The beaches are teeming with teenagers hanging out and working on their summer tans, due dates and schedules the furthest thing from their minds.
But 16-year-old Molly Grace is happy to have a full slate of responsibilities: the West Vancouver actor is working through the summer on one film project and doing prep work for yet another. “I love what I do,” she says, “and I’m excited to have the summer filled up.”
Grace started acting at age seven back in her native Australia, in theatre productions. She doesn’t remember many of her early roles, though one stands out: “I do remember having to wear a chicken costume … I remember it being really stuffy!” she laughs. The family moved to Vancouver when she was 11, and Grace started auditioning for film and television, landing a Nintendo commercial soon after.
Having lived for years in Australia and being immersed in the accent at home has given her a better ear for dialects, she says, though the first thing she did when she came to Canada was to get training to lose her Aussie accent. “I can have one,” she says, “I can switch it on and off, but I’ve been taught not to do it.”
This past May, Grace played a young Allison Williams in the dark Netflix thriller The Perfection. She starred as the younger version of Charlotte, a cello prodigy who leaves a renowned but predatory instructor (Steven Weber) to care for her mentally ill mother. (Grown-up Charlotte will return to get revenge, big time.) Grace plays piano and just picked up the ukulele, but had no proper string training before the role. “I learned in three weeks, it was insane!” she says. “I had to wear an arm brace to support my wrist, I was playing so much. But it was really fun.”
Harder for the young actor was finding the darkness required for the role. “It’s really hard, I’m not going to lie,” she says. “I consider myself a cheerful person. But I find that you can channel experiences from your own life, even if I hadn’t experienced the things she did … I do have my ups and downs that I can draw from.”
One of Grace’s undeniable “ups” is her latest role in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before 2, releasing in 2020. The wildly popular Netflix teen rom-com was among the top three most-rewatched original movies on the streaming service. Grace is sworn to secrecy and can’t say much about her role in the film, which stars Lana Condor and Noah Centineo, though she will divulge that “my character has to cry a lot, I managed to land the crying one,” she laughs. As soon as she was allowed to talk about her role she told her friends, who were more than excited to get the scoop on Centineo, 17.4 million Instagram followers and counting. “I got to meet him and hang out and I was excited, trust me!”
Her friends and her mom, dad and younger brother are supportive, she says, because “they can tell how hard I work and how much I love it.” When she’s not working she takes a dance class and goes running, and Grace likes to go out and support some of her friends and contemporaries in local theatre productions.
Grace is actually looking forward to going back to high school in West Vancouver, where her favourite subject is science, especially biology and the environmental sciences. She admits that she misses a lot of school for film work but “I feel like I do a pretty good job of making it up.”
At the moment, she says, she’s just enjoying the challenge of a varied and busy schedule and the balancing act of it all. “I have so many goals and I’ll see what takes me where.”