Check out our interview with “Tiny Beautiful Things,” and “American Auto” actress Elizabeth Hinkler.
Follow Elizabeth @elizabethhinkler
Hi Elizabeth, please tell us a little about you?
Hi! So yeah, I’m Elizabeth Hinkler. My pronouns are they/she. I’m nonbinary, which to me, means that labels do not hold the space for the multifaceted intricacies that a person is. Besides being an actor, I am co-executive of my production company with my identical twin, Emily, called The Hinklers. We have created a bunch of projects, tv shows,
limited series, films, etc that explore the complexities of relationships and how we navigate our way in the search for connection. My mission is to create a loving connection in a fearful world. I also love to make jam and crafts of all kinds.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Heartfelt, creative, and playful.
How did you get started into acting?
Growing up, I didn’t know what acting was, but I always played pretend, and never grew out of it! My identical twin and I basically started in the womb. Our parents are math-oriented, and we didn’t watch TV or go to plays, but somehow at thirteen we got into a show and realized it could be an after school activity, and that you could do it as a job. I never considered anything else.
How has this changed your life?
Being an actor has allowed me to treasure the beauty of connection in even the smallest moments of my life.
What is the best and worst part of being an actress?
The best part of being an actor is being with someone else- truly being with another human being and sharing a space where anything can happen is simply magic.
The worst part of being an actor is the lack of opportunity. As Rami Malek says, “talent is abundant; opportunity is not.” I wish that for as much talent is out there in the world, we could all see and honor one another as artists, whether it’s in the middle of
your living room doing a performance for your parents, or accepting an Oscar.
How do you prepare for a role?
It depends on the role and how much is required for the part. Is there an accent? A physical difference than my own body? Is it in a different country? A different time period? As for the acting preparation of a role, I typically do not rehearse on my own aside
from memorizing, and save the acting for the moment, which allows me to be fully present to the other person.
Tell us about your work in Hulu’s “Tiny Beautiful Things,” and NBC’s “American Auto?”
In Tiny Beautiful Things, I play Shan Richards, the receptionist at the retirement home where Kathryn Hahn’s character, Clare, works. Shan is nonbinary. Most of the roles I play are nonbinary, however, this was the first role I’ve played where I felt like and was seen as a whole person. Usually, nonbinary or LGBTQIA roles are stereotypical- their only storyline is about coming out or being gay or asexual, which we need, but the character is one-note, then they’re gone.
These roles are frequently interpreted as being “un-understandably” smart and apathetic, and that’s that. With Shan, they were real, and I didn’t have to hold back a part of me, or truth, or reality to fit the constraints of a stereotyped character. Shan is incredibly playful with Clare, and having that freedom to play meant everything to me. It allowed me to embrace my artistry, humanity, and be able to do what I love most. Acting with Kathryn Hahn was truly a gift, because she gives you so much to play with, and I never had to shy away from receiving such gifts or risk my authenticity because it didn’t fit the character. We could both just create and exist in those moments together.
On American Auto, I play Chloe, the I.T. kid who is incredibly dry and probably somehow smarter than the silly yet loveable group of people that work at Payne Motor Company.
What other projects you have been part of?
A tidbit about me is that I play a lot of sick hospital kids with my identical twin, Emily- I guess we just exude that “sickly” vibe? Haha.
You’ve probably seen us both on The Good Doctor as conjoined twins, as well as Chicago
Med and Dream Corp LLC…there’s more, but I’ll pause there. As for other shows, I’ve been on Pen15, NCIS LA, Adam Sandler’s Sandy Wexler, Tyler Perry’s Boo 2 A Madea Halloween, Modern Family, Jane the Virgin, Overthinking With Kat & June, etc. Check out my IMDB for the full list.
One of my favorite experiences and probably what I’m most known for was The Good Doctor, where Emily and I played conjoined twins. It was the first time playing twins where we were seen as real individuals, instead of stereotypes. That experience was absolutely life changing.
What kind of roles do you like or would like to play and why?
I love to play characters who enrapt me into their journey and struggle of what it means to be human. Characters like Ma from Room, Jay Duplass’ character in Outside In, and especially Clare and Young Clare from Tiny Beautiful Things. These roles show me the immense strength, fragility, vulnerability, freedom, and truth of what it means to live life in the midst of our messy, complex, and complicated relationships. They explore the intricacies and paradoxes of who we are as human beings.
If you weren’t acting, what would you be up to right now?
I would still be an artist- writing stories, poetry, songs, painting, drawing, and playing with my puppy.
Which fictional character would be the most exciting to meet in real life?
Can you name 3 actors/actresses you would love to work with?
Of course Meryl Streep. I’d also love to work with Rami Malek, because I admire his persistence and groundedness, and I think it would be awesome to play family members because so many people say Emily and I look like him.
I’d love to work with Jack Black because that would be the most fun- I love how he doesn’t take himself or the glitz and glamor of the industry so seriously- he is the essence of play.
…And of course, Emily Hinkler, my favorite actor in the whole world. It’s such an incredible joy to work with Emily, because Emily knows if I’m being real or not, and constantly elevates my work in a way that brings my most authentic self to the project.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Seeing the impact that storytelling and characters have in the lives of others. Tiny Beautiful Things is truly a dream project to be a part of, because Cheryl Strayed’s story has been the heartbeat of so many who have lost their mother or loved ones before they were ready to say goodbye. There is connection and healing when we see ourselves in the characters
on screen, and that gift is incredibly rewarding and humbling.
What’s your advice for the newer actors?
Be creatively persistent.
What would you say are the greatest lessons you learned so far in this business?
To be creatively persistent.
How would your best friend describe you?
Empathetic, compassionate, thoughtful, and a strong sense of justice.
If you are a book, what would be the title of the book be and why?
Other Half- it’s actually the title of one of the projects Emily and I created about our experience as twins. As an identical twin, a lot of people assign you as “half” of a full existence, or assign labels that are difficult to shed. For example, usually one twin is the “pretty” one and one is the “ugly” one, one is “good” and the other “bad,” one is “smart” and the other “dumb,” one “skinny” and the other “fat…” otherwise, we are “clones.” But to me, there’s a whole other half to that. I see myself as whole. I believe there are a lot of “other halves” that we don’t see from people in our human family either by choice, lack of curiosity, or unawareness, and my goal in storytelling is to be able to understand someone else as though it were your own heart. To see others as whole.
What advice would you give to your younger self and why?
I would tell little Elizabeth that the fear I felt was only in my mind and in no one else’s. I still need to hear this.
What book should every entrepreneur read?
Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg.
What’s next for Elizabeth Hinkler in 2023?
Besides the usual puppy time, eating lots of chocolate, and making lots of crafts? I can’t say what projects at the moment, but there’s quite some exciting things in the making!
What is your favorite healthy food?
I love making sushi bowls with wasabi nori. My twin Emily and I joke that the wasabi needs to burn for us to be enlightened, see what the meaning of the world is, and then come back to earth so we can share it with others.
And your favorite cheat food?
I’m vegetarian, but aside from that, I don’t restrict any foods.
What is your own definition of happiness?
My puppy Ellerie sleeping on my lap.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I’ve already met him, but my Grandpa. As Cheryl Strayed says about Tiny Beautiful Things,
although her mother has passed, she got the second best thing: she has made her mother alive in her life every day through what she does and in the way she loves others. Even when our loved ones pass, we have the gift of being with them by celebrating them
each and every day. I wear a pinky ring every day just like my Grandpa used to wear that says his name on it. But to be with Grandpa again, and for him to see me doing what I love and have loved as a child, that would mean everything.
Best advice ever given?
We were born to be real, not perfect.
Do you support any charity?
Yes! I am a huge advocate of many trans, LGBTQIA, and organizations for the homeless; my favorites being Translifeline, The Trevor Project, and the National Center for Transgender Equality. I believe any human being on this earth wholeheartedly deserves to be loved and seen in the way that they want and deserve to be loved and seen. It devastates me that sometimes we put our own personal perceptions, limitations, and stories from our lives onto others who just want to be seen in their own light instead of someone else’s shadow. Please support these incredible organizations.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
I see the projects that our production company has created start filming, as well as curating a space and a platform for more underrepresented voices to share their stories on screen.
Favorite song? Why?
Silent Night. It reminds me of my Grandpa’s vintage Christmas tree music box that I used to play every single night. It glowed with rainbow lights.
Where we can follow you?
And my twin accounts:
Tv Series: Unorthodox
Favorite Food: Fudge
Travel Destination: Everywhere, but also the Globe Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company
Photo Credit: Alex Roper @alexroperphoto