A 2015 decision to take a break from the rigors of touring led Sharon Van Etten in a bunch of unexpected directions. She went back to school to study mental health counseling, but that course was interrupted before long. As she told Pitchfork:

"Only two weeks into school, my manager got a call from a casting agent in New York. The casting agent had seen me open up as a duo with my drummer, Zeke Hutchins, supporting Nick Cave in 2013. Somehow, the mental Rolodex of this guy—I don’t know what phrases came to mind when they were talking about the casting for Rachel, but somehow I was somebody that they wanted to audition. It was because of the show that he saw me open up for Nick Cave."

That audition led to Sharon's prominent role in The OA, where she appears (and sings!) in five episodes.

Besides taking her first acting role, Sharon also scored a film for the first time, Strange Weather. Directed and written by Katherine Dieckmann (who directed videos for R.E.M, and others along with many episodes of The Adventures of Pete & Pete) and starring Holly Hunter, the film debuted at 2016's Toronto International Film Festival, and tells the story of a grieving mother on a journey for answers about the death of her son. It screens in NY on February 11 at Lehman Auditorium as part of the Athena Film Festival at Barnard College, and a Q&A with the Dieckmann follows the screening. Tickets are on sale.

Sharon Van Etten recently joined Big Thief onstage at their headlining show at Bowery Ballroom. Next she'll be part of a benefit for Planned Parenthood and the ACLU at Music Hall of Williamsburg on 2/18, along with Beirut, Grizzly Bear's Daniel Rossen, Kevin Morby, and Hand Habits (sold out) .

In May, look for SVE in the new episodes of Twin Peaks.