If we had to be really honest, when we created Lost in TV we might have called it Lost in Jay Ryan, because Jay struck us in a peculiar way, he made us to find each other and kept us united.
Now that it’s his birthday, it’s natural for us to talk about him.
And we thought to “celebrate” him with you, without claiming to be complete, quite simply with a reel to make a toast to his talent, his honesty, his choices.
A bit of Jay Ryan, a bit of what he did, a bit of what he thought, a bit of what they told about him, a bit of what struck us.
MARY KILLS PEOPLE
“Bringing his radiant energy and joy to a role that slowly peels back its fascinating facade and reveals a deeply layered and rich dichotomy of contradictory emotions, Jay Ryan is more than simply riveting in MARY KILLS PEOPLE, he is downright addictive. It will be easy to see how and why Mary, as phenomenally portrayed by Caroline Dhavernas, falls immediately under his character’s spell, which subsequently leads to a taut game of cat-and-mouse.” Tiffany Vogt, from Shining The Spotlight on Jay Ryan, SEAT42F
(Mary Kills People)… “it’s a serious and stylishly watchable drama, thanks mostly to Dhavernas’s capable performance of a morally ambiguous person with too many dangerous irons in the fire, and Ryan’s portrayal of a hurt-and-handsome lawman struggling to do his job, even though he’s in love with his suspect.” Washington Post
“…Tassie and Amy Cameron assembled a divine team and are true and hungry storytellers themselves. But at the end of the day everyone was on the same page, out to make a work we all believed in lead by the phenomenal Caroline Dhavernas — what more could you really ask for.
…The role of ‘Joel’ came with a responsibility that shocked me when I read the final pages of Tara’s script. I didn’t see it coming and that ‘edge of your seat’ feeling was just as exciting to read as it is to watch this series. Also knowing that it was allo to be helmed entirely by one director (Holly Dale) over the entire project was very appealing. There were very clear visions of what we were making from the beginning.” from Shining The Spotlight on Jay Ryan, SEAT42F
“People are talking about [having more women in the lead] in the industry like, ‘Yes this is what we should be doing’, but this is actually one of the projects that has managed to pull it off and create something amazing, and successful and fresh,” Why Jay Ryan ditched Beauty and the Beast for Mary Kills People – NZ Herald Entertainment
About his character:
“It wasn’t wrapped up in the six episodes about who exactly he was and I was never sure if I was going to get to play him again. We wanted to play that ambiguity in him. I like that about him, that you never knew who he really was and there wasn’t a lot to say who he was or who he used be.” Kiwi Jay Ryan ageing gracefully as Hollywood drama star, Stuff NZ Entertainment
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
“The original theme of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is don’t judge a book by its cover. Love what’s inside.”
About Vincent… “It’s like playing two characters, the two extremes of someone’s personality or moral compass. All characters that I play have the good and the bad, and for me, this is just the extreme. You can’t have one without the other and we all have this wild part of us which we keep hidden and maybe only show in our darkest moments, or to our most loved ones. For me, it’s the complete gamut of the character.” from ‘Beauty and the Beast’: Jay Ryan May Be An Animal, But He’s Romantic at Heart – the Huffington Post
“There’s this whole thing about, “Oh, you’re too good-looking to play a beast.” Sure, that’s what they were after and that’s what they cast, but I’m very much about being true to what a beast can be. For me, his beast is on the inside. It’s not about the physical. It’s about the demon that is within him. It’s quite opposite to what the beast usually is. Everyone thinks the beast should be this creature, but beasts don’t advertise. You don’t know who a beast is. The nicest looking person can be that serial killer, or whatever. They’re more dangerous to me. It’s more relatable to an audience to deal with the beast within us. ” Jay Ryan Talks Beauty and the Beast – Collider
TOP OF THE LAKE
“Being an actor is tough. You take what you are offered. You can’t be too picky in the early days but finally I’ve got my chops up and people have seen me in a different light.
“A lot of that has to do with Jane (Campion) casting me in Top Of The Lake. That was a real page-turner for me in my career. It got me in front of certain people who I really wanted to work with.” Kiwi Jay Ryan ageing gracefully as Hollywood drama star, Stuff NZ Entertainment
“I really would like to see where the Mitchum Brothers from TOP OF THE LAKE ended up a few years down the track after the end of Season 1. I had the opportunity to return for Season 2, but the scheduling didn’t work out traveling between Toronto and Queenstown. I’m cheekily hopeful. There’s a lot more story there, I remember Jane Campion toying with some ideas about those two characters’ futures when we shot the first season.” JR on Top of the Lake, from Shining The Spotlight On Jay Ryan, SEAT42F
“When I read Kev on page for the first time, I had an instant idea of who he was, he jumped off the page for me, and I knew the character was within me strongly already. It’s not something I have to play really.
“All of Kev’s reactions, all that sort of stuff just happens naturally, I just jump into him.”
But he sees their differences too.
“Kev is me if I had stayed in West Auckland basically. I grew up out west and if I’d stayed there and if I wasn’t an actor, I’d probably be there and have an apprenticeship, and maybe had a couple of kids and a house or something.”
From Stuff.co.nz – Go Girls Stars Tackles Your Questions:
Toni asks “One of the best male Kiwi actors we have, Jay, what made you get into acting in the first place?”
Boredom of childhood. I truly think that’s what got me acting, making s**t up in my head, working the imagination, make believe and all that crap. Yeah I guess it all started there.
Kirsty asks “Do you have close friendships with women like your character or are you mostly a bloke’s bloke?”
From my very early teen years I was raised in a house full of women (possibly a little McMann style). So yes, I have some very close female friends. They are the best friends to have – they smell better, they are a lot easier on the eye and generally can give a more constructed emotional response than “Yeah, Nah”.
“I was lucky enough to actually go into a surgery and witness a caesarean being performed, which was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in my life. What I will never forget is the image of this baby’s face, eyes closed, totally silent, and then without its eyes even opening, you can see it’s face change and register that it’s in a new world, and it breathes in air.”
“We’d have these 2-week-old babies, and they’d come on set for about 10 mins. And they’d be covered in jam to make it look real, so these babies are really slippery, super fragile, and I’ve got these latex gloves on. So I’m freaking out trying to remember my lines, and trying to hold them properly. And the live babies are between an actress’ legs, so it’s kind of uncomfortable. And then they call action, and you’ve gotta keep it all together.” NZHerald.co.nz It’s all in the delivery
A day in the life of Spider – Jay Ryan
What about his sensitivity as producer?
Looking forward to watching Sunday Fun Day, which had its premiere last July at Auckland International Film Festival, enjoy Tuffy and Schnipples
We wish this ride through Jay’s career left our readers a little more in love, enchanted and intrigued by this guy who, totally and permanently, bewitched our hearts.
Happy Birthday Jay.
Angela, Elisa, Federica
A special thanks to @JulesCrem who helped us to find gold dust…
It is a weird thing, trust, a delicate feeling. Whether you give or receive, you have to handle it with care because it takes very little to damage it and only a little more to break it.
When that happens, when you stay there, knowing that something that could have been will never be, fragments strike you like the reflections of sun on the water caressed by wind.
It is such a precarious feeling and it is said to be easier to love than to trust and to have someones confidence is an honor more precious than being loved.
Raised with Wolves’ absolute protagonist is trust.
Trust that you would give but too much pain keeps you from daring.
Trust that your logic would never give but the heart has already granted, no matter what.
Trust that has always been there, you’ve just never thought to call into question and that, however, is likely to crumble apart, crumbling even you.
I don’t want to sound corny though, watching Mary Kills People one episode after another, I am invariably struck by how much and how well everything contributes to a riveting, engaging narrative.
Examples are in every scene, proving mastery and dedication of all the professionals who contribute to wrap such a beautiful product.
Grady waiting for Mary framed by water transparency or Ben talking on his cell with the picturesque lake on his back, are just two examples of the will to engage the viewer in sharing not only a tale but the emotional warmth of the scene.
You can breathe harmony and mutual understanding behind the narrative, even in conflicts.
The continuity of direction by Holly Dale, undoubtedly ensures consistency to the canvas, from background to single details. Characters, scenery, lines, lights and sounds, everything spreads real emotion, rough, conflicting and uncertain, just like those in real life.
The most intense tones are those generated by conflicts and hardest conflicts are those within each character.
Trusting another person means giving that person the power to break your heart and hoping they won’t.
This hope is so fragile in Des… He is determined to avoid Mary, to give her the chance to break his heart.
Fear of betrayal, by the only person who counts on him, is so big that he prefers to play himself in the role of the villain, compromising its principles and let it all go to hell, not to have to test his friend loyalty.
Ben, on the contrary, wants to conquer Mary’s trust, intimately gratified by her cry for help.
Deserving, perhaps, even more than conquering, aware that he had tried to betray her confidence before earning it.
Then he says what he shouldn’t say, does what he shouldn’t do, goes where he shouldn’t go, as he didn’t know whether it is strongest the desire that Mary trusts him, or the confirmation that he can trust her.
His feelings for Mary, the irrational instinct to protect her from her own vulnerabilities, are so strong and pressing that, for Mary, he is willing to go to the limit of what his ethics allows. Maybe he would be ready to cross some limit too because of Mary. After all, Ben is aware he has got her and understands her reasons. However, knowing what Mary is doing, he disapproves, though, as only one who loves can do, he is ready to accept it…Indeed, he has already done so, almost earlier than Nicole (Hats off to Charlotte Sullivan’s extraordinary skill, delivering a character so complete and complex, with just a few brushes as an expert painter).
Ben accepted Mary without wonder and shyness, he doesn’t let what Mary does to be a reason to hold back his desire to be there for her.
He doesn’t allow Mary to be defined by her mistakes…
Ben’s ability to see the good in Mary is amazing in spite of the truth of what she does, which is, for him, burning, crystal and inescapable.
Ben seems ready to do anything for Mary. He admits with candor to Frank at the district.
For some reason she chose him. Him, the son of a happy couple who share a serene retirement in Florida. He, who was brought up on good and right, cannot hold back.
He cannot remain emotionless to what he saw in Mary, when, alone and desperate, she came knocking on his door.
That evening, two solitary beings took refuge in one another.
He is so sure of the vulnerability he saw behind her strength. A strength that only fear and pain feed.
He is so sure as to follow his instinct leading him to her side. He moves us most with the sincerity and tenderness with which he proposes the trip to Florida with Mary or with looks and the sweetness he reserves for her,later, at every Nicole sympathetic allusion.
This is why the disappointment of then, it hurts so much ….
That’s why Ben does not have the clarity of mind nor the calm to understand that Mary is going to tell him exactly what he has just found out.
Mary’s “I want to be honest with you” has a tremendous, unappreciated value.
Mary confirms his instinct, Mary trusts him.
But in Ben’s ear, on the pontoon, there is only the cry of pain of his broken heart and Mary’s sincerity, the reciprocated trust, is lost in that echo of pain.
Ben was freaked out by Mary’s vulnerability and fell in love.
Jumping to conclusions during the phone call, believing everything he had imagined about her suddenly wrong, miserably shatters the confidence he felt, the trust he thought she deserved.
Even before being betrayed by Mary, Ben is betrayed by the collapse of his expectations. Doesn’t wait, doesn’t listen, he overreacts.
It’s too painful to think that Mary is not as fragile as she looked in his arms.
In front of her, he was incredibly himself.
Too much pain to think that she has not reciprocated.
It is not the thought of a Mary “worse” than he thought to crush Ben’s heart and logic,
it is the horror at the thought of exposing himself, to have been true in front of someone capable instead of pretending emotions, fragility and involvement.
Once undermined the trust in Mary’s emotional honesty, there is no room for his feelings.
Ben goes away, leaving Mary torn and lonely.
That’s how Mary has always seen herself. How she always felt.
The immensity of pain inside her to suggest that such an immense sorrow could not be shared, could not be understood and loneliness was the remedy to survive.
Keeping all this pain inside, though, because your sister does not deserve it, your husband would not understand (and that’s how he became an ex) and taking this almost clinical detachment from any emotional involvement, makes you tougher, preventing you from trust issues, pushing people away, even daughters.
The fear of allowing the ones she loves to come too close to her runs deep and corrodes her soul like a burning fire.
Mary can only rely on herself.
An indelible pain which will never die, as she says, has been caused by those who loved her most.
She is no longer used, not capable and too afraid to trust. She would not trust Ben and she is committed to strenuously keep him away since the beginning, at her wake up in the motel.
She slams in his face that he cannot be trusted because he is the one always working, the one pretending.
She shows coldness, distance. She knows how much any weakness could cost.
And trust would be for her an unforgivable weakness.
The temptation to break her haven of loneliness’ barriers is great, the price is likely to be very high.
Mary would like to give up, oh how she would.
Close her eyes, shoulders enclosed by his arms as when he taught her to aim, protected.
“To properly aim you have to control subconscious”, he said.
Surrounded by him, her inner demons silent at last, she felt herself, without fear and the shot was direct and precise.
I wonder what she thought.
Taking a deep breath, the warmth of Ben on arms and back, she must have thought how everything would have been easier, in that warmth, finally protected.
However Mary seems to resist there and later, during the walk.
Yet, Ben’s protective desire to crumble Mary’s solitude broke through, the sincerity of his feelings not unheard.
She needs just a little encouragement by Nicole as she had already settled inside her that Ben and what he means, is worth the risk.
Sadly just to hear his voice in delivering her real name, it’s enough to know her choice was late.
Nothing ever easy for Mary.
The resolution to confide, to share everything with Ben, not just the loneliness, is a difficult and important step, so bitterly reviled by the simple lack of timing.
Not enough strength to grab Ben, to stop him, yelling at him that what he found out was exactly what she went to tell him. That it’s what she meant her “to be honest”.
He should just listen to her.
She is so resigned to being disappointed by those who love her that she doesn’t even try, does not believe it.
It is easier to keep protecting herself, to see in Ben’s reaction a cold pro calculation rather than his disappointed irrational bitterness.
Easier to whisper to herself “I told you so,” and letting him leave, rather than risk of not being trusted once she explained.
Rejecting because of the dread of not being accepted.
Expectations play a role in the episode secondary to that played by the trust.
Ben and Mary, they wound each other because of the fear of being hurt, because of hesitation in believing, afraid that trusting each other will mean to concede too much into their vulnerability.
To protect themselves, expose both of them to a bigger pain.
To trust means exposure to risk of suffering, of course.
Those we love can hurt us more than anyone else, even not on purpose.
What Ben and Mary must both ask themselves, from the depth of their solitude, is whether the warmth of the presence of each other in the other’s life is worth the risk of getting burned.
Edited by Lisa
“There is beauty in the Inevitable”
It’s impressive that each episode of Mary Kills People takes the audience to a gradually deeper level of knowledge of the events and characters.
It is as if they had shown us a large canvas from the beginnning, already complete, which the evolution of the story makes us focus right down to details.
We could easily define this third episode as the best seen so far, except that, as said, it helps to create a bigger picture, every detail to enrich the overall vision so, at the end of the six, each one will be quite an important chapter of the wonderful story.
In “Wave the white flag” reactions to events are like layers of an onion on character’s skin, fallen away, one after the other, exposing all the emotions, the truth, the reasons which move each one of the protagonists in this choral tale.
Meeting Irene and Declan in the opening moment, Mary and Des are enchanted by peacefulness and love they perceive as an aura around the tight-knit couple. The shared happiness they exhibit in spite of everything has a special value for Mary who’s maybe feeling the vibes of an old nostalgia for never having experienced something even close to that emotion, softened by the knowledge, mixed with hope, that maybe sometimes, somewhere, it truly exists.
The overture sequence Lime and Coconut alone brings about praise and plaudits to the wonderful Holly Dale for the skill with which she introduces lights and contrast, peacefulness and chaos and anticipates much of the episode’s tone, ‘tuning’ viewers as to what is about to happen.
It is a narrative choice which is really very effective to put so much sunshine and serenity – the fantastic music score helps a lot – at the beginning of a story that is rather turbulent and confused as though the grey of the sky rocked by the wind before a storm.
The cinematography also admirably tells of this conflict, from the exuberance of Irene and Declan’s garden, to the coldness of the beach where Mary meets Ben for the first of three contacts, each one more illuminating than the others.
Characters are stretched like violin strings, moment by moment, raw nerves at every clash they share.
That instinctive awareness, misty but strong, in all that is happening today will complicate tomorrow life.
They each do their best to keep the helm and not get carried away by the storm, not always easy though.
Far from it.
It is not always even possible.
Des knows it when he sees the routine that has been scrupulously built and shared with Mary, creak under the weight of unexpected events and Mary’s dramatic reaction to them.
Bravo, from deep down, to Richard Short who introduces us, with unusual and uninhibited skill, a character multifaceted, true and credible both in sarcastic tones and in the dramatic moments, all intensely and brilliantly delivered.
Frank knows it as much as he knows Ben and is able to read his soul sooner than the colleague reads his own feelings. His affection is so sincere that he has not the courage to intervene, but you could lose yourself in the depth and intensity of Lyriq Bent’s eyes when, at the hospital, he puts in his stare all the sincere concern, without judgments or convictions, for what Ben is living.
Jess knows it. Jess who does not see any hope for her heartfelt need of certainties.
The people she loves seem so ready to hurt her. She sees the storm everywhere around her, not only in the sky.
Even Grady knows, the merciless Grady, frenzied and moody figure created by the talented genius of Greg Bryk. Things could get messy from time to time and his coldness and maniacal ability to control each factor may not be enough.
Mary knows of course. Oh yes, she knows …
She has already lost more than a protective layer, maybe she never had so many, feels the storm coming more intensely because she lives the storm inside, holding it within, even before impacting events that trigger it.
Mary is storm.
Ben is the one who notices it.
Ben who fits into the story so deviously, a liar and who reveals a conflicting personality at the very least so fascinating, a moral so pure as to make him tenderly vulnerable.
Ben reads Mary.
He reads the hidden implications in the innermost defenses and he is bewitched.
He knows so little that he should not get her so well, he could not.
But Mary has exposed herself to him. She was softly herself when she saw only a chance encounter, a sudden contact, intense, though not dangerous.
In his fake, dingy apartment, Ben was someone to tell everything to without fear, knowing that he would not have time or no other to witnesses her narration.
The storm that Mary hurls at Ben is truly and deeply destabilizing. Whatever happens, it changes you forever.
Ben makes no effort to do his job honestly. He is honest.
He is investigating Mary, does not tell fibs to himself nor justify himself to her.
He is consistent in his soul even as he is overwhelmed by the swirl of emotions that Mary arouses. No armor but certainly reminds us of a knight of yesteryear, always ready to do his duty and to protect Mary without thinking for a moment.
Although Mary is the one who errs.
Even those who make mistakes deserve protection.
Even those who are fragile make mistakes and Ben saw the fragility of Mary. He perceived, felt, touched every moment Mary was close to him.
The fragility and the conflict.
The fragility of Mary, Ben cannot resist.
The most beautiful scene of the episode, the narrative moment that changes the whole story is definitely in the hospital when Ben, anything but lost, has no hesitation in grasping the arm of Mary and writes his number to be called for anything. For anything at all. The sight of Mary shocked, yet another perception of her fragility, gives him the strength to take a step that is kind of an irrevocable choice.
Moved, touched, bewitched by this messy creature who he didn’t ask to meet but has, Ben feels he wants to be there for her.
He decided to do so.
To reach Mary, later, at the motel is only a consequence of the steps taken in that corridor.
He does not respond with words but by kissing her when she asked why he had reached her.
With tenderness and intensity of what seems like the first kiss, which they missed in the heat of their first encounter, he tells her he is there because he cares about her, because the attraction has quickly given way to something more engaging, more intimate, deeper.
The conflict that Ben will have to live, for those steps in the hospital corridor and the sweet hugging at the motel, does not currently have any importance.
What matters right now, is that the raw, fragile Mary feels lonely.
He wants her to know she is not alone.
Maybe Mary fell asleep in Ben’s arms after making love. Maybe she’d have dreamed of a lush garden and the color of the flowers, the warmth of the sun on the skin and the happiness in the heart …
Edited by Lisa
Thrilled by Mary Kills People premiere coming date we had the chance to pass the time exchanging a few words with Amy Cameron via Cameron Pictures Twitter Account.
She dedicated patience and attention to every question truly pleasantly.
We thought it would’ve been nice to collect the most interesting topics touched.
On solving issues about assisted suicide regulation and plot…
On Season 2 chances…
And on tremendous cast:
We are totally awestruck, and you?
See you January 25 on Global TV!
WOMEN BEHIND CANADIAN TV: TASSIE CAMERON
Bridget Liszewski | March 14, 2016 | Canadian TV, TV News | No Comments
Those who are fortunate enough to earn success from working in the harsh business of television have a right to give back, says Rookie Blue creator Tassie Cameron. Having served as showrunner on the cop drama for six seasons, winning the WGC Showrunner Award in 2011, Cameron says that she not only sees it as her responsibility to mentor younger writers, but it’s something that she gets a lot of enjoyment from doing. A prime example of that is the recent announcement that her new production company, Cameron Pictures Inc., will be producing the new Global series Mary Kills People, coming in January 2017 from Tara Armstrong, winner of the 2015 Shaw Media Writer’s Apprentice Program.
A graduate herself of Canadian Film Centre (CFC), prior to creating Rookie Blue, Cameron wrote on shows such as Flashpoint and The Eleventh Hour. She is currently shopping her new project, 10 Days in the Valley starring Demi Moore, to networks. The show will feature Moore as Jane Sadler, an overworked writer and single mother, whose 5 year old daughter is taken from her bed in the middle of the night.
Cameron recently spoke to The TV Junkies as part of our Women Behind Canadian TV series to discuss the strategies she uses when filling out a writers’ room, as well as how those choices get reflected in the characters that come across on the screen. She also discusses her new ventures, and the benefits women can get from supporting one another.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
The TV Junkies: You’re at the point in your career where you are the one now putting together writing rooms, but what was the gender makeup of rooms you were in early on in your career?
Tassie Cameron: My first real job was on Degrassi and that was pretty equal, 50/50. I then went on to Tom Stone, a show for CBC that was set in Calgary. That was my one and only experience being the only woman in the room. It was a bunch of alpha male writers and me – and was run by Andrew Wreggitt, who was one of my first real mentors and to this day, remains a close friend of mine. I was definitely the token girl on that team. One of the main characters on that show was a woman from Toronto; it was a fish out of water story of her being out in Calgary and I think they wanted to replicate that experience by hiring a city girl from Toronto to come out and provide a female perspective on cowboys and Calgary and life out west. That was the only time I’ve ever been the only woman in a room. And I loved it. I loved the guys I worked with, and it was complete baptism by fire. But since then it has been much more equal, both in the rooms I’ve been in and the rooms I’ve run.
TTVJ: Your writers’ rooms, especially on Rookie Blue (where 74% of the episodes were written/co-written by women), tend to have more females than males. Is that a conscious effort on your part and what strategies do you use when filling out a room?
TC: I wouldn’t say it was conscious, in that we weren’t going for 75% or anything. Although I think those numbers are super-cool, and I’m proud of them. I think consciously I’m aware of the challenges that women face in this industry. So on that level, I’m always trying to find new female writers to work with, to mentor, to help get their careers off the ground. I think that’s reflected in the numbers on Rookie Blue. I’m conscious of it on that level; but I’ve never said ‘Oh the room needs to be 50/50,’ and never made those rules for myself.
That said, I’d be very surprised if I ever designed a room that didn’t have a couple of women in it. That just seems completely unlikely to me, partly because so many of the writers that I love working with are female, and so often I’m working on shows that have complicated, strong female characters in them. So of course you want to be staffing your room with strong, complicated female writers. But I’ve never made a rule of it.
TTVJ: Speaking of “strong female characters,” Rookie Blue gave us such a wide variety of them and yes, they had guns, but they had all these other layers to them and viewers really saw them, flaws and all. Do you attribute that fact to having so many women in your writers’ room?
TC: Absolutely. When you sit around with writers like Sherry White, Semi Chellas, Esta Spalding, Adriana Maggs, Noelle Carbone, Ley Lukins, Karen Moore, Katrina Saville, Shelley Eriksen… These are amazing women with vast ranges of experiences, and the one thing that unites everyone is a strong sense of humor. So in an effort to amuse each other, we all get very honest; and those very honest stories often find their way into our characters. So yes, I think having strong, complicated and honest women in your room means that your female characters are going to reflect that.
TTVJ: What responsibility do experienced writers have to young women who are just starting out in their careers?
TC: We have a huge responsibility to help people along, to mentor them, to make sure young writers are getting their names on scripts, to make sure they are getting paid properly, to make sure they are getting the opportunities they need to rise up to become the next generation of television writers. It’s something I take very seriously. Partly just for job insurance. When they are all running shows and I’m 100 years old, maybe they will hire me.
Honestly, I had incredible mentors that helped me every step of the way – men and women, writers, producers, executives. So I guess I’m just trying to pay that back as much as I can. And not just with women. There are obviously some remarkable male writers out there and young guys I’m trying to help out. It’s not a gender thing; it’s about helping talented people that need a break, and it just so happens that a lot of the people I’ve been able to work with have been women.
I think it’s also important to model a collaborative approach to this, versus a competitive approach. My closest friends in this business are all women I’ve worked with, people who you might’ve thought were your competition but we never let it go there–an incredibly collaborative group of women who have never let the competition thing get in the way and who help each other out on everything. I think it’s crucial to model that for other young women starting out in the business. You don’t have to be a cutthroat, insecure person to get ahead. You’re going to get way further ahead if you have supportive, sympatico friends who will help you get there.
TTVJ: Often when women are put in leadership positions we can worry about how we’re going to be viewed. Do you worry about that at all and what’s your leadership strategy?
TC: When I was young somebody said something to me that always stayed with me. ‘You can run a creative enterprise in two ways: fear or love.’ And for me? Fear is not an interesting place to work from, creatively. While I can see how it works for certain people, for me, the writing room needs to be very safe, very collaborative, and very honest. And I think my relationships with directors and actors and crew work the same way. I hope that I’m inspiring people to give me their best because we all care so much about each other and about our collective project, and not because they are scared of me. It wouldn’t be true to who I was if I was trying to scare people.
TTVJ: You’re now running your own production company, and developing a show by a young woman, Tara Armstrong, with Mary Kills People. Is that something you want to keep doing with your production company, specifically look for shows from young women?
TC: I love working with other writers and I love finding new talent and trying to figure out what the right material is for them to be developing and how I can help. I love being surprised by voices that are so different from mine and stories that are so different from stories I’d ever think of telling. I find it incredibly gratifying to work with emerging writers; and if I can be useful by producing with them, well then, why wouldn’t I do that? Tara is exactly the kind of person I want to be working with–hard working, intelligent, with a fiercely unique vision and a strong point of view–and I have been enjoying it immensely.
TTVJ: You’ve had to pitch multiple series to networks in the past and you’re actively pitching a new series at the moment. Can you share a little what that’s like and if you ever feel like you’re getting treated differently during that process because you’re a female?
TC: I don’t feel that I have been treated any differently in the pitching process, not at all. In fact I was at HBO today and there was only one man in the room: seven powerhouse women, and one very lovely, brilliant man. I’ve never felt like it’s a big liability. I think what I do feel is that I’m grateful to be a female writer and not a female director. Those are the people having a really challenging time breaking into this industry–female directors and female writers of color is really where the work needs to be done.
TTVJ: What advice do you have for young women looking to get into the television industries in these behind the scenes positions?
TC: It helps if you have a great script and a great sample. So sitting down and writing a strong original sample that really represents your voice and what you want to say, without necessarily worrying about whether that script will ever find a home or get made, is a huge piece of the puzzle. I think a really strong sample of original work is crucial.
Beyond the usual pieces of advice, a sense of humility is a helpful thing. Don’t be afraid to take a job as a writers’ assistant or as the assistant to a showrunner or producer. Almost every single person that I’ve had as an assistant—and I mean someone who’s literally picking my kid up at daycare–has become a writer with me, if that’s what they wanted to be in the first place. Become a coordinator and then become a junior story editor, then go from there. There are ways to prove yourself in those jobs that really make a difference and make you somebody that people trust and somebody people will take a chance on. If you’re smart, motivated, hard-working, and talented, the world really will take notice.
Waiting to see her as Louise in Mary Kills People next winter, let’s take a look to Alexandra Castillo-Smith’s career.
Born in Santiago, Chile, this former Canadian dancer received extensive acting and dance training in North America, Spain and France.
She holds a Masters Degree in Latin American Studies and is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Italian.
Her acting career spans decades. She has a has worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robert Duval, William H. Macy, and starred in projects helmed by Steven Spielberg, Stephen Soderbergh, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.
Her character on Rookie Blue, Detective Inez Capello, garnered quite a following by that show’s loyal fans.
In addition to Mary Kills People, we will see her soon in TV series Incorporated, as Susan, and in Jessica Chastain’s thriller Miss Sloane, as Pru Walsh
Elizabeth Northcutt Against the Wall – Season 1
Nurse Davis Degrassi: The Next Generation – Season 4
Dr. Alexandra Castro Fringe – Season 3
Constable Seagram Jeff Ltd. – Season 1
NYPD Lazzerio Kojak (2005) – Season 1
Bianca Clemente Lucky 7 – Season 1
Rita Brinden Missing (2003) – Season 1
Mary Thompson Murdoch Mysteries – Season 8
Gina Mutant X – Season 3
Agent M. Powell Rogue – Season 3
Detective Inez Capello Rookie Blue – Season 6
Araceli The Border – Season 1
Helena Avila The Dead Zone – Season 2
USADA Mary Connor The Firm – Season 1
Detective Patty Sinclair The Listener – Season 2
Larissa Munoz This is Wonderland – Season 1
Lisa (Surgeon) Warehouse 13 – Season 3