Alejandra Simmons – All For One
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) What are the most recent projects that you are working on?
A) Actually, I just finished a theater contract, which was going on while we shot the live episode. Right now, I’m just back to the grind. I’m actually getting ready to shoot a short film with Shannon the director of “All For One” and that begins shooting at the end of May. It’s kind of a thriller set in a forest so that should be fun. Then, I got cast in a short film for the summer about a Freshman soccer player at a university who is kind of a tomboy that gets involved with the partying crowd. She gets in trouble one night after drinking and has to deal with the fallout. That will be in July. Then, another webseries that I am in is by RJ Lackie who co-write “All For One” called Dorian Gray. We’re waiting to hear about funding for that. It’s going to be a really, really cool project!
Q) What was your favorite episode to film or some of your favorite dialogue?
A) It is interesting for Alex because she as kind of in “mom” mode for the first half of the season and then she is in discovery in the second half. Both are equally challenging. I think I definitely had more fun doing Alex in episode 21 where she loses her “mom” sensibility and tries to figure out who she is. Alex becomes so entertaining in that episode and she’s trying to be a badass. It’s so funny and really a lot of fun playing that. I talked a lot with RJ during the process because so much of what Alex goes through is behind the scenes and we don’t know what happens after episode 15 where she feels so betrayed and lost. So, we talked a lot about what was going on in that period as to what changed her from “mom” to her being a lost puppy trying to figure out who she is. So, that was what stuck with me the most. It was working with Bob because so much of what you see for her happens off screen that it was making sure I knew exactly what was going on. Then, getting to go through such a drastic change is always fun for an actor. I was so excited to see what the audience would think of it because she’s such a strong personality and seems to be so clear and linear at the beginning of the series, but then comes back so all over the map. It was preparing to see where it came from and know it is not a happy place.
Q) As you mentioned, so much does happen off screen for Alex that it has been really interesting and something I’ve personally enjoyed. Where did you draw from for that growth?
A) I think the biggest thing that I connected to was in episode 23 where Dorothy (Gwenlyn Cumyn) kinds of hits it on the head in a really harsh kind of way that is quite truthful for Alex. She really is trying to figure out who she is and that change is really sparked by Miller (Dan Mousseau) because for all those years she thought she had this story in her mind about what happened to the boy she fell in love with, and to realize that everything she thought she knew about him and their relationship was false is a turning point. After she had that relationship with him, she fell into this “mom” trap where she thought it was better to take care of people first because she didn’t want to get hurt. It was, “If I let myself be vulnerable with someone I will get hurt.” It really rocks her world and it causes her to question everything about herself and her process of vulnerability and sharing. That is kind of the straw that breaks the camels’ back when the group makes the choice without her to follow through without her plan. That’s when she thinks, “Everyone is not who they say they are! I’m not who I thought I was! I don’t know what my place is in the world anymore. I need to figure it out!” She doesn’t know how to do that so she kind of goes on a bender and uses alcohol, drugs and sex to kind of run away from this world that she doesn’t know anymore or feels like she doesn’t belong in anymore. At the end of Episode 21, she is running away and trying to hide the pain. Her other identity is clearly not who she is and that is something I connect with. That’s something we all connected to in Alex’s arc and the series is struggling to find out who we are and how we define ourselves in social culture context.
Q) Miller kind of ran away and she thought he was dead. Now, here he is in her college years with someone she trusts. Alex knows his history, but we see him so differently.
A) Especially in college where it is a new community and new friendships that she felt like there really shouldn’t be anything from her past tying her down or coming back. The sorority is her family now, so to have him come and jeopardize all of that was a huge shocker!
Q) This last episode showed Rochefort gave up the tunnels for the dirt on Miller. I kind of feel like this isn’t really the sole undoing for Miller and Rick. I’d love to hear a little bit about what we might be seeing shortly.
A) It’s shocking because it has been hanging over them for so long. So, that moment when something so surprising and shocking happens and you are still kind of reeling from it…to be stuck in that…Maybe the next morning she realized this actually happened. I can’t reveal too much, but I think you can really tell in all of the girls’ responses that there are mixed feelings and noncommunication happening. People are kind of taking sides and nobody wants to relive the pain the last time they tried to follow through with their plan. So, there is a lot of people stepping on eggshells and doing what they feel is best for the group. I feel like the girls aren’t necessarily listening to their guts. I think it is best to not trust those boys. Rochefort and Anton are cousins so no matter what I think there is something to their relationship.
Q) Even though they had a victory, it doesn’t seem like the spoils will last that long. There has to be more to the story than just them destroying the harddrive.
A) Portia (Claire Gagnon-King) is trusting and giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. If I were in that position, I am such an optimist that I really try to see the best in people. The situation keeps getting worse, but as Dorothy said, “What’s the catch?” So, I think there has got to be something else going on because I don’t’ think Miller would give up that easily.
Q) You did such a great job on the live episode. What kind of feedback did you receive to the episode?
A) Everyone who watched it has been enamored with it. It’s so exciting what we were able to do in having a live episode. Having the live audience engagement only happens on news channels. So much money goes into it that it was really exciting that they were able to do it on this scale and for this audience. Everyone was so supportive and really enjoyed it. I think it is such a cool thing to watch. I watched it the next morning. Of course, I didn’t get the live audience comments while the show was happening, but it was really cool to watch the actors engage with the Inseparables and cast. To see the community that was built while watching the episode was exciting and beautiful to see them come together in this short period – twenty-five minutes. I was in a theater contract and that was our day off. I was doing six day shows a week and we shot on my one day off. So, it was kind of jumping from theater to film and then back to theater. It really just felt like I was already in that frame of mind of live performance. So, all the rehearsing we did leading up to that felt very much like what we did in theater. We were making sure we were all on our marks and we really made sure that we were prepared technically. This was a turning point in the season where the girls comeback and Dorothy is able to wrangle them to fight back and take down Miller. It’s a really big turning point so it was super fun to be able to explore that. We shot the series in October so some of the girls are friends and we’ll see each other, but it was such an amazing cast and crew. To have everyone back in the same room where we shoot was us getting together like a family reunion. It was super fun to shoot it! Also, for Alex and I – this was Alex’s big reveal and we get to see her start a whole new life. So, it was super fun and I’m so excited to be able to share this new side of Alex – her joy and freedom. Most of the time in the series up to this point she was living in a place of anger to cover up the pain and this controlled togetherness to cover up what she was feeling. It was fun to ensure that it wasn’t over the top and from a truthful place. It was why she was doing it and not to be funny and to seek attention, but because she is so truly lost and has been taking care of the people in her life it is her trying to figure out what she wants. It was really nice to be able to explore that with the audience and the girls because Angie and Gwen and Claire and I had such an established dynamic for each character that this was a huge turning point. It was nice to see everyone’s dynamic change and it was entertaining, fun and exciting for all of us as actors. It was also a challenge because we had shot everything in October so we had to make sure it tied in with the trajectory of the other episodes.
Q) We got to see Alex and a dress and falling over the cast in the episode. How did you work with wardrobe and also choreograph your tumble?
A) During one of our rehearsals, Amanda Wang our costume designer came in and we tried out a bunch of different options to see what Alex would wear. We had some wild options and some sexy chic options. We wound up with this dress and jacket and it turned out a friend of mine from university had that same dress. Alex isn’t the most trendy or on style. But I did a lot of physical training and theater training in my background. So, I choreographed those falls that wasn’t revealing to the audience to get a PG13 rating. It was super fun playing around on the day we shot. Alex has never worn anything like that before and I don’t think she ever will again. It was just a fun opportunity!
Q) For a while Alex seemed like almost a pod-person and out of sorts. What do you think it was like soul searching for her?
A) She was emotionally and psychological abused by Miller and she didn’t know it. So, for her, her natural instinct is to bottle them up and protect herself. She lived all of these years bottling it up and what we have seen on “All For One” is that she has such incredible friends in the girls and Dorothy. They are so caring that she realizes she doesn’t have to live that way anymore and protect herself. In starting to find confidence, trust and vulnerability, to them she is really hurt when Miller comes in. The turnaround is so severe because once again this is so devastating to her. She needs therapy and lots of friends and chocolate and movie nights and cuddles because it is not going to be an easy fix. That kind of psychological hurt and feelings of betrayal…there is truth in that and I think that is something she is going to spend some years dealing with. I can empathize because in university, I kind of hit a point where I went downward and had a breakdown. From that point on, my life changed dramatically and I needed to have the support of my family. I needed to be in therapy and have friends who loved me. I needed to spend time finding out who I was and all kinds of things. It’s worth it. It’s hard and painful, but ultimately she will be fine and has to trust she has people supporting you.
Q) How was your role as Alex originally described to you?
A) I was kind of brought in the process a different way that everyone else was because I was in a play during the first casting call. So, I couldn’t do it. They called me and said they wanted to bring me in. At that point, I didn’t know who they wanted to bring me in for. They sent me a breakdown of all the characters and I told them, “Unfortunately, I’m in a conflict with theatre. I’m not available.” Then, a few weeks later they had some changes and said they might be able to bring me in. Late August or September, they said they wanted to bring me in for the role of Alex. I said, “Cool! Who’s Alex?” At that point, they kind of described her as someone with a dark secret from her past and is super controlling. She looks out for her friends, but doesn’t really focus on herself. The breakdown was something like that. I was like, “I get that. I’m super controlling. I tend to avoid what is going on with me by trying to make other people happy. I don’t have any dark secrets, but I feel like I know her.” So, I just went in for Alex and I think I did a self-tape for the first round. Then, they called and said they would like to see me and I read with Gwen. There was never a question in my mind as to whether or not I’d play Alex. Then, after the chemistry read they said they still had to wait for me to be approved. I think my trajectory was a little bit different from the others.
Q) What have you taken away from your experiences working on “All For One?”
A) I feel like I’m still in the learning stages because there is an arc to Alex. I’m learning and engaging with the fans. Learning more about social media has been amazing. When I read all the scripts when they cast me as Alex, I was really moved by the Alex arc. I could really empathize with her. I thought it was a beautiful character and a hard story that she has to go through and hard changes in her life she’d have to go through. Especially with this series, Bob and Sarah have done a really amazing job of creating their ideas for the characters and then showing more of an arc of their truths. Of all the characters in the series, I think Alex goes through a drastic change and I was so blown away by that. I was so excited to be able to embody that. It was a tremendous challenge as an actor. There is always challenges of shooting on set. I would do two days of shooting and five days of making sure I knew the character arc, really for me as an actor knowing technically where I am not in the story and where she is fitting in each episode and then changing from one hour of shooting to the next hour of shooting and making sure I’m connecting to where she lined up. Everyone is so supportive so it is really like a family. It’s a joy to be a part of it.