Wearing a Cruella de Vil-esque ensemble, complete with black-and-white hair for her Teen Vogue cover shoot, Ruth Codd confidently shares her biggest life lesson so far: If she doesn’t like doing something, she can just quit. There’s no reason to make yourself miserable living a life that doesn’t feel right. It's the reason it was so easy to walk away from TikTok despite the platform's role in starting her acting career. When I ask her what else she’s quit, she quips wryly, “Every job I’ve ever had.”
Before her big acting debut on Mike Flanagan’s Netflix horror show The Midnight Club, Codd was working backstage doing makeup for Shrek The Musical in 2019, airbrushing layers of green, day in and day out. Shortly after, she found herself on TikTok, where she racked up more than 672,000 followers in less than a year for her sense of humor and hot takes. When Codd's wit landed her an unexpected acting job for Netflix, she couldn’t believe it.
Where she is now, at 26, is so incredibly different from where she’s been. Much of her life has been spent on her family’s farm in Ireland with her little brother and her childhood best friend who still lives down the road. In the last eight years or so, Codd has worked as a barber, a makeup artist, a hairstylist, and in prosthetics. “Some people know what they want to do when they're 15. Some people don't figure it out till they're 40,” she says, shrugging her shoulders as if she’s talking about choosing between her favorite fruits. “There's nothing wrong with not having your shit figured out. I think it's almost better that you get to experience lots of things.”
Codd was discovered on TikTok and had never acted before, not even doing drama in school. When she got the call that she’d been cast in The Midnight Club, it was the middle of the night and, like any practiced insomniac, she was awake playing PlayStation. “I was just sitting at my desk thinking, 'Everyone's asleep. I can't tell anyone.'” However, like any self-described obnoxious person, Codd went and woke both her parents at 3 a.m. to tell them the news.
When she was 15 her right foot was seriously injured while playing soccer, and Codd was no longer able to ride horses, which had been her whole life and a huge connection to her family. Nearly everyone experiences angst as a teenager, but she was wading through the grief of not knowing if she’d ever again experience the pure joy of doing something she loved. “I was just really lost and didn't know what to do with myself and wasn't sure how to navigate being newly disabled.” Like many newly disabled people, Codd didn’t know what life could look like. Disabled people are not often depicted as happy, capable, or fulfilled. Instead, disabled people are shown it must define everything.