Whether you recognize her as Alex Dunphy on Modern Family or the voice of Disney’s Princess Sofia, Ariel Winter’s push to the top is unstoppable! At just twenty years old, she holds an extensive filmography. The wide range of roles showcase her talent perfectly, and if this is just a small glimpse of what’s to come—she will dominate the silver screen. This combination of wit and ability comes from personal experience, and for Winter that began with an early start in the industry at four years old. Hollywood is a beast, and to grow up in a frenzied world where everyone’s a critic, she remains very self-aware.

Every experience, good or bad, adds strength to the young starlet’s character. She never shies away from controversy and this fearless approach to fame is admirable. Winter shares with us some sincere advice for Hollywood hopefuls and how she handles the volatile nature of social media. If there’s anything you can take away from her words, it is to be kind and be humble. Two things that can be quickly forgotten, but in all of Winter’s years of acting she stays very true to.

Composure Magazine: You do voice roles with various shows, and it’s impressive how every character you’ve done has their unique tone and personality to their voice. Is it challenging or more fun? How does it compare to acting on a set?

Ariel Winter: Voice acting was actually one of the first things I did when I started in the industry! I think it is more challenging than on-camera work because you have to bring an animated character to life using just your voice—typically alone in a soundproof box. On-camera acting can be more physically and emotionally taxing, seeing as you use all parts of yourself, and you also work off the other actors in the scene. I don’t think I have a favorite [character] though. Voice-over work can be done in your pajamas which is pretty fantastic, but on-camera work is a little more communal.

CM: Can you share with us any valuable lessons you’ve taken away from the set of Modern Family so far?

AW: The time it takes to make quality. The show has been on for ten years now, and we still take a great deal of time and care to make sure every scene is right, and we’re making the most of our funny moments.

CM: What’s the most substantial piece of advice you’ve been given so far in your career?

AW: Always be professional! Make sure you’re on time and prepared at all times. Also, always be kind and grateful for the all of the blessings you get, perspective really helps in this industry.

CM: Any advice you’d give for young dreamers in Hollywood?

AW: Being humble, kind, and professional are some of the most important pieces of advice I give people. Focus on what you love about the craft and make sure you are secure in who you are because you are going to have to face a lot of judgment and rejection in this industry. It’s important to fight for what you want, and don’t get caught up in all of the side bullshit.

CM: What goals do you have set for yourself as you continue your acting career?

AW: I want to continue making movies and maybe move towards producing a little more. My ultimate goal is to make enough money to purchase some land and open a dog rescue.

CM: When you have a free moment, how do you like to spend them?

AW: I’m such a grandma these days! My friends all call me squad mom. I probably call my dad, Glenn (coolest dad ever), at least once a day to see if he wants to come over for dinner or go to the bowling alley. I’m a big fan of poker, so whenever I can I try to set up a game. I’ve started cooking, so I love preparing dinner, and I’m addicted to escape rooms. We’ve done almost every one of them in LA. I’m also absolutely OBSESSED with my fur kids, so the majority of my free time goes to lying on the couch with the dogs and my boyfriend while we watch The X-Files. I try and get to the gym or do boxing whenever I can to stay healthy. In addition to all of that, spending time with my nieces and god-kids is something I try to do as often as I can. They are my whole world!

CM: You’ve become a powerful voice of support for many things from empowering women to bullying to depression. Can you share with us what this means to you— to be an advocate for these areas and being able to speak out on the importance of acknowledging and addressing these issues?

AW: I’m very proud to be part of a generation that doesn’t shy away from formerly “taboo” topics such as depression and bullying. The dangers of bullying and depression are nothing new, but with the emergence of social media, everything has gotten exacerbated. I feel that bullying and depression go hand in hand. I’ve experienced first-hand the toll bullying can take on anyone, no matter what age, so I don’ t tolerate it. I suffered from depression before I was even on social media. I have been chronically depressed since childhood. Unfortunately, I’ve had a lot of exposure to it. Depression is a dark hole to go at alone, and for a long time depression was seen as a disease or meant someone was broken. In reality, most of the population has or will suffer from some form of mental illness in their lifetime. Mental illness doesn’t need to be hidden or glorified. It should be normalized to where people feel comfortable sharing with their families and friends, and know they’re not alone.

There are options.

I’ve personally been on anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication for six years now, and while it has been a rough road of ups and downs finding the right medications and methods of dealing with how my depression made me feel, it has really helped. By opening up about my struggle, I’m hoping I can help someone who feels like they don’t know what to do or when they can’t accept their situation. Depression doesn’t pick its victims. Sometimes people only see success or money and don’t realize that the person can still be struggling. No physical object, amount of money or changes to appearance can generate happiness.

CM: Social media is a roller coaster. It’s a great platform for empowerment, yet at the same time, it allows people to bully others from behind a screen and keyboard. How do you handle the challenges of these platforms and apps?

AW: Social media and I have had a very tumultuous relationship. I appreciate the platform social media gives me to express my views or help people through tough times. However, social media has become a huge platform to either tell us how we should live or bully others. These platforms have given us a way to say whatever we want, no matter how hurtful or damaging they are, from the safety of anonymity. I take breaks from social media periodically because I think it is healthy to walk away and focus on the life that’s in front of you instead of the life happening on your screen. I receive horrible comments regardless of what I post, and it gets hard not to let them affect you sometimes. People forget that EVERYONE has feelings, regardless of their career choice.

CM: For all your fans and followers, what positive messages do you hope they gain from your work and words? What advice can you give to young people that look to Instagram, Twitter, Snap, etc. for influence?

AW: Social media makes it possible to judge everything others do at any given time. I’d like people to look at social media as a way to connect with friends and express yourself instead of using it as a sounding board for your anger or as a standard of what life should be. Be your own person and don’t listen to anyone who says differently. We are all unique!

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