A passionate lesbian romance, a flu-like epidemic, a cellist who gave up her dreams, and an amputation performed by a meat cleaver. The Perfection, starring Logan Browning and Allison Williams, includes all of those elements and even more. Even as the plot of the Netflix movie veers into unfathomable situations that have fans on Twitter heralding it as one of the most unpredictable movies of the year, The Perfection somehow stays grounded. Browning, who also leads the Netflix series Dear White People, tells Bustle that she hopes all her projects — no matter how over the top — have something to say to audiences about what's happening in the world.
“I actively pursue material that affects our culture, because when our culture digests things that makes them think differently about the status quo, it forces political change, it forces people to think differently about who they go to vote for, because they’ve been influenced by fiction that makes them think about a subject differently, or keeps it on their minds," she says.
Though both of Browning's recent projects deal with subjects that are in the news, including race, gender, and subjugation, they obviously approach current events very differently. “I’m excited for fans of Dear White People to see me in a different light," the actor says of her role as Lizzie, a world-class cellist in the Netflix horror film, adding that, if anything, the shocking events that play out will spark conversation.
As far as the specifics of those events, the actor doesn't want to go into too many details about what she called the “#MeToo movement of it all.” If you've already seen The Perfection, you know that it relies on holding back information from the audience and revealing bits at a time. The ending of the film, however, loudly broadcasts its message of empowerment. “It’s been absolutely terrifyingly ridiculously impossible to discuss the film without spoiling what makes it so enjoyable to watch,” she says.
It wasn't just the time-hopping element of the film that was challenging to conquer. Browning also had to learn to play the cello for the role. “Playing [Lizzie] honestly takes a lot of patience and outlining and note cards and willingness to surrender to the moment and live in each scene rather than guessing ahead," she says. "But at the same time remembering that you are filming a story that has an A to a Z point, [but] is going to be a non-linear experience [for the audience.]."
Taking on this film role also meant that Browning experienced her character's arc in a much more compressed timeframe than she's used to. “When I think about Sam in Dear White People… she has core qualities that will always be the case and [that] people can always count on, but at the end of the day it’s interesting because she’s changing and growing in front of your eyes," she says. Lizzie, meanwhile, goes on a life-changing journey in the course of an hour and a half.
But whether she's playing characters that change in an instant or over a whole season of a show, Browning says that the progression is key to her. “For me as a performer, I view every character I play as someone who’s evolving in their story, otherwise I wouldn’t be interested in playing,” she explains.
Her desire to tell stories that are relevant and push representation forward also determines which characters she takes on. A particular lacking she sees is in the telling of stories from the perspective of individuals with disabilities. For Browning, that's a personal matter. “In interacting with people at, for instance, my uncle’s group home, and being able to see how enriched they are with life and their experiences," she says, "I wish to tell those stories and to be a part of demanding those stories, because there are people with special needs in this world who feel unseen."
The Perfection proves that a movie doesn’t have to be plausible in order to have a message or broaden horizons. And it seems certain that Browning will keep searching for interesting ways to tell stories — in all genres — that reflect and can possibly influence our culture.