Luisa D’Oliveira – Channel Zero
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) How was Amy on “Channel Zero” broken down for you originally and how did the character evolve since then?
A) One of the biggest things for me playing Amy was figuring out where she fit into the narrative. I’ve never done a psychological horror before, but there is such an element of reveal and very, very careful storytelling to weave this really intense psychological tapestry that the viewers are invited on. So, it was a little different than most roles I’ve played. I had to find what I needed to bring to the story to make that work. So, that was a pretty big factor in figuring out Amy. Amy brings a lightness to the show and there is a lot of terrible things that happen in the past, but she has no memory of them. She was too young when it happened in this town so she has been untainted by this stuff in the past. As an audience member, I realized when you are watching the show you are discovering all of this for the first time in a way through Amy because everyone else around her has some memory of what has happened and she is the youngest one. As soon as I realized that the audience was seeing things through her eyes things really started to take shape.
Q) Where have you connected with the character?
A) Amy is very optimistic and likes people. It’s very easy for her to be pleasant and happy and choose to enjoy life. That is very much how I think I am. I don’t look for the faults in people. I kind of look for the opposite and if people say do things that aren’t great I find reasons why they are okay – like if they were in a bad mood. I think Amy has this quality as well – this real positivity and optimism. But she is really tempered by realism as well. She’s a sheriff’s deputy and there is a reason why she got that job. So, when she has to she sinks into the real world pretty quick. That will be really interesting for her journey on the show because she has a big transition when stuff starts to go down, which was really fun to play.
Q) As the season begins to move forward, how might the dynamics be shifting?
A) There is going to be a lot of dynamics shifting on the show because we start to realize something quite sinister is happening that we think no one understands. It’s something that most of the main characters have not experienced at this level. It’s quite a scary, terrifying thing as events start to unfold. So, everyone is challenged and there is just going to be a very sentient shift for all the characters. You see how all of them react to this demanding chain of events. I think it is just like real life where really difficult circumstances show you what you are made of. You go through the fire and come out reborn in a way and I think that’s true for a lot of the characters, especially Amy. A lot of the characters are going to be challenged by that.
Q) They say you never know who you are until you are tested by circumstances beyond your control.
A) All the work I’ve done this year has really been living in this realm of real trial by fire. Emori’s whole life is trial by fire because she has been on her own through terrible circumstances with just her brother. Then, Amy on Candle has led quite a normal life up to this point. She’s not grown up expecting horrible things from the world. They are starting to become forced on her and with very little preparation for something of this depth. It shows how much guts she has and how deep her resolve goes. It’s been really, really fascinating to discover that. You kind of find it as you go, I find, working on projects. It’s not 100% on the page so when you get there on the day and you’re working with the other actors and directors…That’s the whole essence of acting. It all comes together and it is so fluid. One of the best things you can do is to bring your own work, but just to allow it to live freely on the day, especially when you have a great creative team. We have such a great crew on this show. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had! I would work with any of them again in an absolute heartbeat. So, in that environment it is so wonderful to see the things that bubble up to the surface.
Q) When you begin to work with people, the nuances and chemistry becomes very organic.
A) When I first started acting, I was quite young, but I was old enough to know I wanted to do a really good job. I didn’t have the freedom where there is less pressure. I got into it when I was twenty or twenty-one so I was old enough to be seen as “you should be a professional.” I was very, very green in the industry. It’s a really, really difficult to dive into because there is so much to know. You just have to constantly be learning and absorbing and really develop a strong skin to work even when you are anxious, stressed and not finding it. You will find it and will get there. I feel it has just been in the last half of my working career that I have really started to relax into the work. I’m assuming it is something most actors go through in some way. I certainly have had enough experience to not rigidly hold on to my experiences and work and allowed it to breathe a bit. Then, suddenly interesting things would be happening. You have to let go and not know where it will go, which is really scary sometimes because you are losing control, but that is often when really great stuff happens. Really bad stuff happens too, but you just throw those takes away. [laugh] You just need one good one and that’s what they use. Ideally, you get to the point where it all feels like a good take and other times it is not like that at all. Giving myself the freedom has been a wonderful thing to learn and I’m still learning as I go.
Q) You do a lot of sci-fi work. What is it about this genre that you find compelling?
A) I love how there is such an intensity with sci-fi. I don’t know why, but all the work I’ve done is sci-fi-. There is always a strong mission, but it is not case driven like a procedural, for example. It’s seems so emotional or maybe that is just all the work I’ve done in sci-fi. It’s hard to quantify. I just really enjoy it and I tis fun. Plus, it is fantasy! It’s a futuristic world often or a psychological fantasy. And you get to play with all this make believe, so much more than pieces that are set in present day. It’s still completely human. It’s just what would this look like if we were living on Jupiter with three other races and we were fighting over some mythical substance that is going to keep us alive and not everyone can get it. You can instantly imagine what it is going to be like. It’s experiencing something familiar in a very new way. I just think that is so cool. It gives you such freedom. It’s a new way to experience something familiar.
Q) Emori seemed to start out as sort of a guest star and then blossom into a real asset on “The 100.”
A) I know! It was supposed to be one episode, with the potential more. They always seem to kind of have the potential for more on that series. My guess is they want to see fans respond and the writers/creative team get inspired by how it all comes together. Creating a character on that show is so much more than writing it. Every single department plays such a large role in creating it – like her outfit and tattoos. All these things come together visually to give her this look. Her outfit alone came from her being in the desert so long, which was different than so many of the Grounders that we had seen so far. All of these visual elements and the writing team makes the character and they want to see the chemistry between the people. They obviously must have been happy with it because they brought me back, which I was very happy about!
Q) You do seem to transform with wardrobe.
A) When I put on my wardrobe, it truly is stepping into her shoes. It’s so much different than most wardrobe on shows I’ve worked on because you are wearing different cloths than you would wear, but they are still for the most part regular clothes or a uniform. This is an entirely different beast and you know I’m not Luisa. I’m the person I am. I’m a very, very different person. It’s really visceral.
Q) We have the big event Unity Days coming up. What are most looking forward to and enjoy about attending these kinds of events?
A) I’m really looking forward to meeting some of these fans face to face and getting together with some of the cast. It’s a wonderful group of people that work on the show. We all really love it. We love working on it and the fans love watching the show. I’m just really looking forward to being in the same room with everyone who wants to celebrate the same thing. That is going to be really, really cool. And I’ve never done a convention before. Unity Days is my first one. I’m really excited about it! I’m a little scared as well, but mostly excited. [laughs]
Q) Fans come together for these conventions and really bond over the series.
A) I know the feeling because there are so many characters on TV throughout the years that I have so personally connected to. You are so personally invested in what they do on the series and in their character arc. It’s incredible how deep that relationship can be. So, it’s really special for me to know that I might now be on the other end of that for some people. Because I absolutely 100% know that feeling. It’s just really special. When you see yourself represented and actors make you feel something very, very real and they do it in your living room – in your own home – it’s kind of a beautiful connection. So, I’m really looking forward to putting faces to that.
Q) One of my favorite moments of “The 100” last season was when Emori was in The City of Light and they said you don’t have to feel pain and have this birth defect and she says he doesn’t want to change that. It was such a significant moment for people who identify with her. What kind of feedback have you received to this scene?
A) Extremely positive feedback. Only positive feedback k. It’s clear that resonated with people in a good way. It was really good that the writers chose to take her in that direction because they could have written that she as frustrated with how she was treated because of it and that she wanted to change it. Instead, they made her identify with it and that she was no better or worse than anyone. I thought that was so wonderful. I have to give major props to Jason [Rothenberg] and the writers of that because they wrote that line. That’s the reason why it was that way. So, between them and me I guess she has become what she is as a representative of someone with a physical deformity. If Emori speaks to you then she speaks to you. As with the other characters on the show if they speak to you, they represent you.
Q) The other thing is she ends up being loyal to Murphy and he the same, even though she tricked him in Season one. What do you think makes them so connected?
A) I think they recognize a kindred spirit in a very deep way. They were both ostracized from their society and both have done terrible things to keep themselves alive. They both have felt whatever conflicting emotions they have had about those things that have done. They both had to put on a tough face to stay alive and survive, whether they wanted to or not. And I think without even saying it they just see it in each other. They feel it. They felt it right from the get-go. Even though when they first met it ended up with Emori betraying him, that planted the seeds and John (Richard Harmon) didn’t trust her again right away. But he got her and I think that’s why he stood where he stood with him. She got him and so she knew where she stood with him and that was the basis of a really real relationship.
Q) We got to see them reunite after the City of Light dissipates and minds become clear. I wanted to ask if there will be any kind of lasting effects and now that Clarke has had to pull the switch, how will it play a larger role?
A) I think they are both going to have to deal with the fact that she was in the City of Light and he doesn’t know why. Does that mean that she betrayed him or was she tricked into it? He doesn’t know. So, that’s something they absolutely have to address moving forward. Besides that, the biggest thing that Emori will have to deal with is two things: 1) knowing that she has lost her brother because she had him back in the City of Light and I’m sure in there she realized that he died but that didn’t bother her because she was in the City of Light. She didn’t feel any pain. But now that she is out she knows he is gone and will never see him again. Whether or not that will be outwardly or inwardly addressed that is really real for her 2) it is just having all the emotional and physical pain that had been taken away from her (probably for the first time in her life) of emotional suffering that she has endured. She knows what the absence of that feels like. So, whether or not we’ll see that in some outward way these are the things she will be dealing with. And everyone who was in the City of Light has now been in a way been ripped out of it. They are all having to deal with having the pain back and knowing that what the absence of it felt like which is probably going to make it even more difficult.
Q) Who is someone you most looking forward to having more screen time with this season?
A) I really want to see Emori have to interact with Skykru with Abby (Paige Turco), Raven (Lindsay Morgan) or any of the really strong women specifically. All of her interactions have been with men so far on the show and she is a very, very strong woman herself. But I would love to see how she reacts to working with or against another strong woman. And there are no shortage of them on this show, that’s for sure! Also, I’m really interested to see how Emori deals with being back in society again. Right when she gets out of the City of Light at the very least they know that she is going to be around everyone who is in Polis – Grounders, Arkers, everybody. And she has prided herself on flying under the radar. That’s how she was able to survive. Even when she was in Polis selling rats, she was able to be invisible in a way. Now she has been in the City Of Light with a whole bunch of other people and they were made aware of her in probably a way they had never been before. So, her ability to hide has already been damaged. She is going to have to deal with society in general and I can’t wait to see more of that. She knows what she is made of in a difficult situation. She knows she can go to dark places if she needs to survive, but what if that is taken away? What if she doesn’t have to fight that hard is she going to have to adjust? John Murphy, for example, had a difficult time in Season One dealing with having power and creating the 100 society and underground. I think they are very similar so we are going to have to see if she is able to adjust if she is able to or not.