Netflix's Stranger Things has always been an ensemble show that nonetheless produces breakout stars. The first season propelled the main cast into fame, but the second season lifted more bit players to prominence. Chief among them was Priah Ferguson, who played Erica Sinclair, Lucas' sassy younger sister. Winning over hearts and minds with her perfect and endearing mix of onscreen snark and comedic timing, Ferguson was able to secure a larger role in Stranger Things Season 3, which debuts in early July.
"It feels good. I'm excited; I'm also very grateful and I get to get more experience in the acting business. It's really cool," Ferguson told SYFY WIRE during an interview at Stranger Con, a Stranger Things-themed fan convention in Secaucus, New Jersey. "Erica brought that comedic timing to ease everything out."
It's no secret that she annoys her big brother Lucas (played by Caleb McLaughlin) — as any sibling would likely bug him — but Ferguson still believes that their relationship is stronger than it may seem.
"With Erica, I think she does have love for Lucas and at times, they work together," she says. "And she has her moments where she's not just sassy... Erica and Lucas, they may be close off camera."
Using her own little sister as a template for her performance ("she's very sassy"), Ferguson admires the likes of Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther) and Regina King (HBO's Watchmen), her acting heroes. She also looks up to older cast members, including McLaughlin and Joe Keery, whose Steve Harrington gained quite the following last season when he teamed up with Gaten Matarazzo's Dustin.
"I admire his acting," Ferguson says of Keery. "He's a very natural actor and I like that kind of acting... I get along with all of them; they were all really welcoming when I came in... I have memories with each and every one of [the cast]."
In addition, she recalled some great bonding moments with Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven, who went from science experiment to quasi-normal Hawkins teenager, albeit with supernatural abilities. During their arts and crafts projects together between filming, Brown taught Ferguson life tips such as how you can open certain bottles of glue by using the pointy end of the cap.
"Me and Millie shared a school trailer, and we bedazzled Converse [sneakers], so that was cool," Ferguson continues. "And another memory was when I would run into the cast mates in the hair and makeup trailer and we'd sing [songs from] Hamilton, so that was fun."
While much younger when compared to the rest of the cast, Priah still did her due diligence in learning more about the 1980s, the decade in which the hit Netflix series is set. Luckily, she had first-hand anecdotes from the era, courtesy of her mother.
"I knew quite a bit about '80s culture because my mom grew up in the '80s, so she told me some things about some songs [like] 'Computer Love,' I love that song right now," she says. "[She also told me about] the hairstyles, the clothes, the earrings — the crazy earrings. I also watched movies [and] shows based in the '80s like The Goonies, [looking at] the little kids [and their] outfits. I also wanna say The Cosby Show [was an influence]; I saw some of the style that the girls had in the '80s. I thought it was really cool, I admired all of it, I enjoyed all of it."
Seeing Sean Astin (who originally starred in The Goonies and played Joyce Byers' boyfriend, Bob, in Season 2) on set was definitely a big starstruck moment for Ferguson, but it was actually an inanimate "character" who meant a lot more to her.
"My favorite scene from the last two seasons is the Barbie doll scene and also the scene where I was on the Walkie Talkie. I like the Barbie doll scene because my mom was telling me after I filmed that scene that that was her first black, African American Barbie doll that she first had," Ferguson says. With a laugh, she adds, "That scene also sticks out because I had pink eye. [I like] the 'Code Red' scene because I was snoopin' and I felt like how my little sister comes in my room and snoops, so I got to do the same in that scene, so that was fun."
Erica wasn't all that present in the first teaser trailer for the new season, but audiences can catch a glimpse of her crawling through what looks like an air duct, Bruce Willis-style. When asked what she brings to the group, which she'll be a part of in the new episodes, Ferguson was, naturally, very tight-lipped, so as not to give away spoilers.
"I can't say much, but I feel like she is very smart," she says. "We ended up knowing each other and when I came back for Season 3, it was cool because it was like one big family."
Since Season 3 is set over the summer of 1985, we asked for her favorite summertime activities, which involve swimming and annual trips to Six Flags.
"I've gotten taller, so I can ride the bigger rides," she says. "My favorite ride that I rode for my birthday was the Scorpio. That was one of my favorites. And hopefully, since I'm still getting taller, I get to ride the Goliath someday."
Stranger Things Season 3 premieres on Netflix on July 4.