to do a hundred percent of your energy, but to also know that even though it's such a fun and creative industry, to make sure you're going into it with a really positive attitude and to prepare for rejection. Unfortunately, it is an industry where there are a ton of disappointments, so my best advice would be to keep your head up and that no matter how many times you get told that you're not right for something, there will be the job that comes along where you are perfect for that role. You have to trust that the next audition you get could be that role, so keep your head up and be positive, because there's a lot of disappointment and rejection in the industry. But, when you do get that right job, it will be the greatest feeling and you will feel so much satisfaction from that. Stick to what you love and just be positive.
MM: Have you ever experienced any notable challenges throughout your career?
ZC: This a business that is full of rejection, which is difficult, especially if you've come into the industry at a really young age. It definitely gives you a lot of thick skin as you grow up and get older, and it’s important to be able to handle the not-so-pretty side of working in an adult industry from a young age. Also, it’s difficult friendship-wise. Being able to keep friends during middle school years, especially when I missed a lot of school because of work. It was sometimes hard to keep in touch with friends, especially during that age, when I was traveling around so much.
MM: Do you have any hobbies or passions that you enjoy partaking in when you're not acting?
ZC: Oh totally, I love to sew and I love going vintage cycling and upcycling. Fashion and sewing are probably my biggest hobbies outside of acting. If I wasn't to be an actor, I would love to be in the wardrobe department. I think it's one of the coolest departments on film sets. Besides fashion, sewing, and wardrobe, I love to sing as well. I like to sing and I play the ukulele, so those are other things that I love to do with my off-time.
MM: Speaking of fashion, I'm just obsessed with everything that you put together! What would you say your personal style consists of?
ZC: That's a mixed bag [laughs]. Ever since I was younger, I’ve loved thrift shopping, vintage clothes, and everything down that avenue. One of my favorite things to do is mix Kawaii [Japanese fashion] with urban street style, while also incorporating vintage pieces. I'm one of those people that just goes shopping, picks out a bunch of random things, and is like, “...Yeah, that looks good!”
MM: If you haven’t been to Buffalo Exchange for thrifting in New York City, you have to go. It’s amazing!
ZC: I love Buffalo Exchange! In Northern New Jersey, there’s a thrift shop called Udelco. It's basically like we're like stores go to stop, but they sell pieces on certain days for regular customers to come in and shop, it's amazing. It’s located in a massive warehouse and they have the clothing separated by each decade, so they’ll have bins labeled 80’s women's blouses right next to the 90’ t-shirts, so you can spend hours there just digging through everything.
MM: Now, who would you say is your ultimate style icon?
ZC: Oh, that's so difficult. I'm going to say my mom and brother have been some of my biggest influences. Honestly, if my mom didn’t dress me so cool when I was little, I don't know if I would have the style I do now. I was balling when I was younger, I had a pair of tiny Dr. Martens. I used to get the coolest dresses from this store in New York, they were called Jean-Claude, and the designer used to take old rock band T-shirts and upcycle them into little frilly dresses, they were the coolest things.
Photographer by: Francis Hills
Styling by: Madison Guest
Hair by: Josue Perez
Makeup by: Brittany Whitfield