Sophia Anne Caruso might only be 21 years old, but her career has already been packed full of life-altering decisions.
Born and raised in Spokane, Caruso entered the world of theater at 7, made her way across the country at 10 to pursue acting full time, and now she’s the co-star in Netflix’s lavish adaptation of Soman Chainani’s fantasy novel, “The School for Good and Evil.”
In the film, Caruso’s Sophie and her best friend Agatha (Sofia Wylie) find their relationship put to the test when they’re sent away to an enchanted school that trains their students how to become either heroes or villains, all to protect the balance between Good and Evil.
“It’s a version of this story that we’ve never seen before,” Caruso said. “It’s about two teenage girls and we tell the fairy tale from their perspective. It’s more of a story about friendship than it is about romance, which I think is really special.
“I’m really excited for young girls to watch it and for their version of a fairy tale to not just be Cinderella. I would love for young girls to see that physical appearance and beauty standards aren’t really what it means to be beautiful.”
Caruso initially became aware of “The School for Good and Evil” after a general meeting with its co-writer and director Paul Feig. Soon after, the “Bridesmaids,” “Spy” and “Ghostbusters” director reached out to her with the script, which Caruso was duly impressed by. However, it was Feig’s “super positive attitude” that really convinced Caruso to sign up.
“He’s ready to go every day. He wants to have fun. He’s super collaborative,” Caruso said. “He’s also had experience as an actor, which helps with directors. I was just super drawn to working with him.”
As well as being made by Feig, the creative talent involved in “The School for Good and Evil” stretched to its hugely impressive acting ensemble, which included Michelle Yeoh, Cate Blanchett, Charlize Theron and Kerry Washington.
“Obviously, we have some huge players in this and they’re super awesome. I kind of had to set that aside, because I was working with them. I didn’t really have time to fangirl. I didn’t have time to see them as the stars that everybody else sees them as. I only had time to see them as my scene partners. That’s what makes them great. They made us feel like we were on their level.”
It’s quite the ascent for Caruso, who was creative from a very young age. “I’ve always been really artistic,” she said. “I just knew from young age that I wanted to be an actress.”
It was Caruso’s mother, Deena, who helped her get involved in the local Spokane Children’s Theatre.
“My mom was friends with the lady who ran the theater. I fell in love with it,” Caruso said. “My mom was really supportive. So I started doing local, regional theater. I just graduated to doing it professionally.”
After appearing in various productions in Spokane, Deena and Sophia made the choice to move to New York, as they traveled to the East Coast for an audition.
“My mom and I moved to New York together. I went there for one audition. I had big dreams to be a Broadway star. I didn’t get the job, but the casting director really liked me. We just stayed there because I kept working and I just loved it. It was really serendipitous. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of hard work, too.”
This work included roles in “Ruthless!,” “Little Dancer,” “The Nether,” “Lazarus,” “Blackbird,” “Runaways” and “Beetlejuice.” More than that, she was being nominated for various accolades, too, including the Lucille Lortel, WhatsOnStage and Theater World awards.
But Caruso’s talents don’t just start and end with acting. Her creativity includes painting, poetry and, unsurprisingly, singing: She’s released four singles over the past three years.
“I’m always doing something creative. I don’t see myself as just one thing. I’m an artist. Not just an actor. I intend on doing a lot of different things. My main focus is my film career, as well as making my music. But I do a lot of things.”
Caruso is hopeful that her future movie work will include sequels to “The School for Good and Evil,” but she’s well aware they’ll only manifest if audiences respond to the original.
“The end of the film leaves it very open for a sequel. So there’s potential. If people watch it and love it, then I’m sure we will be making a sequel. But we’ll just have to see how that turns out. I would love to make another one of it. I would love to make it as a trilogy. We’ll see what happens.”
“The School for Good and Evil” is now available to stream on Netflix.