How ‘The Come Up’ Stars Painted a Vulnerable Picture of Life in Their Early 20s

·4-min read

How do you prioritize your mental health in a culture that values the hustle above all else? The six young creatives at the center of Freeform’s docuseries “The Come Up” are trying to figure out the answer to just that.

“It takes a lot of energy,” 24-year-old model Fernando Casablancas told TheWrap of living and working in New York City, where they are filmed for the show that looks at their lives as they “pursue love, art and friendship on their own terms,” per Freeform.

“It weighs down on you and you have to just protect yourself. If you want to give energy, you have to have some to actually give. So the most important thing sometimes is to take a second to center yourself,” Cassablancas added.

The cast — Cassablancas, Taofeek Abijako, Ben Hard, Claude Shwartz, Ebon Gore and Sophia Wilson — are all rising stars in their creative fields, but they’re also still 20-somethings navigating relationships, professionalism, and their own mental wellbeing. In “The Come Up,” they paint a vulnerable picture of what it’s like to navigate that life.

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While speaking to TheWrap, they all agreed that protecting their peace of mind is a huge part of how they stay on top of their game, especially living in one of the biggest and busiest cities in the world.

“The most important thing is to do things on your own terms and not feel like you have to live up to this fast paced lifestyle,” Abijako, a fashion designer and founder of the clothing brand Head of State, said.

That is, of course, easier said than done. Throughout the series, all six stars struggle with feelings of imposter syndrome. One minute, they’re riding the high of their latest professional success, and then, the doubt starts to creep in. They’re wondering how they got there, where to go next, and if they even deserve to be there at all.

“I think the imposter syndrome is like a completely natural part of following your dreams because that’s exactly what they are. They’re your dreams,” Casablancas said. “So they’re set up in a way that is supposed to feel like it’s this thing that’s so far away that you want to reach. When you actually get there, your mind and your soul is just like, ‘Wow, am I actually here?’ You have to just snap out of it and be like, ‘No, I’m here because I’m meant to be here.'”

And, if they haven’t been able to find their confidence, Schwartz had some prudent advice for how she handles her insecurities: “I just try to fake it till I make it.”

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Each of the cast members get surprisingly open in front of the camera, talking about their doubts and fears, as well as many of their wildest hopes and dreams. It took some getting used to, but ultimately a team of producers they could relate to helped them work through the more difficult confessionals.

“Sometimes you have to process quicker than you might normally,” Hard explained. “This will kind of force you to slow down and reflect on what’s happened. So sometimes my thoughts aren’t even together and then on camera I’m piecing things together and trying to figure out how I feel or what I’m thinking. I think we’re all naturally vulnerable people so it was authentic to us.”

While it wasn’t necessarily difficult to pour their hearts out on camera, now that their vulnerabilities are going to be on display, Wilson and a few of her cast mates admit that the thought of how it may be received is a bit intimidating.

“You don’t want to be seen as fake,” Gore said. “People really read into that when you’re filming.”

Wilson added: “It’s difficult now that everybody’s about to see it. Now is when I’m getting my first goosebumps and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, I’m a little nervous.'”

The first four episodes of “The Come Up” are available to watch on Hulu. New episodes debut every Tuesday on Freeform.

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