Aya Cash currently stars in Josh Ruben’s film Scare Me, which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and is now streaming on Shudder. She can also be seen now in the second season of the Amazon original series The Boys,” and recently appeared as Joan Simon in Fosse/Verdon, the Emmy-nominated FX limited series starring Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams. Her additional TV credits include the critically acclaimed FX comedy series You’re the Worst, for which she was nominated for the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series and the TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Comedy, and Joe Swanberg’s Netflix anthology series Easy. She has also been seen in films such as The Wolf of Wall Street, Sleepwalk with Me, The Oranges and Game Over, Man! She splits her time between New York and Los Angeles.
Three Great Things is Talkhouse’s series in which artists tell us about three things they absolutely love. To mark the release on Shudder of Scare Me, the acclaimed new horror movie starring Aya Cash, Josh Ruben and Chris Redd, Cash shared some of the things that make life better for her. — N.D.
The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit
The first “thing” I’m choosing is The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit, because it’s one of those books that makes you look at the world differently. Last year, while I was shooting The Boys, I discovered that two of the other actresses on the show are also big readers and so we ended up starting a book club of sorts. We’d all be reading on set, and then we started to pass books around. Colby Minifie (who plays Ashley in The Boys) recommended The Faraway Nearby, so then Erin Moriarty (who plays Annie January / Starlight) read it and then I read it. I borrowed Erin’s copy, but she told me, “I want it back because it’s really important to me,” and halfway through the book, I realized I needed my own copy, as this was a book I was going to reread throughout my life. It’s a really beautiful book about being a woman, about death, about writing, about peaches. It starts with a story about Solnit’s mother passing away and the peaches from her childhood tree rotting in her bedroom. It’s gorgeously written, and I ended up becoming a Rebecca Solnit superfan after that, buying three or four of her books. There are books that I’ve read which I have come back to over and over again at different parts of my life. The Faraway Nearby felt incredibly resonant to me, and I could just tell it was going to be one of those books that would be a recurring presence in my life.
I’m focusing on inspirational stuff at the moment, because there’s so much which is depressing right now, and I think we need to have moments of reflection, quiet and inspiration. My husband, Josh Alexander, wrote the film Jay Myself, which is a documentary about the photographer Jay Maisel, who bought the Germania Bank Building on the Bowery in the ’60s. Maisel was the last of the generation of artists who moved into Downtown New York and had the space to make big art in their studios. For almost 50 years, he took photographs from the roof. He sold the bank building in 2015, and the film allows us to watch him as he packs up the 77 rooms of his mind, the rooms of this building. There are mannequin hands that he left on a bed in one of the rooms, which for decades have made a deep impression the bed; when he takes them off and packs them, they’re the last thing he photographs to capture the passage of time.
I’ve seen Jay Myself a few times now, and what’s so beautiful about it is that every time I see it, I walk out and look at the world different. I notice different things and pay attention to unusual details because Jay Maisel’s whole goal with photography was: “Look. See.” He has a great quote, which is, “There are two types of people in the world: the ones who like photographs and the ones who like photographing.” I think right now we are in a world of people who like photographs, rather than the act of photographing – the act of doing, the act of creating. I think we need to pay more attention to that creative side of ourselves, as we’re missing out on so much otherwise.
The Music of Labrinth, Tierra Whack and Dolly Parton
I go through phases where I don’t discover any new music, because I just listen to the same albums and artists again and again. I was on a ’90s hip-hop kick for 20 years! I don’t even have Spotify; I buy my music, and then I listen to it to death. But recently there are three artists that I have been listening to a lot that have made me enjoy my life more. Music that I put on in the morning, or when I’m feeling bad. There’s a great album by Labrinth called Imagination and the Misfit Kid; it’s just so much fun and has so much energy. And I also love Tierra Whack. I first watched the 15-minute video of her album, which is just absolutely brilliant. She was initially making one-minute songs which she uploaded to Instagram, and now she’s starting to catch on in the mainstream. I just think she’s one of the best new artists out there.
I’ve also been listening to The Essential Dolly Parton. In the world we’re living in right now, which is so painfully divided along political lines, Dolly Parton has managed to make a career and to straddle those lines – without feeling like she’s not taking a stand on issues. There is something about the way she talks to people that seems to resonate, no matter who you are, and that feels like something to aspire to. I don’t know if I could ever shut my mouth about my beliefs, but I do think there are some lessons to be learned from her, from the way that she talks to people. She’s also just a fabulous, extremely feminine character. There’s a certain part of me that becomes judgmental about expressive femininity, but I love how she embodies that quality in a way that doesn’t feel negative.