When Priah Ferguson made her Stranger Things debut in 2017 playing Lucas Sinclair’s unapologetic kid sister, Erica, a star was born. The young actress was a natural on-screen, winning audiences over with her unabashed confidence and snarky one-liners, like “You can’t spell America without Erica.” She became an instant fan favorite, and a much-deserved, more prominent role in the series soon followed. In the third season, she delivered some of the show’s best moments with her adventures with the Scoops Troop and her ever-evolving Technicolor outfits (never has a person’s overalls game been so strong), but season four promises even more greatness from Ferguson, including an introduction to Erica’s soon-to-be infamous Dungeons & Dragons persona.
The Atlanta native—who appeared in FX’s Atlanta and the film The Oath prior to joining the Netflix series—has built a truly lovable character in Erica that combines a little bit of herself and a little bit of her younger sister. Much like her co-stars, Ferguson has literally grown up before our eyes, so we were excited to catch up with the 15-year-old as the first part of the fourth and final season hits the streamer. (The second part premieres July 1.) We talked about everything from creating such a beloved character to what she’d like to accomplish next in her career, and we even had the stylish actress weigh in on some of the stranger trends taking over right now in a video that is not to be missed. Keep reading for more.
Erica Sinclair has become a fan favorite and is an instant scene-stealer. What were some of the inspirations for this character?
I have a little sister, so I pulled a little bit of her into the character, which was fun, and a little bit of myself. … While I don’t act like Erica 100%, I have a little bit of Erica in me. It was fun playing around with the fashion of the ’80s too. I did research on the ’80s and the fashion to get used to what I might be wearing, so that was really fun, and I think that brought Erica to life.
When you come back to a character like Erica after time off between seasons, are there things you do to help you get back into her mindset?
I really just think that I put on the outfit, and I’m there—I’m Erica and maybe some Whitney Houston. I will play her or Janet Jackson.
So let’s talk about season four for Erica. Season three left off with Erica assisting Lucas and his friends in stopping the Mind Flayer, and season four picks up the following spring. What, if anything, has changed for Erica in that time?
There’s no doubt what Erica can do and how she contributes to the team, so you will definitely see her contributing to the team [again] in season four. You will see her in some action moments as well.
We are introduced to Erica’s Dungeons & Dragons persona Lady Applejack, who is not to be messed with. How familiar were you with the D&D game before this role?
I am actually not that familiar with it. When I was more hands-on and actually playing the game, I got more clarity than actually reading about it. So that was pretty fun. I actually enjoyed playing it! And then … I won for real. I won the whole game, and I had no idea what I was doing, unlike in the show. So that was really crazy. I had no part in [the Lady Applejack persona]. That was all the Duffers. I knew nothing about Dungeons & Dragons before hopping into it.
We have to talk about Erica’s wardrobe. Her overalls game is quite strong. What were the conversations you had with the costume designer about her look? How would you say it’s evolved from season three to season four?
It has definitely evolved. We do fittings before we film, and she gives us options, and I have a little say about it, but the costume designer is amazing. She’s so sweet and so good. She hits it all the time. When I was fitting for my clothes in the previous seasons, my mom was like, “Oh, I had something similar” or “I used to want that,” so that was really cool too. I do like to have a little input because I want to tell them what I like and what I know. But they are so good. I just let them do what they feel comfortable doing. I don’t want to micromanage anyone.
What would you say is the big theme or consistency with Erica’s style?
I would say nail polish. She loves her nail polish and definitely the color pink.
Do you have a favorite look of Erica’s from season four?
I wore pretty much the same thing throughout the season, but the dress was pretty cute. It was a pink little dress with leg warmers.
How would you say your own personal style differs from Erica?
I like a modern style with ’50s elements. I just got into ’50s style recently. So that’s how I would say it differs. I definitely dress for my mood, so if I’m feeling bohemian, I will dress bohemian. If I’m feeling a little modern and crop top–ish, I’ll dress that way, and I will incorporate something ’50s inspired into my outfit.
So is that how you and your team have been approaching your looks for the Stranger Things press tour?
Yeah, a little bit. I am so excited about my outfits for this press tour. Sophie Lopez is my stylist, and she hits it on the mark all the time. I told her what my vision was, what my style is personally, and everything she has brought out to me was so good.
Season four is the final season of Stranger Things, which has to be a bittersweet moment. What will you miss most about working on this project?
It is bittersweet. I will miss the cast but also getting into the groove of things. I’m going to miss going to set. When you are away from it for so long, you miss it a little bit. I’m going to miss the routine of waking up in the morning and getting my hair and makeup done and going to set.
Let’s talk about what’s next for you. How do you balance going to public school and your acting work?
My school works really well with me. They are very supportive. I make sure I stay in contact with them, and everything is so digital now that I can look at my assignments on my school’s home page. They post my assignments for the whole week in advance, so I try to do my work for the whole week upfront. That way, I won’t have that much to do, and I can take the stress off of me.
And did I see that you made the JV cheer squad?
Yes, I did!
What are the roles or projects that really excite you in this stage of your career?
I would definitely say action roles. Those really excite me and then really grounded, real-life stuff. I get super excited about Black [girls], girls of color everyday lifestyle content as well.
Are there any creators out there who you would love to work with?
I would like to work with Angela Bassett. She seems really cool. And Regina Hall, Regina King, I would like to work with them. It would be cool if one of them played my mom or something.