Better Things: Olivia Edward discussing playing Duke

BETTER THINGS "Holding" Episode 2 (Airs Thursday, March 7, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: Olivia Edward as Duke. CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX
BETTER THINGS "Holding" Episode 2 (Airs Thursday, March 7, 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: Olivia Edward as Duke. CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX /

Olivia Edward has known she’s wanted to be an actor since she was a small child. She discusses her path and her current role on Better Things.

Even though Better Things actress, Olivia Edward, is just 12 years old, she knew from a young age just she wanted to act. She would make up songs and dance around the house. She was on a path to being a performer but didn’t realize it.

At around five years old, she was mesmerized by singers and dancers on a Gap Kids commercial. She looked at her father — famed medium John Edward — and said, “Why am I not there?”

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“Where?” he said.

She pointed to the TV, “There!”

Her father didn’t have a good answer at the time, but the answers came soon enough as she set down the path to being an actor.

Edward has been in several television series since, including Better Things, which she currently stars in. She plays Duke, one of the three daughters whose mother Pamela (Pamela Adlon) is trying to find her way in a mixed up, crazy world after a divorce.

“I was so happy when I found out I was going to be on Better Things,” Edward told Hidden Remote. “I wanted to be Duke so bad. She was such an amazing character.”

In three seasons of the FX show, Duke has had some interesting storylines, including one that hit pretty close to home. Her character started to see spirits.

But the way the storyline played out felt natural to her. Having grown up around the spirit world through her father’s work, she understood what the character was going through on a deeper level. Duke didn’t go running and screaming the first time she saw a ghost but understood there was something more going on.

“I was so happy that was happening. That was true validation for me because my dad is a psychic medium, John Edward. I basically grew up with this,” Edward said. “When I read it, it showed how normal it was. They treat it as a normal thing. She wasn’t just screaming, saying, ‘Oh my god, oh my god. … But she can sense the spirit herself. I thought that was pretty neat.”

Edward has learned a lot about acting being on the set of Better Things. She has watched how others around her perform and even has gotten a lesson in authenticity from Adlon.

Olivia Edward
Olivia Edward. Photo credit: Jill Fritzo Public Relations /

Adlon, the co-creator and a writer for Better Things, sometimes doesn’t tell the actors what’s coming on the show. So their reactions are actually what you see on screen.

“I am getting to learn from the amazing actresses on the show,” Edward said. “They’re a big inspiration to me. I love watching how they work. Every season, Pamela does something to keep it real.

“It’s always good to experiment and try different things,” Edward added. “We had a big dance scene that we did. My character had no clue what we were doing. That was a real authentic reaction.”

Edward will next play in the movie The Outside Story starring Brian Tyree Henry and Sonequa Martin-Green.

And Edward is exactly where she always wanted to be — right inside your TV screen. She was reminded by her father what acting was about.

“We talk all the time about this. It has to be something you love to do,” Edward said. “If this isn’t something you love to, it will show. You might be able to act, but if you truly don’t love it, if you don’t get that initial feeling — at least for me — then why should you be doing it?”

She knows exactly what she should be doing. She always has.

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Better Things airs on FX Thursdays at 10/9c.