It might seem counterintuitive, but I look to crime tales for relief in times of trouble. Like the eternal state of emergency that was 2020. The gorier, grislier, ghastlier, the stronger. And if there is any hint of the true-crime explosion of the last five years. I am not the only one. But it stands to reason that Prodigal Son, the wiliest and most perverse mystery drama on network TV, made a huge impact when it arrived on Fox in the fall of 2019.
The series centers on Malcolm Bright, a specialist from the NYPD who must turn to Martin Whitly. His imprisoned serial killer father, to help solve especially devious crimes. But you’ll be forgiven if you get more involved in Malcolm’s trendy younger sister, Ainsley, within a few series. Played by Halston Sage, Ainsley is a TV reporter whose determination pulls her back into her notorious father’s circle alongside Malcolm. Think consummate Working Girl vibes, and tenacious to a fault, with a propensity to get in over her head, Ainsley is trendy.
You’ll have to look at Halston Sage herself to find the source of Ainsley’s brand of ineffable cool, however. Halston Sage has been a professional actress for the better part of a decade as a Los Angeles-to-New York transplant, but it is on Prodigal Son that she really finds her way in terms of both talent and beauty. Halston Sage got on the phone to explore her go-to skincare items. The wardrobe realities that come with a bicoastal lifestyle, and season 2 of Prodigal Son, which airs on Fox every Tuesday at 9 p.m., after getting together with her makeup artist to conjure up some old-school seductive glamour for these images.
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I like these videos. Is that usually your favorite, that kind of glamour-girl look?
Halston Sage: I do love the look really, but don’t know what to do with my eyeshadow. Can put a red lip on it, so it’s my go-to for me, so it’s fast. I love the clean, trendy, light eyes and the vibrant pop of my lips. I get the really Last Year vibe from the pictures at Marienbad.
Yes, it looked pretty much like the aftermath of having been out to an experience and what you do when you head back to your room, which was sort of fun. This beautiful girl who stays in a hotel and gets to dress up and go to events. This notion of staying in a hotel, which is what I learned from it. I guess we can all contribute, to some degree, to losing it. It seemed so odd putting on an actual outfit, It was nice to relive that and remember that maybe I actually want to go out and be more than I thought with other people. It always made me enjoy it and look forward to a day when we would do it again, really.
I know, these days, sometimes having to dress up as if you’re heading out seems like such a treat.
Halston Sage: That’s it! Really, that’s what I enjoy about setting stuff up. It feels so amazing to wear everyday clothes at work and really get ready in a new way when you head out into the world. It’s just small stuff like that that almost both of us have taken for granted before. It’s fun to go back to college, to wear suits, to see what they have right now in shops, and to exist in a culture where we’re pretending to be beyond COVID.
What is it like in the midst of a pandemic to be in production?
Halston Sage: It is obviously distinct. Out of the calculation, the social element of heading to work was removed. They have people in various zones. Because as an actress, once the cameras are running, you’re not allowed to be on set. But instead of moving in from configurations of our seats, we’ll head back to our changing quarters. The aspect is sad, sort of. But with the cast and the staff, it really helps me enjoy having had the first season. We had already developed this relationship together and become a band. So we were able to pick up where we left off somehow.
What are you permitted to share about the new season? Is the pandemic influenced the plot at all?
They certainly subtly consider the pandemic-you’ll see extras going through offices, and you’ll see them remove their masks. They’re doing a pretty good job of understanding that there’s anything going on around the planet. Yet it’s not a medical broadcast, because they’re not focusing on it, which is great. You’re sort of dragged out of now and pulled back into the realm of the Whitlys. They had ample drama going on to contend with before. The first few season 2 episodes are the aftermath of the last season 1 scene, and my character, Ainsley, is trying to find out how to bring the fragments from that night together.
Why has your life changed outside of work this year?
Halston Sage: I get to spend a lot of time with my family [at home in L.A.] and run around every day in the yard with the puppies, which is my fantasy since I live in New York while we’re working on the show. I take classes at NYU, apart from family, but all of our classes started online beginning last summer. In one of my lessons, I recently found a production buddy, and we’ve been collaborating on a show that we’re currently pitching, which is very enjoyable and exciting. It has been great to have those classes as an outlet and it has been very exciting and enjoyable to have found someone I click with creatively.
That’s exciting indeed! What are you at NYU studying?
Halston Sage: I’m at NYU’s Gallatin Academy, where you develop your own concentration. So I’m focused on the entertainment industry’s business aspect and the producing side. I took development courses, a course primarily for making TV, and also even several more abstract classes, such as an early film class, mostly to create a broader image of the industry I’ve been in since I was 19. I want to have a better picture about how we ended up in the industry where we are now, which is still changing every day. It’s like you can’t even keep up with it for real.
You also grew up in L.A., which is such a business area, in addition to getting into acting at 19. Can you still sound like you have grown up in the business only because you grew up in L.A.?
Halston Sage: It’s a great issue. My parents were not in the business even if I still tried to act, and they weren’t very aware if it was what I really desired or if it was simply that it was what I was surrounded by, like you mentioned, because of growing up in L.A.
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When I was 16, it really struck me, because you’re in the place to look at colleges and determine what you want to do with the next phase in life. Finally, I just went to my parents, and I told them, “I feel like I’ve grown up enough to know that this is what I want to do, and you guys have raised me to understand the rejection side of the business and not take it personally and just really go after my dream.” So I’m glad they wanted me to take the time to make sure I wanted this to be what I needed, because it wasn’t just a result of living.
I’m glad they needed me to take the time and make sure it was what I desired, and it wasn’t just a result of Los Angeles living.
Since growing up in L.A., what has it been like living in New York?
Halston Sage: Ok, one thing is that my sense of style has been affected from living in New York. Everyone really looks amazing in New York, and that’s something that I always admire and enjoy about living here. You should go down to your Whole Foods and get motivated by the person crossing the street with their outfit. Luckily, through Ainsley and her wardrobe, I get to live vicariously because her theme is really New York. A traditional oversized blazer and wide-leg pantsuit, which I love, is really basic and sort of like a new take on it.
Except if you are heading to the grocery shop, New York has this put-together feel, though L.A. It’s just about being artfully undone, always looking good, just not striving.
Oh, there’s a white T-shirt, a pair of pants, and a trendy chain in L.A., or a pair of earrings. Who, in a slightly different way, is just better than any New York suit. And so you’re moving to New York, because you’re not going to think of wearing a T-shirt and jeans so you’re going to stick out. It will make you seem like you’re from California. Yet I respect and respect all styles for what they are, and for L.A. I have two separate closets too. And New York, which is fun for a person who likes clothing, too. When you are traveling in various locations, you sort of get to be different people.
For any of the numerous “characters” do you still do your makeup differently?
Halston Sage: I wish, I wish! I began playing with multiple beauty tutorials and palettes after the pandemic. My little sister Kate is also really good at makeup. So whenever I feel like getting dressed up, I am still Face Timing her for tips and mini tutorials. I’m mainly working these days when I go out, but I enjoy working with glam teams because they become your mates. And when you’re getting dressed, it’s like their own social gathering. You open a wine and you play some music and you’re just having fun.
Can you get beauty ideas and feedback that way as well?
Halston Sage: Well. Yeah. Her name is Fiona Mifsud, my makeup artist on set, and she’s done a wonderful job of discovering those clean lines of elegance that I’ve fallen in love with. All of the lip items I wear in the film, for instance, are Kosas. Finding a clean vegan brand that looks amazing on video and is really healthy for your lips has been very cool. I offered it to my mom and dad, and they’re hooked now, so I guess it’s cool to try new lines like that. But, like Cle de Peau Concealer ($73), I have my go-to’s-I’m sure it’s magic in a container. I love this eyebrow pencil from Anastasia; I’ve been using it for years. I’ve been using my Dior mascara for years as well, and I’ve got a ton of Chanel eye palettes that my sister made me mess around with.
It’s so nice to be able to just mess around and have a good time with your makeup.
Yeah, it’s nice. Each time, it kind of seems like an art project, more like your face is a coloring book, for better or worse. There have been several trials, but there have been several victories as well. And she gets all of the glory, thanks to my sister. Right now, I’m really looking through my vanity to see what I use each day. I love Senna; I use a mineral powder of theirs ($38). I’ve always had this Bobbi Brown cream blush ($34) that I only use on my lips and on my cheeks.
I’ll never forget, my two best friends came out to stay with me for a weekend in New York two summers ago, and they noticed me putting my blush on my fingertips, and they were like, “What are you doing?!” I think I never really thought about it, but I love cream blush-anything you can use as a finger polish.
What does your general routine for skincare look like? Are you an individual of the 12-step routine type?
Halston Sage: I’m certainly a skincare user, so it’s really necessary to take care of your skin while you’re busy and you have a lot of makeup on. I still say that I believe the most crucial aspect of my skin care regimen is drinking water, only because that really has always made the most difference for me. And I look forward to my regimen of skincare. It’s obviously not a 12-step routine, but in the morning and before I go to bed, I look forward to using a variety of different things.
I love Luzern, which is a company I was made into by my facia list. I really enjoy things from La Mer. For a bit, I used them. I’m into facial mists, actually. I’m having aloe mist ($26) from Dr. Lancer, my L.A. dermatologist. I really enjoy his stuff. I’ve got a mist with rosewater. I don’t know if there’s a lot going on here, but I love the ritual of just spraying your face. It looks like you’re at a fitness centre.
If it doesn’t feel nice, then, you know, what’s the point?
Halston Sage: Around a hundred thousand! One hundred percent.