Producer, Writer, Husband and all ’round delightful human, Barry Waldo joins The LOVELANDER Project!

Many Outlander fans were introduced to Barry Waldo as the proud (yes, handsome) husband of Jon Gary Steele,(referred to as Gary) brilliant production designer of Outlander from seasons 1-5 (amongst many other productions). Barry is an accomplished producer and writer in his own right. Once I found him on social media, I was immediately attracted to his wit, compassion and talent.

Yes, he shared BTS photos and rarely seen JGS sightings in the wild but it was Barry himself and his warmth that kept me and others engaged.

I was quite beside myself that Barry was so receptive to The LOVELANDER Project. I am grateful people can’t see me doing the happy little dance wiggle when people reply positively to my queries. The fact that we he was also massively open and honest with all I asked was a thrill. It is time to grab a lil somethin’ somethin’ and settle in for the Barry -n- Sherry show.

Thank you so much for agreeing to be a part of The LOVELANDER Project. Your twitter and IG presence developed your own fan base in the Outlander world, did you expect that to happen 😊? What a very nice thing to say—no, I didn’t expect it at all. It’s quite hilarious actually. Gary and Terry (Dresbach – Outlander’s former Costume Designer) gave me endless grief for being on social media years before Outlander began— “it’s an invasion of privacy” and “whatever you do, don’t post that photo!” (self-admittedly, I’m a bit of a shutterbug). It’s funny how it all evolved, and although neither of them would admit it, I think they eventually enjoyed it… eventually 😉 It was only in the last year Gary stopped calling it “Tweeter!”

I’ve always been curious about the world, discovering what people are up to, taking travels of the mind, learning about other cultures and traditions. Everything shifted a bit when we moved to Scotland. When you work in entertainment and live in Los Angeles, you feel like you’re in the heart of it all—you hear the gossip, you hear about projects being pitched about town and then one day, boom, you’re in faraway Scotland looking at gorgeous lochs and mountains, trying to figure out exactly what haggis is, trying to hide your LA wardrobe under a foreign object called a raincoat, and concentrating really hard to translate Scottish into English. At the same time, everyone back in the States was asking where we had disappeared to, so I figured why not share it?

I am sure your friends back home were happy you did, I know all of your new friend’s aka, me, were! You grew up in Arkansas, can you tell me a little about your childhood? Wow! This is better than therapy! How much time do you have? Others have accused me of deep diving into their brains before. so you aren’t far off base. I have allll day.

It’s a fish out of water story, really. It’s the complete opposite of my twenty years in Los Angeles. I grew up in the country, riding bikes then motorcycles on dirt roads, camping, hunting and fishing… I must have built a fort in the woods every single week. We ate Mom’s fried chicken and Dad hosted the neighborhood fish fry with hushpuppies and fried okra every weekend. Friday night high school football games, getting bullied in school, ‘goin’ Jeepin’—I mean it’s almost a cliché, right? My first real job was at Showbiz Pizza (now Chuck E. Cheese) during high school and afterwards I went to The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, the exact same college that Gary attended although we never met or knew each other. To this day, I’m still a massive country music fan. I am forever grateful for the freedom of a small town, southern childhood, and wouldn’t trade it for anything. But I always knew, from the youngest age, I wanted to see more of the world.

It is very apparent that you are a storyteller and a damn good one. What do you think sparked that light in you? When you grow up in a small town in the southern US, it’s just built into you. My parents were big on the philosophy children are to be seen but not heard. If we wanted to hang out with the adults—which we always did— you had to be quiet. My dad is the best storyteller I know. Even when he re-tells a story, there is always a new twist, a detail he simply omitted from the first time. I would listen to all the stories and take it all in. Then we would get bored and go play. The mindset of kids is amazing! We were fearless in designing our own plays, dance routines and poems and couldn’t wait to perform them. How could anyone not love our creations! I think the first story I ever wrote was about a hot dog with a cape that wanted to save the world. As a maturing adult, I forgot that lesson—to be fearless. Things happen, life happens, and I had to focus on responsible things. It never occurred to me that people could make a living telling stories. It was only when I started working at Disney that I realized you could, well not anyone, but if you worked in a certain division, you could. Years later, I went to work for Mattel where there were fewer rules, and I had more freedom.  One day a peer who oversaw research walked into my office, showed be a really rough sketch of monster dolls and asked me if I thought I could see, then create, a story from it. That became a world called Monster High. Once the book was released and the very first Nickelodeon special (New Ghoul at School) was aired, I wanted to do more and I haven’t been able to quit doing it since.

I’m not sure if you know but Diana Gabaldon, also had a turn at writing comics for Disney in the 70’s, so there is a connection that you and she share. I am an Eeyore lover, he and I connected in Disneyland 13 years ago 😉. I hear that you and Winnie the Pooh have a special relationship, can you share? Diana has my complete sympathy! Disney is a tough customer when it comes to working with outside creators. I really enjoyed my time there. Yes, I am unapologetically a major Winnie-the-Pooh fan. It was one of the brand portfolios I managed across the globe during my time there. I learned so much from studying A.A. Milne’s journey. I love the entire ensemble of characters—and used to travel and give presentations with my very own Happy Ears Eeyore and Tumble Time Tigger; I championed The Heffalump Movie—it was so exciting to bring the franchise back to the big screen. I own a Happy Ears Eeyore…LOVE him. I might love all 50 of my Eeyore’s. Oh to see one of those presentations!

Years later, it was quite a twist of fate to be back on the lot as a creator pitching Star Darlings, a world that was created with my partners Shana and Ahmet Zappa. Disney eventually acquired it from us. I still love those characters and that world!

It was an incredible story culture, and I can’t say enough about the talented artist and illustrators that I’ve worked with there over the years. I think anyone who has worked for Disney would tell you not to over glamorize it; it is still hard work and has typical corporate politics—don’t expect blue birds to bring you lunch.

Your career was certainly on an uptick when your spouse had this job opportunity that happened to be in Scotland. As a former military spouse, I know that “Let’s do this and support them feeling.” What was like for you? Wow, this really is the best therapy session EVER! And you nailed the feeling which is hard to really understand unless you’ve been through it which you have. Fair to say, I underestimated it.

When Gary, Terry and Ron started working on the pitch lookbook for Outlander, I was working for Coca-Cola on a celebrity partnership and then became the Chief Marketing Officer for will.i.am’s (Black Eyed Peas) company.  At first, we didn’t think too much about it—Terry and Gary had a history of crazy shenanigans that, well, over time, I had learned not to ask. One day, he said he was going out to T’s to start thinking about a conceptual lookbook for a possible new series, then poof! Next thing I know, he and Ron were in Scotland doing location scouts!

What most fans don’t realize is how developing a series is like walking on a frozen lake—at any minute it could crack and fall through, the pilot could get green lit or cancelled, or it could be one [season] and done.

So at first we didn’t overthink it—and chalked it up to a great adventure for Gary. He packed a suitcase and went off to Scotland while I continued to work and take care of things at home in Los Angeles. Because will.i.am spends a lot of time in the UK (he is one of the original judges on The Voice UK), I was able to visit the UK frequently. At some point, about midyear 2016, Sony greenlit two additional seasons at once (S3 and S4). At that point, I had been commuting from Los Angeles to Scotland for several years, and I had taken eleven international flights in twelve months so it just wasn’t good for my health—you’re always jet lagged, the weather was often terrible, flights delayed and so on. Don’t forget, the first season was a whopping 16 episodes—a massive number and very unusual‑ so Gary couldn’t really come home or take any time off so it was all up to me to get to him. Not to mention his intense workload, hours and pressure to get that first season perfect; it was all-consuming so we were barely able to fight, er, I mean talk, on the phone once a day 😉 When I would see him, I would be so jet lagged and he would be so exhausted, we would just sleep through the weekend and then I’d have to leave again. It took a heavy toll on us and we had to make a decision: his job or mine. I think I’m oversharing – am I oversharing now? Sorry. Perhaps I should just say “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” *laughs*

These things are never easy...what tipped you toward Scotland? It wasn’t a black or white decision—financially it made sense for us to do one thing, emotionally his passion for the project and his recognition with the Emmy nomination pointed a different direction. We were loving our time and friends in Scotland, and ultimately decided on adventure over practical matters. Now, all I had to do was reinvent myself.  

That is something the ‘spouse that goes’ has to do, reorganize and resettle. It’s tough. marriage is hard work!

Which by the way, congratulations on celebrating 21 years together! The photos of you and JGS really are too much handsome in one place it’s pretty distracting. That is incredibly nice of you to say to two country boys from Arkansas so I will simply say “thank you” and please don’t look too close at those photos.

I’ve zoomed in, I have no idea what you are talking about. Now, you are handsome in 10X zoom but o.k. *smile*

As someone who has been with her partner a long time too, I am curious what you believe are the most important qualities in a partner? This is such an individual thing, but there is one universal truth: saying “I’m sorry” (whether I am or not, and many times I am NOT, but yes, I am very, very sorry!) If you can’t ever admit you’re wrong, or very importantly for us, when you are supposed to be wrong – hint: I am always wrong after his 16 hour workday arm wrestling for every color or construction detail for a set, and he is always wrong after my fifteen hours and two layovers of flying. If you ever hear someone scream “I AM SORRY!” really, really loud at the airport or train station, it’s just us.

That visual, is hilarious. Thank you for sharing it.

Still, you are your husband’s biggest fan, it is not hard to see that the feeling is mutual, of course. I’m going to get nosey and ask how you met.

We met in Los Angeles through a mutual friend. It went something like this – Producer/Writer Friend:  “Seen any movies lately?” Me: Yes, I just saw this really disturbing film called American History X *shiver*” Producer/Writer Friend: *screaming across the yard* GARY! Get over here! He just saw your movie!”
Gary was the art director on the movie. I was working for Procter & Gamble and thought all Hollywood jobs were fluff!

See? You can teach an old dog new tricks!

I love it! And you were not so old then, not that you are old now…o.k., changing the subject…

I have learned not to ask for one favourite so if you could give me your top 5 Outlander sets -what would they be, and why? Maybe it’s because we’ve been apart for 6 weeks, or that I’m on an airplane back to the UK right now to rejoin him, but this question has me sobbing (sorry lady sitting next to me‑I’m really going to be OK; thankfully crying is not a symptom of COVID or people would be parachuting out the windows).

You know what? I am his biggest fan—yes as a professional designer but even more so as a human being.

OK! OK! Enough with all that! I’m not crying, you’re crying! On with the show: My Top 5 Outlander sets—wait, only five? I know! I’m horrible!

The Star Chamber: not only is it amazing, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen JGS so excited as when he was building it. God help the man that got in the way of JGS and his Star Chamber!

The Great Hall: No one ever talks about this set but it was magical. The Great Hall was the set playing on one of my first few trips to Scotland. I was allowed to hide up in the rafters, out of the camera’s sight. John Dahl was directing the scene with Jamie agreeing to take the punishment for Laoghaire. The set was full of extras (don’t get me started about Terry and the costume team’s brilliant work. The sheer volume of it! I just wanted to touch everyone—the details were amazing, the volume of work unfathomable). I remember watching the crew lower and then light every candle on all those chandeliers and sconces (those were 100% real candles y’all). It took over 30 minutes to light them all, then raise them on their chains back to ceiling level. I was so scared that if I moved, I would get in trouble so I couldn’t wait for the Director to yell “cut” so I could frantically try to wave the smoke away, and cough! Picturing you doing this makes me giggle and look for you struggling to breathe in the background scenes. Which I know I could never find because this production isn’t going to let that happen but it’s still fun to imagine.

Claire’s Kitchen in the Boston Apartment: The appliances, the colors, the checkered floors—all the details instantly made me what to grab an ice cream soda, play Elvis on the Jukebox, watch I Love Lucy and smoke a cigarette like I didn’t know it caused cancer. It’s times like this when the writer in you just flies out, Barry!

The Parisian Apartment—I would never leave…ever. Comprenez vous?
Totalement! Idem.

Master Raymond’s Apothecary — He had me at “hanging alligator.” Geillis’ attic was a close runner up.

Your work is so filled with cheeky humour, bright characters, and uplifting messages. This is also a large part of your presence on social media. It is a gift you bring to the world. How important is that to you? Life can be hard! On any given day, you can feel a moment of sadness or a tough time that someone in our social media fanmily is going through. I try to remember that lesson from childhood – listen before you talk. I read as many comments and DM’s as possible. Some days, I just want to brighten someone’s day. It means so much when someone actually messages me and says – your post made me smile or got me through a rough day. I try to keep that perspective—most of the time.

It is something more of us could practice. I love your way with words. Which is fantastic segue to mention your book, Anna and the Apocalypse, a great YA read, the concept was born on a train in the UK, is that something you can explain to me? When I first moved to the UK, I still had some work to finish that required me to live in London. I would commute every weekend to Glasgow via train. On one of those crowded train rides, I struck up a conversation with a young Scottish Producer and we chatted for the entire five hours. Toward the end, he mentioned he was producing an independent movie in Glasgow and asked if I would like to come by and meet some of the team. When I asked what it was about, he replied “it’s a high school zombie musical.” I thought this sounds like the worst idea I’d ever heard. He gave me his info and said please come by on Monday. I honestly thought I would never go, but on Monday, I input the address in google maps and, to my shock, their offices were literally twelve doors down from our flat. When I walked in, I saw Dave Frew, one of the post production editors on Outlander. It was an instant short-handed way to verify we were both legit; it reminded me of the benefits and familiarity of being in a smaller city. Then I met more of the team, listened to the rough tracks of the brilliant songs and just sort of fell in love with it, the team and their sincere passion for making the best story possible. It was an earnestness that you don’t see in the Hollywood community—the sheer joy absent all the politics—it was the way content creators were intended to create. Luckily, they invited me to join in.

Months later, we were on set shooting Hollywood Ending, a signature musical number for the film, and I kept thinking the song lyrics are absolutely brilliant story telling. I fell completely in love with the young cast and their characters—a testament to not only the talent but the creator, writers, producers and director. It was the kind of production that would have never happened in the US. It reminded me of being fearless. It was also the complete antithesis of Outlander. If Outlander was Champagne, Anna was that mysterious local homebrew created by the pub owner, and always on special for 99p—absolutely brilliant in its own right. I kept thinking how else can we tell this fun story? What other mediums can we tap into and share its current generational insights? Recall Monster High was introduced to the public by a YA book so I seem to be a magnet for this genre.  

I’m attracted to the things that bring me to a place I want to go back to, but to relive them my way. I’m not sure if that is the same for you but you really have that genre, nailed. Any hints on the next book? *innocent eye flutters* Sure – there are four projects I’m juggling at the moment. A terrible way to do it but the imagination wants to go where the imagination wants to go! The first is an adult fiction novel with a rather large ensemble group of characters – not the easiest one to take on when you’re still learning. I’m just about to finish the development edits on it.

The second project is a Children’s Picture Book series. It’s about a young bear that beats to his own drum and wants to discover friendly faces in faraway places—I am completely obsessed with it. It is, by far, my most challenging project.

Then there are two more YA fiction books. The first is still in early draft stage. It is about a protagonist with Asperger Syndrome that discovers an alien species. The second one is a female-empowerment fantasy story along the lines of Monster High and Star Darlings. I am co-writing it with a good friend who is a talented British author. 

These all sound intriguing and extremely exciting! I know everyone is going to be looking forward to these coming together. You are most assuredly doing some multitasking. Where do you find is the best place for you to write? What do you find are ideal surroundings for you? Anywhere where Gary is not!

Oh, I’m totally kidding… kind of *wink* I am more productive in the UK than the US, perhaps that is due to having more rainy days in the UK, fewer fires, earthquakes and hurricanes to dodge?

Honestly, I’m constantly on the move so it’s just about making it work. Those five-hour train rides between London and Glasgow were great for writing unless (1) there was a football match and the train was filled with inebriated kilts, or (2) you sit next to a pre-schooler who needs help with her Princess sticker book. Then they are great in an entirely different way. If you don’t make my heart melt with your pictures online, you go and make my heart melt with comments like that.

I love writing in the British Library when it’s not overly crowded. There’s something about sitting in the shadows of towers of books that makes me want to be a better writer. I like to write for a few hours, then relocate and write some more.

You are vocal about the world’s (and your own country’s) current state of affairs. Even when there is clap back that people believe celebrities should keep their opinions to themselves. I personally don’t think our professions in any way dictate our right to an opinion. I am however curious, how this affects you or those you know when you are faced with remarks like this. When you create stories, you think about who are the good women, and who are the bad guys all day long 😉 So is it really any surprise that, in the real world, the people we talk the most about are those that fit into those classifications? Do you really want to read posts about the most average person that did the most average thing?

Celebrities have a whole different thing with which to deal—people want to believe they are actually their characters in real life. When you live in California, you don’t really pay attention to the celebrity thing—they are friends, family, friends of friends and people entitled to opinions just like us. They put their underwear on one leg at a time, they have feelings, they are not the characters you see on screen. I’m not one so you’d have to ask them—but IMO that pressure is a privilege and I think most of the talent I know personally accept it and handle it with great respect. They are human after all.

That same expectation has trickled over into social media. People want to think you are only what you post, and in many ways that’s understandable because it is more like a reality show. It is a privilege to have people follow you— even if there are only five of them and one is my mother, another is Gary and three others are someone’s pets.

Seriously, the world is a big, beautiful diverse place! That’s what I love about it! We are all not the same. So I have to expect, and respect, that my followers are going to be equally diverse. Social media is an amazing place to learn about new things. Gary must send me ten DM’s a day with dreamy cabins, sculptures and fantastic art. As a kid in rural Arkansas, I yearned to know so much more about the bigger, broader world beyond my small town. I see it was a wonderful gift to be able to communicate with so many people around the world with a few simple clicks. Amazing, right?  And what is also amazing is CHOICE. With a simple click, we all get to choose to follow or unfollow someone. That is a big truth, we do have the choice and Barry, you happen to be selling yourself short. You are pretty big deal in your own right. Though I sense that isn’t something you take seriously, which is also endearing. What do think is important when interacting with people in the social media age? Now let’s talk about respect. It is the linchpin of any relationship, be it social media or in person. If we can agree to disagree respectfully, we can still be friends. Deal? We don’t have to agree on everything to respect each other, even this poor country boy from rural Arkansas knows that! Even if I didn’t like a friend of my parents, a teacher or the neighbor next door, we still called them Ma’am, Sir, Mr. or Mrs. and we said please and thank you… it’s called respect and hiding behind a social media account doesn’t give you permission to throw it out the door, even if you happen to get elected as the leader of the free world. Which brings me to the ‘current state of affairs’ as you so gracefully called it.  

Anyone who ever went to grade school knows a bully when they see one. It’s why the school or office bully in one of the most effective characters and archetypes to include in any movie, series or book. We know them, we see them clearly and we oppose them. Period. Some people are more like the bully’s parent(s)—they are the only ones that seem unaware that the bully is a bully; they are the only ones that chose to not believe the facts that are available to them; they are the ones to explain away terrible acts, give truth to lies and back their bully all the way until that bully raises bullies of his own. I prefer redeemable bullies, ones that eventually learn then evolve and rise to a better humanity. I have little time for the one’s that stay the course their whole lives and then impose it on others.

I like to share my POV, particularly after a pot of good coffee in the morning but I try not to tell other people what to do or what to think. I want people to vote. I don’t need anyone telling me who to vote for, and I don’t expect to tell others. Sharing information is important. Educated voters are SO important. I’ve voted conservative. I’ve voted liberal. When you boil it all down, people vote on the most important issues to them. I vote on the issues that are most important to me. You know who is a good person. You know who is a bad person. Now go vote and own your legacy. But always be open to evolving.    

Let’s talk about something lighter now. The joy of…COOKING! (You aren’t the only cheeky one 😉) You and your husband seem to have not only a loving relationship but one that might be just a little competitive, in the kitchen.  Has that always been a thing?  Gary can cook?

It’s very polite of you to ask about our weight gain in such a nice manner.

Yep, it’s always been a thing. It is one of the main things I missed the most when we were apart in the first few seasons of Outlander. I would bake an entire batch of cookies and then just stare at them wondering how they use to disappear so much faster before he left. Then I would end up eating them all by myself. When I would arrive in Glasgow, he would slip in a comment like “oh, have you been baking cookies?” when what he wanted to tell me it was time to diet. “Oh, have you been drinking with the [fill in cast or crew name here] again?” I would reply. Then we would go home and see who could make the best bread! That’s where our hashtag #KitchenMesswithGaryandBarry started. We needed help judging who was better at what, and to showcase our holiday experiments and competitions and pretty soon everyone joined in.

What would you say your favourite dishes are to cook? I think it’s fair to say we love all food equally. Favorite recipes? Yes, all recipes that involve butter.

Here is a tricky one…who does it better? Gary is a better cook. I am a better baker. He likes to experiment with a smidge of this and “oh, what about some of that.” I like precision. Someone else made the recipe fifty times before publishing it and those measurements are in the recipe for a reason!

I have to admit defeat when his experiments turn out great, although some of the credit I have to give to Terry who told him to do it. I get to claim victory when he tries to experiment with baking as most bakers know, it often goes awry.

It all kind of went to hell when we started living in Europe since we soon exhausted of googling every measurement conversion and just decided to wing it together. I mean come on! What proper butter company does not put those little measurement markers on the wrapper! European butter companies, that’s who!

Oh, I could go on with your kitchen adventures all day but I want to talk about your time in Scotland. You went on many adventures, can you share some of the things that you loved the most about the UK? The great thing about being a newbie was our blissful ignorance to the local geographical politics. But now that I am wiser, I must caution everyone not to mix Scotland with the UK in the same sentence lol. It turns out that the Kingdom is about as “united” as the States these days. *Duly noted- all my friends across the pond please accept my apologies and poutine*

Canadians say sorry better than anyone else.

We were typical tourist at first—we preferred scenic Edinburgh, we loved the Fringe Festival and pretty much any castle regardless of its condition. Glasgow, where we lived, took a little longer to figure out, and it is true: the people make Glasgow… we love our Weegies! But the north country! I mean wow! The drive to Skye is so beautiful, the Loch’s so majestic, the Fairy Pools, the Old Man of Storr! I mean if you have to be cold and wet, you better be looking at something spectacular! We did a Burn’s Night on the Isle of Lewis, hung out with native Islanders, and learned how to avoid stepping in sheep poop. Of course, we had to stop every few miles so I could talk to the Highland Coos. But most of all, when I think about all our years in Scotland, I think of being with our mini-melting pot of the most lovely and crazy friends—Irish, American, Scottish, Australian, English, South African—next to a fire, laughing, dancing and drinking.

It sounds like a remarkable time. All good things do come to an end, as we know. What are you looking forward to the most in the next chapter of your adventures? I can’t wait until we can travel again. I can’t wait until some of the most interesting places in the world are safe to visit—we have to get to Egypt.

I can’t wait to get these stories published; hearing from you all what you think about the books, talking about the things that aren’t on the page, doing some virtual book clubs while drinking a great vintage. It’s much harder, and much more work than I ever imagined and the idea that they might not make it out into the world, well, I just refuse to except that will happen so let’s leave it there!

I can’t wait to see Jon Gary Steele accept his Emmy and Oscar. That will be a very good day indeed. We are all with you on THAT one!

Going back to your stories, who would you say are your biggest influences when it came to inspiring you as a writer?  Hands down, Jon Gary Steele. Sometimes, when you least expect it, the person you least expect it from, can give you the biggest gift of all. I had a long track record of always taking the safest route, the one that provided the most security, the most peer recognition, the one that I thought other people expected me to take. Gary is the absolutely best at manifesting what he wants and going after it. When he graduated from college, he packed his car and drove to LA to pursue his dream to design. When I graduated from college, I passed the CPA exam, took the best paying job and planned my eventual MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School. No regrets but along the way and later in life, I needed to unlearn in order to learn anew. I needed to give myself permission to be creative. I needed to not be afraid to succeed or, very importantly, fail.

Remember your earlier question about what it was like to give up my career to move to Scotland? Well that was an important moment. Gary knew this desire was brewing and renewing inside of me so when he sensed my hesitation about giving up a more traditional career path, he said, “It’ll be an adventure. You can finally write and develop, and I get to design a historical period drama. We both get to chase our dreams!”  Wait… did I say he was the master of manifesting? I probably should have said master of negotiating.

Either way, it’s worked out beautifully for both of you. When we find the partner we want and they turn out to be the partner we needed too, it is a beautiful thing.

And now, more than ever I believe we need inspiration, who inspires you?

Three sources:

1. Brilliant Artist
Fearless and pure of talent, it’s always inspiring to see how they transform their thoughts into a physical manifestation of something that we can all touch and see. Some favorite examples: Javier Marin, an amazing Mexican sculptor; Eugenio Zanetti, a brilliant Argentine painter; Neil Gaiman, a fantastic English storyteller and wordsmith.

2. Teachers!
They opened my eyes to literature, art, stories, cultures, science, humanities and so much more from the very first days of preschool. I am in awe of the effort and knowledge they provide every single day. They taught this small-town boy how to travel in his mind, and pushed me to dream beyond my limited reality realm.
 

3. Dreamers
The best thing about social media? Discovering other dreamers! It doesn’t matter if you have two followers or two million. A Geocaching Adventurer, a golden-paper-pastel-wielding-portraits sketch artist, an Alpaca wool scarf-maker, a willow sculptor, a cross-stitching master or a fellow tennis fanatic that likes to do a little dance… just to name a few within the Outlander community. Gary and I talk about this often—we often wonder if they know how much they inspire us.

I don’t think many of us realize how we affect others; we are too busy thinking of how others affect us. It only makes sense that our lives touch others in the same ways. Mutual lovefest aside *smile* reading is obviously a passion for most writers and storytellers. What was the last book you read and loved? I’m currently deep in The Sandman novels. Before that, I read Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book which I really loved.  

What would you say your top 5 reads of all time were? I’m exempting Outlander books as everyone here already is aware of Diana’s brilliance. I also have to exempt the Hardy Boys, Agatha Christie and Harry Potter —they are series that I would never dare just picking one.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Tie: The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Theodor Geisel and In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was my absolute favourite growing up and as I was reading about In the Night Kitchen…I know I have read that, but I was very little. Wow…great list.

I wonder, with your affinity for the YA genre of writing, if you could go back and give advice to your teenage self, what would it be?

Three things:

  1. Go! Don’t dream of going somewhere, don’t let money be the reason why you don’t see the world. Don’t have enough vacation time to travel abroad (hello my fellow Americans!)?—figure it out. Just go!
  2. Be willing to unlearn to learn. You have to unlearn some preconceived notions, prejudices and stereotypes that somehow got embedded in your brain in the earliest of years, and be willing to replace them with real, personal true experiences. Meet as many people as you can and listen to their stories.
  3. Companies are not people. Don’t expect them to be human. Respect the relationship, work hard but have outside interests that feed your soul. If you work for a company, expect to hear “our best asset is our people” over a hundred times but always remember you control your own destiny.

Not only good advice for a young Barry, but good advice for everyone. There has been such a shift in the world since Covid19, what things do you miss the most from our pre-covid days?  I’m a hugger. I like to embrace people I care about. This elbow thing is for the birds! I miss hugging so much (and smiles)!

With that also comes a new normal, what have you embraced post covid?(as far as we have gotten, I mean) From what I see in the communities I’m in, I don’t think “post-covid” exists yet but I don’t see that mini-bottle of sanitizer in my pocket every going away for quite some time. It also causes you to have to think a bit deeper about your friends and family. I have to laugh when someone gets really vocal that we are all over-reacting to wearing a mask, and then a few months later wonder why no one is calling or seeing them. Hello! I love life! I like being healthy! You don’t value life as much as I do—no problem—I wish you all the best. 

We appreciate that! And same. Now for some LOVELANDER Project fun– I am going to ask you to give yourself a 1) Tagline 2) Warning label 3) Theme Song.

Tagline: Breathe. Believe. Release. Receive. 👏🎬

Warning Label: Comes with opinions, free-of-charge. Perfect!

Theme Song: What We Live For by American Authors I love this for you!

Now, Barry and I have come up for a little LOVELANDER Project treat for you! Here is a video clip of he and the love of his life, Jon Gary Steele answering a fan question! (stay tuned to my twitter feed for more over the month of November)

That pretty serious question will be answered in November – you won’t want to miss it!

I was so honoured to have Barry and Gary allow me/us into their home for a few questions. I know it took Barry some work to get JGS to participate as he isn’t one for the spotlight. I think what was obvious, Jon Gary Steele, loves his husband and will do anything for him, even if it is making that video for that thing he is doing.

I was right, you know. When I asked Barry to participate in the LOVELANDER Project, I did it because I related to him and thought he was such a delightful person. I didn’t tell him I had a crush on his husband (I even blogged about it in 2016) because that seemed weird. Still is but…I think he might be used to that bit of me now.

Do stay tuned to the ABOotlanders twitter feed for ‘Sherry queries with Barry ‘n Gary.! (Dare ya to say that 10 times fast!).

Stay well, laugh often and BOO!

Sher XO

Have you missed Previous editions of – The LOVELANDER Project – Edition 1 Vida/Blancklanderz  Edition 2 Erin/Three if By Space  CastEdition 3 Vincent/Supporting Artist  Edition 4 Tracy/Outcandour CastEdition 5 Nell Hudson/Laoghaire Cast Edition 6 A Quickie w Kikki Fleming/ Lesley Edition 7 Koko/Outlandish Vancouver Cast Edition 8 Paul Gorman/Josiah and Kezzie Beardsley Edition 9 Chas/ Outlandish Scotland

ABOotlander LOve – Previous Interviews –  Julia LeBlanc/VideoQueen  Summer & Ginger from Outlander Podcast  CastDr.Joe Abernathy/Wil Johnson  CastAdrienne-Marie/Suzette Beth Wesson/@PixieTwit  Connie Verzak@ConnieBV  Karmen @OutLandAnatomy  Jane @RRankinFans  CastSera-Lys McArthur /Johiehon CastCarmen Moore /Wahkatiiosta CastKikkiFleming/ Lesley

Paul Gorman joins #TheLOVELANDERProject. #Outlander’s Josiah and Kezzie Buy one, get one free!

BOGOs are the best.

Josiah and Kezzie have long held a special place in my heart from the books. I find their arcs, heartwarming and entertaining. I, like many other fans anxiously waited for the announcement of their casting. On November 13 2019 , that happened. Paul Gorman would be playing both roles. This young man’s photo shone from the Outlander Starz page, eyes blue and piercing, jaw set and strong. I did what most Outlander fans do when a new name pops up, hit up the google machine to see what I could see. The face looking back from his InstaGram was very different, smiles so big and bright they literally hit his eyes to make them shine. That expression “Their smile lights up a room” – that’s Paul.

I admit, I felt like I hit a double jackpot when Paul happily accepted my invitation to take part in this project of mine meant to help fans through a very long Droughtlander.

Soooo dry…

Watchers were introduced to Josiah in the first episode of Season 5 but it was episode 3, called Free Will that we first saw Josiah and Keziah together on screen. The performance and the technology allowed fans to see the depth of this young man’s talent and how Outlander was dedicated to showing how important the twins will be to the ridge. It was wonderful to see production weren’t going to be constantly showing them separated.

On screen together, Josiah and Keziah. (Photo lightened to show the character contrast)

I hope you enjoy getting to know Paul as I have. He shows us Outlander casting doesn’t only pick the best actor for the job, they also choose those who fit into the family they have created on set.

Snug as bugs!

Welcome to my little corner of the interwebs, Paul. I’m grateful that agreed to allow me to interview you. Hi Sherry, thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of The Lovelander Project!

I want to congratulate you on your graduation from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, a huge accomplishment…thank you for the well wishes, RCS has had a massive impact on me as an actor and as an individual which I’m extremely grateful for and I still can’t believe I graduated around this time last year!

Can you tell us a little about where you grew up? I was born in Rutherglen, which is just 15 minutes outside of Glasgow in the south of the city, and between there and Cambuslang is where I went to school. I was raised by my Mum and Dad, and grew up alongside my younger sister Gabrielle who is currently training to be a primary teacher.

Sounds idyllic. Where do you believe those first interests and sparks of performance were lit? When I was younger I was mainly into music and football, it wasn’t until the final years of high school that I began to have a keen interest in acting, I primarily attribute that to my school and the amazing teachers I had there. In my 5th year, they had decided to put on a school show, the first one the school had done. The show was “We Will Rock You” based on the music by Queen. My interest in performing had been sparked by the band and taking Drama as a class in the earlier years of school so I gave the audition a go and got the part of ‘Britney Spears’, the leader of a gang of music rebels who had taken the name from what he thought was a rock legend lost to time. The whole experience of doing the show, from rehearsals to working on the character to that feeling of being part of an ‘ensemble’, being part of a team, working from nothing to creating something palpable and visceral that had an effect on those that watched it – I loved every minute of it. And of course, a high school production based on the music of an 80’s rock band might not change the world, but it offered a sense of escapism and euphoria for everyone in that room for a brief while. After I turned 17 that summer I attended an open day at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and realised I could make a career of doing what I loved, so from then on I decided to give it a shot. I attended college for two years where my passion and adoration for acting matured, and at the end of those two years I was lucky enough to be accepted to the RCS. But I completely owe it to my teachers at high school who organised and supported that first show, without them I would never have discovered what I loved so I’m incredibly grateful.

I found a little something online called “Imperial City” with a pretty sweet grind, with you at the head…I enjoy some punk/grunge…even if my terminology has to be grandfathered in. Oh my God, I can’t believe you managed to track down the remnants of Imperial City, I commend your research efforts!

You gotta love him.

I was around 14 when we first started the band, back then we were called “Post Paradise” but by the time I was 16 we changed it to “Imperial City” due to the fact that there was an Australian band called “Paradise Post” and we didn’t want our many fans (our mates from school) to get confused, so we stole the name from an Elder Scrolls game. I honestly had the time of my life playing in that band, and the band I played in after “Atlas”. As “Imperial City” went, we were most definitely NOT the best punk band in Glasgow but we just had a ton fun: playing covers we wanted to play (mainly Green Day and Foo Fighters), we gigged at our local UC Youth Centre and got to play some iconic venues around Glasgow like the Barrowlands and The Garage and we always had our friends from school turning up to support us. It was honestly just such a good laugh and being in the band was such an informative and thrilling experience, it was a real confidence-building journey for me that directly fed into my turn to acting.

Nothing better for the soul than confidence!

It goes to show you had that drive and confidence much earlier than many, it seems to have served you very well… In terms of music, it was my first year at high school. My Dad plays guitar and he got me into it, then there was a “guitar club” ran by Mr. Miller who was one of the music teachers and along with a growing love of punk and rock music it inspired us to get the band together. The band was so influential in giving me confidence and helping me come out of my shell, I was quite a shy and timid kid, and by being in it helped me find my voice and gave me a positive and creative outlet during my teenage years. The love and passion for acting came a bit later, although I did have an early acting stint at 4 years old when I played a sheep in the nursery nativity so maybe the acting seeds were sown then? No idea haha!

😂 Aww a sheep…I don’t think it suits anymore. Had you heard of Outlander prior to your auditioning for the role? I had definitely heard about Outlander before auditioning for the show! Outlander, both the books and the tv series, has had a massive and profound effect for Scotland in terms of: bringing people to Scotland’s shores for the first time, encouraging discussion all over the world of Scotland’s history and introducing our culture (past and present) to those who don’t know much about us, and so much more! It has also been positive for Scotland’s film and television industry, employing hundreds of crew members and creatives, and has helped many Scottish-born actors break into the industry, so to be asked to join the cast of the show was such a privilege and I’m very grateful for it being my first job.

It’s an impressive accomplishment, you should be very proud. What was the audition process like for you? Tell us all the deets. The auditions I had during Outlander were a part of an incredibly supportive process and were so informative and enlightening for me as a young actor and this is solely down to the devoted casting teams of Suzanne Smith and Simone Pereira Hind. It was my first audition just after my drama school showcase and it involved reading some extracts from Josiah and Kezzie’s story arc. Both casting directors encouraged to explore and play with the text, while also being extremely sensitive and supportive to the work we were doing and it was honestly just such a fun and creative experience. Later on in the recall stages I had to travel down to London and I remember turning up waaaay too early for the audition so I remember kicking about North London listening to David Bowie while running lines for both characters to pass the time, some onlookers were definitely intrigued by the raving, dancing Scotsman playing two characters in the middle of the street. The London recall involved a ‘chemistry test’ with Caitlin, who plays Lizzie, who was amazing to audition with. She was so encouraging and all my pre-audition nerves left me when we started the scene as she is so giving as an actor, completely selfless and full of spontaneity, an acting partner’s dream! We did three scenes in total, continually working on both Josiah and Kezzie with our director Stephen Woolfenden, and that was us done!

We love us some Caitlin around here too, it’s a not so secret wish of mine to have her take part in The LOVELANDER Project, not gonna lie. It quite thrills me to hear you were brought together to test. **And sidenote for all of you reading, of course I asked what scenes they they did in the audition, and of course Paul wouldn’t say. He isn’t going to give up ALL the goods in one interview – he is a sweetheart but no pushover.**

We can’t expect him to give us everything…nope nope nope.

What was that experience of finding out you had earned the role…ummm…roles like? I had just finished a radio class at RCS, I remember checking my phone and seeing I had a couple of missed calls from my agent, so I walked up to the top floor of the building which is usually quite empty, gave him a ring back and that’s when he told me I got the job! I recall just feeling completely overwhelmed, yet so excited to start my first job and also just extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity. I also remember feeling a slight hesitation about accepting as well due to the nature of playing Kezzie. At RCS, I have been extremely fortunate to meet and work alongside many deaf actors as the school offers a BA Performance course in BSL and English, and my hesitancy came from accepting the role of a deaf/hard of hearing character knowing the experiences of my friends struggling to find roles themselves. I met up and discussed with a couple of the actors on the course, along with lecturers who taught on it, about the nature of the role and if it was acceptable for me to agree to it. All that I spoke to gave incredibly insightful advice and noted how it was a unique situation due to the duality of playing both Kezzie and Josiah, who can hear. Because of this they supported taking on the role, and continued to offer help and advice while we were in pre-production and during filming. One of the pieces of advice was to have a deaf adviser on set and that’s how we got Bea involved! That says so much about your character as a human, Paul. Many, I imagine would be so over the moon with their first job, on this huge hit TV show, yet, here you are concerned about others and going to them to confer. Your generation is wise and compassionate, it’s heartwarming to hear.

When your casting announcement was made public by Starz, you had already begun filming, what was that “HERE COMES PAUL TO THE MASSES” experience like for you? It was bewildering! I don’t think anyone can get used to the fact that people you’ve never met in countries you’ve never been to suddenly know who you are! When the announcement came I was welcomed with such warmth and love from the Outlander community, it felt like joining a big family.

The rest of cast all have experience with the fandom so, they must be helpful with navigating those waters? The cast were extremely helpful in offering advice about this new world I was about to step into. Caitlin in particular was someone I’d constantly go to seeking guidance, as we both have had similar journeys in terms of Outlander being our first jobs. She had gone through this herself and knew exactly what to advise me on. She’s been incredible and I owe her a great deal.

Fan engagement can be tricky sometimes… Like I said before, I have been incredibly fortunate that the vast majority of the fans I’ve been contacted by have all been supportive and welcoming and seemed to have really enjoyed the work we made on the fifth season. I try not to engage too much on social media as you don’t want too many opinions trying to shape your performance, but the backing we’ve had in the past year really spurs us on as actors to give the most honest and sensitive performances possible. 

I imagine there are ways that are easier to digest the opinions or critiques of fans, as well. Of course, as actors and artists we welcome criticism, as it helps us to improve our craft and the work that we do, but if viewers did take issue with how a storyline or scene was filmed or executed, the way to do so would to be constructive and in a helpful and supportive manner. This will usually be listened to and taken in positively by those that see it and will be welcomed as affirmative motivation for when they next go to work.

In my, oh so, humble opinion, my job as a fan is to support and enjoy the work you do. You are the professionals after all. There is so much preparation that goes into the whole production. As you mentioned earlier, Bea helped with yours. I’m interested to hear about the groundwork you laid out while forming both Josiah and Kezzie as individuals and how Bea and others helped you with that. Knowing that the show’s storylines are based heavily on the books I thought by reading Josiah and Kezzie’s storyline in “The Fiery Cross” and “A Breath of Snow and Ashes” would be a key source to draw on for the performances. What is so good about the Outlander books, as an actor, is that Diana Gabaldon writes such detailed background stories, so you don’t have to join the dots as much, all the information is there! When it came to the actual performances, I wanted to focus on the features that distinguish the two boys while also finding similarities between them, as they continue to get mistaken for each other by other characters.

Key areas to focus on were differences in attitudes, body language, speech and the skills that each of the boys possess. Josiah is a skilled hunter it was important to think about his posture, while his keenness to prove his worth to the Ridge would show in his focus and his conscientiousness towards certain tasks. As I’m most definitely no hunter myself, it was useful to research hunting methods of the time and tools that Josiah might use, they would then have a lasting effect on Josiah’s body language and were good focus points.

For Kezzie, I focused on his more compassionate nature (looking after the barn cats), so he would have a softer touch to his posture, a willingness to smile more and because he relies much more heavily on his other senses to survive he may run his eyes over objects and people more frequently than others would, in order to gain the information required to assess a situation. To work on Kezzie’s deafness we wanted to approach it with sensitivity and accuracy in order to give the most honest representation of the character as possible. To do so, I interviewed some of my friends on the BA Performance BSL & English course at RCS to hear their own personal accounts and how they might intertwine with Kezzie’s, along with contacting local deaf support groups within Glasgow. What was also important was to try and have someone on set who could advise and monitor my behaviour as Kezzie during filming, so we managed to get Bea Webster, who is an actor herself and graduated from the BSL course at RCS, to be our deaf advisor on set. Bea and Carol-Ann Crawford, our dialect coach on Outlander, worked with me to shape Kezzie’s speech and also helped develop “home signs”, (as ASL/BSL were in its infancy stages during the late 17th century), in order to help the boys communicate with each other. The Outlander team and our directors were again very supportive of this and were happy to assist in helping us be as authentic as possible.

I am always impressed at how Outlander seems to take those extra steps to assist the actors in their process. It something we can easily take for granted because it makes your performance so flawless.

We have fans that know the (book) story arc of Josiah and Keziah, yet there are TV viewers that will have no idea. You mentioned you’ve read “A Breath of Snow and Ashes” (the next book, and what Season 6 will eventually be based on) We all know not every storyline makes it into the show but on a scale of 1-10, how much would you like to see some version of the Josiah/Kezzie story arc in season 6? Oh most definitely a 9 or 10! Such a key aspect of the boys’ personalities is their relationship with Lizzie as it sparks a growth in their maturity as characters, she helps ground them in their new reality and also, they find a sense of peace at the conclusion of their storyline that almost feels needed after the years of servitude and pain they have lived through. So to see the boys storyline realized from the books would be an incredible way to add to their journeys.

I couldn’t agree more. I think it would be epic to see that come to life on screen, you and Caitlin would absolutely slay! I am one of those fans that see the way you and your costars interact on SM and BTS. You seem to have this true camaraderie. What do you attribute that to? I think it’s down to the fact that everyone on set, from crew to actors to directors, are just so incredibly sound and also committed to making everyone feel at home and welcome. It’s a perfect duality between everyone being dedicated to the work at hand and also completely up for a laugh and a joke, which is so important on those late-night shoots. Everyone is also totally respectful of each other’s work and will put in the time and effort to support each other which brought us closer as an ensemble.

Speaking of that ensemble, let’s play a game. Give me the first thing that comes to mind when I say the names of these castmates –

Caitlin O’Ryan (Lizzie) An absolute hero, I learn from her every day whether it be about acting or something new I never knew about the world. Also, she’s extremely and undeniably cool.

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W8in for a m8

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Yup, looks cool to me.

Lauren Lyle (Marsali) Incredibly supportive of everyone on set, so kind and approachable and has excellent banter.

Best way to get in on her banter, listen to She’s A Rec

César Domboy (Fergus) So charming and courteous and also effortlessly cool, even when we’ve wrapped after a long day of shooting he still looks like he’s stepped off a fashion show it’s incredible.

I mean…I see it.

Kyle Rees (JQM) An utter legend, such a grounded and down-to-earth guy, so easy to talk to, always up for a laugh, and always brings a smile to everyone’s face. Never met a man so passionate about rugby.

Really? Down to earth? Makes people smile? A Rugby fan? You don’t say…

John Bell (Young Ian) Such a compassionate and considerate actor and person, intelligent and witty, and made me and others feel welcome on set.

I mean…it’s still a compliment right?

Richard Rankin (Roger) King of the wind-up and the odd banter, but also very considerate to those around him, he’s a cracking actor and I think his work this season particularly is exemplary and excellent.

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Posted @withregram • @ntsonline UPDATE . Due to demand the track from our recent #ScenesforSurvival The Longest Summer, by the brilliant @wearenoisemaker and @rikrankin, will be released on 4 August! . All proceeds from the single will go towards our #ScenesforSurvival hardship fund, which has been set up to support artists and those in the theatre industry who have been hardest hit financially by the current crisis. . Richard Rankin said: . “It's been a privilege to work on The Longest Summer as part of Scenes for Survival with the wonderful creative team of Noisemaker and director Jemima Levick, and I'm thrilled that the film and song have resonated with so many people already. The song release is a brilliant way to continue that connection, and a great opportunity to raise some cash for a vitally important cause.“ . The Scenes for Survival Hardship Fund is a fundraising campaign launched by the National Theatre of Scotland in association with the Federation of Scottish Theatre, the McGlashan Charitable Trust and leading Scottish Theatre organisations, to raise money for those in the sector who have been hardest hit financially and are experiencing drastic economic and emotional hardship. . All donations to this fund will go directly to provide support for those most impacted within Scotland, be they actors, writers, creatives, musicians, technicians or any others within our industry. . A sector-wide call out with information and details of how to apply for support from the SFS Hardship Fund will be launched in August 2020. The Federation of Scottish Theatre and the McGlashan Charitable Trust will ensure equitable distribution of the money raised.

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Scenes for Survival was a brilliant way to support Scottish Theatre during this pandemic. If you haven’t watched, I encourage you to check out the whole series of shorts.

Sophie Skelton (Brianna) Such a genial and thoughtful person, super bright and a pleasure to be around! Also incredibly sophisticated and cool like many in the cast.

Sophie-sticated is right…

SamHeughan (Jamie) A true leader, constantly boosts the morale of everyone on set and makes everyone feel valued and seen, he’s both selfless and giving as an actor. Also always up for a laugh and loves his rugby.

Do you think they are talking rugby or fashion?

Caitriona Balfe (Claire) As intelligent, perceptive and intuitive as an actor as she is a person, it’s really inspiring to see her work and command a space with such presence, learnt a great deal from her.

The real deal – it’s so good to know.

Speaking of Caitriona, the last episode of season 5, Never My Love, was a very heavy episode. You were involved in what has gone down as an epic scene, the rescue of Claire, the killing of her captors and those who raped her. I am really interested in what it took to hold up those scenesfrom your perspective. As an actor entering those scenes, what was vital was supporting our fellow cast members. Like our own characters main objectives in protecting Claire, it was our duty as ensemble members to support Caitriona and treating the setting and nature of the scenes with the sensitivity and care that is necessary. The energy, focus and emotional toll required for Caitriona to engage with the experiences that Claire goes through would be extensive and imposing, and it was our job as cast and crew to make the environment and atmosphere as comfortable and safe as possible in order to help Caitriona. And to see Caitriona at work, like that?I thought her performance throughout this season was stunning, but especially in those final episodes her attention to detail and vulnerability she showed as an actor was both heart-wrenching and exemplary, and to see the way she conducted herself professionally and considerately on set should be commended, it was inspiring to see as a young actor.

I appreciate you giving us such a wonderful visual. I am sure you have many but I am going to put you on the spot and ask you what your most memorable time on set was…thus far anyway. Honestly got so many! I think probably the Fiery Cross scene from the first episode, it was amazing seeing all the cast assembled for one scene, and there were so many people involved in the process of making and shooting it, I’d never seen anything like it in my life! Also, the fact it was a night shoot and we were going until 6 in the morning, there was a great sense of camaraderie and also delirium from the tiredness so we had a laugh and amazing time with the cast and crew.

It was enjoyable to watch as well! Outlander is your first TV role, but not your first role. You star in a short film called ‘Tooth’ that will be releasing, hopefully soon. You worked on that film while still in school. How do you feel you have grown as an actor from then until now? So much! Especially in that 3rd year at drama school, you mature and grow rapidly as an actor and a person as you are introduced to the industry. Outlander has been a great catalyst in helping me develop further as an actor. It has allowed me the opportunity to hone my screen acting skills, taught me the process (and my place in that process) of being a part of a television show and also bestowed on me stamina and durability to survive those long shoots (napping is key). It has introduced me to a world I had only known of on my screen, and to see how it works I now have a deeper and more insightful understanding of my industry.

All you have to do is look at this Instagram post. First, this smile – I mean…and then his words. The gratitude he expresses for those he works with and the credit he bestows upon them for assisting him with his brilliant performances is a credit to his character.

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With the season wrapped up, I just wanted to give a wee shoutout to some amazing people who were instrumental in helping bringing the twins to life. We had the incredible Bea Webster who helped develop a language and rapport between the boys through introducing home signs that they may have created themselves in order to communicate with each other. Bea was also on set every time we made the change to Kezzie, helping and advising how his behaviour might be portrayed in certain situations and how we might use the home signs within the scenes. She’s an unbelievably talented individual who’s recently been working on productions with the RSC where you’ll be able to catch her hopefully once everything has returned to normality. In scenes where both twins were featured we had two actors at different points in the year who would act alongside me as the twins and that was Dylan Blore and Daniel McGuire. Two talented, committed and giving actors who were unbelievably supportive during the shoot, always up for a laugh and a pleasure to work with. And also the amazing Carol Ann Crawford who is our voice & dialect coach on the show. Carol Ann was key in shaping the boys voices and was there at the initial stages of developing the twins. With Carol Ann’s help (along with support groups, Bea and a variety of personal accounts), we compiled enough research together to try and make the twins seem as authentic as possible. It was an absolute dream to work with them all, along with the spectacular crew and special effects team who also helped bring the boys to life. I’m forever grateful, thankful and lucky to have worked with them all. So go check them and their wonderful projects out! x

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I don’t think it is possible to be “OUTlandered” but I have asked LOTS of Outlander stuff and of course there is so much more to you. I know the fans will love getting to know you more as I have, let’s talk about some other things that interest you…

Some actors describe themselves as introverts, finding acting helps bring out certain parts of their personality they want to tune into more. Would you fall into the introvert or extrovert corner?I’d probably describe myself as a bit of both or neither haha. I love to be around others but also equally enjoy spending time on my own.How do you think your personality influences your work? I think personality has a direct effect on your job, whatever your profession may be. In acting it can come across in the parts that you play but more than anything else it can show in the way you work. I strive to be a supportive and empathetic person and I hope that is apparent in my approach to acting through ensemble work and being there for others. It sounds so simple and basic to say, but being approachable, attentive and respectful are so key in this industry and encourages others to want to work with you, like any job! If I am these things I do not know, but I always strive to be.

With you starting your career with this mindset, I have this not so crazy feeling your career will be fulfilling. Who would you say has inspired you the most in your life? I have been incredibly lucky throughout my life to have had many people to look up to and continuously motivate me; my Mum, Dad and sister especially have been a constant inspiring force that have shaped me into the person I am today. The way they approach their work, the way they conduct their relationships with other people and how they always put others before themselves is a continuous motivator for how I lead my life, I’m incredibly grateful to have them.

I am sure they are proud of you. It is a blessing when you have a foundation of love and support. You have many of years ahead of you, what kind of projects would you like to work on in the future? Oh anything and everything! I’m at the stage in my career where I’d love to do a variety of different projects of an array of subject matters; hopefully those that are bold, thought-provoking and inspire change, but I’m grateful to just be working and doing what I love. I have a massive yearning to go back to theatre, especially as I haven’t been involved in a project on stage since late 2018, so to be part of a theatre production again would be incredible.

There are so many talented people in the industry, do you have any that are on a ‘dream’ list to work with? Honestly the list is so long, I have so many artists I admire. If I had to choose a director, it would be Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later, Yesterday, to name a few). He’s an exceptionally unique filmmaker who makes such visceral, layered and entertaining pieces and the narratives within his films always have such a great collection of characters, also the soundtracks as well for each of his movies are always stunning.

With your background in theatre and your love of all things creative, that would be a great fit. I would love to see you in something Danny Boyle creates. Since I’ve shared the informations that you can sing, if you could do a biopic of a musician – who would you choose? Ahhh that is very kind of you to say but I assure you I’m no singer! However, if I were lucky enough to be in a biopic about a musician, I would love to be involved in a film about Frank Sinatra. He’s had such a prolific career but also steeped in controversy in terms of his political ties and his alleged dealings with organised crime, it would make for a great character study.

I was thinking something in the punk world and he goes and throws Frank Sinatra out for the win.

Like many Scottish actors, Paul has a versatile CV, 13 theatre productions under his belt, radio, film and of course, now television, he is becoming the total package.

If you follow Paul on twitter or Instagram, you will see quickly that he is passionate about social justice and also has a very creative eye.

It is easy to see you are drawn to things that move you. What would say your favourite creative outlet is? (Movies, theatre, music, TV) Oh, if I’m honest I don’t think I could pick a favourite! They all seem to affect me in different ways and can suit any mood or feeling I’m having. I can find myself listening to a song or album on repeat, diving into the world of a tv series or film or be in awe of some theatre magic I see on stage. I’m gonna be so boring and say all of them cause I can’t pick one.

That isn’t boring at all, I like when people are honest and don’t make up something. To be honest, I am the same way. I can’t pick favourites for the life of me, I have no idea why I put people on the spot like that. Note taken 😂 The world has changed a lot since filming stopped on Outlander, what have you been doing to keep it together? Any ideas to help me out…It has been a difficult time for everyone, and I’m not sure if I would have any new advice, but I would suggest focus on doing things that make you happy, and especially those things you always put off! I’ve been reading books I’ve always meant to read, learning songs on guitar I’ve always wanted to learn, simple and easy things that are manageable and doable but I’ve always put off as I’ve pushed other tasks to the forefront. I also recommend downloading the app “Duolingo”, it’s free and makes learning a language super-easy, I’m currently making my way up the Norwegian course and about to begin my Gaelic one (a must for any Outlander fan). Simple, easy and manageable goals to get you through the day and also encourages you to learn and try something new!

I know that some reading are going to be thinking “Paul is too good to be true!” So let’s give them a kick rocks moment *smile*. Give me three things you miss most from our pre-covid life.

  1. The cinema. I would try and go as much as I can to see everything and anything. Though saying that, they have started opening up again and I managed to catch our Colonel Fraser be the bad-guy in ‘Bloodshot’, he was terrifyingly good (as always).
  2. Greggs. It’s like a bakery chain in the UK, but has a special place in Scotland’s heart. They do everything from sausage rolls to baguettes to pancakes, literally everything. But again they’re starting to open up, so I’m able to pick-up my empire biscuits nae problem.
  3. The pub. I’m not even a massive drinker, but the experience and ease of meeting up with a few mates in town and going to the pub and having a laugh was missed a lot during these last few months. Will never take it for granted again.

That is exactly it, isn’t it? Not taking things for granted, you are right. I am sure you could give me a list a mile long, I know I have one, but how about you give me three. Three things you have come to be more grateful for during this difficult time?

  1. Family and Friends. They’ve kept me sane and smiling throughout this entire time, I’m extremely lucky to have them in my life.
  2. My cats. Ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll mention how his cats basically make up his whole personality. Cats in general are just the funniest, most entertaining and beautiful creatures on the planet. Sorry dog lovers.
  3. The NHS. I’ve fortunately been lucky not to need their services recently, but the work they have been doing this year, the years before and the years to come is exemplary and beyond inspiring. We are incredibly lucky to have them.

The cats answer may gain you a whole new following within this fandom and there may be many questions about them in the future. Consider yourself warned. *laugh*.

I know theatre has a special place in your heart and it has been hit particularly hard…The pandemic has brought a wide range of difficulties to the way we all live our lives, and industries around the world have been devastated by it. The entertainment industry has been severely affected by it, as it mainly survives on revenue generated by ticket sales for its performances and the way in which the virus spreads, is of course, halting theatres re-opening.

What can we do to support the theatre industry right now? While theatres remain shut, a way in which you can help them out is if you have a penny to spare, donate to the variety of funds that have been set up by theatres and local charity organisations supporting local arts funding. It is key to support the regional/local theatres across the country, as they have been the hardest hit throughout this pandemic. Understandably, if money is an issue, continue to engage with theatres online on social media and various campaigns they are running and advocating for. Knowing they have your support and your voice can go a long way in shifting governments attention to helping them out!

And one final thing, once theatres do begin opening up and you’re not shielding or suffering from any health issues, I implore you to get out there and see some theatre! Treat yourself to a musical you always fancied seeing, or a Shakespeare or a new up and coming playwright or theatre company! You’ll be giving yourself a well-deserved night-out and also committing to keeping this wonderful industry afloat and inspiring the artists of tomorrow.

Theatre companies are struggling all over the world and the arts are so important to our young people, all you have suggested is worth our attention.

I know I have been spending some time binging shows, Outlander just got the season 1-5 treatment, again. I don’t have a problem. What is the last show you binged? I’m currently watching and binging the show “I May Destroy You” on BBC iPlayer. It is incredible, bold, informative, unsettling yet still manages to be hilarious and superbly acted by all involved! I think it might be on HBO across the pond? Whatever you can get it on, get it watched!

Consider it watched! Now that we are going down the endorsement road, let’s play “Paultimate Recommendations”:

MOVIES1) The Departed   2) Birdman    3) Inside Llewyn Davis

BOOKS: 1) The Shining (Stephen King)    2) The Master and Margarita (Mikhail Bulgakov) 3) 1984 (George Orwell)

TV SHOWS: 1) Scrubs (Honestly, whatever mood you’re in, it just works)    2) Breaking Bad 3) Fargo

ALBUMS: So these are my favourite albums, opinions may vary 1. American Idiot (Green Day) 2) Puzzle (Biffy Clyro)  3) Take This To Your Grave (Fall Out Boy)

Puzzle is the only one I hadn’t heard of. I popped it on and it has a great mix of heady lyrics and grittiness. I’m not too old for that. I do find much of who we are is developed in our teens, I often think of the advice I would give my teenself if I could. If you could go back and give ‘teen Paul’ advice or words of encouragement, what would you say? Don’t hold back, try everything and anything. Even ABBA.

I’m just going to put that in my pocket and use it now, cuz I might be running out of time.

It is obvious you are intune with the inner workings of ‘Paul’, so I am going to ask you to give yourself a tagline, a warning label and a theme song.   

TAGLINE: With great enthusiasm comes a great number of exclamation points.
WARNING LABEL For best results, add Fanta.

Paul’s Theme Song is Feeder, imagine it playing whenever you see him.

Your kind heart and authenticity shine through in your words and in your performance as Josiah and Kezzie – I want you to know, even if my opinion might not matter in the big scheme of things – I believe you have found your calling – not only for you but those that are blessed enough to find themselves in your circle. Thank you for being exactly who you are. Thank you so so much and once again thank you for allowing me to be a part of this project, it was an absolute pleasure answering your thoughtful questions. It is such a lovely service you are doing for the fans and you and your work are greatly appreciated!!!

It is kind of fantastic when you can say “What you see…it what you get”. This has been my experience with each member of the cast Ive had the pleasure to interview or meet. It’s my opinion the casting department has a great deal to do with that. Like attracts like and all that smart stuff.

It was such a nice escape from my Droughtlander to get to know Paul and I hope you can say the time you spent with us today, did the same for you. From this video – I can say underneath the wig and gnarly looking collar, that’s Paul. Gracious, courteous, humble and kind.

From his answers in his interview here, to my follow up conversations and this W Network video – THIS is Paul

I know you have a successful career ahead of you, as for Outlander fans, once you are loved by us, you are on the radar and will be supported by us, always. Thank you so much once again Sherry it was an absolute privilege!

Sherry

Have you missed Previous editions of – The LOVELANDER Project – Edition 1 Vida/Blancklanderz  Edition 2 Erin/Three if By Space  CastEdition 3 Vincent/Supporting Artist  Edition 4 Tracy/Outcandour CastEdition 5 Nell Hudson/Laoghaire Cast Edition 6 A Quickie w Kikki Fleming/ Lesley Edition 7 Koko/Outlandish Vancouver

ABOotlander LOve – Previous Interviews –  Julia LeBlanc/VideoQueen  Summer & Ginger from Outlander Podcast  CastDr.Joe Abernathy/Wil Johnson  CastAdrienne-Marie/Suzette Beth Wesson/@PixieTwit  Connie Verzak@ConnieBV  Karmen @OutLandAnatomy  Jane @RRankinFans  CastSera-Lys McArthur /Johiehon CastCarmen Moore /Wahkatiiosta CastKikkiFleming/ Lesley

The LOVELANDER Project brings you, Nell Hudson, a true ray of SUNSHINE.

No matter how fans may feel about Outlander’s Laoghaire, we all can agree Nell Hudson’s performance added level of vulnerability to her. It wasn’t until she put her stamp on this often debated character, that many started to soften with an empathy for her. I was one of those people. For me, it turned me into a fan of the actress who gave me a new perspective of a character I thought I knew. I’d been reading about her for 20 plus years afterall. I started following Nell’s career and her social media, as one does in this world of interwebbing.

Needless to say, when Nell said she thought #TheLOVELANDERProject was a ‘lovely endeavour’ and she would happy to be a part of it, I was thrilled. (Since this isn’t about me, I will stop babbling to bring you the very bright and brilliant Nell)

Imagine, a blonde haired blue eyed wisp of a lass, enjoying picnics, riding her bike and swimming in rivers. A farm in the Midlands of England is where she called home. An incredibly idyllic childhood Nell tells me. Until, of course, she becomes a teenager. “Then I longed for excitement and couldn’t wait to get off the farm. Now, of course, I love going back.”

Nell, came into Outlander fans lives as the living breathing, Loaghaire MacKenzie, she even jokingly calls her Leghair, as many fans have been known to. This is an example of Nell’s own great sense of humour. It’s always interesting to get a better look from the person ‘playing’ the character…“Laoghaire is what happens when a broken heart never heals. Like all good villains, she’s a fallen angel. She didn’t start out bad, but circumstance has made it so.”

I wrote a blog on the Women of Outlander and there were fans that did identify with Loaghaire. I know that some think she is just horrible but I understand her. I certainly feel sorrier for her than dislike her. Hmm…I feel sorry for Laoghaire too! A big part of playing her for me was the back-story of her not having a mother. I think this is the hole in the soul she tries to fill with love for Jamie. It’s deeply sad, when you think about it. As for me, I like to think I know a lost cause when I see one….

That incredible insight should make it obvious that Nell is so much more than the time she spent on Outlander. I am sure you will see that as we go. I did ask her to recall some of her treasured memories from her time with on the show. “I remember going to the pub in Glasgow with all of the Season One cast (Cat, Sam, Duncan, Gary Lewis, Graham McTavish, Lotte Verbeek) and thinking “wow, I’ll never forget this!”. On Series Two I made great friends with the actor James Parris, who played Young Simon, and had so much fun hanging with him – we’re still good friends! And then Lauren Lyle came into my life and I’ll always love her. Then Sophie, oh my lord, she’s fab. Love her, too.

As far as Lauren Lyle is concerned, the feeling is mutual. I was lucky enough to be included on a zoom party with her in June and asked her what her thoughts on Nell were. Lauren’s face softened, you know how I mean, when you talk of someone you absolutely adore. She fondly recalled her first days on set and how Nell truly took her under her wing. Lauren sticking to her like glue with her ‘show Ma’ gently guiding her along and making her feel safe and welcome.

As much as your acting, those real life connections do come through in your art. From what I have read about you, you chose to become an actress quite young, were you one of those little girls with the flair for putting on the show?In hindsight, yes. I was constantly making my siblings act in little plays I’d written, with me – with me as the lead, of course!

Of course, you are a natural leading lady! When did you officially transition from acting at home to making it your profession “It wasn’t until everyone was going off to university that I decided to pursue acting seriously. I had to give it a shot as there was nothing else I loved quite so much.” I think that takes a lot of courage. What advice would you give a girl, like yourself, who is off to start her life with a dream like yours? To a young girl starting a career in the arts I would say work your butt off, it’s tough out there, and humility will get you nowhere. Be loud and your own biggest cheerleader.

You have played many interesting roles since Outlander. One of them, Nancy Skerrett in Victoria. People LOVED Nancy, some didn’t even recognise you as the same person. They just couldn’t fathom how Nancy could be played by the same person who played Laoghaire. That is acting folks. Amazing, on the spot, damn fine ‘Nell’ acting!

Speaking of which, Nancy Skerrett’s life came to a tragic end. My heart – like many others, broke. Your death scene was just so incredibly SAD. “It was my first on-screen death! It was incredibly emotional for me, too. After playing Nancy for three years I had really fallen in love with her. It was, as you say, heartbreaking that she had to die just when she’d got her happy ending. I just had to be incredibly present in the moment for that scene – if I thought about it to much I might not have kept it together.

But you did. I’m still mad at them for doing it. I had a long list of people that should have died over you. PFT! Anyway…If you could give Nancy Skerrett an alternative ending, what would it be? That she and Francatelli lived happily ever after and had a ton of babies!

That would have been lovely and I really would have watched ALL of that. We still do get to watch you outside of Outlander. In the Informer, Charlotte is a modern role, I loved it but it was a bit different seeing you in modern attire- acting. “It’s definitely less of a leap playing a modern part as you speak the same language. But period pieces are the opportunity to connect with humanity, whatever era people lived in the human experience remains the same.”

I can imagine as an actor with such a wide range, you would have people you would love to work with…who is on your list? Oooh….I would love to work with (British Director) Mike Leigh, he really immerses his actors in their roles. Joanna Hogg is incredible. Lena Waithe. Taika Waititi. There are so many!

With your versatile talent, I’d love to see you in one so, if you could choose a bio-pic to star in, who would you choose to play? “I’d bloody love to do a music biopic as it would be so fun to play a singer. I love singing and did it professionally for a while but was too stage-shy to perform as myself – so I could do it if I was pretending to be someone else! I always got told I look like Joni Mitchell growing up, and I love her music, so maybe her. Debbie Harry would be incredible, too.”

Nell next to Canadian singer Joni Mitchell. Yup. I can see that.
Debbie Harry next to Nell – and ummmm. WOW.

YES! Joni Mitchell is Canadian so ummm. Yeah. And Debbie Harry (Blondie) bc dang, look at you! Plus you can sing, Imma start 2 petitions. #NellForJoni #NellForDebbie

Nell doesn’t have to say many words for you to realize, she is a writer at heart. The way she answers the questions have a melody.

It shouldn’t be a big surprise to us that you have recently finished writing your own novel. “I have indeed! I’m really excited about it. It’s early days but I’m hoping to get it published. I come from a line of writers: my grandfather was Cyril Connolly (a noted critic and author of his day) and my Mum is Cressida Connolly, a best-selling fiction writer.”

That certainly shows it not only runs in the family but that the talent extends as the generations go on. Do you have an interest in writing other creative ventures? “Absolutely. I have a few script projects saved on my laptop. I’m concentrating on the novel, for now, but I would love to develop some screen work over time.”

What is about writing, that you are attracted to, do you think? “Writing for me is in many ways the antithesis to acting – I’m the one in charge for once! It’s complete escapism. If I feel like inhabiting a certain world I just write about it and I’m there. I think creativity is an energy and it has to come out somehow – for me it can be writing, writing songs, acting, drawing (badly), dancing…anything ! I couldn’t live without creative flow.

I identify with this on a very deep level. Escapism is something I need – it is a part of my mental wellness, my therapy. You have been very honest with your own mental health and wellness. You share on your IG openly your struggles and victories. I find it incredibly encouraging for public figures, especially young women such as yourself having the courage to speak up about such personal issues. “Thank you so much for your support. It’s scary sharing that stuff because a small part of me knows that it could put off potential employers. And then I think, screw that. I’ve NEVER let my mental health affect my work, ever. And if someone judged me for talking about it then I might not want to work with them. I went through a period of depression in my early twenties and took medication for it, and I have anxiety, too. I don’t take any medication anymore, but it definitely helped me at the time. I’ve battled disordered eating in the past, too, which I think is important to talk about as I know so many actresses, and women, who have been through it. These days I’ve found that yoga and meditation, as well as a great support system of friends and family, are all I need. But emotions are like the weather, sometimes it’s grey, but it will pass.

I always wish I could go back and kick myself in the ass to listen to my inner voice, earlier than I did. If you could give “little Nell” some advice, what would it be? “Awww this question is so moving, always. I would say speak to a doctor – would have saved a lot of time if I’d gone sooner. I would have said baby girl just DO.NOT.BOTHER. with the eating disorder. Please listen to me it’s a huge waste of time. And I would have said you will be ok, I love you.

I do wish we all could learn to love ourselves fully earlier in our lives. Much like we allow pets to love us, like your pup, Maggie – who might have the BEST ears on Instagram. “Haha aw, thank you, I’ll pass that on to her. I found her on a farm in Abergavenny, Wales. I’d always wanted a dog and it just felt like the right time to get one. She chose me. I knew I was going to call my dog Maggie, and on our first meeting I called that name to her, and she came running. So I knew it was meant to be.”

We can tell she brings you a lot of happiness. What else brings you joy? “I sound very Goop-y but I really do love yoga. Swimming in the sea, reading a great book. My main vice is going out for supper – I love eating out and trying new restaurants. But obviously I can’t do a lot of that at the moment. At least I’m saving money.”

OK, we are talking about food now, so it’s the perfect segway for my final question. The ABOotlanders have invited you to a fancy dinner and offered you a) Moose Droppings b) Beaver Tails c) Prairie Oysters d) Taber Corn. What do you choose. I have no idea what you’re talking about but Taber Corn sounds like the safest answer.

That’s what I like about Nell the most. She is “what you see is what you get” and at the same time, not at all basic. I am very grateful she gave us a peak into her life by being gracious enough to answer my questions by being featured in the Lovelander project.

Thank you again, Nell. MUCH LOVE!

Sher xo

Set of Beaufort Castle/ Nell taking a selfie while in her trailer on the set of Outlander.

The L🖤VELANDER Project – Edition 1 Vida/Blancklanderz  Edition 2 Erin/Three if By Space  Edition 3 Vincent/Supporting Artist Edition 4 Tracy/Outcandour

ABOotlander L🖤ve – Previous Interviews –  Julia LeBlanc/VideoQueen  Summer & Ginger from Outlander Podcast  CastDr.Joe Abernathy/Wil Johnson  CastAdrienne-Marie/Suzette Beth Wesson/@PixieTwit  Connie Verzak@ConnieBV  Karmen @OutLandAnatomy  Jane @RRankinFans  CastSera-Lys McArthur /Johiehon CastCarmen Moore /Wahkatiiosta CastKikkiFleming/ Lesley

#TheLOVELANDERProject brings you Tracy, the elegant voice of Outcandour.

If you are not familiar with the recap/review/ponderings of Outcandour – I suggest you check them out. Tracy has been taking us through the episodes since Season 3. She always identifies the core of what the episode is shouting at us and in her very unique way gives us the recap we wanted all along.

Tracy doesn’t give away much about herself in her writing except you quickly see she is highly intelligent, compassionate and damn, the woman is a deep thinker. It becomes obvious she researches what she speaks of, whether it is theological, Greek/Latin based or social issues. You can find these things in her writing and all are clearly composed for her readers.

I found ‘Outcandour’ in season 4 but didn’t nudge my way into Tracy’s life until the middle of the season. One, to support her by linking our blogs and two, to reach out. It is what we should do when we find people out there that we feel “Hey, I would like to have that person in my bubble.” I knew I could learn from her. She was gentle where I was rough. Her prose, eloquent where mine was, let’s just say unladylike *snort*, see? I enjoy the way I write. It’s only, different. I was drawn to her style. That is the reason I asked her to be featured in #TheLOVELANDERProject.

I know Tracy has many dedicated readers, I thought they would like to know about this incredible woman behind her words. I must say, she is just as lovely as I thought she would be. Actually, she is even better and I’m not even mad.

Classical music loving, Tracy, a self described awkward child, she grew up in southern California. Frizzy haired, thick eye browed and a step behind her peers in regards to the latest trends, she thought herself a late bloomer. Like many introverts, Tracy was quiet around people she wasn’t familiar with but goofy around her closest friends and her family. Being a good student, a rule follower, her love of books and athletics helped her build her confidence in senior high school. Thus developing into this woman we have grown to admire so much.

Tracy now lives in northern California with her husband and two young sons (ages 4 and 7). She is a small animal veterinarian. Hearing this was no surprise, even with only online interactions her compassionate nature shines through.

I wanted to know more about how Tracy found her way to her profession as a vet – “Like most people, I’ve always loved animals but I wasn’t someone who had wanted to be a veterinarian since a very young age. My uncle is a veterinarian so I saw a bit of the profession growing up. But I actually started college at the University of California, Irvine as an International Studies major. I thought I might want to work for the UN someday. I had to take a few basic science classes as part of my general undergrad education, and I actually ended up doing really well in them. I had never considered myself a science-y person until college, so I was happy to find that I not only really enjoyed biology but I actually understood it! So I took a few more science classes to explore that, then began considering veterinary medicine as something I might pursue. I began working as a veterinary assistant near the university (one of my friend’s fathers was a veterinarian), and then before my junior year I decided to transfer to UC Davis to study Animal Biology. After college I worked for three years as a veterinary technician in my hometown (huge shout-out to Dr. Edward Jezbera of Riverside) so I could get even more experience, and then I applied to veterinary school. I just celebrated the 10-year anniversary of my vet school graduation this week!

Such a wonderful achievement. Congratulations on that. I could easily see you working with the UN as well *smile*

Having a young family is enough to keep any mom busy. Tracy is one of those women that I look at with a touch of awe and a side of ‘good on ‘er’- She is an avid runner, having completed four marathons. She and her family (pre-covid) are very active in sports, basketball, little league and soccer. This little family is a whirl wind of activity and laughter.

Tracy and her beautiful family.

Tell us how Outcandour came to be. “I’ve always loved reading in-depth takes on television shows or movies. I’m that person watching movies with the director’s commentary turned on. Tom and Lorenzo are some of my favorite bloggers, and they used to write great recaps for Mad Men and Outlander. They stopped recapping Outlander during Season 2, and I found myself missing the sort of commentary I was used to. When Season 3 started I figured, why not attempt to write something myself? And
thus Outcandour came into creation.

When did your interest in Outlander start, Tracy? ” I discovered the show first during Season 1, after reading a number of articles praising its female gaze. I was hooked from the moment I saw those opening shots of Glen Coe with Caitriona’s voice narrating the mystery of what was about
to unfold. I read all the novels in the Droughtlander between Seasons 2 and 3, and I’ve since read them all multiple times.

Someone else in your family was a long time fan –My grandmother, who is 95, was amused when I discovered Outlander and started my blog. She read all the novels back in the 90s…like all Outlander fans, she wondered what had taken me so long!

I want to take a moment to remember Tracy’s grandmother, who since we did this initial interview has passed away. Her name was Sherry, too! She was born Shirley but she always hated the association with Shirley Temple, so she went by Sherry her whole life. Her death wasn’t totally unexpected and she was suffering quite a bit at the end, so although it’s so painful I find some solace knowing that she’s finally at peace.
Like all conversations that we wish we could remember, I can’t remember specifics as it relates to Outlander. I know she read the novels and I think perhaps Dragonfly in Amber might have been her favorite. She was rereading
it just a few years before she passed away. She was very proud of her English heritage and her outspoken nature, so I think she really identified with Claire.” Sherry, sounds like a woman we all would have been honoured to meet. I’m very sorry for your loss.

Tracy and her Grandmother, Sherry.

It seems there may be something hereditary going on there. 😘 That, and the compassion that comes out in your writing. Who or what would say were some of the bigger influences in your life? “Well, thank you for that! I’m not sure I can name only one thing or one person. Certainly, my parents are most responsible for instilling a sense of compassion and empathy in my life. My husband and sister are my best friends and I’d say they probably keep me the most honest. I was fortunate to have some truly great English teachers in middle and high school who really fostered my love of reading and critical thinking.

Critical thinking, yes, that and a depth of knowledge of the subject matter. You introduce those aspects so clearly to the themes in your recaps – why do you think that is important to do – delve so deeply? I could never presume to know what the Outlander writers ever intend, but I think it’s important to remember that they are writing intentionally and with their own artistic perspective in creating an adaptation. Sussing out an episode’s theme makes me appreciate the writing; I find I enjoy the episodes more if I try to look deeper. Hopefully my readers feel the same way.

It is one of the comments I see often. Your readers thanking you for giving them a new perspective. It’s refreshing to have an unbiased view dig into the middle and work their way out. It is akin to reading comprehension but via a different medium. When did you realize you had this gift with words?I’ve always really enjoyed writing. As I mentioned before, I had some really wonderful teachers growing up who gave me invaluable feedback and encouragement. And so much of my love for writing comes from my love of reading…I’m so jealous of beautiful prose that I’m anxious to create it myself.

I’m curious, many writers have a certain process, where they feel comfortable gathering ideas, do you have a time or place you do your writing?Usually while I’m running. I’ll start thinking about something, then pull out my phone to jot it down before I forget. Running really is mind-clearing for me. Otherwise I do most of my writing at the dining table after my kids are asleep.

I find that fascinating…while you are running. It makes sense as your writing has such a flow and beauty to it. I am going to wonder aloud, if you were to write a book…I think you should…what genre do you think you would lean towards? “Hmmm, well, that might not be a totally theoretical question! *wink* So I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say it is an adaptation of a well-known story with a modern political and feminist slant.

As avid readers, we all have those books that impact us, what books have made the biggest impressions on you, Tracy? “As a Californian, I’ve always loved John Steinbeck. There are a few books I’ve read as an adult that have stayed with me in significant ways: The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger), Circe (Madeline Miller), The Underground Railroad(Colson Whitehead), One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel García Márquez), and Lonesome Dove (Larry McMurty) are some of the ones I cherish the most. And, of course, I truly love the Outlander series. I find that after I’ve been reading any of the Outlander novels it’s difficult to slip into another author’s voice and point-of-view…Diana Gabaldon creates such a distinct but relatable voice for all her characters.

I completely agree, I seemed to have read them over and over until I knew the characters so well that I was “O.K. NOW, I can leave you all for a bit. *laugh* It was ridiculous. I now can read other genres, fluff and stuff but I do always return to them and they feel like home. Sort of like the show. I know you have a love of it, like I do. If you could put the five seasons in order of favourite…What order would you put them in?Hmmm…well Season 1 will likely always be my favorite as it was the one to capture me with its magic and beauty. Then I suppose I would rank them as follows: 3, 5, 2, and 4. But, honestly, it’s only a hair’s difference that separates them in my mind…I have truly enjoyed them all.

Same, same. Though I am a bit of a weirdo *shocking I know* I always seem to put the latest season as a favourite. I love them all. I hope it goes on til Diana is done with it. Is that likely? No one knows. What do you expect the future looks like for the show? *HUGE shrug* “I do get the impression that Season Six may be the last one…it is so rare for a premium television show to last longer than six seasons. I really hope I’m wrong, of course. I can definitely see a Lord John spinoff coming down the line, as well as a feature length film, similar to what Downton Abbey did.

Anything is possible, I am happy we got anything at all. Now what’s your take on the books? Any thoughts or ideas?As for the books…only Diana knows! I’m personally hoping to have all my conspiracy theories about Frank either confirmed or denied.” *wink*

Oooooh, I got some of those myself! So many things I am hoping are wrapped up all nice and neat – however, Diana has a lot more writing in her devious/delicious mind, I am sure.

Diana mind power

It is due to that deliciously devious Diana mind that we have this huge community, this fandom. Which of course is the reason why we have come into each others lives. The fandom continues to grow every day, what do you find are the greatest joys and the biggest challenges of being a part of it?I’d say the joy comes from the expansion of my world this fandom has given me. There are so many smart and thoughtful people I would have never known otherwise…present company included, of course! Of course! *snort* And I really love reading all the different opinions and takes on the episodes and characters. It’s fascinating to me that we can all watch the same thing and experience it so differently. Such is art! I think the challenges do come from that subjectivity, though. We all feel such a personal connection to Outlander that it’s hard not to be possessive of the characters and stories.

Sometimes it does get to be a lot. It is lovely to see that much of the interaction you have online is positive and really respectful.I find the engagement I get through the fandom, especially on Twitter and through my blog is very rewarding.

It’s Droughtlander time and we are all going through some fandom pains, what is your advice for us to get through this?It’s going to be a long one, isn’t it? I don’t have the most original advice…lots of reading, catching up on all the movies I’ve missed, discovering new shows, etc. I recently watched Normal People on Hulu and found it to be one of the most
beautiful shows I’ve ever seen.

Oh, Marianne and Connell absolutely broke my heart! I was bereft when I was done the last episode. Genuinely had a good sob. I was 15 again, watching that. *sigh*. It seems we have something else in common, any other shows you love?Well, like most parents of young kids, I find that most of the shows watched in our house are children-oriented. Shows I’ve loved watching or catching up on recently include Call the Midwife, The Spanish Princess, Downton Abbey, and Mad Men. They’re all essentially period dramas that provide good social commentary on their times.

That is one of the things I liked most about getting to know Tracy better. It solidified why I was drawn to her. This is a woman I personally don’t have a lot in common with, however, I admire her. We see things differently and we live contrasting existences yet we find ourselves seeking the others outlook. It really is how we grow as people, isn’t it? I want to thank Tracy for accepting the invite to be a featured guest with #TheLOVELANDERProject. If you want to follow her on twitter CLICK HERE . Fill up on some of her archived blog posts, by going back to the beginning, they age well, CLICK HERE.

Finally, our close out ABOotlanders silly Albertan question (which I am going to have to switch up soon because ya all are starting to figure them out- derp)

The ABOotlanders have invited Tracy to a fancy get together and we are letting her choose the main course.

What do you choose, Tracy? Moose Droppings, Beaver Tails, Prairie Oysters or Taber Corn?Okay, well I know what Moose Droppings are from reading your previous installments of this series. So, I won’t pick that. I have no idea what any of these are! Are Prairie Oysters the same as Rocky Mountain Oysters (testicles?). I guess I’ll be brave and pick that! See? Tracy is a smart one! That is exactly it. Prairie Oysters are bull testicles – they say they taste a lot like calamari or seasoned rubber, depending on your taste buds. This is Alberta so naturally, we have a Testicle Festival. That is not MY fault, Tracy picked this one.

Now with that wonderful thought in your head and taste in your mouth, I leave you with this. I do hope the fandom sees how truly lucky we are to have people such as Tracy in our orbit. She ‘overthinks Outlander for the masses’ so we can take a look through another window. When we take the time to see the different shades in a painting it creates a depth we may have missed.

Thank you so much for joining me for another edition of #TheLOVELANERProject. I have a great line-up that includes other fan accounts, cast members et al. in order to keep our gullets quenched during this Droughlander.

Until next time,

Sher xo

The L🖤VELANDER Project – Edition 1 Vida/Blancklanderz Edition 2 Erin/Three if By Space Edition 3 Vincent/Supporting Artist

ABOotlander L🖤ve – Previous Interviews –  Julia LeBlanc/VideoQueen  Summer & Ginger from Outlander Podcast  CastDr.Joe Abernathy/Wil Johnson  CastAdrienne-Marie/Suzette Beth Wesson/@PixieTwit  Connie Verzak@ConnieBV  Karmen @OutLandAnatomy  Jane @RRankinFans  CastSera-Lys McArthur /Johiehon CastCarmen Moore /Wahkatiiosta CastKikkiFleming/ Lesley






The woman who created BLACKLANDERZ™- Meet VIDA.

I would like to welcome you to The #LOVELANDER Project. 

3 years ago, I interviewed different members of the Outlander fandom to spread what I coined as ‘ABOotlander love’.  The time I spent getting to know and sharing those great women with the rest of the fandom was a joy.  (Look for links of the previous interviews at the end of the post).  I chose to resurrect this concept during this 2020 Droughtlander. I feel the world needs some levity, some love and distraction and for my part – I am doing this. The L🖤VELANDER Project.

I like sharing the people behind the fan accounts we see and interact with every day. Perhaps I will introduce you to accounts you may not be aware of.  It is my hope to reach out to those who have made it their mission to add touches of entertainment and share their knowledge with a uniqueness that makes our fan experience better ones.

My first guest with The LOVELANDER Project is the creator behind Blacklanderz.  Vida is from Houston, Texas yet the members of Blacklanderz are from around the globe, let’s talk to her!

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Sit right here, we got stuff to talk about.

Vida’s interest in the world of Outlander started after she watched the first season on STARZ, afterward, she read the books.  When watching the show, the inspiration for Blacklanderz was born.

“When I began watching the show and asked family members, friends, and colleagues if they had heard about it, none of them had. Once I explained what it was about and ensured they would witness one of the best shows (series) ever made for television, more people began to watch.

Then, I wondered why more Blacks were not watching the show. In doing a cursory search, I realized most news outlets that cater to Blacks (e.g., Ebony, Essences, TV One, BET, The Root, and a few Urban News Outlets, etc.) did not cover Outlander. At the time, they mostly covered those shows that highlighted Blacks, such as Black-ish, Power, Empire, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, etc. So, how would most Blacks find out about it if these sources do not cover it?

Now, do not get me wrong. I liked those shows too and were glad they are on, especially when there had never been a time in television history that had as many shows catering to a wider diverse audience. However, Blacks are not a monolithic group and I like diversity in my entertainment on a level that challenges my intellect and provokes discourse on a deeper level! And, if these outlets could cover shows, such as Game of Thrones (another favorite), they could also cover Outlander! Rather than wait for other outlets to do it, I decided to do it myself!!

 

“Then, I searched #Outlander on social media, other Outlander fan groups on social media and did not see any that had Black people in them, yet there were Blacks who watched the show. I also wanted to create a website/blog and decided to focus on Outlander and other entertainment shows/movies. So, I created Blacklanderz™ after S1. By S2, I added more members and decided we would have a conversation (Convo) about the episodes rather than do a recap.”

It was always Vida’s intention that Blacklanderz was not about her but about the community she was building and remaining an entertainment account. She has done a spectacular job staying behind the curtain and pushing others toward the stage. I, however, am a bit of a pain in the ass and begged just a little for a glimpse at the woman who seeks no credit yet is constantly working to create the content we see coming out of the Blacklanderz hub.  Hold onto your britches and your bonnet’s because if I had this resume, I would be running around yelling LOOK AT ME! I am FREAKIN AMAZING!

 

 

Vida is an award-winning author and researcher. She has a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Educational Policy Studies.  She has been in the educational field well over 25 years, as a former teacher and adjunct professor she writes grant proposals to fund educational programs. 

When I found out about Vida’s history in education, my brain popped a little because it made so much sense. In the last few years I have followed her pretty closely (not in a creepy stalkerish way but in a ‘man, I have so much I can learn from you’ way). I was right. She educated me all right and I will go on to talk about that later in this interview.   

Vida is also a daughter, sister, aunt to 14 nieces and nephews and 10 grand nieces and nephews, a godmother to four and mother hen to ALL! It is no surprise, Vida is the type of woman that exudes love and inclusion.  She loves to travel with her favourite place being Florence, Italy.  It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that she is an avid reader – nonfiction, fiction, Black history, high fantasy, science fiction, paranormal (but not too spooky) and historical fiction. Oh, and she LUVBS movies and televisions shows of the same genre. 

That love of history and jazz makes her heart sing. Give her a musical like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or the Greatest Showman and you will have her attention.

 

Now because Vida is an Outlander fan just like us, she has had some pretty fantastic fan experiences herself. I love enjoying these through others so I asked her to share her most memorable encounters with us.

“I have had the privilege of two memorable encounters as a fan. First, I secured VIP seating for some of our members who were attending the NYCC and, at the last minute, I decided to go! It was the first time I had ever attended a Comic-Con. I finally met some of our Blacklanderz members, other Outlander fans I had connected with on social media and attended the Outlander Panel. The attendees for the panel included Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Duncan Lacroix, and David Berry, Executive Producers Ronald D. Moore and Maril Davis, and Diana Gabaldon. It was great being there for a live panel. I also met and hung out with Sera-Lys McArthur (Johiehon, Outlander S4), who is one of the sweetest people. Thanks to Courtney (OutlanderBTS) for that connection. I was literally there for 24 hours and it was the best decisions I have made in a long time.”

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Vida (bottom left) Cathy Harmon (top left)    Sera-Lys McArthur (right)

“The second memorable encounter was when I attended Wizard Con in New Orleans this year. We thought it was going to just be a panel with Sam Heughan, but they also brought out Maria Dole Kennedy, John Bell, and Ed Speleers. Again, I spent time with some more of our Blacklanderz members, other Outlander fans, and took a picture with Sam. Man, does he have a tight grip!”

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Vida with…hmmm…who is that SAM!? 😘

I’m not jealous, Vida. Nope. Not even a little. I’m just glad everyone knows me well enough I’m lying like a rug. Onto more important things.  I became very interested in Vida when some uncomfortable discussions began happening. I knew they were uncomfortable because… I’m a white broad. *gasp* I KNOW, RIGHT?! But really. I had some work to do and this really intelligent woman was forcing me to look at some things I never had thought of before. I live in a pretty privileged bubble. I know that. I didn’t always know that. My ignorance wasn’t a benefit to anyone, especially me. So…I shut my mouth and opened my ears – just like I used to tell people I was training to do. I learned so much from Vida and the other members of the Blacklanderz group, I feel it has been one of the most valuable connections I have ever made, not just in this fandom but for me as a human.  I am not saying I was a trash-talking racist before, I wasn’t. I would have defended myself with a hat full of clichés to prove how racist I wasn’t. I learned that was just as gross.  I shared this with Vida and asked her if those were maybe some of the things she hoped would happen within this fandom with the creation of Blacklanderz – or perhaps what the importance of having the voices they do, in the Outlander fandom. 

“Wow, that is a dissertation, in and of itself, but let’s see. I want to thank you for saying that and I appreciate it. Yes, that is one reason I wanted us to have a voice in this fandom.

We all know Diana’s books contain heavy topics that are difficult to discuss. However, I knew there would be topics that we, as Blacks, could shed light on that no other group could or would. There are several important topics we were able to speak about such as indentured servitude vs. slavery, slavery, and slaves at River Run.

First, there was a discussion on indentured servitude. When Murtagh and the other prisoners were sent to the colonies as indentured servants, many in the fandom kept labelling it ‘white slavery’ or the same as slavery, and that is incorrect. I, along with other members of Blacklanderz, had several discussions explaining the difference. In that, indentured servants had a timeframe, a period with a contract, a few years they had to serve – usually four to seven. Although a lot of them worked on farms in the South, it was not the same as Blacks who were slaves. Once the indentured servitude contract expired, they were released from their service. Blacks, who were slaves, did not have that luxury. They were taken from their homeland, stripped from their families, their culture, language, identity and dignity. They were perceived as chattel, were forced to work from sunup to sundown, and lived in inhumane conditions. Blacks were slaves for life (not four or seven years) over many generations (almost 10), until they were emancipated, 250 years later. Today, most Blacks cannot trace our ancestry passed four or five generations because of slavery. *Please readers, do not mention AncestryDNA® to me.* *You say anything about it to her…Imma AT you.HARD*

 

“When people repeatedly said indentured servitude was white slavery or the same as slavery, it not only minimized what Blacks went through during that time but also diminishes what, we as a people, dealt with and continuously deal with in this country as a result of slavery (e.g., segregation, Jim Crow Laws, institutional/systemic racism . . . the list goes on and on). So, it really boiled my blood and I (we) had to speak about it.

The second issue that I (we) spoke about was how slavery was handled or eliminated from discussion on the show. Yes, in S4, we saw numerous slaves in the field at River Run and what happened to Rufus, which was hard to watch but necessary. However, as the season progressed, it was as if all the slaves disappeared, except for Ulysses and a few others in the house. There was no more mention of them. They also portrayed Ulysses and the other house slaves as servants, which sanitized the reality in which slaves lived. Speaking of Ulysses, though I love Colin McFarlane’s performance, I also felt a need to speak up when people kept inferring that Ulysses and Jocasta were ‘lovers’ when there was clearly an imbalance of power, regardless of manumission papers not signed by the Assembly or that it was in the book. It is incongruous with the reality of that time and place. These types of issues cannot be shied away from just because it was written that way in the book.

There was the instance when Jocasta signed over her property to Jemmy. Jamie just mentions that River Run has a ‘new master’ and puts a period at the end of the sentence. He did not mention that Jemmy was going to be master of a plantation that housed who knows how many slaves. Coming back from the 60s/70s particularly 1968/1971, Claire (having Dr. Joe as a friend) and Bree (having Gayle as a roommate) would have discussed this quandary and it was simply ignored. I (we) pointed out this discrepancy.

Last, though I will not go into too much detail, there were several other topics we spoke up about such as 1) what the symbolism of a burning cross, Celtic or otherwise, means to some Blacks; 2) Jamie and Claire leaving biracial Bonnie with the Browns, during that time and place; 3) the stealing of land from Native Americans and giving it to immigrants such as Claire/Jamie, regardless of what happened in the book and 4) that Governor Tryon granted Roger and Bree 5,000 acres of land for the ‘accidental’ hanging of Roger. However, when a slave, once emancipated, s/he was to receive 40 acres and a mule yet received zilch for building up people’s largesse, which Forbes almost killed Jocasta over, wealth and the country.

What other groups would bring up these types of issues, let alone discuss them?

She speaks the absolute truth and it’s important that we have these conversations. When it comes to this kind of dialogue, it isn’t about opinion, it’s truly about facts. POC, have those facts, live those facts and those of us who only see from the other side, need to start listening. I speak all the time about seeing the world from our perception, our lens. It is impossible for a white person to see the world from their lives. We must allow them to tell us. When we get uncomfortable, feel like we need to defend ourselves or history – that is when we really need to stop and listen. Those are the biggest indicators we have that we don’t get it. We need to explore their world, through their eyes, their experiences and believe what they say. That is our job, that is how we tap into our empathy and start to understand. That is why I believe this group is so important to our fandom. Vida agreed.

“Because we view events/issues through a different lens, we open a space to have such discussions, as mentioned, regardless of whether they are difficult or in the book. (Note: I keep mentioning the latter because that is the reply from a lot of fans when we have brought up discrepancies or issues.)

Another major importance of our group is that a lot of people in this fandom have never been around Black people or communicated with a Black person before. I have received so many DMs asking me what I (we) thought about a scene, character or event in the show or how I (we) interpreted something that happened in the book or the show, which is a wonderful thing to happen.

Additionally, Blacklanderz™ is a very diverse – culturally and ethnically – group of people, not monolithic; and, that is the beauty of it. Although we all love the books/show, we have a wide range of differences (e.g., professions, backgrounds, upbringings, experiences, and interests), even in age. If you have noticed, we analyze everything in the show, not just what is happening in a scene/episode, but e-v-e-r-y-thing! Certain people focus on certain aspects because that is where their interest lies. We each bring a wealth of knowledge, intellectual wisdom, enthusiasm, something special to the conversation and that is what makes our Convos so rich with discussion. Oh, and we ALL have a keen sense of humor and are funny as hell!”

Yup, that is the thing about reading the Blacklanderz Convos. Each personality is so unique, you are sure to connect with someone and the humour across the board is relaxed and not mean spirited as has been seen elsewhere. Truthfully, if you want to challenge yourself, learn something and have a laugh…you will find your people with the Blacklanderzgroup.

Changing gears … this is an ABOotlander must ask because I’m a bit of a boob, everyone knows it. We have invited Vida for a meal in Alberta, up here in Canada (pretend we opened the border, just for her) and we are giving her a choice of these Albertan delicacies.  a) Moose Droppings b) Beaver Tails c) Prairie Oysters d) Taber Corn       

Which would you choose & why?  That is an easy one, Moose Droppings. I (we) are Blacklanderz after all, and I love chocolate!

 See? So smart! She knew what moose droppings were with no help (I made her promise not to use the google machine and I trust her).

I wanted to tap into Vida’s brain while it was still lit up to see if she could give us some tips on how to get through this Droughtlander. I wasn’t disappointed. 

“Yes, Cathy, runs our sister account, SoulsSisterz , Black women who love and support Deborah Harkness and her The All Souls Trilogy and A Discovery of Witches TV show. Although I have seen S1 of A Discovery of Witches, I have not read the books. I plan to read them before S2 comes out. There are three books and that will take up some time.

Also, fans could reread A Breath of Snow and Ashes. That is what I plan to do so I will be ready for our Convos whenever S6 comes out. The books are a blur and I try to make sure we stick to what is happening currently on the show and not have spoilers from future books.

Another tip is to take the time to learn how to do something or find a hobby that you would enjoy. Droughtlander is too long and life is too short not to appreciate whatever time we have!”

That final line was another reason I asked Vida to be a part of #TheLOVELANDERProject.  She is a delightful human and I hope you feel you were able to get to know the woman behind the account a little more and love her a lot more.  I want to personally thank Vida for agreeing to allow me to interview her. I know she prefers to stay in the background and as much as I respect her for that, I do believe we all are better people for knowing her just that little bit more. 

If you have any questions/comments for Vida you can comment here or on our twitter post or directly to her on her Twitter account HERE.

The LOVELANDER Project will return soon! Thank you so much for taking part.

Sher xo

LOVELANDER

ABOotlander L🖤ve – Previous Interviews –  Julia LeBlanc/VideoQueen  Summer & Ginger from Outlander Podcast  CastDr.Joe Abernathy/Wil Johnson  CastAdrienne-Marie/Suzette Beth Wesson/@PixieTwit  Connie Verzak@ConnieBV  Karmen @OutLandAnatomy          Jane @RRankinFans  CastSera-Lys McArthur /Johiehon CastCarmen Moore /Wahkatiiosta CastKikkiFleming/ Lesley

My chat with Carmen “Wonderfender” Moore! #Outlander AKA Wahkatiiosta

Carmen Moore is one of those actresses that you see a dozen times and think she is a dozen different people. She is like a chameleon, morphing for her roles, not only in appearance but her voice, those small mannerisms that most of us don’t even notice we have.  When I first saw her in Outlander’s Providence, giving Roger a hard time, I was drawn to her. I took note of her name and looked her up on IMDB.  My jaw hit my laptop. I have seen Carmen in many productions and not once did I put it together that she was the same person. (And it’s not just because I’m thick…it’s because she’s magical.)

Magical…talented…for those of you reading this who have only experienced Carmen’s work on Outlander – let me share something with you. She has been nominated and has won numerous awards in Canadian television and film. I’m not just blowing smoke. This isn’t small potato stuff – 9 Nominations and 6 Wins so far! You know, to be exact about it.

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It really is. Props. (source)

I would have been walking around the Outlander set saying “Hey everybody! I’ve won 4 Leo’s and I am a Woman OF Distinction, dontcha know?… Imma big damn deal in Canada eh?” but something I learned about Carmen is she is incredibly down to earth –  with a touch of sass. The girl loves herself some emoji’s and even her signature warns you that she might be up to something  – “sent with love and mischief”.  I’m excited to help you get to know her a little better, I think you are going to like her a lot.

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I know you will (source)

It is an interesting coincidence that Carmen Moore landed a role in this Ronald D. Moore production. She has starred in 2 other shows that Ron created. The Battlestar Galactic web series: The Resistance  and Battlestar Galactica Caprica. She also appeared in the Battlestar Galactica TV Movie: Blood and Chrome.    Worth noting, she has never met Ron Moore and nope, not related either. There, that was our fun fact.

Everyone asks that generic “How did you get started in acting” question, there is a reason for that, it usually is an interesting story.  I wanted to know Carmen’s.   I’ve been “performing” for most of my life, although not professionally. 😂  Mom says I used to stand on the living room footstool at two years old and pretend I was on stage. “Carmen-wonderfender!” was how I introduced myself…to no one in particular! I discovered drama in grade 9 and fell in love with it. I did local theatre in Vancouver for a few years before an agent sitting in the audience of one of my shows approached me and offered to represent me. She started sending me out for tv and film auditions, which hadn’t occurred to me because I was so in love with theatre. I started booking right away and was just in the right place at the right time. It was just after Dances with Wolves was released, and I was basically the only “Native” actress in the city at that time that looked like Disney’s Pocahontas (although, I’ve never considered myself a “Native” actor…I’m just an actor).

Carmen says “right place at the right time”. I think it has a helluva lot to do with talent, those nominations and awards do a lot to back me up.

I found it very interesting that you seemed to break out of that typecasting many Native actor/esses speak about being put into.  Was there something that you did or a conscious effort on your part to make that happen?  YES!! Like I said, I was booking mostly Native roles in the beginning, and I really didn’t want to get stuck in that box. It’s easy for casting directors, especially in Vancouver, to become limited in how they see you, so we need to be responsible to open their minds to us. At one point I thought I wasn’t going to get out of the “buckskin” period pieces so I did the dramatic thing and chopped off all my hair. I went with this cute little bob and started booking cop/detective, lawyer, professional roles. It was risky, but it worked. And, I think I had a bit of an advantage as well because I don’t just look “Native”…I can play just about anything, including Caucasian…just a little more tanned than some! 😁

Do you recall what your reaction was when you heard you landed the role and would be headed to Scotland?    Oh my gosh, I think my heart skipped a beat. 😁  I was sitting in a food court having a terrible meal when I got the call from my agent, so I couldn’t really let out the “whoop” that I was feeling. And I think it took a few days for it to sink in…and even then, it wasn’t really REAL until I landed in Glasgow! It was my first time working outside of Canada…I’ve worked on many American shows, but they were all shot within Canada, so this was a special experience. There is something magical about Scotland. It’s indescribable. It’s a very spiritual place. Best experience of my career thus far.

From the moment your character of Wahkatiiosta came on screen you gave her this essence that spoke ‘strong warrior’. Tell me about that. I fell in love with Wahkatiiosta right from the start…when I auditioned, they were looking for a woman in her 50’s that could tell the Otter Tooth story, and someone to lead the Warriors in to accost Jamie and Claire for the stone. When I booked it I thought, “well this is the oldest I’ve ever portrayed!” 😂

Then I got the scripts and she had been rewritten as “30’s”…and that helped a lot, especially once I saw what they were planning to dress me in….I embraced a more youthful energy and she just got more and more tomboy as I contemplated who this woman is…because she’s not in the books. She was created for the series, so I got to create her in my mind! She is two-spirited, she has very masculine tendencies, but she’s still a woman so much of her strength lies in her emotion. She loves deeply, LOVES her people and would do anything for them, but she wears this invisible armour. It’s all over her.

When I heard Carmen’s take on Wahkatiiosta, I watched both Providence and Man of Worth again, I urge you to do the same. Come back and let me know in the comments if it impacted how you saw her.  I ask you to do this because I am curious if your thoughts match mine. I appreciated Carmen’s portrayal the first few times I watched but after hearing her speak of her creation of the character – I ‘saw’ her and there was a depth I had missed.  It makes me wish we could have the artists who connect with their characters tell us what they feel is at the heart of their performances because I believe it brings us closer to them.

Can you tell me more about Wahkatiiosta? Your speaking voice for her was gravelly and set- it gave me chills- what was your influence for that? I had just spent a couple of days in Montreal before flying to Scotland meeting the director (Sonia Bonspille Boileau) and my co-stars for the Indy feature I shot last summer (Rustic Oracle). They are all Mohawk, and oddly enough I played a Mohawk woman in that film as well. I tried to listen to their accents out on Kanesatake and Kahnawake (First Nations reserves in Quebec) and mimic them as best I could, and Sonia explained how it’s similar to French in some aspects…the “ongh” sounds, like when you say no in French  “non”…it’s somewhat nasal and they speak from the back of the throat. That helped tremendously. My friend Kim from Tyendinaga had translated all my English dialogue for my audition into Mohawk for me. After spending weeks studying our Mohawk lines with our translators and cultural advisors, Wahkatiiosta’s voice just sort of came out that way. Sometimes the characters I portray surprise me as they emerge. It’s like they have a life of their own and Carmen is just the vessel.

And what a badass fighter!  The scenes where you were fighting your Mohawk family to get Roger and his family out of the village may have been visually dark but the fighting scenes were awesome. It really looked like it would be fun to do. Can you tell us about those sequences? I was super excited to do my own stunts for that! I did have a stunt double just in case (Cherie Shot Both Sides was on stand by), but we are quite different body types, so if I had felt uncomfortable doing stunts it would have been obvious it wasn’t me!  But, I was game! Our first take running from the “idiothut” as I’m leading the group was interesting. Our director Stephen (Woolfenden) said during rehearsal “make sure you’re looking back to make sure they’re behind you”…so, first take I did. I looked behind me as I was running, hit a tree stump, or root, or something and down I went! I bailed. I think Sam almost tripped over me! 😂🤣  I wish I had that moment actually…maybe they have it in a blooper reel somewhere…

Watch Carmen get some direction for her badassery with this exclusive BTS video.

The last we saw Wahkatiiosta, she was banished from the Mohawk. To me, this could be an open door for her return to the series.  Since she is a character created for the show with no storyline laid out for her that we are aware of. Would you be open to reprising the role at a later date? OF COURSE, I WOULD!!! I would absolutely LOVE to go back…yes, Scotland is amazing, and it’s always great to be working, blah, blah…but, I really miss everyone I worked with. And Wahkatiiosta is such a joy to portray…I’ve already mentioned she’s my favourite character I’ve ever taken on. So, yeah…I would jump at the chance…

Livin’ the dream. You were able to work with many of Outlanders main cast. Break it down in about a sentence for us what your thoughts were on them.call

I understand many of the actors/esses that joined you on set have worked together before or at least have knowledge of one another, what was it like to be all together across the ocean in this new place, doing what you love with people that you know? Yes…I had a number of friends there. Some I’d known for years, and some that I’d met briefly here and there. That was surreal. To be overseas on this incredible set with familiar faces. And, of course, we all became a little family…I still stay in touch on Facebook with a number of the background and stunt performers because we spent 4 weeks together…some of them had been there for much longer. Gregory Odjig  (who played Satehoronies) said at one point as we’re looking around our incredible Mohawk village, “We’re at work right now…in Scotland…that’s awesome!” 🤣

I have spoken to others that have said good things about Outlanders portrayal of the Native culture but I am interested in your take as you have appeared in many productions. How do you feel Outlander stacked up? I was uber impressed when I went for my wardrobe fitting and the costumers explained how long they had been researching the culture. Most everything was made by hand, and they showed me pictures of the stuff they tried to recreate. They went back as far as they could with what’s been documented, but of course, had to take some artistic liberties here and there for things that are too old to have any records of. They tried to be and were as respectful and accurate as they could be. Our translators/cultural advisors were from Akwesasne and were there to answer any questions we had. Of course, it IS television, it IS make-believe…it is a science-fiction show about TIME-TRAVEL! 😁 So, I had to let my guard down a little here and there and make some concessions. For example, I don’t believe a Mohawk woman would EVER abandon her child for a man 😉Also, Native people don’t speak that fast! I was constantly being told to speed up my dialogue (because they only have 42 minutes for each episode! 🤣) and I really struggled with that because Mohawk words (and, any Native language for that matter) take time to get out properly. So, I felt as though I was speaking in warp speed. I actually have a line that I speak to Tom and I feel like they sped up the tape! 🤣

All in all, they did a VERY good job 💖

Until I can create my own memories in Scotland *insert feel bad for Sherry here*, I live through other peoples adventures. What are some of your fondest memories from your time there? Hahaha…the fondest memory was throwing pillows out our hotel window to the boys below so we could have the most epic pillow fight in George Square! Running through the streets of Glasgow at night, pillows in hand, strange looks from everyone, cast versus background/stunts…there must have been about 40 of us. 🤣😂 It was beautiful. I did a live Facebook video of it all. That, and putting the cones on The Duke of Wellington statue.😉

OK, that looked like a crazy amount of fun. Those are some 3rd level pillow fights!  Click on those links so you can see for yourselves.  If you ask me…when Carmen is left to entertain herself, it seems she gathers up the boys and tells them what’s happening and how they are getting there. I need to mention, I really like her! You can also watch a lovely video she took while on an excursion to Loch Lomond with her friend and co-star Sera-Lys McArthur (Johiehon) by clicking HERE!

Carmen has an upcoming project, Rustic Oracle. MMIWG (Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls) has been a plague in our country that has largely gone ignored because of the systematic racism our First Nation population faces. I asked Carmen to share a little about her involvement in this movie.  Rustic Oracle was filmed last summer in Oka and Kanesatake. It’s finished and is being submitted to film festivals at the moment, with a theatrical release scheduled for later this year. I haven’t seen it yet but spoke to Sonia recently and she’s very excited to share it. 💕

It’s set in the mid-‘90’s, 6 years after the Oka crisis so there’s still a LOT of tension between Mohawk and non-native. Written and directed by Sonia Bonspille Boileau, it’s the story of a single mother (me)  searching for her missing teenage daughter, but told through the eyes of the 8-year-old sister (the amazing Lake Delisle). I jumped at the chance to shed a little more light on this epidemic in Canada and the US, that not enough has been done about. It’s not going to be an easy one to watch, that’s for sure…but, so SO important.

I think saying I am looking forward to seeing it would sound flippant. I certainly am intrigued.  Facing these truths is uncomfortable, especially for us not living in the communities affected. We stand on the outside, looking in. Very often, judging something or someone we know very little about. What do you feel, we as a society can do to improve our relationship with our first nations cousins? We assign ourselves proud when they perform in productions we love, yet we pay little attention to the troubles here on our doorstep. I believe listening to those who know is the first step. What can we do? That is a BIG, BIG question…that I don’t think anyone has an easy answer to. There is so much to be done in regards to reconciliation with the First Peoples of Turtle Island. It doesn’t help that this country’s racism is still so hidden and dismissed as non-existent…and further to that, we have a Prime Minister who used the mask of solidarity with First Nations to get elected but its now spitting in our faces. 

They love the celebrities, but shoot the troubled  Native youths in the head and call it “defending my property”, they claim that the culture is so beautiful, but let our dead sisters murderer go free…they steal our babies because Native children are worth more in the foster care system…they talk about sustainable energy, and let’s get rid of plastic straws because that will make such a difference, but they judge our people for blocking the pipelines trying to go through Native land, because…you know…economy…why is it always NATIVE land the pipelines are crossing? Because they wouldn’t DARE put non-natives at risk like that…

Wow…I just went on a rant…what’s the answer to all of this? Maybe acknowledgment is the first step.

When we read a message like the one Carmen shared with us here and feel shame, sadness, anger or yes, maybe even offence, that should be a sign to us. A sign that says we need to get on the right side of this.  I am grateful that she spoke the hard truth. This isn’t a simple political issue, it is a human one.

That is why I will continue to listen as long as those like Carmen, continue to talk. We need to learn because it is the only way we will grow. Be an ally.

That got pretty deep so – from one extreme to another. I end my interviews with pure silliness. Why? Because I’m a bit of a goober and after heavy stuff, I think levity is a good thing.

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It’s called balance (source)

Carmen, as a Canadian you get the upper hand because you probably know what these Alberta goodies are but here we go anyway.

We, the ABOotlanders, have invited you to dinner and being the guest of honour, you get to choose the main course, tell us which one catches your fancy?

A) Moose Droppings B) Beaver Tails C) Prairie Oysters D) Taber Corn

What the heck???! 🤣😂  I’m going to McDonald’s… I LOVE THIS, the first time anyone has ever demanded an early checkout. This woman is my kinda people.  Definitely not prairie oysters…I’m not a big beaver tail fan…moose droppings I could probably indulge in…I’ve never had Taber corn, and I love corn…so, I’d probably go with that 😉

It was so great getting to know Carmen. She is one of those people you want to sit down, have a great meal with but know your food is going to get cold because you are too busy talking and laughing.

I am very much looking forward to seeing her upcoming projects and am keeping my fingers and toes crossed that we see her again on Outlander. #BringBackWahkatiiosta, that could be a thing right?

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More Carmen? Yes, Please. (source)

Until next time,

Sherry (ABOotlander founder)