Tyler Doster for AwardsWatch
June 17, 2022
Britt Lower’s life has turned into a circus (literally).
The Illinois-born actress most recently known for her portrayal of Helly in AppleTV+’s buzziest show of the season, Severance, is using her month “off” in June to be in Circus Flora in St. Louis, an experience she refers to as a “lifelong dream.” In Severance, Lower plays two versions of the same character, Helly: one that works at Lumen Industries that doesn’t know about her life on the outside (the Innie) and the one with a life outside of work that show knows nothing about (the Outtie). Helly is a strong-willed character that “suffers no fools”, according to Lower, which is why she jumped at the chance to play her.
Lower has previously been involved with other series with roles in CBS’ Unforgettable, HBO’s High Maintenance, and Hulu’s Casual, but now she’s in a lead role that allows her a multifaceted performance that is every bit as intriguing as it is anxiety-inducing. She’s also written and directed a short titled Circus Person, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2021 and is now in development of a longer format version of the short.
I recently sat down to speak to Lower, where we chatted about her role in the circus, how she realized Helly’s vulnerability and how she got prepared for the darker moments of the series.
Tyler Doster: I wanted to actually start by talking to you about what I’ve seen on your Instagram lately. I wanted to talk to you about the circus, if you’re game for that.
Britt Lower: Yeah. I love talking about the circus.
TD: What do you do there?
BL: I’m playing a character named Steven, in the circus, who uses her ukulele to face her fears. I’m part of a paranormal detective company called the St. Louis Spirit Sleuths. And we are going down into the caves of St. Louis and the tent itself is like a cave. So we encounter all of these spirits from performers past, and we stitched together the narrative arc of the circus show with interstitial bits and funny things (laughs).
TD: How long have you been involved in that?
BL: This is my circus debut as a performer, but I’ve been a long time circus fan. Couple of years ago, I wrote and directed a movie called Circus Person that premiered at Tribeca [Film Festival], about a woman who goes through a breakup and develops a spontaneous desire to run away with the circus. While I was doing field research for the longer format version of that project, that I’m now in development in right now, I met with a lot of different circuses around the country. I met Jack Marsh, the Artistic Director of this circus called Circus Flora, and when he was visiting in Los Angeles, he was like, I have a kind of crazy idea that people might scratch their heads about, but would you like to join the circus for the month of June? And I said, “that would be fulfilling a lifelong dream. Absolutely. Sign me up.”