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Wingman Wednesday

Shoshannah Stern

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Cheryl Hines as Stella, Shoshannah Stern as Kate – ThisClose _ Season 1, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Gunther Campine/SundanceNow

For Shoshannah Stern, her new series “This Close,” which airs on SundanceTV’s streaming platform Sundance Now, is more than a career game changer. As a deaf actress, she has struggled with booking jobs. On those projects that she was cast in, a sense of dignity always accompanied the paycheck, one that went beyond her thespian ambitions. Getting to see the fruits of her creative labor come to life is a dream come true, but having a hand in employing nearly 20 deaf people throughout the production of “This Close” is a piece of the artistic puzzle that she has immense pride in.

We recently sat down with Stern to discuss the transformative journey of the series, Post-it note excitement, and why she mourned the loss of her “Supernatural” character Eileen along with the rest of the fandom.

TrunkSpace: You have put so much of yourself into “This Close,” from developing the story and characters to inhabiting one of the characters onscreen. What are you most proud of when it comes to the series?
Stern: I have gone months, even years without working. This isn’t a unique story when it comes to the acting thing, because I know something like 90 percent of actors at any given point aren’t working. However, actors who aren’t deaf usually don’t have any trouble finding a day job, and that’s something that’s very challenging for deaf people. The statistics are actually kind of staggering. Something like 70 percent of deaf people in America are either unemployed or underemployed. I know whenever I booked a job in the past, I got this sense of dignity that went beyond just the acting thing – I felt a real sense of having earned a place at a table as a contributing member of society. And then whenever that job wrapped, I’d go back to not being able to have a seat at that table anymore. I’d feel as if I was kind of standing in the back of the room staring at all the people that were sitting there and just yearning to be at that table again. So the fact that we were able to create around 18 different positions through all stages of production, both in front and behind the camera, that went to deaf people, and not only seeing, but feeling from them that same sense of self-worth, that’s probably what I’m proudest of.

TrunkSpace: When you first sat down to develop “This Close,” were you writing Kate with yourself in mind, and in doing so, did you consciously/subconsciously put elements of yourself into who she is?
Stern: The very first iteration of “This Close” was a pilot Josh (Feldman) and I made in one day for $250 and then put on YouTube. In that iteration, Kate and Michael were pretty much identical to Josh and I in real life. But along the way, after it became the webseries and then the television show, the characters gradually took on lives of their own. But because the writing process for “This Close” was so compressed (we wrote the first season in around seven weeks) I really didn’t have a chance to think about actually playing Kate until the day before. I was so in writing mode that once I shifted to acting mode I was kind of like, “Oh shit.” But while her and I are very different in reality, I think she’s someone I would want to be friends with. There’s a lot I admire about her, like how light and bubbly she is and how she always sees the best in people while trying to be better herself.

TrunkSpace: Projects seem to linger for a long time in Hollywood before they ever see the light of day. How long was “This Close” gestating in your mind before you started putting words to page and ultimately stepped on set to shoot your first scene?
Stern: We had our big cast and production dinner the night before we started shooting, where I finally met Zach Gilford for the first time after casting him, and during that time, Josh turned to me and we realized that we had shot the first pilot for YouTube exactly two years ago to the day. But there’s so much of our lives and experiences in the show, saying it only took two years seems like cheating a little bit!

TrunkSpace: As you mentioned, the concept began as a webseries and ultimately became the television show it is today. Would you say that it has exceeded expectations for you in terms of how far you had hoped it would go, both creatively and from a business standpoint?
Stern: Definitely. I don’t think I ever allowed myself to hope or think about anything else than the step directly above the one we were standing on at the time. I mean, I encourage my 3-year-old daughter to fantasize as much as she can because I think that’s one of the healthiest thing you can do whether you’re 3 or 33, but fantasizing is different than hoping. All I knew is that I hoped we could keep going, and I wanted to get to that next step. It’s a bit mad being at that point now where we’re able to look back the way we’ve come and see all the steps that we’ve taken.

Shoshannah Stern as Kate, Josh Feldman as Michael – ThisClose _ Season 1, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Gunther Campine/SundanceNow

TrunkSpace: When the series expanded to a different format, did it force you to take a different creative approach to the pacing and overall storytelling? Did it become a different show in any way than what you originally envisioned?
Stern: Absolutely. It became a different show every time. When we did “Fridays,” the YouTube version, we knew we had a budget of $250 so we had to limit the location since we only had one. So it was basically just 20 minutes of two characters talking about nothing and everything. When it became “The Chances,” we knew we had a bit more to work with, so we knew we could make the world of the show a little bit bigger and include more people. But with a seven-minute platform, we felt it would be better to focus on more of the humor of their lives and interactions. However, when we got the green light to take it to television, we always knew we wanted to make their world darker now that we had a bigger sandbox to play in. So I’ve always felt like we made three different versions of the show before it became “This Close.”

TrunkSpace: As far as creative fulfillment is concerned, what was the moment like when you discovered that “This Close” was picked up to series? How did you celebrate?
Stern: I remember my sister asking me how I celebrated and like, celebrating hadn’t even occurred to me. I was just so excited about getting to write and have it be an actual job and not just on spec. I was thrilled about getting our own office and being able to put Post-its on the wall. That was my fulfillment because that’s always been a dream of mine. But after being scolded at by my big sister I was like, “Yes, ma’am.” So I vaguely remember Josh and I getting some champagne somewhere one night, but then we talked about work the whole time. Being able to create, that’s where the celebration is at for me.

TrunkSpace: Do you feel like this is just the beginning for you in terms of creating and developing content? Do you have more stories to tell?
Stern: I hope it is. I have a whole plethora of ideas I’d love to bring to life, but going through this process has taught me so much. One valuable lesson is that you can’t create alone. It’s all about collaboration, and that takes a village. I’ve learned so much about collaborating through all the brilliant people that came aboard to do this crazy thing with us, and I feel like that connection you make when you’re making an idea come to life, that’s pure magic. I’d love to seek out that sort of collaboration for the rest of my life.

TrunkSpace: We’re big fans of “Supernatural” here at TrunkSpace. How much did guesting on that show as Winchester ally Eileen change your life?
Stern: “Supernatural” came along at a very auspicious time in my life. I got the offer to play Eileen when I was creating “Fridays,” and so it validated a lot of questions I had in my mind that might have unconsciously been holding me back. Creation begets creation, and so getting that creative energy I got being on set and playing her really fueled a lot of what I put in the show. In my mind and in the heart, the two are intertwined, kind of like these trees you see that have grown around the other.

TrunkSpace: There was massive social media uproar when Eileen met her untimely demise. Was it flattering to know that the fandom was so invested in not only your character but in you as a performer?
Stern: I grieved Eileen. I mean, like, I literally grieved her. She was written as such a badass that she kind of forced me to find my inner badass too. So even though I was only on the show for two episodes before she died in her third, just having her alive in the back of my mind helped me channel strength from her. So because she meant and represented so much for me, I felt her loss for quite a while. So while I hadn’t anticipated the fandom’s response in the least, the love I got from them became a real support system for me. I felt like they helped me heal from that loss and now I’m just very appreciative that I got to have Eileen for as long as I did in a time when I needed her to be there.

Stern as Eileen in “Supernatural”

TrunkSpace: “Supernatural” is in its 13th season. If “This Close” were to go 13 seasons, where do you think Kate and Michael will be in their lives in 2031?
Stern: Oh wow. While we’ve talked and thought about the show’s future, I think the furthest I’ve ever thought about it is Season 6! But okay. In “This Close” in 2031… Kate and Michael will have settled in their skins and their lives a bit more. I see them having houses and families, possibly even a merged family of sorts, and going on vacations together. I feel like both Kate and Michael are the kind of people that will never stop evolving, so they’ll never stop growing. But I know one thing for sure, they’ll still be the very best of friends.

This Close” premiered Feb 14 on SundanceTV’s streaming platform, Sundance Now. New episodes arrive every Thursday.

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Wingman Wednesday

Jordan Claire Robbins

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Usually when new characters are introduced into the “Supernatural” world, it doesn’t necessarily end well for the Winchester brothers. With more enemies than allies, Sam and Dean will probably have wished they steered clear of sisters Jamie and Jennie Plum, a pair of witches who make their debut in tonight’s episode, “Various & Sundry Villains.”

Jordan Claire Robbins plays Jamie (Jennie is played by Elise Gatien), a character whose personality she identified with almost immediately. In addition to her “Supernatural” debut, the Bermuda-born actress will next appear in the highly-anticipated Netflix film “Anon,” which is scheduled to premiere later this year.

We recently sat down with Robbins to discuss what it was like coming into the show during its 13th season, the handsomeness of its handsomely handsome stars, and why she’s committed to focusing on what’s directly in front of her.

TrunkSpace: You’re set to guest star in tonight’s episode of “Supernatural,” a show that has built up a very passionate fandom over its 13 seasons on the air. What are your thoughts on getting to enter into the “Supernatural” universe and be a part of such a rich world with so much story already having been told?
Robbins: “Supernatural” has one of the best fan bases of any show, and I think it’s amazing that after 13 seasons the Winchester brothers are still going strong! I was incredibly excited to get to jump on board with the show and to get to be a part of Dean and Sam’s story. Because everyone on the show has been working together for so many years, it felt like one big family and the energy on set was extremely positive and welcoming. It was a joy to be a part of and I was sad when we wrapped the episode!

TrunkSpace: In the episode you’re playing a witch, a type of foe the Winchester brothers have had to take on numerous times as Hunters. How does your Jamie Plum compare to those witches that came before? How powerful is she?
Robbins: Well, you’ll have to tune in on Thursday to find out exactly what Jamie is capable of, but I will say that committing to the “Supernatural” world and casting spells made me feel very powerful as an actor! It was a treat to get to play a witch, especially knowing the brothers’ loaded history with them on the show.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, what did you enjoy most about Jamie Plum? Did she allow you to go anywhere new that you have yet to go on-screen with a character in the past?
Robbins: When I first auditioned for the part, I remember being most excited at the thought of playing a character who has so much fun. Jamie has a sense of humor that is very similar to mine, and it felt like a very natural character for me, probably more so than any I have played before. I also loved her confidence; she doesn’t shy away from her power, which was a really fun thing to play with.

TrunkSpace: Those Winchester brothers are very handsome. When they’re running around the set trying to murder your character, do they lose some of their handsome luster? Is there any situation… any bad lighting… food-on-their-face moment where they’re not as ruggedly good looking as reflected in the series?
Robbins: Well… I hate to break it to you, but they are indeed as ruggedly handsome offscreen as they are onscreen! They also are both very kind, and VERY funny – the time in between takes was usually spent laughing and as you can imagine this made for really enjoyable shoot days. They are not only good at what they do, but they also have a blast doing it!

TrunkSpace: Speaking of good looking people, you’re very beautiful yourself and in addition to your acting career, you’re also a model. Do you feel like you have had to convince people within the industry that you’re not a model who wants to act, but an actress who models? Is that a hurdle you have faced?
Robbins: Why thank you! I got into modeling almost 10 years ago while I was studying at University, and it has given me many great opportunities to travel and meet wonderful people. While acting has always been my biggest passion and dream, modeling gave me the chance to get very comfortable being on camera and practice taking direction. When I decided it was time to put more energy into acting, my modeling agents were extremely supportive. I think at one time or another most actors, with or without a background in modeling, have felt a sort of pressure to prove that they are serious about wanting to act. I have been fortunate enough to study with some amazing acting teachers and to learn from experience, and I am grateful to have both modeling and acting as creative outlets.

TrunkSpace: Do you envision yourself playing a character when you’re modeling, even when there isn’t dialogue involved? Are you tapping into someone else within yourself?
Robbins: Well at the risk of sounding like Derek Zoolander… yes. In the same way an actor onscreen can say a lot with only their eyes, I think a photo is always much more interesting when the model is present and genuinely feeling something. I often play with different emotions during a photoshoot to keep myself engaged – there is a difference between a forced smile and a smile when someone is happy and enjoying themselves. Plus it’s more fun that way!

TrunkSpace: As your acting career continues to grow and branch off into new and exciting directions, do you anticipate modeling still being a part of your life or is it something you see yourself leaving behind as new opportunities present themselves?
Robbins: I see photography and acting as being intertwined forms of art; I have always loved the collaborative efforts that go into creating a great photograph, and I think as my acting career continues to develop I will continue to enjoy doing both.

TrunkSpace: Speaking of opportunities, you’re set to appear in the upcoming Netflix movie “Anon” starring Clive Owen and Amanda Seyfried. With that cast, and the Netflix brand behind it, do you view the project as a bit of a career game changer?
Robbins: Shooting “Anon” was definitely an amazing opportunity and big learning experience. Most of all, it was a complete gift to be able to work with a very talented and seasoned group of people, and made me feel grateful and excited to keep working with actors of that caliber. Clive was lovely and having been a fan of his for a while, it was very happy to get to work with him!

TrunkSpace: What did you take from your “Anon” experience that will stay with you for the rest of your career?
Robbins: Andrew Niccol, the writer and director of the film, has a brilliant mind and unique attention to detail that translates beautifully into all of his films. The style “Anon” was shot in presented some technical challenges for me as an actor, and while shooting I felt relieved that I had emotionally prepared for my scenes enough so that when taking direction I could let go and trust in myself. That was an important lesson to learn – that the biggest gift I can give myself is to show up prepared in every possible way, so I can let go in that moment and the work is free to take on a life of its own.

Pictured (L-R): Jordan Claire Robbins as Jamie Plum and Jensen Ackles as Dean — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC All Rights Reserved

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, you moved from Bermuda… sunny, warm Bermuda… to Toronto. Are the winters are reminder (particularly this winter!) of the warmth you left behind? Don’t get us wrong, we love Toronto (Go Blue Jays!), but… BERMUDA!
Robbins: I see your point! I may be biased, but I think Bermuda is truly the most beautiful place on earth and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes long to be there when I’m away, especially on the coldest of winter days. But I can’t complain because I am doing what I love over here, and luckily it’s a quick flight from Toronto; it’s reassuring to know that I can get home even for a few days to recharge when I need my fix of ocean and family time. I’ve been living in Vancouver for much of the last year, which is very different from Bermuda but stunning in its own way; I definitely feel most like myself when I’m close to ocean and/or mountains!

TrunkSpace: People change throughout the course of their lives. The core you is always the same, but interests and motivations find different nesting spots. Today, in 2018, what motivates you to continue to pursue acting and other creative endeavors?
Robbins: I’d say my biggest motivator right now is self-growth and really stepping outside of my comfort zone with each role I take on. The last year has really been about learning to be kinder and more patient with myself, and to let go more so things can unfold in their own way. (I can be a bit of a control freak!) The more I work, the more I realize how much there is to learn and discover about who I really am and how I can give of myself more deeply if I take my ego out of the equation. It excites and humbles me to get into the life of a character so much that I learn and discover new things about myself and new ways of perceiving the world, which then gives me more to work with. Being a good artist is impossible to do if you’re not in touch with yourself in an honest and nurturing way, and I’m most excited to keep growing into a better human as my career continues.

TrunkSpace: As you look forward, down the road that lies ahead, what type of career do you hope to have when all is said and done? If you could choose your exact path, what would it look like?
Robbins: When all is said and done, I want to be able to look back on my career and know that I never held back or shied away from a challenge, and I want my work to have had a meaningful impact on people. It’s important to me that I take on roles that scare and intimidate me in some way, because if I’m resisting something it probably means I need to throw myself into it. Last year I wrote and produced a short film called “Driver Is Arriving Now,” and I really enjoyed being behind the camera – I would love to keep exploring that side of things. Directing has always intrigued me so I hope to delve into that one day too. But for now, the goal is to not think too far ahead so I can give my full commitment and attention to what is in front of me!

Supernatural” airs Thursdays on The CW.

Anon” arrives on Netflix later this year.

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Wingman Wednesday

Hiro Kanagawa

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Photo By: Kristine Cofsky

While we used to look forward to “tentpole” films rolling into our local cineplexes every summer, now we can see the same production quality, marque names, and multi-layered world building appearing on our televisions every night, holding up the pop culture tent with poles steeped in rich, complex storytelling. In fact, it’s starting to feel like a new, highly-anticipated series premieres every week, and for those of us addicted to the binge, it’s a great time to consume.

The new Netflix sci-fi thrillfest “Altered Carbon” is the kind of show that not only has us excited, but it could very well usher in a new dawn of big-budgeted event series. Adapting a project like this, based on the 2002 novel by Richard Morgan, for anywhere other than a movie theater would have been completely unheard of even a decade ago. The cost alone to bring the futuristic, effects-filled story to life would have scared off every executive from network to cable, but now it seems, much like the technology that makes a show like this possible, the sky is the limit.

We recently sat down with “Altered Carbon” star and one of our favorite character actors Hiro Kanagawa to discuss how he brings his memorable characters to life, why the series could be a game changer for the industry, and the rock ‘n’ roll dream that still pecks away at him.

TrunkSpace: First thing’s first…we love us some you! Your work is always so rich in character and the choices you make with those characters are extremely memorable. What is your approach to tapping into a new character and making him your own?
Kanagawa: Thanks for the kind words. Acting is an ephemeral activity, even when captured on film, so it’s great to know that some of what I do is memorable. Creating these characters really depends on the circumstance, the style and content of the script, the people around you, the specifics of the character. When I was starting out I was coming from a bit of an arty physical theater background, so I tended to work outside-in: find the voice, find the walk, find the way this guy carries himself. But in film and TV, less is more – you really have to internalize things and work inside-out because something as small as a sideways glance or an arched eyebrow can be a big, big move. Also, everybody you’re working with is coming at things from different methods and training techniques and traditions, so I’ve found the most reliable thing to do as an actor is BE IN RELATIONSHIP with your other actors and your environment. I hope audiences appreciate my work as Captain Tanaka on “Altered Carbon.” I’m proud of it, and a lot of it comes out of being in relationship with Martha Higareda’s character, Ortega.

TrunkSpace: As you mentioned, you’re set to star as Captain Tanaka in the new Netflix series “Altered Carbon.” By any standards it seems like an extremely ambitious project, but by television/streaming standards, it feels like it could be the kind of project that forces others to rethink the way that they’re doing things. As you were working on the series, did it have the feel of something that could be groundbreaking within the industry itself?
Kanagawa: Absolutely. And it’s more than blind ambition, there’s a desire, an aspiration to make something really good. I could tell everybody on this project from the top down were dedicated to getting things right. I go into my first wardrobe fitting and a few days later I have another one because they’ve re-thought things. And then another one. I walk on set on my first day and my first reaction is, “Wow.” Same thing the next day when I see another set. And so on. I get called in to rehearse on a Saturday and with input from all of us actors, the scene gets rewritten. There’s creative energy. Everybody’s involved and engaged. Nobody was mailing it in on this one.

TrunkSpace: At this point, millions of people have already viewed the trailer online and the buzz continues to build around the series. As an actor performing within a show that is generating that kind of pop culture interest, does it place you in a position to put expectations on how it will be received and accepted, and in a way, alter your life/career in the process?
Kanagawa: I do have expectations that it will be well-received. I’ve seen bits and pieces and everything I’ve seen excites me. I’ve read the scripts, of course, and being a writer myself, I have nothing but admiration for the writing. I am aware that my work here as Captain Tanaka will probably get a lot of eyeballs and I’m happy about that because I feel good about it. If this creates more opportunities for me in the future, I’m ready. Bring it on.

TrunkSpace: For those who have never read the Richard Morgan novel, can you tell us a bit about Captain Tanaka and what his journey is throughout the course of the series? What did he offer you from a performance standpoint that you have yet to tackle in a project before?
Kanagawa: The series is in the same universe and follows the same general trajectory as the first book, but it’s a major expansion of that universe. Captain Tanaka, in fact, does not appear in the novel. What I can tell you is that Tanaka is a deeply-conflicted and compromised police captain tasked with keeping law and order in a world run by an ultra-powerful elite. He’s a good man in a bad world and he can either keep his head down and do as he’s told, or he can do the right thing. As an actor, you live for characters who are conflicted in this way.

TrunkSpace: From one talked about project to the next, you’re also working on “Snowpiercer” for TNT, a series based on Bong Joon Ho’s popular 2013 film. Both “Altered Carbon” and “Snowpiercer” come with a bit of their own built-in audiences seeing that they had established fan bases in other mediums already. Is that a gift for an actor, working on something that you know people will already be lining up to see, or does it also come with its own set of pitfalls knowing that some viewers might go in with expectations already in place?
Kanagawa: I think there are instances where the fans of a known, iconic story do not want what they know and love to be messed with. I don’t think “Altered Carbon” or “Snowpiercer” will suffer from that given both projects are re-interpreting the original for a different medium. If anything, I feel an audience expectation and excitement to see what new directions both series will go in.

TrunkSpace: You’ve performed in dozens of series and films over the course of your career. Looking back, are there any characters that you wished you had more time to spend with and explore further, and if so, why?
Kanagawa: Lt. Suzuki on “iZombie”, and the Yakuza boss Okamura on “The Man in the High Castle” both met untimely ends. There was a lot more to explore with those characters.

TrunkSpace: You’ve had some great runs on fan favorite shows adored by the Comic Con crowds like those two you just mentioned, and most recently, “Legends of Tomorrow.” But one thing a lot of people might not know about you is that you also played father of the first family of comics, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. What was that experience like, giving voice to such an iconic character?
Kanagawa: I don’t do a lot of animation, so it was a tremendous pleasure being in the room with artists who are the creme de la creme of that industry. And as an Asian actor, I thought it was fantastic that I had the opportunity to voice such an iconic non-Asian character. Reed, of course, is kind of the “straight man” in the family, so I didn’t have to move far from my natural speaking voice, but I had a great time with a couple of episodes where Reed switched bodies with Ben/The Thing as well as with Dr. Doom.

Kanagawa with Joel de la Fuente “The Man in the High Castle”

TrunkSpace: You also did an episode of “Supernatural,” which many in the fandom consider to be one of the most memorable in the series’ 13 year run. (“Changing Channels”) That got us to thinking… can you imagine yourself working on one character for such an extended period of time, in this case, 13 seasons, and is that something you would welcome?
Kanagawa: It really depends on the character I guess. I’ve been lucky to have a sustained career without being attached to a single character or show for longer than two seasons. But this is the golden age of the serial narrative and there is so much good writing out there in this medium that I would welcome the opportunity to explore a character over multiple seasons.

TrunkSpace: We read that you started your creative journey as a musician, composer, and writer. Are those areas that are still a big part of your life even as your acting career has continued to propel you forward in ways that you probably never thought possible?
Kanagawa: I am a playwright as well as an actor and I am very proud of the fact that I recently received the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Drama, one of Canada’s most prestigious literary awards. As for music, as anyone who ever played in a high school rock band will attest, I still dream of getting the band back together, taking my shirt off, and kicking some ass!

TrunkSpace: A lot of times our loves and creative outlets can end up feeling like “work” when those outlets become careers. Do you still love acting as much today as you did the first time you stepped foot on a set and began your career?
Kanagawa: I actually love it more now than ever. I feel I’m just starting to get really interesting opportunities, and that’s coming at a time when I’m starting to do my best work. All of that is extremely exciting. I’m chomping at the bit here.

TrunkSpace: Do you view the craft differently now than you did when you first began your pursuit of it?
Kanagawa: Completely. I’m always learning about myself as I journey through life. And acting is a craft you can learn so much about from watching people you’ve never met. You can watch actors who died decades ago and learn from them. You can learn from watching people at the food court at the mall. It’s endlessly, endlessly fascinating.

TrunkSpace: If someone came to you tomorrow with a blank check and said, “Hiro, go make the kind of projects that you want to make,” what would that look like? What kind of project would you develop for yourself knowing that money was not an option?
Kanagawa: Being a writer and having a couple of screenplays and series concepts, I’d use the money to get those things made. I don’t really write roles for myself, but if I had a blank check maybe I’d be tempted to write myself something. Might be tempted to write myself a part where I cross the desert, climb the mountain, and make it to the promised land.

Altered Carbon” premieres Friday on Netflix.

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Wingman Wednesday

Katherine Ramdeen

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Photo By: Ryan West

Last week the “Supernatural” fandom was treated to the storytelling potential of the spin-off “Wayward Sisters.” Eager viewers received a long-awaited look at how the characters who would make up the new series come together to serve as another Winchesterless line of defense against all varieties of evil. One of those characters, Alex Jones, has had parts and pieces of her story told throughout the course of “Supernatural,” popping up occasionally as an ally of the demon-hunting brothers Sam and Dean. But what “Wayward Sisters” offers is a chance to see beyond the surface layer of these recurring characters who are adored by fans, and instead, delve into the core of who they are and why they are, something that is extremely enticing to the actress who portrays Alex, Katherine Ramdeen.

Able to breathe a little easier now that the fandom has seen and embraced the direction of “Wayward Sisters,” Ramdeen hopes to explore the character and universe for years to come. Refreshingly candid and admittedly awkward in social situations, she is modest and surprised that people care about who she is, but is preparing herself for a wider spotlight should the spin-off make it to series.

We recently sat down with Ramdeen to discuss why “Wayward Sisters” works, the areas of Alex’s life she’s most excited to explore further, and why her background in psychology helps her to tap into the characters she portrays.

TrunkSpace: Now that the “Wayward Sisters” episode has aired, are you able to breathe a little easier knowing how the fandom received it?
Ramdeen: Yes, and actually it’s interesting, because I knew that it was going to be good, just from reading the script and shooting it, but actually seeing it edited, I’m like, “Holy fuck, it’s actually really good!” It’s really good. I was just talking with Robert Berens yesterday morning. He was like, “Oh, it’s been really warmly received by so many places, and you know what, I noticed that a lot of people, they like Alex. They like her, her story, her character.” That was really exciting to hear, because I obviously want this show to happen.

TrunkSpace: So often with a spinoff, it’s either too close to the original or too far removed from the source material, but “Wayward Sisters” really felt like the perfect blend of both. It is its own thing, but at the same time part of the world “Supernatural” created.
Ramdeen: Yes, exactly. It’s artistically different. “Supernatural” is such an iconic show. It’s been around for what seems like a billion years. I was a kid when it came out. I don’t know how to describe it. I feel like watching “Supernatural,” it’s very comfortable almost. Maybe it’s nostalgia, I don’t know. But it’s a comforting show to watch. Then “Wayward Sisters” is like, you start off and… it’s not comfortable. It’s the same universe, but it’s just shot differently. It’s different enough so that you’re like, “This is a different show, but it’s also still ‘Supernatural.’”

TrunkSpace: The great thing about “Supernatural” is that, although they hunt monsters, at the core it is a show about family, and that seems to be a theme that will be carried over into “Wayward Sisters.”
Ramdeen: Yes, totally, and I think that’s what’s really important, because I think that’s the really important thing about “Supernatural” and why people like it, so that’s a good thing for us to have.

TrunkSpace: You touched on the longevity of “Supernatural.” If “Wayward Sisters” was to go 13 seasons, would you feel creatively fulfilled getting to play the same character for that long?
Ramdeen: Oh, that’s a really good question. That’s really interesting. My first instinct is yes, because I think that for me acting, I love Alex. I don’t know how I would get sick of playing her. This is my guess, but I don’t know, because I can only imagine what it would be like. If “Supernatural” can do it for 13 seasons, and we have a lot of the same creative team coming from that, should this be green lit, then I think the writing won’t be a problem. I mean, it’s like a family already. I remember actually, the last day of shooting Wayward… when I was wrapped, it was sad because I didn’t want to go. I don’t know, presumably I would love to do it for as long as I could.

TrunkSpace: If “Wayward Sisters” gets picked up, what are you most excited to explore with your character that you haven’t been able to delve into within the “Supernatural” universe?
Ramdeen: Oh my God, there’s so much – so much. I talked about this at length with Robert Berens and the rest of the cast. We don’t know where her parents are – it was never really discovered. They didn’t talk about it. Her parents were gone for some reason. They didn’t say how they were gone. Then she lived with her grandmother. Then she was kidnapped. Then her grandmother is really old. And then she has no family. She is presumably an orphan. So it’d be interesting to know, does she have any family? Is she really an orphan? That would be cool to find out.

As far as Alex’s particular character development, I would love to explore the conflicts that she has with killing things, because she grew up killing people, and not necessarily all of them were bad people. It was sort of Dexter-esque. She’s underage, she’s in a bar, and she’s taking home men that want to be with her. That’s really messed up. She feels like this is kind of justified. These people are bad people. But of course, as we saw in “Don’t You Forget About Me,” anytime that she has been an accomplice… it would interesting to explore that, and to learn more about her guilt.

Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC All Rights Reserved

TrunkSpace: When we first met Alex, she was very angsty and now, especially in the “Wayward Sisters” episode, she has sort of suppressed that. Do you think that angst is still a part of her or has she moved on from it?
Ramdeen: No, no, no, no, it’s definitely still part of her. That’s a lot of stuff to go through for a person and so her behavioral response is to feel… to kind of act out but she… it’s still within her and I guess it’s something I’d be interested in seeing her deal with.

One of my friends that watched the episode, they told me that they thought that Alex gave off this vibe of being sort of dead inside, which was interesting. I wasn’t aware of that but it actually does make sense in that I guess she has a lot of pain and kind of the only way for her to survive right now is just to soldier on.

TrunkSpace: We kind of viewed the performance as, from Alex’s perspective, she needed to be strong because she knew there was a chance Claire couldn’t hold it together, so it fell on her to be the glue.
Ramdeen: Exactly. Yes. That’s actually a really perfect way of putting it.

TrunkSpace: In terms of your own personal journey, one of the things that we found interesting was that you studied psychology. Does that background help you to discover the characters you’re playing and their motivations?
Ramdeen: Oh my God, this is a great question and I love this question. It was interesting because studying psychology, that is the study of human behavior – why people do the things they do. When I discovered acting, I realized the parallels were crazy. They’re so similar because acting is all about living, the behaviors of people living their stories, and why they’re doing things. And the way to dissect a character, the way to try and understand a story, is very similar to what, say, a social psychologist would be doing – trying to understand a person or their neuroses. Actors have a lot of those too, so that’s just part of the parcel.

TrunkSpace: And given all of the different types of personalities involved in the business itself, it must help you with that aspect as well?
Ramdeen: Oh my God, yes. And you know what though, honestly, it’s show business, you know? I’m not great with business. The thing is, I know it’s not going to make sense, but I’m rather socially awkward and I don’t like going to parties and… I’m just not good with most people. So I’m not good at that but it’s an interesting part of the job because it is absolutely necessary for an actor to do these things. An actor has to go to an awards ceremony, an actor has to go to a premiere, so it’s interesting, the business side of the industry and me dealing with it because it’s sort of… I’m not gonna say that it’s another form of acting for me, I don’t equate them, but it’s definitely something that I think being an actor helps me with – dealing with situations that I might find awkward. Like interviews, actually.

TrunkSpace: Totally. It’s an odd thing. You have a stranger asking you questions and in a way you’re having to present yourself and your projects.
Ramdeen: Yes, exactly and I’m so self conscious because… this is something very new to me. Wayward is the biggest thing in my career, I guess it’s like the “big break.” I’d say it’s a big break. I don’t have that perspective because I’m within it and all the craziness, but from the outside perspective, people are like, “Katherine Ramdeen, who’s that?” With that being said, I just don’t wanna come across as, I don’t know, not great because of my, maybe, social ineptness. Also, I curse a lot and that’s really hard to stop and so I don’t want to make people feel bad or their kid can’t meet me or something because I’m gonna swear.

I consider myself very chill, or relaxed, or laid back, or easy going, so I think my casualness is weird for the industry because it’s different. It’s like the thing with presenting – I feel like I’m not presenting. I feel like I’m just this person who is an actor and I happen to be normal and just like everyone else.

Photo By: Ryan West

TrunkSpace: So with all of that in mind, if “Wayward Sisters” became this huge success, would you be comfortable having that massive spotlight shining on you?
Ramdeen: I can’t comprehend that but I’m getting a little taste of that. I’m doing “Supernatural” conventions – I did two last year. I went to Blackpool, England and Seattle, and this year I’m doing three so far. I just came back from Orlando this weekend and I’m going to Vegas and then somewhere in England again. With that, I go to these conventions and these are fans and these are people that really like me and they would pay money, I guess like a box office fee, to see me. And that’s just absurd – that’s just crazy. I can’t understand that. I feel sort of like an imposter or I feel like, “Why do you wanna?” It’s a weird feeling, so to have that on just a bigger scale… I guess people always say that they get used to it so I assume you would get used to it. I don’t think it’d ever stop being weird or undeserved, because I think there’s a lot of people on this planet that should be getting recognition for a lot of different things than they get. I think it’s really interesting, celebrity, but anyways…

I think I would just take it because it comes with the territory and I want to be an actor and I love acting and I love telling stories and I just love making movies.

TrunkSpace: You touched on the fans who come out to the conventions, and one of the things we have always loved about the “Supernatural” fandom is that it’s almost like a secret club. Those who know and follow the show are extremely passionate about it, and those who don’t, may not even know it’s still on the air.
Ramdeen: And that’s actually one of the things about “Supernatural” and being part of this potential universe, if the spinoff goes… man, the fandom is just amazing. They’re just all really nice people. Going to these conventions and meeting them, it is a family because people just are nice to each other and it’s like going over to a friend’s house and being like, “Oh, so I have a bunch of friends, we’re just all hanging out and talking.”

Supernatural” airs Thursdays on The CW.

The fandom is still waiting to hear if “Wayward Sisters” will be ordered to series. Stay tuned!

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Wingman Wednesday

Rukiya Bernard

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Yes, we’re counting the days until wind chills are no longer a factor in our daily clothing choices and Nor’easters are Nor’more, but until then we’re embracing the sentimental glow of the season – warming ourselves at the foot of the fireplace, indulging in home-cooked comfort foods, and of course, settling in under a heavy blanket and watching Hallmark Channel’s Winterfest programming event.

Premiering Saturday on the network, “One Winter Weekend” tells the story of a surprise romance that develops between two unlikely people, played by Taylor Cole and Jack Turner, who find themselves double-booked and snowed in together while on their own individual weekend away in the mountains.

We recently sat down with “One Winter Weekend” star Rukiya Bernard to discuss her “One Winter Weekend” highlights, why her character’s story delivers a great message for women, and the crossover between the Hallmarkies and the Helsingers.

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked on multiple Hallmark Channel movies throughout the course of your career, the most recent being “One Winter Weekend.” Do you continue to return to the Hallmark Channel fold because of the people involved, because of the characters you get to portray, or a combination of both?
Bernard: I think it’s a combination of both. I enjoy doing lighthearted comedies and Hallmark gives me the chance to do that.

TrunkSpace: For the viewer, the end product – the completed film – is what becomes memorable, but for those who work on a project, there’s an entire experience involved. What for you were some of the highlights of your time on “One Winter Weekend?”
Bernard: There were a number of highlights in this movie such as eating fondue for work, figuring out how to do things while both hands were incapacitated and getting to know the cast. We’d go out after work whenever possible and it was great getting to know them.

TrunkSpace: When you first got a sense of who Megan was, what initially drew you in, and did you begin to enjoy different aspects of her personality as you spent more time with her?
Bernard: When I first got the role of Megan I enjoyed her free spiritedness, which contrasts nicely with her REALLY good work ethic. It’s maybe too good to her detriment. I enjoyed her playful side and that really drew me in.

TrunkSpace: What is Megan’s journey throughout the course of the film? Did you get to tackle something within the performance that you have yet to onscreen?
Bernard: Megan’s journey is one of learning to stand her ground and go after what she wants in life. I loved that aspect of her story. I think it’s a great message for women to hear – for everyone to hear, actually.

TrunkSpace: Hallmark Channel movies continue to grow in popularity and draw massive audiences week after week, season after season. As someone who has worked on multiple productions, what do you think the draw is?
Bernard: I think the draw is they are easy to watch and people know what to expect. They’re never going to make you uncomfortable and they’ll always put a smile on your face. Now more than ever, I think we need that and I think that’s a huge part as to why the numbers are increasing week to week.

TrunkSpace: As a star of “Van Helsing,” you’re no stranger to passionate fandoms. What we didn’t realize until we started really diving into Hallmark Channel content was that the films have their own really passionate fandoms called the “Hallmarkies.” In your experience, how do the Hallmarkies compare to some of the genre fandoms like what you have experienced firsthand with “Van Helsing?”
Bernard: You know what’s interesting is some of the Helsingers are Hallmarkies too! I was shocked to see the crossover when I started getting messages from fans. It makes me laugh as “Van Helsing” is a horror show – very dramatic and tragic with lots of blood and gore – it’s vampires! And then my Helsingers will change channels and enjoy a MOW I’m in with lightness and everlasting love and lots of fun shenanigans. I love it!

Photo: Rukiya Bernard, Taylor Cole Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Steven Ackerman

TrunkSpace: Speaking of fandoms, you have made two appearances on the series “Supernatural,” a show whose fan base continues to propel it forward, currently into its 13th season. You first guested in season 7, and just returned for season 13, playing two entirely different characters. What is it is like getting to play two characters within the canon of one popular series? Although not entirely rare in the “Supernatural” world, it is relatively rare in the industry as a whole, correct?
Bernard: Yes, it is rare to be invited back onto a show and I was honored that it happened. The SPN fans are super loyal too. It was fun playing both characters who were quite different in that, though both were counseling types (season 7 I played a fraudulent psychic and season 13 I played a grief counselor), the characters were very different and had different demises – I never died in the current season.

TrunkSpace: One of the great things about “Supernatural” is that from a storytelling standpoint, it’s this perfect mix of the fantastical and the relatable. In your season 13 episode, “The Big Empty,” you portrayed a shapeshifter who was dealing with some really heavy, human circumstances and emotions. That sort of perfectly sums up the unlimited potential of acting in terms of where you can go with the craft, does it not? Getting to play a “monster” who, in the end, is the victim, is a theme as old and as relatable as the story of Frankenstein, but at the same time, it’s not something you get to do while sitting in a cubicle at an office.
Bernard: (Laughter) Yeah, it’s not an average day at the office – though if you watch “Van Helsing,” my character Doc is a “monster” grappling with finding and proving her humanity again, so maybe it is another day at the office for me. I think the constant in all the characters I’ve played is that they are presented as one thing and through the journey they go on they endeavor to change. I love playing those characters because I think people need to see that it’s possible to change if you want to.

TrunkSpace: You have received both fan acclaim and critical praise for your work on “Van Helsing.” As you look back over your time on the series, what memories bring a smile to your face, both professionally and personally?
Bernard: I have many fond memories. “Van Helsing” is my first television series and I’m lucky that we’ve been picked up for a third season. When I think about my first few days on set, I was so nervous and was convinced that I was going to get fired, but I think back on those days now and they make me laugh. I also think about the friendships I’ve made and how lucky I am.

TrunkSpace: From what we read, your mother was an art store owner. Did you grow up in a creative environment where your own creative endeavors were supported and nurtured?
Bernard: You’ve done your research. Yes, my mom owned Toronto’s first African art store and though she wasn’t an artist she was a huge supporter of the arts and really helped encourage my artistic desires. Both my parents did. My dad was a graphic artist before becoming an entrepreneur and he’s a really good singer, too. I think I get my artsiness from him.

Bernard in Van Helsing. Photo by: Dan Power/Helsing S1 Productions/Syfy

TrunkSpace: Have your aspirations/goals changed from when you started out acting to where you are now?
Bernard: Not really. I just think my goals are more well-rounded because they now include my family and balancing my dreams and aspirations with my kids and my husband. We aim to support each other with the varying things we want to do in life.

TrunkSpace: We’re a few weeks into 2018. Did you set any resolutions for yourself in the new year and if so, how are you doing with them thus far?
Bernard: I didn’t set any resolutions. I kind of have a fear of them as they set you up for failure. However, I did decide to work out more even when I can’t get to the gym and have crafted workouts I can do at home and while I’m on the road. No excuses this year!

One Winter Weekend” premieres Saturday, January 20 (9 p.m. ET/PT) on Hallmark Channel.

Season 2 of “Van Helsing” arrives on Netflix today.

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Wingman Wednesday

Kim Rhodes

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Photo By: Travis Hodges

If you steer clear of people with yellow eyes, call your car Baby, or recognize the value of salt in places other than the kitchen, chances are good that you’re fan of the series “Supernatural.” And if you are, you know that the Winchester brothers have had their fair share of friends and family come into their lives throughout the course of the show’s first 13 seasons, though none have left an impact quite like Sheriff Jody Mills. Now the maternal ass-kicking ally, portrayed perfectly by Kim Rhodes, is on the verge of spearheading her own spinoff series, “Wayward Sisters,” which viewers will get a taste of tonight when “Supernatural” returns to The CW following its mid-season hiatus.

 

We recently sat down with Rhodes to discuss her “Supernatural” road so far, the power and magic of the fandom, and what she’s most excited to explore with Jody in the new series.

TrunkSpace: “The road so far…” is a popular phrase associated with the series. Could you have ever expected that your “Supernatural” road would lead you here today, on the verge of your own spin-off series, “Wayward Sisters?”
Rhodes: I was so grateful every single second on that set. It never occurred to me to wish for more. And then when people started whispering, “Wouldn’t this be a good spin-off? Wouldn’t this be…” like, in my darkest heart there was a tiny little flicker of, “Yes, please! Please! I want to do this forever!”

But really, no expectation. No belief. I am astonished and I have no idea how this happened, with the exception of a group of powerful, vibrant, unbelievably joyous fans that were like, “No, no, no. We’d like this. Look what we can do.”

TrunkSpace: Obviously the fandom is very strong, but to be able to have a creative say and help a network venture towards a particular idea or concept is a very rare thing.
Rhodes: I’ve never heard of it happening before. Ever. Now, “Supernatural” has a very unique relationship with its fans. I remember being on a different show, and they actually said, “You’re here because of your fandom. We want to know how to do that with our show too.” I was like, “You can’t.”

I think the magic of “Supernatural” and the relationship with the fans, it cannot be recreated, because you can’t tell people what to do. This is the other thing. The fans are all individuals. It’s not a hive mind. You can’t just feed it. It is not a foregone conclusion that this spinoff will go. Because you can’t just seed somebody something and say, “Here, we call this ‘Supernatural,’” and have them say, “Yes, we love this.” They’re smart. They’re opinionated. They’re vocal. And they’re powerful. And it all comes from different ways of expressing love for the show “Supernatural” and for themselves and their own relationships and place in that. It’s pretty miraculous.

TrunkSpace: And because of that, it is called the SPN Family for a reason. They’re not afraid to say what they love and they’re not afraid to speak up when they don’t love something, but even then, it comes from a place of love.
Rhodes: It is, in all aspects, a family. I was talking to somebody else and I was like, “You know, nobody pushes your buttons like your family because they installed them.” It’s very easy for fans to be passive in this world, because nothing’s expected of them. But the “Supernatural” fandom expects a lot of itself, and they are passionate. I love that. It makes me identify. I’m like, “Yep, you’re me, I’m you! Yes!”

TrunkSpace: We know creatively the table has been set for “Wayward Sisters” throughout the course of the season, but this week’s episode really serves to put viewers at that table. Are you experiencing any sort of nerves in terms of how it will be received by the fandom?
Rhodes: You know how Holly Hunter cried in “Broadcast News?”

Supernatural — “Wayward Sisters” — Pictured: Kim Rhodes as Jody Mills — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC All Rights Reserved

TrunkSpace: Yeah.
Rhodes: There you go. That’s me. I was fortunate enough to have four episodes on a completely different show, playing a completely different character. I’ve been on “Criminal Minds” for the last couple months, and it kept me distracted. Today is the first day I’m not on “Criminal Minds.” I was like, “Oh, maybe I’m not completely okay. Maybe I’m just repressing all of the terror and hope I’ve ever felt in my entire life that has culminated in this moment.” Yeah, that’s far more likely is that I’ve just been repressing it.

TrunkSpace: Would you say tonally that tonight’s episode of “Supernatural” is going to be representative of what “Wayward Sisters” will become?
Rhodes: Boy, I wish I could answer that. I don’t know. They haven’t told me anything because they know I don’t keep secrets well. That said, what is definitely indicative of everything they’ve said they want is how high the bar is set. We didn’t cut corners as actors. We didn’t cut corners with storytelling. It is brutal. The fights are hard, the work was tough. We trained, all of us, trained. Both physically and with weapons. The bar was set high. I can safely say that should this go to series, we will only keep raising the bar for ourselves. We want to exceed the fans’ expectations. And their expectations are pretty damn high.

TrunkSpace: That’s the thing. Sometimes expectations can be a blessing and a curse, because people are excited but at the same time they have their own set ways of what they envision something will be.
Rhodes: Yes. Now that is definitely something we are aware of. I had said before, I would like to say again, give it a chance. Just because you don’t see all of your expectations met in one episode doesn’t mean we aren’t laying the groundwork, particularly in terms of representation. “Wayward Sisters” has really opened up the number of voices and perspectives that the stories are being told from. Within that, if you don’t look at something and go, “Oh, well they forgot this…” Maybe not. You can’t eat the entire meal in the first bite.

TrunkSpace: Yeah, it’s not a movie. It’s not an hour and a half. It’s a long journey.
Rhodes: Yeah. And also, you’ve seen the episode so you know what I mean when I say there’s probably going to be a moment when the fans feel a little betrayed. When they’re going to be like, “Wait a minute, you did it again to us?”

TrunkSpace: Right.
Rhodes: Just hang on. And that’s going to be my motto for the entire journey, is just hang on. Just hang on. You think you know. You don’t know. Just hang on.

TrunkSpace: Obviously you’ve seen the character Jody grow over the course of your time on the series. What are you most excited about from a character’s journey in terms of what we could possibly see her go through over the course of her own series?
Rhodes: I am so excited to see Jody make some mistakes, and watch other people have to clean up her mess. Jody’s been pretty on-target so far, because that’s how she’s served the show. We know she’s made mistakes, but we haven’t needed to watch any of them because that wasn’t pushing the storyline of “Supernatural” forward. I would like to think that within “Wayward Sisters” Jody’s going to make mistakes. And she’s going to have to learn some stuff, which is hard as a senior member of a group. Because a lot of my identity as a person when I’m in a situation like that is, “Oh yeah, I got this. Let me tell you how to get this.” And Jody’s going to have to realize that she ain’t always got it and she’s going to have to learn from the girls around her. I’m looking forward to seeing what she learns from them.

Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC All Rights Reserved

TrunkSpace: Jody’s always been very supportive of Claire, Alex, and Patience in terms of them taking on the responsibilities of being Hunters, but as she becomes more invested in the group and as dangers increase, do you think she’ll have second thoughts about that?
Rhodes: I think that’s always going to be with her. I think that’s definitely a note to her, because she’s experienced loss at the hands of the supernatural. And really, nobody else has lost the kinds of things that she’s lost. Jody is the one who’s painfully aware of what’s at stake in this kind of life and so she’s always going to have to struggle to allow people to be who they need to be, to fight the fight that needs to be fought.

TrunkSpace: She’s taken these girls under her wing at a time when they needed her, but we would imagine that Jody needs them just as much, if not more given those holes left to be filled in her personal life?
Rhodes: Well, I also think for me, I prefer to phrase it not so much filling the hole – because those holes have unique shapes and nothing will ever fill them – but to remember that someone’s capacity to love, and I have personally experienced some pretty traumatic losses in my life, the loss will never be replaced. But the love continues to be expressed when I choose to love someone else. And love myself. I think that is something that Jody is aware of. She’s never going to replace her husband and her son. However, being of service and finding hope again is the best thing she can do for their memory. And those girls give her both of those things. She can love again, and she can hope again, because those girls are in her life.

TrunkSpace: Finally, Kim, you sort of touched on this at the start of our chat… how grateful you were to be on the set each and every time you got the call. Everybody we have spoken to who has been involved in the series or who has worked on the series, they all have that same point of view, which is that they genuinely love the experience and being a part of this universe. Having been in this industry for as long you have, is that rare? Because it seems pretty rare from an outside perspective.
Rhodes: Do you believe in love at first sight?

TrunkSpace: Actually, yeah.
Rhodes: Have you experienced it?

TrunkSpace: Yes.
Rhodes: That’s pretty fucking rare isn’t it?

TrunkSpace: It is.
Rhodes: It’s like that. It exists. People who have never experienced think it’s a myth. People who have experienced it know how precious it is and how rare it is. It’s magic.

Supernatural” returns tonight on The CW.

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Wingman Wednesday

Emily Swallow

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Photo By: The Riker Brothers

Most shows have a difficult time maintaining an audience for more than a few years, but with CW mainstay “Supernatural” currently in its 13th season and showing no signs of losing steam, it’s difficult to imagine a time where the Winchester brothers are not killing monsters and, as has been the case over the course of the series, being killed by monsters.

The strength of “Supernatural” goes beyond its stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki however. Yes, the series could not exist without them, but the dynamic demon-hunting duo would not be as engaging to an audience without a supporting cast of characters who not only define the in-series lore, but help reshape it even after more than a decade on the air.

Actress Emily Swallow did just that when she joined the series as Amara, God’s sister, in season 11. Her connection with Ackles’ character Dean both riled and excited fans and her very presence sent ripples throughout the fictional universe and lead to one of the biggest reveals in the history of the show, that the beloved reoccurring character Chuck (played by Rob Benedict) was in fact God, which was long hinted at by the writers and presumed by fans.

We recently sat down with Swallow to discuss her take on the “Supernatural” fan base, why she loves attending the conventions now that her storyline has (temporarily) buttoned up, and what her favorite stage acting experience has been to date.

TrunkSpace: You entered the “Supernatural” universe in a big way via a character who ends up becoming a part of the foundational lore of the series. How has the fandom, one that is extremely passionate about its characters and ongoing storyline, welcomed you into the SPN Family?
Swallow: I have never experienced a fandom that is so passionately protective of a show and its characters. Because of that, I was understandably greeted with a degree of skepticism from the fans, especially because I had googly eyes for Dean AND was causing a bit mayhem wherever I went. I remember Misha (Collins) telling me I should be prepared for the fans to hate me after the episode when Dean and Amara kissed! I was excited about Amara’s mission, though, and I hoped that, as her story unfolded, the fans would realize she was deeply hurt and misunderstood and that THAT was why she did the things she did. I found this to be true; because Amara ultimately needed what the other characters who are central to the show needed – love and family – the fans rejoiced for her when she and Chuck made up.

TrunkSpace: One of the great things about the series is that it’s a bit like a secret club. If you watch the show, you’re in. If you don’t, you may not even know that the show is still on the air. But the truly amazing part of that is that the cast seems to be a willing participant in that club. There’s a lot less separation between those who are on the show and those who are in the fandom than there is with other shows. Do you think that has helped keep the audience vested and engaged for what is now 13 seasons?
Swallow: Absolutely, but it goes both ways – everyone involved with the show is keenly aware that we owe a LOT to a fan base; without their active involvement, we might have run out of steam several seasons ago. It’s a very exciting thing to feel the energy from such an engaged audience. I have felt a similar passion from theater audiences, but this is new for me in television, and I LOVE it. It keeps us energized while we’re exploring the storylines and makes us even more excited to see what comes next.

TrunkSpace: Another really unique aspect of the show is that, even when cast members are absent from the series, they’re still engaged. Everyone we have ever spoken to who has appeared on the show has had the same experience… there’s nothing quite like it in terms of on-set atmosphere. Has that been your experience as well and what is the source of that universal feeling?
Swallow: It’s true! To be honest, I felt more involved with the show and the fans once I’d already shot my season. This was partly because I just didn’t get to work with many other actors until the end of my season (Amara led a pretty dang solitary existence), and partly because of the lag time between when I shot and when episodes aired. My involvement in conventions didn’t really start until I had finished Amara’s storyline. The conventions continue to surprise me. Some of my favorite actors to collaborate with at conventions didn’t even appear in my season of SPN, but I get to sing with them, play with them, improvise with them and match wits in a way that is SO much fun! The conventions also give me a chance to be myself with the fans – Amara is quite far from me in terms of my natural disposition and temperament (thank goodness), so it’s great that I can be super goofy and dorky. I think this all happens simply because there are a lot of actors who have been on the show who are generous, playful and silly and love the interaction that the conventions provide.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, what did Amara offer you that you hadn’t had a chance to experience before? Was there something about her personality, how she viewed the world, that made her interesting for you on a level that may be different from what fans saw in her?
Swallow: I LOVED what the writers gave me for Amara! To me, the most interesting exploration had to do with finding her very human vulnerability, and trying to connect to that place in her that isn’t immune to pain and fear and hope and dreams…while it was thrilling to embody such an epic character, in order to believe in my acting choices I had to tap into the humanity that the show’s writers are so gifted at bestowing on the characters. Early on, I decided that I would probably serve her much better if I focused on stillness and a steady focus rather than trying to SHOW her power. That made sense to me too because, since she’d been locked up for all of time, she had a LOT of information to try and take in from the world around her, so I let her be always watching and waiting until she was stirred to react to something. It makes me relieved when I hear fans talk about how conflicted they were about hating her. Even though she reacted in ways that were destructive, they often say they felt so sorry for her because she was alone and misunderstood. I hope that’s true for most viewers. To me, “evil” characters are most interesting because of the vulnerability and pain they are trying to cover up, and I think we can all relate to feeling lonely, confused, lost, not heard… I loved that about Amara.

© 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

TrunkSpace: You had some really great, meaty scenes with Dean (played by Jensen Ackles) and Lucifer (played, well, in season 11 it is a bit confusing) that went beyond dialogue and delivery. The facial expressions… longing and bitterness turned from emotions into physical representations… it was some really powerful acting. Did you get to go places with Amara that you never expected to when you signed up to play her?
Swallow: Absolutely! With Jensen, the scenes came rather organically; we knew from the beginning that they had a bond that neither of them could really explain or understand, and so we just committed to that and didn’t try to logic it out. There’s something freeing about that kind of primal connection and it meant that, even if we weren’t entirely clear on where their relationship was headed from episode to episode, that internal struggle was there. Plus, Jensen is such an honest, present actor that it’s impossible NOT to want to connect with him! As for my Lucifer scenes, I never got to work with Mark (Pellegrino), but rather dealt with Castiel-as-Lucifer. That was fun because Misha was having so much fun channeling Mark! With him, it was interesting because I felt like Amara’s treatment of Lucifer was less about Lucifer himself and more about trying to get God/Chuck’s attention, so it was almost as if I was trying to gauge what HIS reaction would be when I was talking to Lucifer or (more often) torturing him. I felt wonderfully supported in everything I tried for Amara, and that led to me feeling safe to go from joy to rage to hope to fear in a heartbeat. I have to thank all the actors I worked with for that!

TrunkSpace: It seems nobody is ever truly gone when it comes to the “Supernatural” universe. Amara is currently on a sabbatical with her younger brother God. As the Winchesters continue to get themselves into trouble, has there been discussion about if and/or when she will return?
Swallow: I sure hope so! For now, I think Chuck and Amara are traveling with their band and driving people crazy hogging the mic at karaoke nights. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You recently worked on the animated series “Castlevania.” Do you take a different approach to voice acting than you do your on-screen work? Is the character discovery/journey the same?
Swallow: The beginning of the process is the same; I still look first at the character’s wants, needs, hopes and fears and make decisions based on her circumstances in relation to that. But my experience recording VO has been in a sound booth with few or no other actors, so it is indeed very different! Much more of that is left up to the director and editors.

TrunkSpace: “Castlevania” is a property that has had a lot of people invested in it from the time that they were kids. Does that put extra pressure on those involved in a project when it automatically has a specific set of expectations from an existing fan base?
Swallow: Not really, because I know that, if I try to predict what people want, I’ll probably do horrible work that doesn’t really try anything bold! I know it’s impossible to please everyone, so I just try to stay true to my gut and what I connect to in any project, and then make sure I do a thorough exploration with the director and other actors. At the end of the day, I think people who truly love a project or certain pre-existing characters will appreciate that honest, heartfelt commitment more than any attempts at imitating a style or another performance of a role.

© 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

TrunkSpace: People say that television is the editor’s medium and that film is the director’s medium. In your opinion, is the stage where the most amount of emphasis is placed on performance?
Swallow: Absolutely. When I’m on stage, I have much more control over the character’s journey from beginning to end. To an extent, I can make the audience look wherever I want and I get to find the performance for THAT show in THAT moment, and I love the changes that can occur night to night because of that. When we walk onstage to do a performance, we are often aware of world events that may be on the audience’s mind that day, or the experience they had walking into the theatre, and that collective consciousness means, to some extent, we’re on a similar wavelength. We are all experiencing space and time together for a couple of hours. With anything recorded, that experience is entirely different; not only is the audience far removed in time from when the work was performed, but the editor is controlling the timing, the actors they’re looking at at any given moment, where commercial interruptions occur…as an actor, I have to operate with faith that what I’m exploring in the character will come through even if I don’t know how a scene will ultimately be presented.

TrunkSpace: What is the most memorable stage/house you’ve ever performed on/in and why has it stuck with you?
Swallow: My favorite show was “Nice Fish,” which I performed a few years ago at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. It is a play that Mark Rylance co-authored, co-directed and co-starred in. It was a HUGE joy to work on because it was a brand new play and we discovered some of the scenes through improvisation in rehearsals. We even had parts of the show that weren’t ever written down – we discovered them anew at every performance! Mark is such a generous and playful and trusting performer, and he gave me courage to risk failure and try things that frightened me. Plus, I got to play a Norse Goddess living in a sauna ice house on a frozen lake in the midwest! That whole rehearsal and performance process challenged me in such fun and exciting ways, and I loved my fellow actors. We had so much trust and love built up that we were able to make really thrilling discoveries in front of an audience.

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Wingman Wednesday

Todd Stashwick

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*Feature originally ran 5/22/17

Todd Stashwick has made a career out of playing interesting characters. Or, perhaps it’s that he has made characters more interesting by the choices he has made in playing them throughout his career. Either way, the Chicago native has been entertaining us for decades, perfectly walking the line between drama and comedy and turning out memorable roles in series like “The Riches,” “Heroes,” and “Gotham.” For the last three years, Stashwick has been playing Deacon, AKA “The Scav King,” on the post-apocalyptic time travel drama “12 Monkeys.” The series returned to Syfy this past weekend with the network opting to take a more binge-centric approach in releasing all 10 episodes of the season between Friday and Sunday.

We recently sat down with Stashwick to discuss making choices in a world ruled by time travel, getting to play a sociopathic Hans Solo, and what goes through the mind of a shapeshifter pretending to be Bela Legosi pretending to be Dracula.

TrunkSpace: Something needs to be said before we jump into the interview. You would have made a damn fine Negan on “The Walking Dead!”
Stashwick: You’re very kind to say. I think Jeffrey Dean Morgan is crushing it. By the time that they were casting the show, I was already The Scav King, so I already kind of had a post-apocalyptic badass role. And I’m thrilled with the arc that Deacon gets to follow over the seasons of the show. It’s been fascinating. Look, I’m a huge “The Walking Dead” fan and I’m flattered that people see me in that world because it’s certainly a great, ripe world to play in, but I’m very, very happy with my Scav King.

TrunkSpace: You mention Deacon’s arc. Time travel can be a tricky thing in storytelling, but at the same time, it sort of allows for an “anything is possible” approach. Has the direction that the writers have taken Deacon in surprised even you over the course of your time on the series?
Stashwick: They never cease to surprise and amaze me with how they spin these plates and it’s no less surprising with what they do with Deacon. They know what to do with this guy, we have amazing conversations about it, and I’m always thrilled and excited with every script they send me.

TrunkSpace: When you were starting out and discovering Deacon, did you have to be careful about the choices you were making knowing things could go anywhere?
Stashwick: You know, careful is never the way to approach an acting role, especially a role like Deacon. It’s actually the opposite. It’s about taking risks. It’s about being bold and surprising yourself. When I came on in season 1, he was very much an antagonist. I won’t say that he was a villain because obviously there were bigger fish to fry with The Messengers and The Witness and everything in season 1, but he was certainly an antagonist. But the way that Terry (Matalas) and the writers saw an energy with this guy and what I was bringing to the role, they wanted to explore deeper within the mythology of the show and with the dynamic of the team. In the shooting of the last episode of season 1 when I was up there, Terry said that he had a lot of ideas for Deacon in season 2 and that’s when they made me a series regular and started transitioning him out of straight up antagonist to sociopathic ally.

And then, once you have this character who is opportunistic and who is hard on the outside but soft on the inside, it gives a lot of opportunity mixing and matching his energy and his point of view with the different characters on the show. When he’s with Jones, because we are older characters, we have a different understanding of the apocalypse than when he is with Railly. When he’s with Cole, he certainly kind of sees his brother in him. And with Jennifer I think he sees a kindred. They both are outsiders and they both have survived in this harsh environment in unique and creative ways. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: That’s a great way of describing him… sociopathic ally, but at the same time, like you said, soft on the inside.
Stashwick: Well, he is a human being and that’s what I think is interesting about the character. Often when you get these antagonist roles, it’s easy to head right towards kind of smirking and villainous, but it’s more interesting to reveal his motivation… to reveal the pain that pushes these people. In many ways, Deacon saw himself as a hero and a leader because he kept 200 people alive in this wasteland.

TrunkSpace: Well, because at the end of the day, often times people who are acting in a certain way are still doing so because THEY think it’s the right approach to take.
Stashwick: Absolutely. And he also has the ability to say and see things that other people might not. He can be the canary in the coal mine. I love at the end of season 2 when we’re stuck on Titan and he’s talking to Jennifer and he’s like, “There’s a reason that they wanted us here. Let’s not stick around and find out!” He’s not blinded by the mission. He’s just trying to keep himself alive and the people… I don’t think he has this huge altruistic “let’s save the world” view. I think he has the “let’s all not die” view, and if he can save the world, well, if it stops the virus from happening in the past, then maybe all of the people that he loves won’t die. He sees the big picture but he lives very much within the confines of his own needs and reality and it’s the people that he cares about and what’s important to them. And what becomes important to him. I don’t think initially he has this “we need to stop the plague” thing. I think he grows to care for Railly and he obviously has a kindred with Cole and Jennifer. And so he’s like, “Let’s us not die!”

TrunkSpace: So in terms of how this season feels for you as far as the roll out is concerned… how different is it knowing that it will all be released over the course of the weekend? Does it shorten the high for you?
Stashwick: You know, it’s a different kind of high. It’s a little bit more like your birthday as opposed to Christmas. (Laughter) Because Christmas kind of lasts all month long and people are talking about it and gathering about it, singing about it and having parties throughout the month of December all leading up to the big climax. This is like, you might have a crazy birthday weekend. So it’s a lot more intense and it’s a lot all at once and you just sort of surround yourself with people that mean the most to you and everybody raises their glass. I think this roll out is… I’ve seen it. And I’ve seen it in two binge worthy chunks. I saw the first half of season 3, all five episodes, in one sitting. And then last weekend we watched the last five episodes. I’ve got to tell you, it plays like a roller coaster feature film. It really moves and moves and moves. It has movement and energy and it propels itself. I think the ability to binge it… and you don’t have to binge it. People can just DVR it and nibble on it a little bit at a time if they want. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: What’s really cool as well is that the way that Syfy is rolling this season out, it could change the way that other networks approach releasing their shows. It could be a game changer.
Stashwick: Yeah. And it’s interesting because something has to be on the air. Rather than us being every Monday night at 9:00 or every Friday night at 9:00, the fact that we’re giving it to you through a weekend is a little more Netflixy. I think the fan engagement is going to be different because they’re not going to be speculating between episodes. There will be a lot more frenzy, as if it’s like a bender. (Laughter) I think the hardcore fans are going to actually lock in and go on the ride for the three days. And… Terry and the writers have outdone themselves. We are so lucky to get to say these words and play these parts. And the team… from the crew to the special effects to the score… everybody is bringing their A game and I am so fortunate to work with this cast of people. I said to Terry, “I will feel bad for the show that I have to do after ‘12 Monkeys’ because it’s been such an amazing experience.” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: We also read that you’re a lifelong fanboy, so just being able to play in this science fiction/genre sandbox must be an exciting thing for you?
Stashwick: Oh you have no idea! Growing up, wanting to be Hans Solo and then Terry pitching Deacon in season 2 as a sociopathic Hans Solo… I’m like, “It’s like you read my dream journal!” The thing about Deacon is that they really gave me all of the notes to play. They gave me the vulnerability. They gave me the badass-ness. They gave me the heroic. They gave me the sarcastic. They gave me the laconic. The wounded. I get to do it all and that’s a rare and wonderful thing… in a genre that I consume veraciously. And I get to work with people that I’ve admired through the years from Battlestar and Christopher Lloyd is on our show. It’s just been such a bucket list of joy for me on so many levels. Like I said, it will be a hard thing to finish, but I’m glad that we get to finish it on our terms.

TrunkSpace: If you were given a blank check to develop any property what would fanboy Todd put on the slate?
Stashwick: Wow. Interesting. You know, I have ideas, pilots and things, that I have written that I would love to see developed, but if I was going to adapt I would love to adapt two different projects. I would love to adapt Shane Black’s “The Nice Guys” into a TV series. I would love to play the Russell Crow role in that. I would like to do an adaptation of “The Cell” and play the Vince Vaughan role. I think there’s something really interesting about the mythology of “The Cell.” And, I would love to… I have a really cool…

You know, I’m not going to tell you that idea. (Laughter) I’m going to keep this last one for myself because I think there’s something interesting and fun about it.

I also have original ideas for series. I wrote a web-comic called “Devil Inside” about the devil quitting hell and going on the run in the Nevada desert. And so I would love to adapt that into a series.

TrunkSpace: There’s one show that has an amazing fandom and you touched down on it in a major way years ago, playing the ultimate fan character. That show is “Supernatural.” That character is Dracula. Well, sort of.
Stashwick: Super rewarding and fascinating to have to deconstruct something another actor did and one that is so beloved and intimidated trying to get to the heart of Legosi’s theatricality meeting with his pathos. And then to have that character flip and see the scared man/shapeshifter that was choosing this image… there was a lot of meat on that bone. There was a lot of blood in that neck.

Stashwick as Dracula in SUPERNATURAL on The CW.
Photo: Sergei Bachlakov/The CW
©2008 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TrunkSpace: There were just so many layers to him that it feels like there was so much more to learn when all was said and done.
Stashwick: Well, where’s the fun in playing something one-dimensional? And that’s also a testament to the writers. They wrote those speeches where he was talking about his abusive father or talking about just wanting to feel important and majestic. Elegant.

As an actor, you get a few of these really good ones. I came from a comedy background but then I also had a theater background, so when I was in college I was doing some Molière and Shakespeare and all of that. And then I was a Second City sketch comedy guy. And then the fact that I’m six foot two with dark circles around my eyes and this weird voice that comes out of my head… it gave me access to really left-of-center roles that I could, no pun intended, sink my teeth into.

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Wingman Wednesday

Osric Chau

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Photo By: cemitchellphoto

* Feature originally ran 5/18/17

It is not often that someone can be so profoundly affected by a job that it not only changes their life, but their outlook on it as well. For actor Osric Chau, the role of Kevin Tran in the long-running series “Supernatural” did just that. He holds the fandom up on such a high pedestal and doles out gratitude like fruit-flavored candies from a Dean Winchester PEZ dispenser, making his appreciation for his place in the “Supernatural” universe an infectious component of his natural charm.

Now starring in “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency,” Chau is roaring forward in his career, currently in the midst of filming season 2 of the BBC America series while also appearing in the recently-released comedic action film “Boone: The Bounty Hunter.”

We sat down with Chau to discuss getting to smash things for a living, Hollywood’s grasp on audience diversity, and the impact of “Supernatural” on his life.

TrunkSpace: “Boone: The Bounty Hunter” was released last week. As someone who dreamed of being a stunt professional as a kid, we have to imagine an action flick like that is right in your wheelhouse?
Chau: Oh, it was so much fun. I didn’t get to do much stunts. It was almost all John Hennigan, who was the lead in it. He is incredible. Just being around that kind of energy… I was so blessed to watch these performers do their thing. It was a very enjoyable experience for me.

TrunkSpace: There were also a lot of action hero legends making appearances, which had to be pretty exciting.
Chau: Yeah. I knew everyone that was doing a cameo in it, which was really cool. To have those performers who are so well versed in film or action or anything really… it was cool to know everyone who was coming on set.

TrunkSpace: It was also recently announced that you were upped to a series regular on “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.” Was that expected?
Chau: I mean, I had an idea, but you never know. They always change their minds, but for the most part, I kind of had an idea that they were going to go a little bit bigger with my character next season. And when they finally did it, there was still a long wait because they had to get the network and the studio to approve it. And they did. I’m super excited to be on in such a capacity for season 2 because it’s such a fun show. I’m really excited. I start next week.

TrunkSpace: We know that you can’t give too much away, but do you have any idea where we’ll see your character Vogle go in terms of a story arc?
Chau: So we ended last season with me running off with Amanda, so in terms of the specifics I cannot go into too much, but I do get to talk a lot more. I think in season 1 I just ran around yelling and smashing things. This season I actually have conversations. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Running around and smashing things must be good for getting some internal frustrations out? (Laughter)
Chau: Oh my God. It’s incredible. (Laughter) Season 1 was such a dream. To be able to show up and just destroy everything? Like, that’s your job? How insane is that? It’s a dream come true. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: The way we consume media continues to change at a breakneck pace and both “Boone: The Bounty Hunter” and “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” are prime examples of how unique, quality content can find a home and find an audience in places that, ten years ago, wouldn’t have been possible. Have you been able to see that change in the industry happen from the inside and from an actor’s perspective?
Chau: Well, from the perspective of a minority actor, it mostly definitely has. Even a decade ago, I wouldn’t have been up for any lead roles. It wouldn’t even be a consideration I don’t think. Obviously experience is one thing, but there weren’t that many non-Caucasian leading roles back then. Even now, they’re few and far between, but at least they exist and they’re starting to come in as studios and distributors and everyone start to realize audiences have all types of representation. Just being in this new era, you definitely see more open ethnicity and they’re just looking for the best actors. Of course they have to find a good balance for everything, but I’ve gotten the chance to audition for characters that are not just specifically Asian. And that’s kind of all I wanted to do when I was growing up. I just wanted to play a person. I don’t want to play a Chinese person. I just want to play a person that has nothing to do with his race. Of course that’s like a flavor, but that doesn’t have to be the thing.

TrunkSpace: It’s hard to imagine that just a few decades ago, most notably in the 80s, many minority characters were used as a punchline and not really presented as people with layers.
Chau: Yeah. Part of that is also because there is more representation and people have more to draw from. Not everyone will be able to relate to… with most people, you’re just unable to relate to everyone from all backgrounds and ethnicities. It’s just impossible to know all of that. So where do you draw it from? Usually if you’re trying to write a character and you don’t know anything, you either take the time to research or like most people, you don’t take the time to because it takes a lot of work, and you just write based on what you know, which happens to be what is already out there in TV and movies. So, it ends up being this cycle of if you see one stereotype you’re just going to reinforce that stereotype and someone else is going to reinforce it based off of the thing that you made.

Osric Chau as Vogle in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency © BBC America

We’ve gotten to the point where, with more and more actors… like, if I see a character that has an accent for no other reason than for just being the butt of a joke, I just won’t audition for it. I think more and more actors are starting to do that. It’s not an easy career, so I still understand that some people will have to just do it to pay the rent, so I’m not looking down on them or anything, but I think more and more people are starting to voice their opinions with, “Hey, this is not okay. It can still be funny without them having an accent. There’s a better angle to go after than that.”

TrunkSpace: Is part of that also making sure that those who are making the decisions high atop the Hollywood food chain also are representative of every ethnicity and background?
Chau: For sure. It’s happening already. There are a lot of Asian and minority executives, but even then, they don’t have the final say. It all comes down to the numbers and it always comes back to the consumers. What are they watching? What are they paying tickets for? If we as a community start paying for minority faces on screen, then at some point the decision makers are going to buy those products and the people who get to put those products together will realize and then they’ll do more. There have been instances where Asian American executives have to whitewash characters and maybe they didn’t want to but they felt that their hands were tied by whatever other outside forces. I think it’s all going to come together in a couple of years. I think we’re headed in the right direction.

TrunkSpace: One would imagine that social media is going to come into play with that as well.
Chau: Yeah. There’s also that. There’s a lot of metrics now… a lot of quantifiable numbers that we can show. That definitely helps to dispel all of the myths. And women have had that for… I mean, they still have it. For the longest time they’d say that women couldn’t lead movies. They represent HALF the population. More than half of the population. And to say that they can’t lead movies is just ridiculous. In fact, I think numbers have shown that they’re doing better than a lot of male leading films.

TrunkSpace: “Supernatural” is a show that does both drama and comedy really well. Do you think having appeared on the show and portraying Kevin enabled you to show off various sides of yourself as an actor?
Chau: Oh, the arc that Kevin went through… I’ve never had a chance to play a character who has gone through so many changes and it’s been really, really fun. Kevin hasn’t really had that many comedic moments for the most part. He’s always been in the meat of the story, so he has been at the height of pretty much every dramatic moment, but, yeah… it is such a fun role to play and one of the few minority characters on that show. But, they’re starting to be aware of that and they’re getting better. But yeah, with ‘Supernatural,” the cast, the crew, the fanbase… they’ve been incredible through and through.

Supernatural — “Holy Terror” — Image SN909a_0202 — Pictured: Osric Chau as Kevin — Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW — © 2013 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

TrunkSpace: What is great about Kevin is just how important he became to the overall mythology and universe. Even his death has a lasting impact on the characters in such a way that it’s still being carried forward. Did you ever have any sense that Kevin would be a character who would leave such a lasting impact?
Chau: Oh, absolutely not. I originally turned it down because it was only two episodes and I was going to die in the second one and I got another offer from another show. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Wow!
Chau: Yeah. It was such a crazy time. I originally turned it down and turns out that both shows were with the same business affairs person and they were just like, “We don’t want to lose an actor to our own shows.” So they made it work and the other show didn’t end up going and “Supernatural” changed my life. Sometimes things just work out and that was one of those times.

TrunkSpace: Life certainly moves in a direction that you can never plan for.
Chau: Exactly. I am very thankful for the way it worked out. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: And you must still feel the impact from the fanbase to this day?
Chau: Yeah. The fans have changed my life… really flipped it on its head. One, I’ve never been so active on social media. I mean, I’m not that active, but I’ve never been this active on social media ever. I’ve never been so aware of so many different types of people. They’ve really helped me empathize and sympathize with all walks of life. That’s one thing that I’ll always thank the “Supernatural” community and fandom for is that, for the most part, I’ve just kind of gone through life thinking about myself and this was one of the first times where I was like, “There is a better, less selfish way to live this life.” I’ve really tried reaching back out, just to try and thank them, and the more I do it the more I enjoy it and the more I want to do it. So almost everything that I try to do nowadays is for a greater purpose than just myself, which is nice for a change.

TrunkSpace: It’s so funny to hear you say that because it just seems like everyone who has been involved in that show is so thankful and appreciative to have been a part of it. It’s a really rare thing.
Chau: Because for most of us, we’re still working actors. There’s no guarantee for our future and there isn’t for most people, and so we’re so thankful of not only being able to work, but having the fandom… they’ve changed every single one of our lives and we never expected it. It takes a really special person to say, “Oh, what is this garbage?” No, we appreciate it so much and for a lot of us, we want to reciprocate. We want to thank everyone and we don’t know how. So of course we have to appreciate it because turning your back on that is crazy and not wanting to thank the people who have kind of taken you to this place is… to me that’s crazy too. It’s just a form of appreciation of how we got here and I wouldn’t be here without this fandom.

TrunkSpace: It sounds like the fandom changed your life more than the show itself?
Chau: Yeah. I will argue most definitely that. The fandom is… it’s the engine of the show. The show would have gotten canceled numerous times by now if it weren’t for the outpouring of support from the fans. They keep the show going. They keep the actors going. They keep the crew going. There really is a “Supernatural” family. I thought it was just a word you said at the beginning, but it really feels like that. Every time I go back on that set, it feels like that. Yeah, it’s a really strange thing and I really hope Dirk Gently’s will kind of have that same type of feel, but there’s no guarantee because I’ve never experienced anything like that before.

Featured Image Credits:
Photographer: Diana Ragland
Groomer: Nikki Deroest
Wardrobe Stylist: Yesenia Cuevas

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Wingman Wednesday

Elise Gatien

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Photo By: Michael Mazur

When a fun, entertaining show has a difficult time finding an audience, it can be depressing for viewers who are anticipating the continuation of the series for many seasons to come. An underrated episodic gem also limits the widespread appreciation of an actor or actress who left a mark on the series by delivering a memorable performance worthy of a pop culture gold star.

For all of us here at TrunkSpace, “Ghost Wars” is currently that show in need of more eyeballs and Canadian-born Elise Gatien is the actress worthy of more praise. As Maggie Rennie in the dramatic Syfy series, Gatien captures an emotionally-tortured character in such a beautiful and powerful way, adding her own individual layer to the already-multilayered horror fest.

We recently sat down with Gatien to discuss how she almost didn’t accept the role of Maggie, why she considered walking away from acting altogether, and what advice from the set of her first project helped her to realize her calling in life.

TrunkSpace: The end product of a series or film tends to be what’s memorable for a viewer, but for those who work on them, the experience probably ends up being more profound. What was your experience on “Ghost Wars” like?
Gatien: “Ghost Wars” was really fun. I was at kind of a strange point in my career. I lost my dad a while ago and was just kind of at a crossroads in my life. I almost didn’t take the show, but I ended up taking it. It was the first time in a long time that I had a character that I felt challenged me. I felt like everyone on set challenged me, and it kind of reminded me why I’m an actor, and why I love it so much. It was exactly what I needed at that point in my life. It was an amazing experience. It changed my life for the better, for sure.

TrunkSpace: Was that crossroads one that had you looking at the possibly of walking away from acting as a career?
Gatien: Yeah. I think I was just looking at family, and friends, and just trying to put what was important in my life into perspective. A few of the roles that I had most recently done with acting were on shows that I wasn’t really passionate about, and didn’t feel like they challenged me. I was kind of falling out of love with acting. “Ghost Wars” has been a really nice stepping stone. All of the roles that I’ve had since then are all things that I’m extremely proud of, and shows the kind of characters that I wanted to play. I just feel like it was definitely a crossroads for me. It took me in the direction that I wanted.

TrunkSpace: It sounds like in a lot of ways, “Ghost Wars” was sort of a catalyst for you rediscovering that spark?
Gatien: Yeah, for sure. Every actor, every writer, the creator, Simon Barry, all the directors… everyone was just passionate about what they were doing, and had a vision. It was really a collaborative effort to tell this story. It was refreshing to have a group of people that passionate, and not just throwing something together to make a buck. Everyone was doing it because they were passionate about it, and they wanted to make something cool and interesting. They wanted to tell the story to the best of their ability. That’s why I want to be an actor.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned how Maggie was the first character who you felt has challenged you as an actor for some time. What excited you most about her when you first discovered her on the page?
Gatien: She kind of seems like this tough, sarcastic, nothing-really-bothers-her kind of girl, but she’s also in this heartbreaking, fragile position, where, I don’t know if I’m really supposed to say this but this episode has come on in the States, so I guess I’m allowed to say it, but my character, Maggie, is a ghost. She is trying so desperately to connect. The only person that she can get through to is Roman. That’s her only friend. To be in a relationship as a young, 20-something girl, and you can’t touch this person, and this person has the whole world, but they’re your only contact, it’s such a fragile position to be in. To bring that vulnerability, and that delicateness to her, but also still have this strong, tough side, that Maggie has been through a lot… for me, it was finding that balance. It was a challenge, but it was fun to be able to bring out her strong side, and her vulnerable side.

TrunkSpace: Is there something particularly rewarding about getting the chance to spend an extended period of time with a single character as opposed to something like a film where you know exactly what your character’s beginning, middle, and end is?
Gatien: Yeah, it is, because so often as an actor, you get attached to these characters that you get to play, and there’s so many different places that you want to take them and then it’s just over. It’s a couple of weeks, and then it’s over, and you feel like… I don’t know, that you might have a revelation a couple of weeks later like, “I feel like this should have been brought into my character.” It’s like making soup, you just keep adding more, and more, and more ingredients, and it just gets better, and better.

We shot “Ghost Wars” out of order. There were a couple of later episodes that we shot earlier on. To look at what was happening in those episodes, and then be able to bring that into the previous episodes that we shot afterwards, that was kind of fun because so often, you get a script a week before you’re going to start shooting it. We had a few more scripts so we were able to bring more to those earlier scripts, I think.

Gatien with Avan Jogia in “Ghost Wars”

TrunkSpace: When you’re shooting out of order like that, does it force you to look at early choices that you might make for the character and realize that, continuity-wise, some things have not been set up in the story yet?
Gatien: There’s pros and cons to shooting out of order, I think. I think sometimes it can be a little bit overwhelming, because you’re looking at this bigger picture, where usually, you’re kind of taking it day by day. But the pro is, like I was saying, you know where you’re going to end up. With that knowledge, it’s kind of cool to find different ways to get there. You make choices that you might not have been able to make, if you hadn’t had that information.

TrunkSpace: “Ghost Wars” is a show that we all feel here at TrunkSpace is vastly underrated. Not only is there so much content available for viewers now, but there’s so much great content. Do you feel like there’s a downside to this Golden Age of Television in that, it is more difficult for great shows to be found?
Gatien: Yeah, I think there’s so many great things out there, that a lot of great shows kind of get lost in the mix. It’s heartbreaking to see that happen. But it’s also so exciting that there is all of that great material out there. Sometimes things might not get found in their first, second, or third episodes, but it might by the end of the first season, or the second season, and all of the sudden, people start catching on… people start talking about it and they do get found. But there are some shows that, unfortunately, I feel don’t get the praise that they deserve until afterwards. Like “Freaks and Greeks.” One season? Come on!

Photo By: Alan Chan

Hopefully we’ll get a second season, and by the second season, more and more people will be talking about it. I’m excited for when it hits Netflix. I think that will be really huge. I think there are a lot of people nowadays that don’t have television, and they just watch Netflix. I think Netflix is such a great platform. People are always on there, looking for the next thing, so I think we’ll find our following.

TrunkSpace: We read that you first began performing as a four-year-old. When did you decide to take that passion and make a career out of it?
Gatien: I was a dancer when I was young. I wasn’t an actor. I didn’t get into acting until, I think I was around 16. It kind of happened accidentally. I started out just doing commercials and used to be deathly shy. I couldn’t even look someone in the eye when I was having a conversation. My agent kind of kept pushing me to go to some acting classes, and maybe start going for some TV and film. So I went to an acting class and I did a scene from “Girl, Interrupted.” I’ll never forget it. There was just this addicting feeling that I got, and I haven’t looked back since. I was like, “Send me to more! Send me to more! Send me to more!”

From the second I did that, I didn’t necessarily think that I could make a career out of it, but I knew that that’s what I wanted to make a career out of. I knew that that was going to make me happy. I did a film called “The Obsession.” It was terrible and cheesy, but it was my first role. Daphne Zuniga, she said to me on set, she was like, “Acting is a tough business. If there’s anything that you can think of that will make you happy, do that. But if there isn’t, then be an actor.”

I’ve sat so many times and have been like, “Okay, what logically could I do with my life, because this is kind of crazy?” There’s just nothing that gets me excited like acting. It is something where I’m excited to go to work, and I’m happy when I’m there. Yeah, there are exhausting days, and hard days – every day isn’t puppies and cupcakes – but I love it. It’s really satisfying to me and I feel good at the end of the day.

Ghost Wars” airs Thursdays on Syfy.

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