Parisa Fitz-Henley – Midnight, Texas
By: Jamie Steinberg
Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?
A) I have! I just shot a short that is a part of a larger project. It’s called Congo Cabaret and the larger project focuses on queer contributions to the Harlem Renaissance. The short is based on a novel that my character shows up in. She’s like a 1920’s jazz singer with a heart of not gold! [laughs] She’s a bit rough around the edges in this club where anything goes. So, I get to sing and dance and be a bit rude.
Q) How was Fiji originally described to you?
A) She was originally described as a quirky, hippy witch. If those aren’t the exact words, it’s very close. It was just a little sentence in an email and I thought, “Ooo! That’s in my wheel house. That’s what I want to do! Let’s see what else is happening with this project and then I was just in love with it.
Q) What specifically really fascinated you and made want to be a part the series?
A) Honestly, there was an intuitive magic that ended up happening from the moment my agent called with a question about whether I would take this audition since it was on a Saturday morning. I just had a feeling about it. So, everything that I read in the communication about the audition and everything I read in the pilot just confirmed and compounded what I felt in that intuitive moment when my agent called. I felt it was really something special and I think that particular thing that did compound it and clarify my feelings for it was the way that each character was so different, but that they supported each other so much. The show has a lot of mystery in it and I love that. And I just loved being Fiji who is this quirky, vulnerable person trying to make it in this world with all these powers that she is not sure she is able to wield properly. That just really fascinated me. I loved the whole thing! I still do.
Q) Was there a discussion had about her connection to Bobo?
A) That I think I learned from the pilot script. There is a moment in the pilot when Olivia, who is Fiji’s best girlfriend in town, teases her about Bobo (Dylan Bruce). So, it was obvious that it was going on and even the way Fiji was looking at him longingly at the barbeque. Then, right after I read the script I downloaded the first book from Charlaine Harris and started to read it to get much more about the relationship between Bobo and Fiji.
Q) What is it about Bobo that Fiji connects to?
A) I think it’s his warmth, his goodness and the honest attempt he makes at everything he does. He just really approaches things genuinely. It’s that he is genuine, even with his secrets.
Q) We all know that Fiji and Bobo were best friends and now they have started a romance. What makes her trust him when he tells her, “I’ll tell you later,” after learning his dark past?
A) I think the big thing is that she is still so drugged. The patch has just been taken off of her so that’s really muting a lot of what is happening because the purpose of the white supremacists putting that on her was to subdue all of what she can do. So, my personal feeling about that moment is that she is trying really hard to wrap her mind around what is going on and focus on whatever tiny next step needs to be taken care of. For example, we’re being attacked from above so hold on to a chair. We’re running out of air, summon as much as the oxygen as you can in the room and of course you don’t leave the other human out of it. This is a massive amount to take in and I think in the future we may found out even more about why it is such a big deal. But at the moment it is a lot for someone who has been so heavily drugged.
Q) Was there instant cast chemistry when you began working together?
A) I was cast the day before principal photography began so there was not much time. He was the first person from the show that I met when I got to Albuquerque, where we shot, which I thought was so fitting. Then, the second person I connected with was Arielle Kebbel who plays Olivia. There was a lot of little magic coincidences happening throughout the time, but Dylan is such a professional and also so genuine and focused. He shows up with all his work done so it’s really easy to work with him. He’s just a gentleman, a sweetheart and has a great sense of humor. All of those things make it very easy to connect with someone like that. Then, we just had a great rapport immediately. He feels like a very safe person to be around so it is easy to let down your guard and be vulnerable with him as an actor. I think that it shows when you see us playing together as characters.
Q) There is a demon that is targeting Fiji. Will we learn why he is after her and get a resolution to this?
A) Yeah, you’re going to learn some stuff. [laughs] I wish I could say more. We are definitely seeing an escalation in the fraying of the veil and the effects of that. We’ll definitely see more. There is going to be a lot of questions answered in the coming episode. In particular, episode nine is the backstory of my character, which will help you understand a lot of what is happening with her now. You’ll find some stuff out, for sure.
Q) Fiji has become such a fan favorite character because of her kindness, innocence and good nature. Was that a surprise to you?
A) I feel like everything I see is that everyone is their favorite character. So, I didn’t know that Fiji was necessarily a favorite. I love that people connect with those things in her. Those are the things I connected with her, too. Fiji is such a love and also so genuine and sincere and vulnerable. I want everyone to read the books because you get to be inside Fiji’s head so much. It is a really relatable place to be and what helped me connect to her so much. I guess I’m not surprised that you say people really love her. I’m not surprised that people would connect with her because I think that people relate to the feelings that Fiji has of being vulnerable in the world and loving the people around you and wanting to help, but not always knowing the right thing to do. Also, having powers and gifts that don’t feel welcome in the world or like they fit. I think a lot of us experience those same things, in particular women. I think men also have similar experiences with feeling not quite right for the world, not really fitting the mold that we are supposed to be in but still having so much love in your heart yet still trying to offer something anyway.
Q) What have been some of your most memorable moments from filming “Midnight Texas?”
A) [Laughs] The first thing that comes to mind is that one night we were trying to get Arielle out because she had a commitment after work. We are a very helpful cast and crew so we were like, “We’re going to wrap up this scene really quickly to get her out of here because she has this cool thing to do and we want to make sure that she can get out.” Of course, we could not get through the scene because we could not stop laughing. It was so hard! And it wasn’t anything to do with the scene itself. We just caught the giggles and couldn’t get through it. It’s the scene where she says, “We’re going to need a bigger light.” She has to say that line really seriously and we just couldn’t stop laughing. None of us could stop laughing. You know how it is one when person pulls it together and the other two don’t and then everybody trades that moment. It was very memorable and very fun.
Q) You are a part of social media. Do you enjoy the instant fan feedback you receive to episodes?
A) So much! So much! And I never thought I would love being on Twitter. I got on because I was encouraged to for work and I was like, “What am I supposed to say on here?” What I have found is that I have connected with so many people who have similar quirky things about them that I do that like the same weird combination of things that I like. And in our fans, I find so many warm, sweet, quirky, fun, encouraging people. It’s amazing to hear back from them. We hear so many wonderful things and we really get so much from it. It’s exciting to go online and feel like we’re actually connecting. It’s really wonderful. It feels like a huge gift.
Q) What would you like to say to Midnighters and fans of the show?
A) I just want to say thanks so much to everybody for being there since we were thinking about you while we were filming and to meet you all now (in a sense) and connect with you and share with you the stories we have been preparing for you – it’s an honor and it’s so fun. Goddess willing we get multiple more seasons to engage with everybody and play.