Salli Richardson-Whitfield – Stitchers
By: Jessica Wolff
Q) What initially drew you to the pilot of “Stitchers?”
A) I think to be drawn to these very strong characters and Maggie’s character and that reminded me of “Eureka.” I really think these are women of science and role models and strong women and the kind of women I would like my daughter be and see. I’m also drawn to shows that are kind of like sci-fi shows. I think it was something of that so I made sure it was a well-written pilot and that was the thing that was initially exciting about it.
Q) What draws you to the sci-fi genre?
A) I’m just one of those people that if you ask me what my favorite movie is, I would say Alien 1 & 2. I could just watch it over and over again so it’s just the thing that I’m attracted to and I will watch those kinds of movies over and over again. Somehow over the last few years I have found myself on shows like that by chance.
Q) What has been your favorite episode of “Stitchers” to film so far?
A) That’s so hard. I have to tell you it might be… I just finished directing in the show the last episode. It might be that because I got very lucky that it is a really good episode and they actually wrote me bigger than I normally am. I don’t know why they did that while I’m directing. It has a lot of action in it and it’s a really good story so I think it would be that and the fact that I know the show well and as a director I kind of wanted to really get my hands on it and direct it like I’ve always seen it. So, it was a great challenge.
Q) How do you approach directing actors being an actor yourself?
A) I think that I have been able to work with literally hundreds of different directors. I think I’ve been able to pick all the good stuff that I like from different directors but the main thing is that I find, and particularly in TV, when directors come they don’t necessarily, a lot of them, not all of them, but a lot of them are more concerned with shots and not necessarily the acting and the story. That’s what I’m really interested in, making sure I get the best performances I can out of the actors, and you would think that would be a normal thing that the directors would do, but they don’t. So everything I ever missed from a director as an actor, I try to bring to my work as a director.
Q) How do you feel about the fan support of the show and the campaign to get “Stitchers” renewed for a Season Three?
A) Well, I think it’s fabulous. It’s one of those things I think if they had not been there to support us we wouldn’t be back. I think in all realms of life that young people need to know that their voice does have power and again make change, bring back the things that they want or not bring back the types of things that they don’t like. So, I think it just shows that people have a voice and they need to use it.
Q) Are there any teases about the coming season?
A) I think there seems to be a lot of people getting together. There seems to be a lot of little budding romances. I think that you always want that as a show can’t just be about crime and solving it. You really want to see the relationships. So, I think this year you get to see some of these relationships changing and evolving and I think that’s what will make it a better season.
Q) Are we going to see more of Maggie’s backstory this season?
A) I think a little bit, but you know honestly I have been this season kind of in and out at times because I’ve been directing more. So, in order to do that they have to write me a little lighter so I can prep and direct other things. But you do find out more about my past and my training. You know my military training and that’s something they definitely delve into more.
Q) What character would you want Maggie to have more scenes with if you had more of a role this season?
A) The two people I enjoy the most on the set are Tesh (Ritesh Rajan) who plays Linus and Fisher (Damon Dayoub). I think it’s just because I just love those two guys.
Q) Where would you want to see Maggie end up at the end of the series?
A) Hmm…I think that we’re going in the right direction with her. I think that I want to find out a little more about Maggie’s secrets. When she’s the head of this program she does care about these kids, but she does have a bottom line of things that she knows that no one else knows. I think I would just really like to find out more about really what she knows and what she doesn’t know.
Q) If you personally were offered the opportunity to be in the Stitchers program, would you join?
A) Well, I don’t know if that’s my thing. I can deliver great science dialogue, but I don’t know if I have the brain or the patience for it.
Q) What’s the on-set dynamic like and do you have any great on-set stories?
A) I think my favorite lately is when Linus, I mean Tesh…They keep doing these takeovers and practical jokes on each other and Emma [Ishta] is very afraid of all things moths. I don’t know what that means, maybe in Australia maybe there’s like giant moths or something. What he did was he went and got a moth and let it loose in her trailer to play a gag on her and it worked.
Q) Do you personally prefer doing movies or television?
A) They’re just very different things. Movies are fun because it’s new people, you’re out of town (maybe) and it’s a whole new character. What I like about TV is that you get to grow in that character and really know it and It’s in that comfort you become better as an actor because you really try things. So, I think you become better acting in TV shows sometimes because you have the comfort of family around you to try anything you want to do.
Q) Of all the shows you’ve worked on in your career, which was your favorite to work on?
A) That’s hard. I think that maybe my favorite thing is still a small film that I did years ago called I Will Follow that Ava DuVernay directed because it’s the kind of quality work that I want to do as an actor, very small simple stuff. I really appreciate doing stuff like that.
Q) You directed an episode of “Shadowhunters,” which is “Stitchers'” lead-in this season. Would you be interested in a crossover or what would you want to see in a potential crossover?
A) Well, wouldn’t that be quite interesting to stitch into Magnus (Harry Shum Jr.). I think that he’d be the one that you’d want to do that to because he’s been around for so many years. That would be fun for me and I think those actors over there at “Shadowhunters” are so much fun. I love that set and everyone gets along really well and it would be a great show just to hang out with those girls.
Q) Since you started your career in theater, would you ever consider going back to theater and doing an off-Broadway or Broadway play or musical?
A) If I had an opportunity to go do something on Broadway that would be fabulous. I think right now doing something really small or maybe not just because I have children and I’m busy. But if I had an opportunity to do a great Broadway show, that would be like the cherry on my sundae.
Q) Would you be interested in a sci-fi play or something?
A) No, I figured it might be a musical or just a straight up drama. No, I don’t think we need sci-fi on Broadway.