By Rick Bentley
Tribune News Service
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) If you haven’t heard of Anna Akana, chances are you soon will! The filmmaker and actress who already has millions of followers on Youtube is ready to spread her wings in a new scripted series called “Youth & Consequences”
Anna Akana has been a part of the steady flow of new material that shows up on YouTube for years.
From a humble start, the electronic fingerprints of the filmmaker and actress has grown to more than two million subscribers for her YouTube channel that long ago eclipsed the 200 million video views mark. That number is only going to get bigger as Akana stars in the new YouTube Red eight-part series “Youth & Consequences.”
The streaming series is a big leap from Akana starting as a one-person show when she started posting on YouTube.
“I would do everything. So I would put a vacuum cleaner there, focus on the vacuum cleaner, hit record, run and take its place, edit the whole thing, write the whole thing,” Akana says. “It’s obviously night and day to have the amazing support of someone who is better at writing than me, better at producing than me, better at directing than me, and having a team of people that have the resources, the money, and the creative drive to make a project this amazing.
“I love doing my own stuff, for the pure fun of it and being able to express my opinions and my views. But then being able to do something like this on a grander scale that’s narrative and scripted is just so much more fulfilling.”
That grand scale will be for the streaming series that takes a look at life in high school as seen through the eyes of Farrah Cutney (Akana). This is a student who has absolute power at Central Rochester High because of her abilities to set trends, be a fixer and keep a firm hand over her subjects. The only problem is she finds out the key isn’t having power, but being able to keep it.
Akana will get to share the screen with other actors as Marcia Cross (“Desperate Housewives”) will guest star in the recurring role of Principal Cowher, along with Cary Elwes (“The Art of More”) as Joel Cutney.
Akana was happily building her own massive following when her manager forwarded her the script for the series written by Jason Ubaldi (“All Night”). She fell in love with the script because unlike so many teen TV and movie roles, this one takes a sophisticated and adult approach. The actress often gets sent out to audition for high school roles, and those scripts can fail to touch on the real issues facing teenagers.
She immediately connected with Farrah.
“I think the thing that drew me to the script the most was that her motivations to the audience are never really clear. Jason did a beautiful job of using the ‘Mean Girls’ construct, for you to kind of wonder … is she self-serving, or is she actually serving an agenda that’s for other people?” Akana says. “I think that’s the beauty and the complexity in a high school story. People’s motivations aren’t necessarily purely selfish or purely for someone else, and she’s treated very much like an adult, who is trying to do good in the world.
“It’s actually really interesting. Jason wrote this sort of during the election, and she was supposed to be kind of like a Hillary Clinton type of character, going up against Donald Trump and kind of acting out her justices of the world. So she’s a little bit of both.”
The thing she has learned is it is difficult for younger kids today because they aspire for the fame of it all.
Most people want to do what she’s doing just to be a star.
“I think, unfortunately, that’s the wrong thing to aspire to. A lot of other traditional people got into the internet because we saw the potential audience here. There is an easier way to watch than me going to a bar to perform standup in front of 10 drunk people who don’t want to listen to me,” Akana says. “People can sit in their homes and watch my comedy. And I think the art of the craft is lost on a lot of the teens, because all they see is this perfectly polished life that everyone is supposedly living.
“If your baby’s growing up being able to manipulate an iPad at like 4 years old and be completely immersed in this world, there is this different life that you lead online. And I feel like the separation of it and how it’s not genuine actually is kind of lost on them.”
The biggest thing she learned early is mistakes are going to be made. At least with “Youth & Consequences,” there are a lot more people involved, and that should reduce the errors that will live on forever online.
‘YOUTH & CONSEQUENCES’
12:01 a.m. Wednesday, YouTube Red