Wyatt Jess Oleff

Creative Director
DaMarko Giancarlo
Photographer
Malik Daniels
Fashion Editor
Pierre Giovanni
Makeup
Abigail Smith
Hair
Kita Lanai
Photo Editing
Khalid Abu Hussine
Location

Creative Island Studios

By LaToya Coleman

At the downtown studio, Wyatt Oleff sits down in the caramel leather chair in a black and white striped long sleeve shirt and blue jeans. He tucks away his phone, strokes his hands through his bedhead, and leans forward ready to get the interview started. Sitting across from me, Wyatt looks a little frazzled at first. “Today was my first time driving downtown,” Wyatt says, running his fingers through his hair. I imagine we all would be frazzled too, if we had just finished driving in Downtown Los Angeles for the first time on a learners permit. Wyatt admits he has already failed the driving test twice, due to wide left turns. And today, his mom put his driving skills to the test by making him drive to his 10 am shoot. He took the I-10 expressway to get here, marking his second time ever driving on a freeway. He goes onto explain that he also had to parallel park on a congested and narrow one-way street.
While Wyatt may be struggling to pass his drivers test, his acting career is already on cruise control. The 16-year-old young actor already has two major franchises under his belt including Marvel Studio’s Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 1 and Vol. 2; as well as, IT and IT: Chapter Two. He was only 10-years-old when he played the young Peter Quill in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1. Four years later, he landed his biggest role to date in the 2017 supernatural horror film IT where he played Stanley Uris, a thoughtful member of the Losers’ Club. Named one of the best adaptations of a Stephen King book, IT is the story of seven children in Derry, Maine, who are terrorized by a shape-shifting monster preying on young children and in order to kill IT they must face their own personal demons in the process. The film set numerous box office records and grossed over $700 million worldwide, becoming the fifth- highest-grossing R-rated film of all time.
Being on set of IT was an amazing experience for Wyatt from the storytelling, to living in Toronto, to forming relationships with the cast and crew. He describes his first major role as a pivotal moment in his life. “That was the best summer of my life. It’s hard to describe it, but whenever I look back, it’s like pure joy,” Wyatt pauses. “It was like summer camp, but we were also making a really cool movie,” he adds. At the time Wyatt was 14-years-old, away from home and on set working with other actors his age, so camp may in fact be the perfect description. With the combination of acting, recreating a horror story and getting to play around with his castmates, Wyatt went from playing a small role in a Marvel film to huge status in 4 years time.
Still, in his new found stardom, this young star is trying to experience the “normal” growing pains of being a teenager-which can be hard when you’ve been on the Hollywood acting treadmill since the age of 10. Wyatt is a part of a new generation of young actors growing up in Hollywood that are talented and young but forced to grow up fast. Balancing Hollywood and teenage life is the main act of Wyatt’s life.
In between the insanity of making hit movies like IT, Wyatt manages to go to private school. He attends one of the few schools that understand his robust acting schedule. When he describes his school day morning routine, he lets me know that his alarm usually goes off at 7am but he stays in bed until 7:30am.
Currently, he is a junior in high school and his favorite subject is history. “School is hard but I love my history class,” he states. “I’m taking modern US history, so it covers the time period between 1945 and 2015. And right now, we’re studying the sixties era,” he adds. Like most juniors in high school, Wyatt explains he is doing a lot of writing and there is a lot of talk about college. At this moment he is working on a paper about how electronic surveillance violates the fourth amendment.
When Wyatt isn’t in class or on the big screen he is either watching or making YouTube videos. As a member of Gen Z, it shouldn’t be a surprise that he has a YouTube channel that he describes as his “carefree, creative outlet” where he films skits with his friends. On his channel he entertains 250,000 subscribers. At the moment he has 28 videos that are a mix of comedic sketches and electronic unboxings. His “silly videos” have high engagement with 128,000 views, although Wyatt explains he is not really focused on the numbers. “YouTube is a way to get my own content out there. Like a painter has to paint. As an actor, who also wants to direct, I feel like I need to practice,” Wyatt says. “Like, it’s also a chance for me to hangout with my friends and publicly humiliate myself at the same time,” he chuckles.
Like most teenagers, quality time with his friends is very important to Wyatt. When he is having a chill day, he usually spends time, as he describes, being a “lazy” teenager, who lays in bed a little too long. During his free time he enjoys watching “bad” movies with his friends. Usually he meets his friends at a specific movie theater- although he won’t tell me exactly where- so they can spend the day movie hopping. They picked this undisclosed location because it’s close to his friend’s house, who has yet to get his learner’s permit and relies on his mother to drive him. It’s this quality time spent with friends that keeps him grounded.
While Wyatt does normal things that teenagers do, he is also well acquainted with the pressures that come with being thrust onto the world stage at a young age. While filming IT, he got to experience what it’s like to gain popularity overnight. “Before the movie [IT] came out I had about forty-nine thousand followers and then almost overnight I had like a million,” he confesses reflecting on his Instagram following. “It’s hard to describe how weird it is to have an audience like that, I guess,” he shrugs. He tries not to “get caught up in it.” When he finds himself getting “caught up” with the vanity metrics of social media, he erases the app for a week to “disconnect from the constant exposure.” It’s the time with his friends or watching YouTube that allows him to forget the millions of strangers that are following him and that “expect things from [him]”. His ability to separate the fame from the space he needs to find out who he is, only amplifies his maturity.
As it happens, juggling being in the spotlight, with school and cultivating teenage friendships- is the main challenge of Wyatt’s life. And he is still figuring it all out. As he finishes up his junior year, he wrapped up filming for a Netflix series called I am Not Okay With This about a teenager who is navigating the complexities of high school, family and her sexuality while dealing with new superpowers. Set to release on February 26th, in this highly-anticipated series, Wyatt plays a high school kid named Stanley Barber. He confessed that Stanley Barber is his favorite role he’s played thus far in his budding acting career because he feels he can relate to Stanley the most. “I see a lot of myself in him [Stanley]. He is very silly and very cool, cares a lot about his friends and doesn’t care what other people think,” he says with a spark in his eyes.
On the heels of the intensity of filming a Netflix show and attending school, Wyatt somehow managed to also try his hand at directing. His first time behind the camera was as the second unit film director for a film called Writer’s Block. Following that, he was the director of a film called Oh Sorry, about a girl’s night and how it completely falls apart. He confesses that he did love the experience and the challenge of having to put out fires behind the scenes-which happened a lot since they shot the entire film in one day.
This young star’s ambition to master anything and everything he puts his mind to is obvious. I ask him where he sees himself 5 years from now when he will be 21-years-old, though it’s clear he will still be riding his train of success. “I would like to live on my own by then,” he confesses. “I kind of just want to experience that normal early twenties phase. I obviously want to keep making stuff on my YouTube channel. I wanna make like more dumb skits with my friends and I look forward to not having to deal with the stress of school all the time,” he says as his face lights up.
Talking to Wyatt, I’ve connected to this young yet mature 16-year-old. As he gears up for the release of his Netflix show, I wonder what the rest of his school year will be like, if he will gain another 950,000 followers overnight, if he will ace his history paper, if he will make more YouTube skits with his friends and if he will direct another film.The truth is I have no idea,- but Wyatt is a young star that we will all see him grow up before our eyes-making it more thrilling to watch.
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