The Featured Presentation

Henri Esteve


With a tremendous fan base that cares deeply about its characters, Freeform’s Grown-ish continues to grow into its own creative skin, developing long-form storytelling that viewers tune in for both on the network and on Hulu, which airs episodes the following day. As Javier, Miami-born Henri Esteve is a part of that magical mix, though he has his sights set on so much more in the industry, which we were happy to break down with him in our latest seven question session.

Featured Image By: Emily Knecht

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The Featured Presentation

Sherry Cola

Photo By: Storm Santos

Although an urge to make people laugh has always been front and center for Sherry Cola, the comedian-turned-actress feels spoiled to have been able to venture into drama as one of the stars of the Freeform series Good Trouble. Not only has it been a career-changer for the multi-hyphenate, but being on set has helped to shape her future industry goals because she has been able to absorb the creative energy from the many talented actors and directors she has worked alongside of.

Before Good Trouble, I was squeezing rubber chickens and squirting water out of a flower,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Cola to discuss her character journey, social media synergy, and why you have to put in the hours to get better at stand-up comedy.

TrunkSpace: Chicken or the egg question. You wear a lot of hats in the entertainment industry, from actress to writer to comedian, but what was the springboard for sending you down this path? Which platform cemented your love for a creative career?
Cola: I LOVE HATS. Life’s too short for just one hat, ya know? I’d say my comedian side was the loudest from day one. In high school, I hosted talent shows and created funny videos in film club. Making people laugh has always been my #1 passion. From doing radio to doing stand-up, and everything in between, my sense of humor is old faithful.

TrunkSpace: You’ve spent nearly 30 episodes playing Alice on Good Trouble in the life of the series thus far. What is it like spending that much time with one character? At what point in the process do you start to feel like you know her as well as yourself?
Cola: It’s been such a fun journey, portraying the adorable and apologetic Alice Kwan. I love discovering things about her, as if she’s a real person. In the beginning, I thought Sherry and Alice were practically synonymous – but the deeper I dug and the more I explored, I found new qualities in Alice that actually set us apart. It’s super cool being on a TV show and getting to spend so much time with a character. She’s a major part of me now. I can just turn Sherry off and turn Alice on. It comes so organically, to the point where I can actually improvise as Alice, in her sweet little nervous nature. It’s a treat.

TrunkSpace: In a day and age when viewers can not only react in real time, but interact in real time as well, what is it like being on a series that has such a big social media following? Is it odd to see how a particular storyline is perceived WHILE a show is airing for the first time?
Cola: Social media is a blessing and a curse, but I can’t get enough. I do enjoy tweeting with our dedicated viewers. It’s nice to be accessible and do an “ask me anything” online just to keep it spicy. A little goes a long way. It’s honestly exhilarating to see fans react to our show. Goosebumps, I tell ya!

TrunkSpace: Where has Good Trouble impacted your life the most? How has it altered your path?
Cola: I love that our show reflects on important social issues. We’re not afraid to speak up. Being on Good Trouble has opened my eyes more and more to Black Lives Matter, gentrification, trans rights, etc. On top of that, I’ve felt really empowered to represent my queer Asian community. It’s all about opening minds and starting conversations on how important it is to feel seen, and how a character like Alice has been invisible for years. I hope to continue making an impact in all of my work. These cheekbones won’t be ignored any longer!

TrunkSpace: For fans, the final product of a film or series is always the most memorable part, but for those involved in a project, we’d imagine it goes much deeper than that. For you, what is something about your time working on Good Trouble thus far that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Cola: It’s dope that I got to dip my toe into drama. Before Good Trouble, I was squeezing rubber chickens and squirting water out of a flower. Another perk is constantly observing directors, studying our scripts and absorbing creative energy from my fellow castmates. Things like that stick with you and ultimately benefit your career. Being on this show has taught me many lessons and tricks, and I’m grateful for that. I’m spoiled.

TrunkSpace: As far as your stand-up career is concerned, was comedy always in the cards? Were you a “funny” kid, even at an early age?
Cola: I was voted “funniest” in marching band, “most spirited” in pep squad, and “most outgoing” in my senior yearbook. At a young age, you could count on me to say the darnest things. I’m not sure if I was born an extrovert, but I sort of found my voice in high school and I ran with it. I did “bits” in class and those class clown moments were such a thrill. I knew that this was my calling!

Photo By: Storm Santos

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to pursue stand-up comedy and did you make a plan for how you would attack things?
Cola: There’s no plan, exactly. Even now, I’m kinda going with the flow with a bunch of short-term goals. Stand-up isn’t overnight. With acting, you might book your first role ever and that immediately changes your life. With stand-up, you gotta put in those hours. There’s no faking it. I finally did stand-up officially (not counting the dabbles in high school) when a co-worker of mine at the radio station put on a comedy show. Everyone knew it was at least a bucket list sitch for me, so my boss convinced me to do it. The rest was history. That was March of 2016. Now I’m still doin’ the damn thing, grinding and getting better at my craft every day!

TrunkSpace: What is your most memorable stand-up performance experience (good or bad!) that will stick with you and why?
Cola: I recently opened for Ronny Chieng’s Netflix special taping and that was one for the books. It was a legit theater, so it was my biggest audience to date. All the Asians seriously showed up and came to support. I felt so proud to perform in front of my community and see their faces light up. People I’m inspired by, like Randall Park, were giving me compliments backstage. What a dream.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career as a whole thus far?
Cola: There’s been lots of epic moments. I’ll say that working with Jon M. Chu is up there. He directed the pilot of Good Trouble and it was a huge deal for me. This was before Crazy Rich Asians even hit theaters, but it was so highly anticipated. My mom still brags to her friends and shows them photos I took with Jon. I can’t wait to hopefully work with him again!

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Cola: Tough one! I often say “ignorance is bliss” so let’s just stay in the present and find out what happens when I get there in 10 years. (Laughter)

Good Trouble airs on Freeform.

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The Featured Presentation

Adam Faison

Photo By: Brett Erickson

While the Freeform series Everything’s Gonna Be Okay is impacting viewers on a weekly basis, it has also left its mark on star Adam Faison, who, because of his time playing Alex, has been able to put a lot of his own life in perspective.

I think this show opened my eyes a lot to accepting the place that you are at in life and loving who you are in this moment,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Faison to discuss his connection to the series, ghost hunting with costar Kayla Cromer, and why poetry helps him find calm in the chaos.

TrunkSpace: You had a lot of heavy emotional experiences going on in your life when you started your journey with Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, some of which paralleled the narrative of the show. In a way, did the work – being on set – serve as a welcome distraction, and through that, do you feel like you have an even more personal connection to the series/work?
Faison: Yes, so I’ve been pretty open with sharing that before filming, my mom was diagnosed with cancer much like Nicholas’ dad is in the show. So, there was that personal connection. But I also felt a huge connection with the autism storylines in the series. Pretty much all throughout my mom’s adult life, she has been working with kids with special needs, so as a result I was exposed to kids with different abilities from a young age. Her department was called the “Inclusion Department” because it created an equal environment where kids with special needs were included in camp activities with neurnerotypical kids. It was an environment that was really combating ableism. And growing up seeing that, really had an impact on me and was something that made this project particularly so resonant for me. If we get another season, I’m going to try to get one of my childhood friends from camp, Matthew, onto the show as a background actor because all of characters on the show with autism are authentically cast, which is really special.

TrunkSpace: With those parallels present, do you feel like it helped you connect and understand Alex in a way that would have taken you more time with another character or another storyline?
Faison: I think that having a lot of friends on the spectrum growing up led to me having a really instant connection with Kayla (Cromer). We would FaceTime every Sunday and rehearse lines together and we would connect on our love of true crime (Mindhunter in particular), SVU, the paranormal and our crushes (Matthew Gray Gubler will always be her number one).

I remember there was one time we were hanging on set and I told her I might have spotted “an entity” in the rafters of our sound stage and she planned to bust out the ghost hunting equipment the next day. (Laughter) We just had some really fun times together and a really strong bond – I mean like, we call each other brother and sister – and I can’t help but think that made for an ever richer relationship on screen.

TrunkSpace: As a whole, where has Everything’s Gonna Be Okay impacted your life the most? How has it altered your path?
Faison: I think this show opened my eyes a lot to accepting the place that you are at in life and loving who you are in this moment. I think Alex is such a free and unabashedly happy person and me, as Adam, can struggle with that at times just because I have grown up so much of my life being told by people that who I am was too much. So, in a way, Alex feels a bit like the free, uninhibited version of myself when I was younger. Before all of that codeswitching.

TrunkSpace: The best art is always the kind that is saying something – doing more that just entertaining. The kind that leaves the audience, perhaps, thinking about something in a different way than when they began their journey. Do you feel like Everything’s Gonna Be Okay is that show, and what do you hope fans get out of it other than a momentary escape?
Faison: I think it’s really combating stereotypes in that it’s just depicting humans who are living their lives like everyone else. And I think anyone can relate to that. For example, take my dad: he’s a reserved military guy in his 60s and doesn’t exactly fit the demographic of this show. So, when he came to an early screening of the show, I’ll admit I was little nervous to hear what he might think. But after the screening ended, he actually stood up during the Q&A and he said, “At first, I didn’t really know why I enjoyed this show, but I think it’s about human connection. It’s got a lot of heart.” And I hope that’s what a lot of others see as well. This idea that although we may be different in our presenting identities, in the end, we are all just humans with the same basic needs.

TrunkSpace: For fans, the final product of a film or series is always the most memorable part, but for those involved in a project, we’d imagine it goes much deeper than that. For you, what is something about your time working on Everything’s Gonna Be Okay thus far that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Faison: I guess, that sometimes life throws you curve balls but nothing is insurmountable. This message rings true in many facets of the show, but in particular I felt this in the relationship between Alex and Nicholas (played by Josh Thomas). Like, going into the season (and kind of throughout, actually), Nicholas has some real baggage he is dealing with, and many potential suitors might have shied away from him. And yet, the character of Alex really meets Nicholas halfway with where he’s at in his life. I think this was particularly inspiring to me personally, in this age of these never-ending dating apps, where it feels like there is no accountability in relationships because everybody is making these fleeting, transactional connections. So conversely, it felt very refreshing to see this couple make a deeply meaningful connection, and it encouraged me to look for something like that in my own life.

TrunkSpace: You write poetry. Is that creative outlet a way for you to work through and understand thoughts and emotions that, perhaps, you wouldn’t be able to gain personal insight on if you didn’t take pen in hand?
Faison: Definitely. What’s amazing about poetry is that I feel I can express what I want to say with no end result. It’s just for me (and for any others whom may connect with it). When I write, it feels like a real catharsis to work through all the levels of emotion that I’m feeling.

For example, sometimes at night, I’m flooded with all of these thoughts gnawing at my brain and it really helps that I can concretize them and expound them into this new form, because it makes them not feel so overwhelming. Poetry helps me find calm in the chaos.

Photo By: Brett Erickson

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an actor and how do you overcome those self-critical insecurities?
Faison: So I’m getting better at dealing with this, but I tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to getting the lines right. In the past, I’ve been a pretty horrible memorizer, and if I know some words are off, I feel like I tend to hyper focus on them. However, I’ve gotten better about first seeing the bigger picture of what’s happening in the scene/ monologue so that it doesn’t feel so daunting.

TrunkSpace: If you could sit down and have a conversation with your 16-year-old self, would he be surprised by the trajectory of your career, and if so, why?
Faison: I think so. My 16-year-old self was just trying to survive and figure out who he was going to sit next to at school the next day so no one would think that he was a loner. He stopped acting for a while because people were giving him so much crap for it. He wanted to go into language studies, go into the CIA, and head abroad where no one would know him. So, I think the fact that he would’ve returned to acting and made it this far – while also being true to himself – would really surprise him.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career as a whole thus far?
Faison: Honestly, doing this press tour for the series. I remember interning for a few years at NBCUniversal and I would make talent itineraries: booking cars, hotels, etc, and I can’t believe that I’m technically the talent now. There was a point during TCAs when we were rounding the home stretch of interviews and we were at this Hulu video promo shoot, and I looked over at Kayla and started tearing up just thinking about how far I’d come in this journey. I know it sounds super sentimental/cheesy but in that moment, it really felt like I was the squeaky wheel that got the grease.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Faison: I try to be as present as I can and take in what’s happening around me but I definitely do like to look ahead and see what I would like to accomplish. I think it’s important for me to do so from time to time because these career decisions that I make today will ultimately affect the decisions I get to make in the future.

In the next 10 years, I would love to help other marginalized voices find a platform through producing, acting and political change, so most of the projects that I choose tend to be through a lens that will align with that.

Everything’s Gonna Be Okay airs Thursdays on Freeform.

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The Featured Presentation

Denim Richards

Photo By: Diana Ragland

With two shows currently airing – “Good Trouble” on Freeform and “Yellowstone” on Paramount Network – Denim Richards is living out his boyhood dream, but he’s quick to point out the importance of maintaining a balance between professional fulfillment and emotional security, something that is easy to lose sight of when you’re constantly working.

I think for me, I appreciate this run, but at the same time, I’m also still very much thinking about myself and my emotional health and my mental health and making sure that I’m not getting wrapped up in that and just constantly working on it,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Richards to discuss the changing Hollywood landscape, returning to a character after an extended break, and why actors should never believe their own press.

TrunkSpace: You grew up wanting to be in the industry, so what does it feel like to currently have two shows on the air?
Richards: Oh man, it’s pretty much the biggest blessing. I think it’s something that, when I was younger, I always imagined myself doing this type of work. Obviously, I’ve always wanted it to be as an actor, I just didn’t know how it was going to happen necessarily. I didn’t grow up in a family full of artists. They were all educators, so super logical, and then I came around, super not logical at all, and very emotionally driven. So, I went through many, many years of just going the theater route – doing musical theater and stuff like that – and just waiting and waiting. And I just feel very blessed to finally have broken through in the last couple of years and to be able to do what I’m doing now. And obviously being able to have two shows on back-to-back nights, it’s like a dream come true because there’s people that have worked their entire careers and haven’t been able to do that. So, I just feel so blessed and humbled having the opportunity to be in this position right now.

TrunkSpace: Do you feel like that kind of opportunity is something that is new to the current age of television? If we looked back 10 or 15 years ago, you didn’t see an actor working multiple television projects at the same time.
Richards: Yeah, I think Hollywood has shifted so much now with the medium as far as how entertainment is perceived. Like you were saying, 10 or 15 years ago, if there was a big-time type actor that was on a TV show, he was the number one on the TV show, and then after that, he was just doing films. But now, films aren’t as profitable as they used to be, just because of Netflix and Amazon, and so now I think that there’s been a shift back to where you can make the same type of money doing television as you can doing films, as well as also not having to necessarily go away for six, seven, eight months out of the year to go work on a project that won’t come out for two years.

And especially in this day and age, with my generation, if you have a project and you have to go away for eight months, it’s like you might as well not exist anymore. (Laughter) It’s a weird thing being able to balance, but it’s definitely shifted. And I think that, just as artists, now we have a great opportunity to be able to constantly exercise those muscles, instead of just doing one project and then waiting the entire year for that same project to come back around.

TrunkSpace: As a creative person, and if you have a storyteller’s brain, there’s got to be something really interesting about being able to see that through long-term. You recently got upped to series regular on “Yellowstone” for which a congratulations is due, but that must be exciting to be able to come back after a period of time and see where your character is going?
Richards: Oh man, yeah. One of the best things about this is that – because art imitates life and vice versa – you have the opportunity to take a break with the character and grow as yourself through life experiences, and then be able to come back and see your character as well as yourself in a different light, and add whatever personal experiences that you’ve had throughout your year. And then, being able to kind of infuse some of those experiences into your character, I think it is very enriching. As artists, you need to go out and have experiences in life that are outside of your art, otherwise your character’s never going to grow. So that’s kind of important, that we’re constantly challenging ourselves. There definitely is a lot of benefit of being able to have six to eight months off and then being able to come back to it.

Obviously the goal, 100 percent, is always to come back. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Have there been moments where you’ve been working in a scene and you’re trying to tap into the character, and you do find yourself thinking back to something that happened in your own life and relating in a way that you may not have been able to if you didn’t experience what you had?
Richards: Yeah. There’s definitely been some moments where you infuse certain experiences that you’ve had in your life with a character. You haven’t gone through everything, but I think emotionally you can relate to certain things and infuse those personal experiences with those characters. There’s a couple of times on one of the projects that I did a couple of years ago, “The Chickasaw Rancher,” where it was this back-against-the-wall type of thing, but isolated. And obviously for me, I had never grown up in the 1860s in Sulphur, Oklahoma, but I could remember going back and just having childhood memories of feeling isolated and feeling maybe that people didn’t really get me and didn’t really understand me. So, I was drawing on those experiences. Not using that as the forefront – that’s not your entire thing – but it’s definitely an ingredient that you lay down, because I think that you have to be very careful with trying to force an emotion.

When you’re younger… and when I say younger, I mean early 20s, you’re kind of… I won’t speak for every artist, but you’re so desperate to show people that you’re acting in a way, that you’re able to convey these emotions, and so you end up kind of forcing these emotions. So then when it comes out on screen, it doesn’t look organic. And so I think that a lot of it is just having all these different ingredients, and then allowing it to simmer, and then just letting it go and allowing whatever you’re feeling at the time… just trusting that and allow the camera to pick up everything else.

Photo By: Diana Ragland

TrunkSpace: What would 10-year-old Denim think of the work that you’re doing now?
Richards: I don’t know. I think that he would probably be shocked. I think that when you’re younger you always imagine that you want to do something but you don’t necessarily know what doing it is going to actually be. You just think that you’ll just show up on screen and then that’s what you’re doing. But there’s so much other work that goes into it. But I definitely can say, from people that I’ve even grown up with that have known me for my entire life and have always known that I wanted to be an artist and I wanted to be an actor, a lot of them are fairly surprised of how all this has gone down. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m surprised. I think that I just feel very humbled by it and by the work and by the opportunity. And because of the creators of these shows – with “Good Trouble” and as well with “Yellowstone”the creators of the shows really have allowed me to be able to just take hold of the characters and just do what I want with them and make them organic. And it’s very rare that you get to get on these types of projects where the characters are not already made for you. I feel very blessed to be a part of this where you really get to feel like an artist and just create however you’re feeling with the characters and that the creators trust you with that vision. I think that’s amazing.

TrunkSpace: With this run that you’re on, is it part of that old adage of work begets work? Did one project lead to the other and so on and so forth?
Richards: I would like to think that, but in the interim there’s a hundred auditions that I didn’t get. So, I would like to take the, “Yeah, I just did this, and then every other one that I get will be equally the same,” but I think a lot of it is just patience. I think that one thing that Hollywood will always do or entertainment will always do is they will keep you humble. You’ll get on these highs and then you’ll take a break and you’ll go on hiatus and maybe go out and audition for another project and then you won’t get it. And it’s like, “Damn!” So, it’s so much of a patience game. And I think that acting is about 10 percent of what we do and 90 percent is working on your mental and emotional and spiritual health and making sure that’s good. Because I think you have to be very careful about not allowing your artistry to define your existence. And I think that if you do this for a long enough time, if you’re doing multiple shows or doing a show and a movie and you’re working nine to 10 months out of the year and you string a couple of those years together, you start to feel like you’re defined by your work.

And so I think that if you’re not careful, you can get lost in that and then that can become very dangerous, especially if there’s a year or two where you’re just not doing anything. So I think for me, I appreciate this run, but at the same time, I’m also still very much thinking about myself and my emotional health and my mental health and making sure that I’m not getting wrapped up in that and just constantly working on it. I think that that is the old adage of not reading your own press, and I think that’s the part that keeps you humble… or should.

TrunkSpace: So how do you balance that with feeling successful in the industry then? How do you define the success and at what point can you let your guard down a little and just enjoy it?
Richards: Yeah, and I ask myself that crushing question daily. “When is there a moment where you just appreciate all of it?” And I think that I do. I definitely appreciate it now because three years ago I had –$66.00 in my bank account. So, I definitely appreciate not having -$66.00 in my bank account and an empty refrigerator – 100 percent. I’m a very firm believer that God will bless you with things, but then there’s a point where you’ve got to go beyond your blessing. And so it’s this moment where you appreciate where you are, but then you also keep going. It’s not the end, because as long as you have air, you know you have to keep going.

Good Trouble” airs Tuesdays on Freeform.

Yellowstone” airs Wednesdays on Paramount Network.

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The Featured Presentation

Tammy Gillis

Photo By: Kyrani Kanavanos

As a star of the popular Freeform series “Siren,” Tammy Gillis was ecstatic to discover that the fantastical mermaid drama was greenlit for a second season. Not only was she eager to explore where the narrative would take her character Deputy Marissa Staub, but she was also excited to return to her on-set family, which includes Eline Powell, Alex Roe, Ian Verdun and many others. With Season 2 currently airing every Thursday, we recently sat down with Gillis to discuss finding her footing heading into the latest story arc, engaging with fans on a weekly basis, and embracing the creativity of the show.

TrunkSpace: Like many series today, “Siren” was shrouded in secrecy heading into Season 2 and an alert would be sounded should any accidental spoilers take place. Does that make this part of your job difficult… promoting a show where the who, what, where and whys need to stay a bit vague? Because honestly, if it was us, we’d be living in fear of saying the wrong thing!
Gillis: It definitely makes it challenging. I always stop and think about it for a second. I don’t want to give any spoilers!

TrunkSpace: With all that said… what can you tell us about what excited YOU the most when you learned “Siren” would be getting a second season and you’d be returning to set?
Gillis: So many things! To see where the story goes. To see where Marissa’s story goes. Does Marissa get a love interest? (Laughter) And most definitely, to work with everyone again! I keep saying it but we are really lucky to have such an amazing cast and crew that have become like family.

TrunkSpace: We read that you went back and watched Season 1 before diving back into your character Marissa. From a character’s arc standpoint, how important was that to you in order to find your Marissa sea legs and where she begins her Season 2 journey?
Gillis: It was so important because I needed to be very clear on what I knew and what Marissa knew. I also created more of a backstory for her so I could add in a bit more of a personal story with her and the other characters.

TrunkSpace: What have you enjoyed the most about getting to explore a character like Marissa over an extended period of time? Does it keep things interesting to learn new things about her as the writer’s explore her relationship within the universe more?
Gillis: I love when the writers add in more information for Marissa. It lets me explore more of my creativity and see how I can weave the new information in with the choices I’ve made.

TrunkSpace: We’re curious, from the first moment you read for Marissa to where we see her today on screen in Season 2, did she change within that span, either because of creative choices behind the scenes or as a character who is simply growing within the story itself?
Gillis: I definitely think she is changing based on the story itself as well as some choices I’ve made. This season she is being forced to step up to a new responsibility – a new authority so that changes my interactions with the other characters. By creating more of a backstory to each of the relationships with them, it gives some conflict with having to carry that new authority.

TrunkSpace: “Siren” is becoming a rarity in that, it’s a series that airs a new episode every week. As a performer, does that prolong the experience for you on the back end of shooting something, as opposed to having it all released at once for the binge-hungry masses?
Gillis: It makes it more fun to engage with the fans. Being able to Live Tweet with them when the episodes are airing is so fun. We love seeing/hearing their reactions. If it was released all at once, we would miss out on that. I’ve been on other series where it was released all at once and you really had no idea if people were watching it or not.

TrunkSpace: Is there something kind of empowering… even subconsciously so… about getting to don a deputy uniform? We’d imagine it’s pretty difficult not to walk the walk or talk the talk from time to time, especially when you catch a glimpse of yourself in all of your authority-figure glory!
Gillis: There absolutely is. Even though it’s just a costume, it feels different and people do treat you differently. When I have the gun belt on, it forces me to carry myself in a different way. I love that costumes can do that for you.

Gillis in “Siren”

TrunkSpace: For the audience, the end product is always what’s memorable, but for you, we would think the experience of shooting “Siren” would be more important than the final cut. With that being said, what’s been the most memorable aspect of your journey on the series thus far?
Gillis: I love working on set. It is such a collaborative, creative experience and I find that I learn so much from show to show, episode to episode. “Siren” is such a creative show and every episode I love seeing how they are going to tell the story and what the other actors are going to do. There are so many memorable moments but one thing I am very grateful for is Gil Birmingham, who plays Sheriff Dale. He is such a powerhouse of an actor and such a generous, kind man.

TrunkSpace: You grew up in a town of 800 people. When you dreamed of a career in the arts, did it seem attainable in those early days, especially coming from such a small town?
Gillis: Definitely not. I’d never met an actor or even dreamt of the possibility of becoming one because I just hadn’t experienced it.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Gillis: No. I like not knowing where the road will lead. There is more possibility in it.

Siren” airs Thursdays on Freeform.

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The Featured Presentation

Danny Nucci

Freeform/Craig Sjodin

After five seasons of heartwarming storytelling, the beloved family drama series “The Fosters” is saying good-bye to fans with a three-day season finale event, which concludes tonight on Freeform. Star Danny Nucci, who plays Mike Foster, feels strongly that the viewers have come along with the cast throughout the storytelling process, growing as their characters have, and he relishes in the symbiotic relationship that has made his time on the show the most fan-centric project of his career thus far.

We recently sat down with Nucci to discuss the possibility of returning as Mike Foster in the future, why his time on the series was an eye opener, and where he is expanding on his career within the industry.

TrunkSpace: With the “The Fosters” coming to an end, you’ve had to say good-bye to your on-set family, but in a way, does it also feel like you’re saying good-bye to the fans? They have come with you on this journey since 2013 – are they part of the equation with it now signing off?
Nucci: Not at all. It’s more of a resounding “Thank you!” for your support through the years. Many of them are now interested in what’s next and seem to feel like part of an “ongoing” family. It’s almost as if we’ve all gone through these stories together and come out on the other side closer and more connected.

TrunkSpace: You spent over 90 episodes playing Mike Foster, which as we discussed last time you stopped by TrunkSpace, is the longest you have spent with a single character. Now that the job is officially done, is it easy to walk away from Mike knowing that you probably won’t be slipping into his skin ever again?
Nucci: There is a spinoff, so I can’t say that’s true as of yet. But it’s a feeling of gratitude that I’m left with – that I got to explore a character for that long.

TrunkSpace: Have you been surprised at how passionate and loyal the fans have been with “The Fosters” and have you ever directly experienced a group of viewers who were so invested in a project?
Nucci: I’ve never been part of any project with such a social media tie in and “exchange” so it’s all been a revelation of the affect being part of a show that people respond to can be.

TrunkSpace: Outside of starring on the show, you also had the opportunity to direct an episode of “The Fosters.” Was getting to step behind the camera an unintended side effect of your time on the series or was it always your hope to call “Action!”?
Nucci: The first time we all got together for a hang with the producers I made my pitch and they were very clear that it would be a few seasons in before I’d get the opportunity, but they made good on their promise and now I’ve got a new addiction.

TrunkSpace: Obviously you have such familiarity with the cast and crew. Does that make your job as director easier or more difficult? Do you think you would have had a different experience if you came to set not knowing anybody?
Nucci: Oh, I’m sure it would be completely different. The cast knows I’m one of them so there was an inherent trust. And the crew was rooting for me to do well and went the extra mile for me to make our day. And the execs felt like I had a great understanding of the time, story and characters, so there was an automatic trust factor.

TrunkSpace: Did the process of directing an episode of “The Fosters” give you a different perspective on your own character at all? Did it alter your own POV in terms of performance?
Nucci: No. Different mind set completely. Perhaps it would’ve been different if I had to direct myself.

TrunkSpace: We know you can’t really go into details, but you’ve been spending time developing a new series that you have been involved with on the writing side of things. Is that an area that you hope to spend more time focusing on in your career? Are the behind-the-scenes aspects becoming more interesting to you as you get older?
Nucci: As an actor, by the time I add my input most of the work has been done or prepped by the writers, producers or directors. The opportunity to be at the beginning of the storytelling process and make choices that impact the entire project is something I am really enjoying. I love exploring choices that are more “actable” and are “easier to accept” for an audience. Frankly, it’s thrilling. When we come up with a great line of dialogue or particular setting or motivation for a given character it’s as exciting as finding a great moment as an actor.

Nucci directing an episode of “The Fosters.” Freeform/Ron Tom

TrunkSpace: Have you ever been at a crossroads where you considered walking away from acting? Do you still get the same thrill walking on a set for the first time as you did when you started out in the industry?
Nucci: I always get a thrill from walking on a set I’m working on. It’s always that feeling of, “I snuck in – no one noticed and I’m in!” I love the challenge of acting. It’s always a risk/reward thing. I look forward to more experiences where I’m asked to have a creative voice. Sometimes, “Stand there, say these lines, thank you…” feels like a profession I have a modicum of skill to complete. It’s still a great job though.

TrunkSpace: If you could sit down and have a conversation with your 15-year-old self, what would he have to say about how your career has played out? What aspect of your life would surprise him the most?
Nucci: “Duuuuuuude,why aren’t you super famous??? C’mon!!”

I guess he’d be surprised that I’m not driven by a need to be adored or approved of, but a desire to feel all the things my characters have to feel so that the audience can just observe and relate or be entertained or in an ideal moment have their perspective altered in a positive way. And being the best I can be to suspend belief for the time I’m on screen or on stage.

TrunkSpace: Finally, as fans gear up to say good-bye to “The Fosters” for the last time, what do you want to say to them about the journey and how their loyalty to the show has impacted you over the course of its run? How have they made this a fulfilling chapter in your own life?
Nucci: I would just like to say that I appreciate the interaction, the kind words and encouragement that I’ve received. I have felt an added sense of responsibility to make Mike Foster a real person who suffers, struggles and celebrates life and love like the rest of us humans.

“The Fosters” series finale three-night event concludes tonight on Freeform.

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The Featured Presentation

Hayden Byerly

Freeform/Craig Sjodin

After five seasons of heartwarming storytelling, the beloved family drama series “The Fosters” is saying good-bye to fans with a three-day season finale event, which continues tonight on Freeform. Star Hayden Byerly, who plays Jude Adams Foster, grew up on the show alongside of his character and is both excited for what the future holds, but appreciative for what came before – namely, the family and fans that supported him throughout his “The Fosters” journey.

We recently sat down with Byerly to discuss the wonderful surprises that the series brought into his life, why he feels he never fully understood Jude, and how his ideal career involves working nonstop.

TrunkSpace: Is saying good-bye to “The Fosters” a bit of a mixed bag, as in, you’re excited for the future and the next chapter of your life, but at the same time, sad to see this chapter close?
Byerly: Of course. As to be expected. It’s always one of the bittersweet moments of life – moving forward and hoping for the best and wondering what the future holds, but making sure to remember and being appreciative of the past.

TrunkSpace: You have to say good-bye to your on-set family, but does it also feel like you’re saying good-bye to the fans as well?
Byerly: I would say in a way. I know for a fact that “The Fosters” fans, the people who have been so supportive of the show from the start, is such a great community. They are very kind people who have really made a change in the world and made a difference and allowed this show to continue for so long. I think it is definitely a goodbye in a way, but I can only hope that “The Fosters” fans see not only me, but everyone else in the cast moving forward in our careers and continue to support us in many other things that exist in the world.

TrunkSpace: One of the things that we noticed was just how positive and supportive “The Fosters” fan base is. Was it a surprise to see how invested they became?
Byerly: It was. I was certainly taken aback, especially at a young age for so much positivity – not only that they were super interactive but people were so supportive as well. It was definitely surprising but in a wonderful way. I think it’s always beautiful when you have a show like this and so many people back it up and so many people love it and love what you do. It feels good to have that and it makes you happy to know that you’re doing something that changes the lives of so many people in such a great way.

TrunkSpace: You shot over 100 episodes as Jude. What was that long-term character journey like for you, especially not having spent that much time with a character before?
Byerly: It’s pretty remarkable because the interesting thing about it is that Jude and myself grew up together. I started the show when I was about 11 or 12 years old, as Jude was about the same age, and so he was learning a lot of things in life and growing up and going through a lot of the things that I had gone through or was also going through. And there was also many differences between the two of us. He was living a life that was very different from mine. A lot of the challenges he faced and that he had to overcome I personally did not. I was not only growing up and living my own life and trying to understand who I was, I was also going through all the trials and tribulations of Jude and all the things that he had to explore and understand about himself.

It was really wild. I never felt like I fully understood Jude because he was always growing and learning and that was something that I loved. I felt as though I was learning with him and that we were together on this ride to figure out who he was and these final three are a little… there’s a time jump, so Jude’s older. He’s got some more stuff figured out, but of course we all have pinnacle moments in our lives in which something else goes wrong or there’s a bump in the road and so Jude is still going through his own things in life – his own problems. It’s remarkable that even five years later he’s going through things that I won’t go through and that I won’t have to worry about. I’m very lucky and fortunate to live two lives and two kids who are so different.

TrunkSpace: Does it keep it fresh for you as an actor to show up and find Jude on a new path? Does that continuous growth in the character make your own journey with him more exciting?
Byerly: I feel like no actor can ever say that they fully know the character that they are, in my personal opinion. I think that there’s always so many things to learn and to understand about someone, because we are the same way. I know myself better than anyone else on this planet knows me and there’s still a lot of things that I don’t know about myself. There’s a lot of things that I question or have to figure out, and so for someone to say they completely understand a character, I don’t think that’s a possibility because we are constantly growing and changing, just as these characters are.

Freeform/Eric McCandless

TrunkSpace: After spending so much time and headspace with Jude, are you in a position within your own personal journey as an actor to sign on and play another character for that long? Is that something you’d be interested in coming off “The Fosters” at this stage in your career or are you more interested in going out and trying on as many new skins as possible?
Byerly: I think all of it. I would love to do everything. I would love to spend another 100 episodes as someone else. I would love to spend a couple months, a couple years, a few moments. I think that’s the beautiful thing about this industry is that you can be so many different people in such a long or short amount of time. You can choose to really dive and divulge in a particular person as little or as much as you’d like. You can walk onto the set of a commercial and just be some suburban white kid with an adopted family and just wander around driving trucks or something, and you don’t even have a name. And then you can walk on a show and spend 100 episodes being a young foster kid and going through someone else’s entire life story. There are so many things you can do and experience in this world and I think that’s the beautiful part is that I’m fortunate and lucky enough to understand and live the lives of many people.

TrunkSpace: The future holds so many question marks for everybody, but if you could pave your own path and write your own way, what would it look like? What’s the ideal career moving forward?
Byerly: I think the ideal career moving forward for me would be getting to continue to work nonstop. That’s the one thing I love. That’s the one thing I’m passionate about, is being on set. Everything else falls into place in life when you get to do what you love and when you’re passionate about what you do. And I don’t really have a particular set thing I want to do. I would love to knock it all out. I would love to do a huge movie, move onto another show. I did some motion capture for a video game a long time ago. I’d love to do more animated things. I’d love to do everything because it’s all so different and it’s all so incredible. I’ve got a hunger to do everything. I’ve got a drive to do it all.

The industry is constantly changing and evolving and if you don’t adapt and keep up with it you’re going to fall behind, so making sure that you stay up to date and try as hard as you can and continue to push and give 100 percent is the most important thing. I talked to my dialogue coach, who is a wonderful actor and was on “The Fosters” for a long time as the dialogue coach. I value him immensely as a person and as a friend and he was talking to me a lot about a couple of different auditions and he always helps me and he was saying that it’s a competitive industry and you can’t just walk around expecting anything to be yours. No one can ever expect something to be for you. Even if you’re the perfect fit for a character, even if a character is written for you, you still have to try as if it wasn’t. You still have to give it so much effort and care and attention and that’s what determines a good actor from a great actor is that it’s someone who never stops – it’s someone who always puts in more work than seems necessary to do better.

The Fosters” series finale three-night event continues tonight on Freeform.


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The Featured Presentation

Sherri Saum

Photo: Photo Credit: Freeform/Craig Sjodin

After five seasons of heartwarming storytelling, the beloved family drama series “The Fosters” is saying good-bye to fans with a three-day season finale event beginning tonight on Freeform. Star Sherri Saum, who plays Lena Adams Foster, is still in awe of the impact that the show has had on viewers, but she’s even more enamored by the impact that the viewers have had on her.

We recently sat down with Saum to discuss what she learned in her journey as Lena, how she will always compare future jobs to her time on “The Fosters,” and why she’d be extra motivated to solve mysteries on a full stomach.

TrunkSpace: With “The Fosters” coming to an end, you’ve had to say good-bye to your on-set family, but in a way, does it also feel like you’re saying good-bye to the fans? They have come with you on this journey since 2013 – are they part of the equation with it now signing off?
Saum: I feel I have forged a connection with the cast and the supporters of our show that will transcend the end of the series.

TrunkSpace: Over 100 episodes is a long time to spend in another person’s skin. It’s not your longest span with a character, but was Lena different? Did her journey affect you differently as an actress than that of previous jobs, and if so, why?
Saum: I’ve learned more on “The Fosters” than I’ve learned on any other show. Things that informed me not only as an actor but also as a person and especially as a mother. I’ll take these lessons with me for a lifetime.

TrunkSpace: How much did Lena grow and change from the first time you read for her to where she is in the final three episodes set to start airing tonight on Freeform? Within that span, what were some of the biggest character shifts or storylines that you didn’t see coming?
Saum: Lena began as a definite momma bear, the soft heart of the family. And while she was fierce in her role as momma and protector of her kids, she wasn’t always as good at fighting for what she deserved in her career. She became a fighter over the seasons – probably influenced by Stef – and in the end of the series we finally see Lena stepping up and owning her full power as a woman, a mother, and a community leader.

TrunkSpace: It’s so hard to tell what will connect with people and what won’t when it comes to television. Was it a surprise just how invested viewers became in not only the series but in your character as well?
Saum: I think part of me is still in awe of the impact but the other part totally gets it. We gave much needed validation and visibility to families and people. It had been so sorely lacking in the landscape of TV.

TrunkSpace: What is something that you are going to take from your experience on “The Fosters” that you will apply to your professional life moving forward?
Saum: Being part of such a special project has set the bar high for me as an actor. I’m not so naïve to think I won’t have to take on some projects in the future for practical reasons – but I’m always going to have a sense of wanting to do more – to be part of telling better stories because of my experience with “The Fosters.”

TrunkSpace: What about personally? Where has the series impacted your life the most and what will you look back on in 20 years and think of fondly?
Saum: Personally I’ve been able to meet people and hear stories about the impact “The Fosters” has had on them. Stories that humble me beyond belief. I’ll never forget how it feels to make people feel included and loved. People all over the globe. It’s astonishing.

TrunkSpace: You posted a picture on Twitter about a month ago, drinking coffee (we assume that was just coffee!) while watching “Scooby-Doo,” referencing it as living your best life. So, we have to ask, if dropped into a real-life mystery complete with “jinkies” moments, which “Scooby-Doo” character’s mystery-solving skills would yours most resemble and why?
Saum: I’d be Scooby-Doo or Shaggy for sure. Always extra motivated to solve a mystery if I’m well fed!

TrunkSpace: Continuing with the idea of living your best life, as you look forward, what does your best professional life look like? If you could write your own future, how would you script your career moving forward?
Saum: In my perfect world I’d be a serial series monogamist. And some of my roles would include physical bad-assery. In some superhero way.

Photo: Freeform/Gilles Mingasson

TrunkSpace: You’ve guested on some great shows over the course of your career. Is there a character who was particularly interesting to you that you wished you got to explore further?
Saum: To be honest, I’m still in a love bubble stupor over “The Fosters.” It’s eclipsing anything I’ve done previously. I can’t recall ever being so emotionally and creatively fulfilled in my work as I have been with “The Fosters.”

TrunkSpace: Finally, as fans gear up to say good-bye to “The Fosters” for the last time, what do you want to say to them about the journey and how their loyalty to the show has impacted you over the course of its run? How have they made this a fulfilling chapter in your own life?
Saum: I just want fans of the show to know that their support and love of the show has elevated the experience into something I will never, ever let go of. And I will always remember how hard they fought to keep it going.

The Fosters” series finale three-night event kicks off tonight on Freeform.

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The Featured Presentation

Miles Mussenden

Photo Courtesy Of: Miles Mussenden

Spider-Man was always going to be a sure thing, but developing successful cinematic franchises out of characters like Iron Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther came with question marks attached. Never exactly A-listers in the comics, could they carry their own films? Turns out, they absolutely could, and now Marvel is looking to turn other “could they” characters into “absolutely could” gold.

Premiering June 7th on Freeform, “Cloak & Dagger” tells the story of a teenaged dynamic duo-to-be, newly super-powered and dealing with their own emotional struggles along the way. Starring Aubrey Joseph (Cloak) and Olivia Holt (Dagger), the series promises to add a layer of grounded realism to an otherwise high stakes imaginary world.

We recently sat down with “Cloak & Dagger” star Miles Mussenden to discuss playing the father of a superhero, why his character has been keeping secrets from his fictional family, and the reason fans will want to sit back and enjoy the explosive ride that is Season 1.

TrunkSpace: What does it mean for a career in 2018 to be involved in something within the Marvel Universe? Is it sort of a game-changer just by the nature of how many eyes could be on the series?
Mussenden: You know, I have to say yes. Marvel seems to be taking over the universe right now. With the success of “Black Panther” and “The Avengers,” it seems like everything they touch is gold pretty much. But, with this particular project, I think we have something special with it. I feel very fortunate to be a part of it. So, it’s my biggest opportunity to date and I couldn’t have picked something better.

TrunkSpace: One of the things that Marvel does so well is, although each of their properties exist within the same universe, every one has its own distinct feel and tone. As someone who has worked directly on “Cloak & Dagger,” what kind of show is it? Does it fall within a genre?
Mussenden: It’s interesting because I feel like it’s gonna just touch a lot of different things. What I loved about it is, during shooting, it felt like it was a feature we were filming. It feels like we have 10 little mini-movies, so to speak. You have something for that younger generation, that Freeform audience, that they’ll love with Aubrey (Joseph) and Olivia (Holt) playing Cloak and Dagger, but you also have something more because the family dynamics in both of these young people’s lives play big into this story.

I think it’s something that I would watch, because I look at it, and I think we have just as much gritty things that grab your attention, that holds you and makes you care, in the family relationships for Tyrone and Tandy, as do Cloak and Dagger. We have people like Gloria Reuben who plays Adina, my wife on the show, Tyrone’s mother, and she’s just an amazing actress. The kind of realism that we bring to this show is going to be something that any Marvel fan would enjoy.

TrunkSpace: In the series you play the father of hero-to-be Cloak. As a father in real life as well, did you find yourself saying, “How would I react to this if it was happening in my own family dynamic?” Did any of who you are as a parent bleed over into who Otis is as a parent?
Mussenden: Somewhat, because with this particular role it really resonated with me for some reason – from the very beginning. And my instincts seem to be the same instincts as the character, Otis’ instincts, except that Otis is a little bit more controlling and a little bit more buttoned up than I am, personally. But I couldn’t help but have some of it spill over because some of the same fears that I have for my children, he has for his. So, some of the same things that I want to protect my son from, he wants to protect his son from. There is some spillover but because he is different – he, meaning Tyrone – and because my wife is different, we just kind of play and everything’s kind of happening in the moment. I don’t purposely put any of it in, but whatever comes out, comes out, and I really don’t know what I’m going to see because I go and I do what happens, whatever comes to me at that moment, so it’s pretty much… and each take is a little bit different, so it’s the editor who is gonna have a lot of control over what is actually going to come across in the end product.

TrunkSpace: So you must be just as excited to see it as the diehard Marvel fans.
Mussenden: Yeah, exactly. I don’t know what I’m gonna see because even in ADR, they showed, again, very small clips, and so I couldn’t get an idea. I didn’t see the pilot and the stuff they showed at South by Southwest so, yeah, I’m in eager anticipation, waiting with bated breath.

TrunkSpace: Now, within the storyline itself, Otis has a past that he hasn’t exactly reconciled with, right?
Mussenden: I wanna be careful how I frame this – I don’t want to give spoilers. Yes, Otis has a rich history, and he didn’t share it all with Tyrone…

Photo By: Frank Ockenfels. – © 2018 Freeform. All rights reserved.

TrunkSpace: Secrets are never good for a family.
Mussenden: That’s true, but sometimes I think, as parents, you want to keep some things away. You’re thinking you’re kind of protecting them by not sharing certain things, but I think everything is due season two so sometimes there’s a time and place for certain things to come out. And I think those things kind of unravel and reveal themselves somewhere in some of these episodes.

TrunkSpace: We know you can’t give away too much, but are aspects of your backstory going to see resolution in Season 1 or will it carry over into any possible future seasons to come?
Mussenden: A major part of it you will see in Season 1. Some very explosive things happen, so I think Season 1 will give fans more than enough.

TrunkSpace: From what we could tell from looking at your filmography as a whole, this is the longest time you have spent with one character, at least in terms of an episode count. What was that extended journey like for you, finding bits and pieces of who the character is along the way, because we would imagine it wasn’t all presented to you at the outset, correct?
Mussenden: Yeah, absolutely. It wasn’t at all. I had an idea after doing the pilot, I knew there was a heavy, emotional demand that would be required, so I went and spent a month, five days a week, working with Susan Batson at her studio, just getting myself emotionally prepared to deal with all the things that this character had to go through. There’s some trauma there. In some ways, he may have some form of PTSD with something that he’s been through, so I had to be able to be emotionally available to give an honest portrayal of these things. I didn’t want to act it. I think it was very important for people to see the realness of it. We see a lot of things happening on TV and the society we live in is a news flash, it comes and goes. We have an emotional feeling about something and then it goes away. But I think that this is going to give people a real feel for what goes on, and even for an African American family… I think we can touch people in a way that they would have a certain kind of empathy because they will live it with us, and I think that was real important. I’m excited about that.

TrunkSpace: From what we could tell, the series definitely seems accessible for viewers. You’re going along for the ride and you’re not necessarily on the outside looking in with these big, larger-than-life hero characters. This is ground level storytelling.
Mussenden: Yes, exactly. and that’s what makes me excited and that’s why I didn’t mind getting it piece by piece, because I felt like I was living it. And just being out there, in New Orleans, I tried to immerse myself in that world as much as I could. Some of the things that my character was doing, I tried to spend my time doing that. So, New Orleans kind of added a whole flavor. It’s like a blanket that we kind of cocooned ourselves in to really create that world.

Cloak & Dagger” premieres June 7th on Freeform.

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The Featured Presentation

Rena Owen

Owen in “Sirens.” © 2018 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

Siren” star Rena Owen felt at home in her character’s skin (even with the skin condition that was revealed!) from the outset of joining the Freeform mermaid drama, but the more time she spent with Helen, the more she understood why she was cast in the role. The New Zealand-born actress describes the character as the “old eccentric girl on the block,” but the curious behavior Helen presents also hides secrets, many of which will be unraveled by the time Season 1 draws to a close on May 24.

We recently sat down with Owen to discuss the power of being herself in imaginary circumstances, how the show evolved throughout the course of production, and why you shouldn’t be sad when an influx of unicorn projects streams out of Hollywood.

TrunkSpace: What have you taken from your “Siren” journey thus far that you’ll carry with you through the rest of your career? What has been a pleasant surprise?
Owen: I don’t know if there’s been any surprises. I think the thing that you take from every job that you do as an actress is the people – the people and the place. I’d never worked with any of the actors or any of the key creators or any of our crew, so I got to work with some really amazing people and we very much became a family. I’d never been in Vancouver before and I loved living there for four months. I think the only thing that I can add that maybe is relatively new from an actor’s perspective is the older you get as an actor, if you survive the game, is the more you realize about the power of just being yourself in imaginary circumstances. I think, as all young actors seem to do, we all want to act, but the older you get, the more relaxed you become. So that’s what you’ll get to take to the next job. You watch the old pros. You watch them and they’re just so relaxed in who they are. And that gets easier with age because you’ve become more secure in who you are and more comfortable in your own skin.

TrunkSpace: So the more comfortable you are in your own skin, the easier it is for you to slip into somebody else’s?
Owen: Absolutely. You’re just bringing yourself to that role. You’re just bringing yourself to the game. So I’m just being me, as Helen, in these imaginary circumstances, and she was a perfect character for me. Because she’s quite eccentric, she’s left of field, she’s a little bit odd, she’s an enigma, and I’m all of those things so it was really great to just… I’m perfect for the role and you’ll find that even more so as we get to the last episode.

TrunkSpace: Have you seen the “Siren” fan base grow from the premiere episode to where you are now at the tail end of Season 1?
Owen: First and foremost, I’ve got to say I was incredibly grateful because I know that this is a young person’s show. You know, it’s a YA, a Young Adult show, and that’s what Freeform does. So initially from the first few episodes I was so grateful that the fans really liked Helen, the old eccentric girl on the block. (Laughter) I really was grateful that they liked Helen because most young people aren’t interested in old people. That includes my own nephews and nieces.

Quite a few fans picked up right from the trailer that I was possibly a merperson, because I know when the first trailer came out, there’s that look between Helen and Ryn, and quite a few fans then said, “Oh, I think she might be a merperson,” because another person said, “It takes one to know one.” And then there was the skin condition in Episode… well first, the behavior, the fact that she was being protective of Ryn, and people going, “Why is she doing that… I’m sure she’s a merperson.” And then the skin condition. A lot of fans did say, “I told you she’s a merperson!” But it wasn’t really until Episode 4 that it was like, “Yep, we knew it, we knew it.” And now there’s a hunger and a fascination to know exactly what her merperson history is, which you will find out. There’s some interesting little information that gets dropped in Episode 8 and you’re like, “Oh, okay!” And then there’s a lot more that you will learn about Helen’s history in Episode 10, and actually there’s another thing that kind of gets said in Episode 9 and I can’t really reveal it. But that’s the moment, this one line where I went, “Oh, now I know why they always thought I was right for this role.”

TrunkSpace: You have done a lot of television work over the course of your career, but from what we could tell, it’s been a few years since you’ve spent this much time with one character. Do you enjoy the process of discovering who a character is, in this case Helen, as you go through the season?
Owen: Absolutely. You’re right, the last TV show I did as a series regular was with Brian Cox on an Australian TV series called “The Straits.” I think we did 10 episodes. And we were meant to go to Season 2 and then ABC took a budget cut and we were their most expensive show. So, the luxury of doing a series is, first and foremost, you get to be in one place for longer than a week. (Laughter) You get to actually live in a place for four months and you get to have a routine and a life. Recently I went down to the Gulf Coast to do two weeks on a movie. You’re in and out and you’re on a lot of planes and then a lot of hotel rooms, so it really is a gift to be on a series because you really do get to have a life and have a routine. And Vancouver is a stunning place to live and work. And absolutely, more was revealed about Helen with each episode. Initially it was kind of a little frustrating because all of us actors want to know the whole story arc and everything about our characters, but they didn’t give that to us. They kind of gave it to us when we needed it, because they just didn’t want us getting locked down on certain concepts or certain ideas. I think it was a clever strategy because for us actors it kept us on the edge thinking, “What’s going to happen?” We were just like the audience, like, “What’s going to be happening in the next episode?” We wouldn’t know until we got the script, which would be often a week before we started shooting it.

So yeah, you learn new things, you evolve, and then if things were dropped in an episode and I didn’t quite understand… Eric Wald, our writer, and our showrunner, Emily Whitesell, they were always available to us if we go, “Hey, I just want a little bit more understanding of what’s the history here.”

Owen in “Sirens.” © 2018 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

TrunkSpace: The first season is 10 episodes long, which for a viewer is great because with these shortened seasons, there’s never any filler. It’s all A storyline stuff that you’re going to be seeing, so it keeps the audience engaged.
Owen: Absolutely. And that’s something of great value to me because I’m also a writer. And so I’m always looking to what makes things, or helps things, work. That was kind of relatively new for me where you’re working on a show that’s really evolving day by day. Or week by week. Or episode to episode. The writers are finding the episodes with their directors and then the actors come on set – you’re doing scenes and then it takes a different shape or a different course. And the gift of being able to be that flexible to a certain degree, and because I’ve been a writer, I’m more introspective, so I’ll always go, “Look, do you mind if I say this word instead of that word?” And if a writer says no, you say the words the writer wants you to say. It’s a collaborative thing and I, coming out of theater, I guess I’m lucky in that way because it is collaboration – you work with the writers, you work with your fellow actors, you work with your director.

TrunkSpace: There have been famous mermaids on the screen before, but tonally “Siren” is so different than anything we’ve seen on the subject as of yet. That has to be a big part of the appeal, at least at the outset for new viewers.
Owen: Absolutely. And when I first got the pilot, I was really impressed because it had destruction – it had the formula that we’ve all become familiar with. But its content was so original and its content was so cutting edge. Here you’ve got this really exotic sea creature and she’s beautiful and she’s an enigma. She’s just all of these things, but she’s also a top level predator and I’m like, “Oh my god!” This is like “True Blood” but with mermaids, not vampires, you know? And when you look at those kind of fantastical creatures, the only one left after mermaids is unicorn. So don’t cry when the wave of unicorn stories start to happen!

Siren” airs Thursdays on Freeform.

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