Sunday, September 24, 2023
HomeFashionAlycia Debnam-Carey Finds Her Way Back Home

Alycia Debnam-Carey Finds Her Way Back Home

Debnam-Carey says she doesn’t know much about the technicalities of art, but the fact is that she knows the only thing there is to know, which is that good art—the best art—is something that moves you. She looks for a long time at a portrait of the artist Atong Atem by Shevaun Wright and Sophia Hewson, who captured the painter, hauntingly still, in a landscape of her memories. She loves Kaylene Whiskey’s self-portrait, a riot of color (and Dolly Parton). In the next room, we spot Laura Jones’s rendering of Claudia Karvan backstage at the Sydney Theatre Company. “How great is that green light?” Debnam-Carey enthuses, pointing out the shadow of neon falling across Karvan’s face. “Now I’m like, Oh, it’s backstage: it’s the spotlight.” We reach the end of the exhibition and Debnam-Carey realizes that we, the people, are the arbiters of the People’s Choice Award. She takes this task very seriously. “I feel like I need to do another whip around,” she notes gravely. Eventually, she settles on Whiskey’s painting and dutifully casts her vote. Debnam-Carey turns to me with a smile. “Well, wasn’t that a delight!”

Debnam-Carey was home in Sydney’s inner west in early 2021 when she first heard about Prime Video’s adaptation of Holly Ringland’s bestselling novel The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, about the legacy of intergenerational trauma. For the entirety of her 20s, Debnam-Carey has lives in LA while starring in two beloved cult shows, both post-apocalyptic and harrowing: The 100, about survivors of a nuclear apocalypse, and Fear the Walking Dead, a spin-off of the phenomenally popular zombie franchise The Walking Dead, which remains one of the most-watched television shows of the decade. At the end of the seventh season of Fear, Debnam-Carey’s character met her end. For 10 years, she says, Fear had been her whole identity; she celebrated every birthday of her 20s at Comic-Con promoting the show. “I was like, I need to branch out. I need to reinvent, and feel fresh, and grow and challenge myself.” She was also, she admits, “desperate to come home.” Lost Flowers appeared before her like a miracle. 

“Flower fields and the Australian bust, and the earth, and this sun-kissed farm girl coming-of-age in this challenging drama,” Debnam-Carey reels off. “It was just like: I need it. I want it. And it’s mine. And I’ve never had any feeling like this before.”



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