'Euphoria' Star Sydney Sweeney On How Her Acting Career Nearly Broke Her Family

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credit: @sydney_sweeney/Instagram

By all accounts, Euphoria star Sydney Sweeney has officially “made it” in Hollywood. But, when she tells the story of her journey to fame, it’s evident that she thinks her success came at the expense of her family and happy childhood.

It’s also clear that she hasn’t totally forgiven herself for it.

Sweeney grew up in Spokane, Washington surrounded by her immediate and extended family. In an interview with Cosmopolitan, she talked about the joy she felt during childhood before she started chasing her dream of acting.

She said,

“In Spokane, I played sports every day. My cousins were always over at my house, teaching me how to start fires with magnifying glasses.”

She added,

“I miss my childhood a lot. I miss how beautiful the world looked and I miss having a family unit, my mom and dad and brother all in one place.”

 

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This isn’t the first time Sweeney has said something like this in an interview. She often paints a beautiful picture of her childhood.

She grew up in what she’s said was her mom’s “dream house,” which was always under some kind of renovation, and filled her days playing sports and falling in love with race cars, thanks to her twin babysitters who were race car drivers.

Sweeney looks back on her childhood fondly now, but in a “hindsight is 20/20” kind of way because she was only 12 years old when she came across an opportunity to audition for an indie film and everything changed.

But first, she had to get her parents on board

She told Coveteur,

“[The filmmakers] were holding auditions, so I begged my parents to let me audition by putting together a five-year business plan presentation. My mom is a lawyer, and my dad is in the medical field, so school has always been really important. I’ve always known how to communicate to them through that way.”

Her presentation was successful because her parents agreed to let her audition — and she ended up landing the part.

 

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Before long, she was going on more auditions, and her family was constantly going back and forth from Spokane to L.A. All of the trips were expensive, so her family decided it was best to relocate. They sold the “dream house” and moved the whole family — all so Sweeney could chase her dreams.

Then, her dad lost his job, her parents had to file for bankruptcy, and they could no longer afford to pay rent for the house they were living in.

For the next nine months, Sweeney, her parents, and her brother all crammed together into a single room at a Holiday Inn hotel because that’s all they could afford. Despite the struggle, Sweeney still looks back on that time with some fondness.

She told GQ,

“There’s also a beautiful memory in that time, too, because my little brother and I made the best of it. [We were living] the poor version of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.” 

Still, she was a teenage girl living in a hotel room with her family, so it’s not like it was a fairytale. But it’s a special memory for her because before long, her parents divorced, and the curtain fell on her childhood. Sweeney blamed herself and her dreams for the breakdown of her family. In fact, it sounds like she still blames herself.

She told Cosmo,

They always say, ‘it wasn’t your fault.’ It was. And when my parents were getting a divorce, my brother blamed me.”

She added,

“But at first, I think they enjoyed L.A. It was an escape from routine. That’s what I tell myself.”

 

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After her parents’ divorce, her relationships with her dad and brother crumbled and all she wanted was for her family to get back together. She had hoped to use her earnings as an actress to buy back her family home when she turned 18 and was devastated to learn she didn’t have enough to make it happen.

Eventually, she came to terms with her parents’ divorce (as much as any kid can, at least), and now, six years later, Sweeney is the star we all know and love. She’s repaired her relationship with her mom and brother and is incredibly close with her uncles and extended family. She was even able to take her grandma on her first trip to Europe. Sweeney is happy and grateful to be where she is today.

Unfortunately, she’s still estranged from her dad, and it’s hard to know if she’d go back and do it all again.

She told the Associated Press,

It’s kind of like a bittersweet thing of, yes, my dream is coming true. But unfortunately, I lost a lot of family in the meantime.”

You can currently watch Sydney Sweeney in Euphoria and The White Lotus — both on HBO. She’s also set to star in the upcoming film National Anthem, alongside friend Halsey.

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Ashley Ziegler
Aside from being a writer, Ashley is a mom of two girls and a wife to a passionate public school administrator. When she does have free time (cue laughter from working moms everywhere) she loves going to hot yoga classes, watching anything on Netflix that isn't a cartoon, and weaving her way through every aisle of Target while listening to one of her favorite podcasts.