Tell me about yourself and career.
I’m a Cali kid, though at 34 the term “kid” is becoming more tenuous with every passing hour. Kid at heart, maybe? I grew up poor in a single-parent home, moved around a lot, have been homeless a few times, and sacrificed a lot to get through college and spent a TON of time struggling before acting started to really support the idea of me eating on a daily basis. It’s the small things, really. I’ve always been focused and a hard-worker, but anyone can tell you that when you’re born without money or connections, a career in Hollywood can feel like a fantasy. I was always pretty hard-headed though. I was determined to make it happen and when you grow up poor it really feels like you’ve got nothing to lose, at least that’s how I felt; there was nowhere to go but up. It took a lot of time and some painful lessons, but the dam eventually broke and for that (and for “Siren” specifically) I’m eternally grateful. But there’s a reason why they say this career has so many ups and downs. It’s like a mountain; it’s hard work to climb up and even when you make it to the top there’s always the specter of a quick and unceremonious fall. Stay humble, keep working on yourself and your craft and keep climbing, because there’s always another summit to get to on this particular mountain.
How would you describe your character on Siren?
Xander’s grown a lot over the course of the last two seasons and has been through a lot in a short period of time, but at his core he remains a fiercely loyal, kind-hearted, inquisitive, yet highly impulsive individual. He starts off as a fisherman, living under his father’s expectations, without much direction in life and when his father dies (spoiler alert) it sets him on a journey to find himself through his grief (after the rage part dies down a bit). He’s affable, direct, and smarter than people give him credit for and he’s been an absolute joy to play. I think he can often be a polarizing figure on the show, which is hard when you love a character so much. But you learn that all the varied reactions are actually a great compliment. Love him or hate him, you definitely feel SOMETHING about him, which means I’ve done my job.
What attracted you to the role?
Gainful employment? Lol. This is my first big show, so I wasn’t in the position to be overly selective about any opportunities that came my way, but luckily for me Xander really spoke to me as a performer. He’s so utterly, unabashedly, human. He’s full of heart, doubt, rage, grief, and loyalty. His emotions are messy, he’s flawed and doesn’t always think things through. He’s so human, so three dimensional; and in a world that’s as fantastical as ours is, it’s so refreshing to play a character that elicits so many emotions from the audience (for better or worse). He’s always there to remind you of the human cost to all of the mer-adventures and as an actor it gives me a lot to sink my teeth into.
What can we expect to see in the episode?
I think it’s safe for me to see that there’s a mer-baby on the way this season, a development that really raises the stakes for everyone and it makes for the most action-packed season that we’ve done! It feels like, now that we’ve set up this world and all of its inherent rules we can open things up and really have fun with all of the characters. It’s always a blast on our set, we have fun together and I think all of that definitely shines through this season.
What do you want to see happen on the show and with your character in the future?
Our writers have done a spectacular job at keeping us guessing so far and I don’t expect that to change going forward. I’m excited to see how things could start to get more out of the control for our main group. How would we all deal with the fact that we really don’t have any control or say in how things are handled? The season finale of season 2 gave us a glimpse into that kind of scenario and it was dark, but everything we deal with on the show is so consequential, and things in life often spiral out of control. Now that our characters have learned and grown so much, how would we really deal with a major situational curveball? I’m as excited to see what’s gonna happen as everyone else!
Are there any guest stars we can expect to see?
Well I don’t want to give anything away, but one thing I can say is that we’re blessed to have some incredible actors on our show, and this season isn’t any different. There are plenty of returning faces as well as some new ones that bring a lot of twists and turns to the season. People are definitely in for a crazy ride, if I say anything else I might get in trouble.(laughs)
What else are you working on?
Recently I’ve really dedicated myself to my writing. I’ve been developing a TV show of my own, something I’ve been working on for a while actually and it’s finally starting to shape into something tangible. I’m incredibly excited to share it with the world, it’s a pretty epic story. I’m also writing a feature that’s really got my creative juices flowing at the moment. I’m a story-teller at heart, so the more opportunities I can create and to exist in that space, the better.
Tell me a fun fact about yourself.
I’m a card-carrying nerd, and have been my whole life. I’m a sucker for video games, comics, sci-fi and fantasy; It’s actually a big reason I’m an actor and story-teller. Originally, as a kid, I wanted to be a pencil artist in comics! Anyone who knows me is highly aware of geekiness, and how unbelievably goofy I am. I love to laugh and I love being lost in my imagination, so lost I often find myself bumping into door frames and furniture because I’m not paying attention. I’m also clumsy AF if you hadn’t figured that out. So yeah, I’m a goofy, clumsy, nerd. So to all those clumsy, nerdy kids out there, just own it. It gets better the older you get.
What are you watching on tv these days?
I think the better question is what AREN’T I watching? With what’s going on in the world right now, the spread of COVID-19 and everyone sheltering, we’ve all had ample time to check in on our neglected shows. I know I had a list that was really piling up. Right now I’m catching up on Marvelous Ms. Maisel, The Crown, and I’ve really gotten into the Expanse. Like I said, I’m a huge nerd, so anything with multi-faceted world building and fantastical settings I’m pretty much onboard. I’m also replaying a few video games. I can spend whole days (maybe even weeks?) lost in a game, and since we can’t really go outside during this health crisis, I don’t feel too guilty for being glued to my PS4. I feel like I was built for this
Anything else you want to share?
I think the most apropos thing to share would be a message of hope, as corny as that may sound. I know we’ve had a whiplash of unsettling events on a scale that none of us has seen in our lifetimes, but I feel that in moments like these its important to try to look at what good can come out of it, as well as what long term progress can be made from the lessons we learn as we navigate these uncertain times together. For me, what’s been interesting is seeing everyone remember that we’re having a shared human experience and at the end of the day we’re all in this together. We have to look out for each other, care for the most vulnerable among us…and wash our hands. Hopefully that’s a sentiment that doesn’t fade away once we’ve made our way through the current crisis.