As part of our Rising Stars series, we spoke with actress Alyssa Oster, who stars in the upcoming film, Toll House Horrors, which tells the story of two sisters caught in the grip of Demon Trollers, in an unimaginable afterlife of terror and disorientation.
True Hollywood Talk: You began your journey as an actress almost a year ago. What inspired you to choose this as a career? Is there a story?
Alyssa Oster: I have always wanted to be an actress from a very young age. What really inspired me to start pursuing acting as a career was the show The Big Bang Theory. While watching the show I would visualize how much fun the actors were having while getting into character to play their roles. The chemistry they seemed to have while watching the show really inspired me to pursue this career.
True Hollywood Talk: You have a passion for playing soccer, having played over the years. What did you like most about it?
Alyssa Oster: I enjoyed getting out and participating in a team sport. It gave me an adrenaline rush running up and down the field and also helped me realize that working as a team we could accomplish a common goal. It’s the team participation along with the feeling of belonging that I feel will benefit me a great deal in my acting career.
A Generational Trauma: COVID-19
At 17-years-old, Oster has experienced what it means to live through a global health pandemic, which of course has been traumatizing in both her personal and professional life.
“COVID-19 brought me closer to my mother and father, as I was unable to go out and we spent more time together,” Oster tells True Hollywood Talk. “I was not able to see my friends as often as I had hoped, but we texted each other regularly.”
As for Oster’s professional career, the production of Toll House Horrors was immediately halted, as they were in the middle of filming. “Similar to the way the entire entertainment industry has been affected, the number of auditions available and casting calls were reduced.”
She first landed the role from a casting call she responded to, which provided her with an audition. “I enjoyed working on the production, but in reality I personally don’t care for horror films. I would eventually like to branch out and pursue roles in comedy and drama.”
Oster believes that having a role, of any kind in a comedy film is “where [she] thinks [she] would excel.”
“I enjoy making people laugh, and I think it would be a lot of fun,” she added.
The young actress also shared that due to the pandemic, the Talent Enhancement and Development program which she was enrolled in for the summer of 2020, was postponed until summer 2021. “I was eagerly looking forward to this program to help me grow in my career as an actress.” As Oster is still growing in life and in her career, COVID-19 presented new challenges as most auditions were “virtual” rather than in person. Thankfully, Oster is a digital native, having grown up in an age of technology and social media, which makes for quickly learning how streaming technologies work all the more feasible. She was able to convert a spare room in her house to a studio dedicated to this new way of auditioning.
Yet, that didn’t stop Oster from taking the necessary steps in furthering her career, pandemic or not. “One positive that has come from quarantining and social distancing, was the opportunity to convince my parents to enroll me in online school,” she explained. “Prior to the pandemic, it was difficult for me to take time away from my education to help accelerate my career in acting.”
Oster is currently enrolled in Forest Trail Academy, an online homeschooling program which provides her with the flexibility needed to eventually travel again, should she need to throughout the academic year. Right now, she enjoys studying science and history, with the flexibility of learning at her own pace.
“I rely more on having access to the internet and resources such as Google, and my school portal. I was also able to convince my father to buy me a new Mac computer for school.”
But living through this pandemic has taught Oster a very valuable lesson:
“I have learned how quickly things in the world can change. Additionally, it opened my eyes to how much global travel affects every country in the world.”
A Force to Reckon With Throughout Hollywood
We asked Oster what “Hollywood” as a whole means to her as she continues to grow her personal brand, to which she shared her aspirations.
“To me, I see Hollywood as a means for success, where hard work truly does pay off. I see myself booking more principal roles and using my experience in the T.E.D program to foster my growth in the industry.”
She also emphasized that if she had a choice in the companies or studios she could work with in the future, Disney, Nickelodeon, and/or Hallmark would be an immediate “yes.”
“I would love to also work with NBC or ABC on any one of their shows, especially as a young talent,” Oster added.
Undoubtedly, Hollywood needs more heartfelt talent like Oster, who care more about making a difference than they do the car they drive or the amount of money in their bank account. Perhaps what makes Oster so humble and genuine is her love and support for her mother, who is a brain cancer survivor.
It is because of her mother’s triumph that Oster advocates heavily in support for Brain Cancer Awareness and eradication. “Learning that my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer had a major impact on me,” she recounted. “At that time I was unsure of whether my mother would survive as she needed urgent brain surgery to try and eradicate her cancer. Due to my age, I was not permitted to visit my mother after her surgery. I could only find out information from my father and family members as to how she was doing..”
Little did she know at the time that it would be well over a month before she would be allowed to visit her mother. “Her surgery was a partial success, but she would still require treatments. During her surgery she suffered a major stroke and I was privileged to see her fight and her determination to recover and eventually go back to work teaching full time; a personal goal of hers. I watched as she endured chemotherapy and Proton Radiation Therapy to attempt to remove the remaining tumor left behind from her surgery.”
Oster’s mother, who is nothing but a rock and support system alongside her father, continues to fight for those out there who also are battling cancer. “She is still fighting today and because of her perseverance, resilience and achievements in fighting this battle, it inspired me to join in the cause of bringing awareness to brain cancer. Unlike many other forms of cancer brain cancer does not share in the same awareness that breast cancer does. Therefore, my personal goal is to help bring the same level of awareness to brain cancer as there is to other cancers as it is just as deadly.”
Recently, Oster alongside her mother and father began attending and participating in activities sponsored by the NBTA as well as other Brain Cancer organizations.
At just seventeen years old, the young actress is also well-traveled, having been to seven states and two countries. “I really enjoy traveling and would love to visit Europe; specifically exploring Paris to see the Eiffel Tower.”