While Snapchat is a go-to destination for sending selfies and communicating with friends, the social media app also packs quite the punch with a wide variety of fast-paced, vertically-filmed original shows.
Fans of the thriller genre may be interested in Snapchat’s newest offering, Action Royale, which is set to debut on the app on Oct. 9.
The Snap Original series centers around a teenager named Trilby (Nicholas Hamilton), who needs to pay off his father's immense gambling debt — and fast. He recruits his best friend, Regina "Reggie" Ruiz (Haleigh Hekking), to play video games for an underground esports ring.
As if the stakes aren't already high enough for Reggie to win, Trilby's family is also facing threats from a sinister man named Jeno (Kim Coates).
Lead actress and competitive gamer Haleigh Hekking spoke exclusively with Distractify about how she relates to her character, and what viewers can expect to see from the "intense" show. She also discussed her upcoming role alongside Gerard Butler in The Plane.
Haleigh Hekking is playing a "gaming phenom" in the Snapchat series, 'Action Royale.'
The 23-year-old is making her acting debut in Action Royale, and her character is integral to saving Trilby's family from potential harm.
"Reggie has just been a gaming phenom since the beginning of time," Haleigh shared exclusively with Distractify about her on-screen persona. "She has no problem talking back, humbling someone, and putting them in their place. She's confident in herself."
Her prowess as a competitive video game player could be enough to settle Trilby's dad's debt, but Reggie isn't exactly excited to be involved in an underground gambling ring.
"Reggie definitely has a hard time, but she really cares about Trilby," the actress added. "There's a bit of a balance between being there for her best friend, as well as managing her own life."
As someone with a strong background in competitive gaming herself (she's been playing since the age of 4), Haleigh had a unique ability to relate to her character — though there is far more pressure on Reggie to win.
"Gaming's really always been a part of my life, similar to how it's always been a part of Reggie's life..." Haleigh explained. "It was really fun to be a part of a project where I get to do the two things that I love the most: acting and gaming."
Filming the action sequences in the series also helped Haleigh in other ways.
"I've dealt with anxiety my entire life, so putting myself in those situations and dealing with them as a character has been a way for me to deal with it in real life as Haleigh," she continued.
Though her role on Action Royale helped to put Haleigh at ease, the same can't be said for viewers.
"You are always going to be on the edge of your seat. There's always something going on," Haleigh said about the show, before teasing that the "intense" first season ends with "a pretty big cliffhanger" in the final seconds.
The actress will next be playing Gerard Butler's daughter in 'The Plane.'
Now that Haleigh's first acting role is officially under her belt with the Snapchat series, she's adding to her résumé with another action thriller project. The Twitch streamer is next set to play Daniela in The Plane, which wrapped filming in Puerto Rico shortly before the Action Royale premiere.
Daniela is the daughter of a commercial pilot named Brodie Torrance (played by Gerard Butler, also producing), whose plane is threatened after an emergency landing.
While working alongside the 300 star could be an intimidating prospect for any seasoned actor, let alone a relative newcomer, Haleigh said that her on-screen dad, who was an absolutely "wonderful person" to work with, made her feel comfortable right away. The two bonded over getting into acting "late" (Haleigh started going on auditions when she was 20, while Gerard didn't become an actor until his mid-20s).
"He's really such a wonderful person to be around," Haleigh said about working with The Phantom of the Opera star. "It's so awesome growing and admiring an amazing actor like Gerard Butler, and then to work with him and see that he's such a sweet, sweet, human being as well."
Before Haleigh makes her big screen debut in the upcoming film, you can catch her in her Snap Original series.
Action Royale will debut on Snapchat on Oct. 9. New episodes come out every other day on the app. You can subscribe to the series here.