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

Erin Conrad, Three If By Space’s Outlander voice tells ALL!

How’s that for a headline, eh?

Welcome to the 2nd edition of The LOVELANDER Project. Erin Conrad won’t like me saying this and will ask me to edit it out (I won’t) but, she’s kinda a big deal.

If you already know her, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn something new, if you only know Erin from her Three If By Space life, then sit back and let’s close that gap. Maybe you haven’t heard of her – it’s possible – if that is the case, stick around, meeting new people, even virtually, can be very rewarding.  

I have been following Erin on social media for years. First on Twitter and then I started listening to her TIBS radio show, sometimes live but mostly following a few days later while writing or working on my own things at home. I generally stay away from reviewers as I am the ‘keep things positive’ at all costs type o’ gal. (This is not because rainbows shoot outta my butt – this is because I must maintain my own sanity- it’s a tippy thing) There is something about Erin’s TIBS approach. She has the enjoyment and knowledge of the source material while maintaining a respect for the creators. She never speaks as if her word is the last and always invites discourse and treats other’s opinions with kindness. Her lifetime of experience in journalism may have just a little do to with that but perhaps the diplomacy comes more from being married to the same man for 31 yrs and to raising two sons.

giphy-28

All the things, together – the perfect puzzle.

The super cool thing is, I don’t have to see eye to eye with Erin on her reviews. I still enjoy reading them as her views are succinct and beautifully explained. She helps me understand why she sees things the way she does and that is important to me. It’s not just “I hated it” or “It was stupid”.  That doesn’t help anyone see what the reviewer struggled with.

The benefit of a well-written review is we are able to respect the viewpoint because we understand it. We are then able to move on with our overall love of the journey.  Kind of like being on holiday together, going out to dinner and one devouring the cake and the other thinking it was too sweet. It was still yummy cake.

Let’s dive in with Erin to see what it is that makes her – the her – that she is. I want those reading to know about ‘everyday’ Erin…give us a glimpse will you?  Erin-“Ummm, okayyy… I’m 60, retired last year after our parents had major health issues that required my time and my father in law died. Kevin and I have two sons, Greg and Andy. Greg is 27, a musician, married, and expecting their first child (awww, CONGRATS Grannie!) and they live in New Zealand. Andy is 24, engaged, living about 20 minutes away with his fiancée. I have a degree in journalism – I’ve always been a writer. I stepped back from fulltime work when Greg was 6 months old and did a lot of freelance stuff, then substitute teaching, and a string of admin kind of jobs, most of which bored me silly, but paid some bills. In addition to writing for TIBS, I started doing fused glass work three years ago, and now my basement is full of glass, kilns, equipment. This year was supposed to be my year to start travelling, but of course, that’s difficult now. We’re just hoping to get to New Zealand over Christmas to meet our new grandchild.”

I’ve seen that glasswork of yours, it’s gorgeous! (Check it out peeps). I imagine it becomes a great outlet, and the pieces you have done for your Outlander groups have been stunning, which swings me back around again, we fans all have the story of when Outlander came into our life, how did your journey start? “I found Dragonfly, I think, in the large print section of the library (not where I usually look for books), in probably 1997 or early 1998, right after we moved to Crystal Lake. I realized quickly that it was part of a series, and ran to find the first book. I’ve been hooked since then. I didn’t realize that, other than Ladies of Lallybroch, which I knew about, that there was a huge following until I started writing about it.”

Which leads us of course to Three if by Space… “TIBS started when the owner, Robert, won a contest to go to the set for the show Falling Skies (the site’s name is a line from the show). He started the website as a fan site for that show, and it quickly became a multi-show review site.  I loved Falling Skies and found TIBS looking for info about it, then found out they were looking for writers. That was in 2013, right as news about a TV series of Outlander was coming out. I asked if it fell in their world – sci-fi – and he said sure. So I’ve been writing for the site since then, and have been senior editor, second in charge, for a few years now.” 

Sounds like perfect timing to me! I am always curious as to what other book lovers thought when they found out Outlander was going to be adapted into a TV program. I almost lost my damn mind.  “I was very excited. I have a copy of one of the older books that says on the back that a major motion picture is coming – of course, I was thrilled to see that, and we know that never happened. A TV series is definitely the better choice. It made me nervous, though – how faithful would they be to the books? I was a little reassured that Diana would be involved, but I have enough experience with the world of adaptations and writing to know that there would be differences. Since the show has come out, I haven’t been thrilled with everything they’ve done, but that’s fine – like I’ve said since the beginning, I don’t have the talent, the money or the contacts to do it myself, so I’m happy that someone with all of those is taking it on. I can live with the differences, even if they make my head hurt sometimes – I’d rather watch what’s there than not watch at all. I would give the series a B+ – some of the casting has been off (and some has been spot-on), and I personally think that the show’s angle is skewed in an uncomfortable direction.”

Since I listen to your radio shows and read your reviews, I get exactly what you are saying and where you are coming from. If those reading haven’t tuned in –CLICKITY CLICK RIGHT HERE– You can listen to past episodes. So, what would you say your vision is for the future of the TV show? “As much as I would like to see the show finish out the entire book series, I don’t really know that they will. I think I can live with it if they don’t. I don’t really want to see 80-year-old Jamie and Claire, except in a flash-forward at the end. I’d rather see the show end on a high, rather than dribble on and on toward an end where it’s cancelled because of low viewership. I LOVE David Barry as Lord John but don’t really need a spin-off. I’d watch it – don’t get me wrong – but I’m not going to live and die over it.”

I’d love to hear your vision of how those books will end?  “Now here, I’d be happy to see an 80-year-old Jamie and Claire. I don’t know that Diana wants to go that far. She’s said one more after Bees, and for the main series, that’s good. I’d love to see Germaine and Jemmy and Mandy as adults, solving crimes and taking names (just kidding).” 

Damn, that would be so awesome. Can you imagine? The Mystery Conestoga *snort* My imagination has been tapped. That is never a good thing.

You’ve attended many Outlander events over the years and this is something that many fans might not get to experience. I, personally, am a serious introvert so I know there are certain events I would be overwhelmed by. There will be certain readers who think “I wanna be like ERIN!” tell them about events you dove into.    “Of course, this year, a lot has been cancelled. One I’m hoping doesn’t get cancelled is Thru the Stones, in Davenport, Iowa, in December. This is a great every-other-year event, and it’s different than others – there’s always one BTS guest and one actor guest (although last time Terry Dresbach, former costume designer, came for her second appearance and brought Ron D. Moore with her). But organizer Deb Ford does classes and a trivia contest, a lot of things that other events don’t do. Last year, I went to Outlandish Vancouver for the first time (even though I’ve been good friends with the organizer since my very first Outlander event in 2014) which was really a lot of fun and where I met YOUUUUUUU. (I mean, that had to be the highlight for all *snort*) That one’s been cancelled for this year, and because of Andy’s wedding next year, I don’t think I’ll make it then either, but I encourage everyone else to look at that one.”

TIBScrew

These women love each other so much. Meet Alyson, Cardboard Bonnet, Erin, Cardboard Jamie, Samantha, Cardboard Young Ian. Pass some Droughtlander hours and go back for a listen. Stay Tuned for new ones!

I’m going to live vicariously through you because I think my only cast experiences will ever happen at Outlandish Vancouver (I’m not complaining, because they have been freaking life-altering– not even kiddin’) Please share your most memorable fan experiences… “My favourite was probably my first – the Random  House MOBY book debut in Seattle in 2014. I met so many wonderful new people, met Diana Gabaldon for the first time, saw the first TV show trailer…

I love being in the position to be able to meet the stars and creators personally when I’m interviewing, or on red carpets, etc. For the S1 Part 2 premiere in NYC, I did my first red carpet. I had a minor role in helping the SoCal group meet Sam at what they thought was just going to be a chance to look at the packaging for the upcoming DVD, and Sam walked into their review session. For my assistance – which was just providing a name – Sony sent me a personalized photo of Sam holding up a sign for me. At that red carpet event, I brought a printed out copy of that picture. Sam saw me holding it, and ran over to say “That was for YOU?? Can I sign it for you?” That was a thrill. Everyone has been wonderful to meet.”

erindianaerinsam

Erin with Diana Gabaldon (L) – and with Sam Heughan. 

THUD! Yup. Just THUD. I’m that person that says something inappropriate to break the ice and ends up wearing it forever. I’ve seen you on the red carpet while watching live streams and you are always so damn dignified. It’s annoying and why I like hanging around you – you make me look like a grown-up. Just put your cursor right here and click! You can see for yourself how cool she is. I am always grateful for the people that Outlander has brought into my life. What do you feel it has brought to yours? “Outlander has really expanded my personal and semi-professional life (since I don’t get paid for any of this). I’ve met the BEST people, women I never would have met otherwise, and that’s enriched my life to no end. I’ve also done things I couldn’t have conceived of doing – I’ve interviewed not only Outlander stars, but then had the confidence and opportunity to meet stars of many other shows, hone my interviewing skills, and develop a bit of a reputation. I’ve really enjoyed managing Facebook groups, setting up and running an annual Holiday Gift Exchange (6 years and still going), and doing an internet radio show.

Now that Droughtlander is in full swing, have you any advice for fans that are starting to get antsy?Find something else to do in real life. Like I said before, it’s not healthy to be so invested in one book and TV series. I see people, over and over, saying “nothing else lives up to it,” and I don’t get that. There are SO many books, TV series, real-life adventures, children and grandchildren, things that need to be done. And then when it comes back on, you’ll enjoy it even more because you’ll be ready and refreshed, rather than in agony over every little word and delay.” 

That’s some damned good advice, my friend. For those reading, leave any books you have read and enjoyed in the comments or the thread of whatever media you are reading this on. Share and share alike!

This is the ABOotlander finale question.  You have been invited to dinner with us and you have been offered these Albertan delicacies  A) Moose Droppings B) Beaver Tails   C) Prairie Oysters D) Taber Corn.  Which would you choose & why? “AHHH. I know what Prairie Oysters are, not having those.  I like most things corn-related, but somehow this feels like a trick question. I hope moose droppings have something to do with chocolate, so I’ll pick that one.” I love you think I would trick you with corn. It speaks so much of what you know of me.

The Outlander fandom started before the TV show was even created due to the popularity of the novels. When the show was announced, the book fans started an online presence that was impressive. Erin was certainly a part of that wave, we are grateful for her dedication. Thank you, my friend for sharing your mind and your heart with so many…especially me!

Sher xo

 

The LOVELANDER Project – Edition 1 Vida/Blancklanderz

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 LOVELANDER Project explained…

Droughtlander became a thing the very first ‘break’ Outlander took between episodes 8 and 9 of the first season.  Each break we experience as a fandom seems longer than the last and we all know, this Droughtlander is bound to be the longest of them all. Through no fault of anyone but this blasted virus that has taken the world to a halt.

Our fandom is like a family in many ways.  It can be a place we go for support and love, we can sometimes feel alienated by it, we can laugh with one another and we can argue…there is disfunction and there is passion.  It becomes what we want it to be, our bubbles become custom made.

This is where I decided, for me, and those who are like-minded, that I felt #TheLOVELANDERProject could help those who wanted to stay connected, do so. Perhaps it will help others in the fandom or new to it – find their people.  It can be a way to encourage us to share our stories with one another.

I have started with interviewing members of our community once again, so we can get to know the people behind the accounts we see. I will also be sharing stories of lives that will hopefully bring you some joy, hope and happiness.

The LOVELANDER Project will also bust into your days with laughter. Sharing giggles and what I hope are unexpected surprises here and there.

I hope you join in. When you find an Outlander story that touches your heart, RT with the hashtag #TheLOVELANDERProject.  I’m excited to learn more about the people in this fandom, expand my circle and hopefully spread a little happiness while I am at it.

💖 Sher xo

Check out my interview with VIDA from Blacklanderz, the kick-off to The LOVELANDER Project.

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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

A Reason. A Season. A Lifetime. How Ep11 of Outlander took me back.

It’s been approximately 12 hours since I watched Journeycake for the 5th time. I’m still not completely settled. To be honest, I feel like it beat the shit out of me.

*sssh* I know, self-inflicted. *blah blah blah*

As soon as I felt a little safe with a bit of happiness, laughter or joy BOOM – kick in the face with sadness, despair or pure fear.  It may be partially due to my being in a vulnerable state but jeemziz, it was a doodiddlydoozey!

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Do what ya can to get you through it!

I am diving in because if I don’t I will let my mind start wandering and it may never come back.  All the dynamics of relationships were on display in this episode. Good, bad and deep dark-n-ugly.  The beauty of it all, we can identify with each one and that is why they resonate with us.  I want to throw a mental note at everyone, these blogs (even though I’m a book reader), are written in direct relation to the show and what happens on it.

I have always believed that people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Some will fill one of those spaces and that’s kinda the way it’s meant to be. Not everyone we develop relationships with is meant to be in our life forever. Realistically, some who pass through may not have been put there for us, we may have been there for them. A by-product, for lack of a better word, of something they needed, to teach them a lesson of some kind. Meaning the reason may never be known to us.

This thread was so predominant with our characters in this episode.  The opening scene was jarring yet speaks loudly about how people come into our life for a reason. The dying girl, her connection to Roger, lasts mere moments though it will stay with him forever. We will never know who they were but she needed Roger. As she lay there suffering it was his gentle and merciful hands passing by to set her free from the pain. For that reason alone, they were meant to cross paths.

That meeting may have also been a catalyst to Roger’s desire to return to his own time sooner than later. This isn’t something a 20th-century history professor would ever have to worry about stumbling across, is it?

‘Dr. Rawlings’ made his way to Wilmington and everywhere in between, as unintentional as it was, it seems the reason stretched far beyond Claire’s objective. Women were getting medical advice that was unprecedented.  Previous episodes foreshadowed it, where this episode solidified Claire’s life has been put in danger due to her connection with Dr. Rawlings.

Those three minutes on screen with Claire, Rose and Marsali were enough to give the audience a full view of what affects Dr. Rawlings has had. Rose Brown, whose reproductive choices were never her own now had some say, due to the knowledge inadvertently printed in that newspaper.  No doubt saving a child being born to the hands of an abusive father.

We are aware that women have been controlled in many ways over the centuries, reproductively we were on the bottom, which is insane since we are the ONLY ones that have that particular superpower. We can easily assume that Rose was not the only one taking this advice. Whether it was because they were in an abusive relationship, had enough damn kids already or *gasp* simply did not want to have a child. We will need to hold the outcome of Dr. Rawlings as a separate entity from the purpose it may have had for the women who benefited from it.

We have those ‘seasonal’ relationships. You know the ones. They come into our lives and we feel like they are going to last forever, they change who we are at our core and then the relationship ends or changes to something less than it was.

With the MacKenzie’s leaving the ridge, we experienced these heartwrenching but beautiful goodbyes. In the land of the interwebs, we are luckier but we still go through them. A friendship, like Lizzie and Brianna, we feel will last forever. BFFs, we say. Forever is a long time though. We attach ourselves to people in times we have a need, they have a need. When those needs change or we change, often so will the relationship. Sure, sometimes our relationships can grow and change along with us however there are times they disappear with the seasons. We often see this as a bad thing instead of accepting it as a part of moving through life. This doesn’t make them less than, they likely taught us something wonderful about ourselves, pushed us through some harrowing times and created a soft place for us to land.

We often make the mistake of thinking those seasonal relationships of growing apart or ending as bad things. If we accepted it for what it was, we would be grateful for the experiences we shared, thank one another, hope we will cross paths again one day and move forward. Instead, we often end up burning a bridge or two because we aren’t sure how to end a relationship in a healthy way. It seems this is something Ian is struggling with. His desperate need to go back to change things with the woman he speaks of.

Otter-tooth attempted to go back in time to change the fate of his people. What was supposed to be a lifetime relationship became one of the seasons. The connection Otter-tooth ended up having with Claire, saved Roger from the Mowhawk but also become the catalyst of Ian finding a home with them. It was planned Ian would stay with them indefinitely except things happen that we can’t predict. These are the moments when our wishes get blown out like a candle.

Those instances can kick us in the back of the knees, can’t they? We think we have it all figured out. Know exactly what is happening with our life and suddenly something that we have no control over changes the trajectory, instantly. Without warning lifetime people fade into seasonals and the adjustment physically hurts. The ridge was alive with this while the MacKenzie’s said their goodbyes and why there were so many emotional reactions by viewers.

Our characters drove home a crucial point, our lifetime people don’t always have to be in our daily lives. Ulysses comes to mind. He has been a free man since Hector Cameron died yet he stayed as a loyal friend (viewed by all others, as a slave) to Jocasta. Never leaving her side until he was finally forced to. The bond that Ulysses and Jocasta had is not the kind that is lost with time or distance. It will be carried across the sea as it is an attachment that was sealed with trust (and you know, weasel killing).

Jamie may have spoken the words clearest during the scene with Bree. “Though I might not see any of you again, You have made my life whole.” Not all relationships within families are this deep.  With Bree,  Jemmy and yes, Roger, Jamie had been given the full family that he always desired.  Whether he held them in his arms or in his heart, he had them and that mattered the most.

The reason why Jamie’s stalwart nature resonated with me is I had to stop and ask myself why isn’t he breaking? I could feel Claire. She was feeling the grief of her daughter, grandson and son-in-law, being gone from her. Jamie, being bold and yes, moved, missing them but then I saw it. He still held them in the very same spot they were as if he could touch them. Where Claire, like so many of us, have done, when our children leave home, move out of the province or country, saw them as untouchable – he saw them as within.  Not only did it help him with the transition, but it also enabled him to support Claire better through her grief.

We also have those relationships. The ones that never end. Whether the person is gone from this earth or has moved far away. I have friends that I haven’t seen for years, might speak with a couple times a year yet I know, without a doubt, they are my people. The minute we end up in the same room, no time has passed and we are the same two idiots we always were.

Reflecting on the episode Journeycake makes me grateful for the ‘Outlander season’ part of my life.  It has been a hell of a ride thus far. I have no idea how many years we have left on this rollercoaster of a fandom. We can’t even guess who will come into our lives or who will leave over that course of time. I do know that I have met some remarkable people as a result of me sticking my nose in all yer bizznizz and I have a feeling there will be more than a few of you stuck with me for a lifetime.

Don’t worry though, the ones that want to make this seasonal, I am sure you can mute me easy enough. As for the reason I ended up on the other side of your computer screen…that’s all your fault.

Next week lasses and laddies, are ya ready?  I can say loudly – I AM NOT!

Sher xox

Don’t forget to join us for the season finale LIVETWEET event while Canadians tune in on W Network at 7 Pm MT using the hashtags #OutlanderCAN #NeverMyLove

Silence can be so loud. What I ‘heard’ during The Fiery Cross. S05E01.

Wow.

That was worth the wait, wasn’t it?  Wedding, weeping and wtf’s. Outlander is back and it means business.

Even though many watched the opening scene over and over again in previews, it took on new meaning once we viewed the final moments of the show. (Yet another reason we fans should reserve judgement until we see all the things in context.)

We can appreciate the deeper meaning when the episode is complete. In the opening we see Murtagh, (beautifully played by Duncan Lacroix) upon his knee, giving his oath, taking the weight of the world from this young boy.jamiemurtagh

 

The episode ending with that boy, now a man, on his own knee, with the weight of the world back upon him.

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Young Jamie said nothing to Murtagh as a child, yet, we knew the gratitude and the love he felt for this man.  When Murtagh and Jamie finally parted, there were no “I love you’s, I will miss you’s, I shall never forget you’s and all you have done for me’s.”  All of these, simply were. The silence between them was loud and busy with all of these things. With no end to the words needed said, best to say none. My poor heart came out of my chest and rolled around on the floor.

We can internalize the gravity of that particular parting. What makes me feel the greatest amount of empathy for Jamie is his loss of his protector.  Of course, Jamie is a capable, responsible and grown-ass man but don’t we all hold onto a part of the child inside of us? Especially those who have trauma in our past?  Young Jamie lost his mother and brother (not to mention the baby his mother lost during childbirth), this is when Murtagh stepped up and into that guardian role to Jamie. This is why the pain of having to release him of his oath was so painful.  Jamie didn’t want to. The child in Jamie still needs Murtagh whereas the man Jamie has become, can’t have him. Once again, proving LIFE IS NOT FAIR.

No matter how old we get, the protectors of our youth are chained to a piece of our very being.  I believe that child remains inside of us, never growing up or having the feelings/logic our adult mind possesses. As a consequence when faced with that loss, it is with our child’s heart, we grieve.  It explains why it is so incredibly painful when we lose those we loved dearly when we were children.

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The perfect visual.      Click for Source

Sam Heughan’s performance in this episode, as a whole was impressive. The last scene chewed me up and spit me out.

Murtagh and Jocasta – the fans lovingly call them #Murcosta. Didn’t we just get these two hot seniors?  They’re perhaps an unlikely pair but I do love them together. They offered one another a soft place to land.  Murtagh, after a lifetime of fighting, his guts/heart and mind are called to it again, this time he is in the driver’s seat. He doesn’t have time to be banging boots with Ms. Jo.  We know, they both get this. 

Jocasta broke the news, rather deliberately, that Duncan Innes proposed marriage to her. Murtagh seemed to be thinking ‘Good time to let her go without too much pain involved’, told her straight up he wouldn’t stand in the way of her happiness. This is where we can give Maria Doyle-Kennedy all the awards. The look on Jocasta’s face only altered in the slightest of ways, the slip of her fingers from his, without a word we knew that Murtagh was her happiness. She would have held on to him had he asked or given any indication that was possible. He didn’t and we felt that because of Jocasta’s silent but instinctual reaction. Maria Doyle Kennedy is so. damn. good.

Lord Yumm Gorgeous. Ummm, John Grey. Excuse me. I get confused, my LAWD that man is beautiful! David Berry is my favourite produce.

We didn’t get to hear too much from him in the episode. That is the whole point of this blog though, isn’t it? Those silent moments that were captured throughout the wedding are what touched us. Unrequited love is something most humans can relate to.  We know that LJG loves Jamie ergo whenever we see him alone and silently observing it can be painful. We know even if he did find love with someone, he would never be able to openly express it. Thanks, backwards 18th-century small-mindedness! 🙄 LJG is intelligent, pragmatic and above all, he knows where he stands with the Fraser’s. He is quite the extraordinary man who allows his own feelings to take a back seat to be the best BFF to them all. 😍

Our last moment had LJG next to John Quincy Myers,  with the latter passing out cold beside him – which was hilarious. The juxtaposition was Lord John, sitting alone in the dark, drink in hand. This wasn’t funny or fun anymore. I felt the urge to cuddle him. Not just because he is a scrumptious yummy bite of sweetness. It was a sad silence that I think many of us want to fill for him.

Even though there are other moments, I want to focus the rest of my attention on Brianna.  Her quiet demeanour, in the beginning, was beautiful and what so many brides go through on their wedding day.  Her silent moments built her strength in this episode. Oh, I know, people may want to slap me for saying that.

Here is a woman, carrying her pain in silence. The question is why?  Is she carrying it in silence because she doesn’t want to burden others with it? Is she carrying it in silence because she has already done a lot of the work and now, she is continuing to process? Is she learning how to function with these emotions? Is this yet another step in the healing of PTSD that comes from being a victim of sexual violence?

We or Brianna can feel safe in answering yes to all of those and would be 100% accurate.  Some may argue, “That is what family is for”, “You need to share with your partner”.  Those arguments can both be defended with  “We do and we don’t”.

We try to do what is best for our own healing. Taking a moment to catch our breath when we have an instance of recall or a panic attack when we need to get back to things, that’s exactly what we should do. That is what Brianna did, she found something/someone that was going to center her. Jemmy. She picked him up and held him close. If his little hand patting her back didn’t clench your heart, I would double-check to make sure yours is workin’, just saying!

I was privy to conversations saying Brianna didn’t get to enjoy her wedding night but I would like to give another perspective on this.

Bree had a moment during her wedding evening when she was facing an instance of recall aka flashback, of her rape. It caused her panic, anxiety and fear. Like a tower of blocks, she was knocked down – just as quickly, she put herself back together. Hastily, maybe not completely steady.  The rest of the evening, she might have been a bit unbalanced nevertheless she allowed those she was with, to hold her up. First, Jemmy.  Next, Roger. There’s no denying the love in her eyes when Roger serenades her, the joy in her face when they dance and the passion when they make love. She wraps around him pulling him as close as she can get him. Brianna did take solace, comfort and love from her family. They held her together and she let them while they could.

When the silence became deafening, Bree lay there with only her thoughts.  On the outside there wasn’t a sound but we know damn well, inside that woman’s head there was noise. A lot of it.  We can only imagine how much.

There, in that noise,  is where I believe she is gathering her strength, not losing it. Is she in pain? Yes. This kind of healing hurts. Scars like this don’t show on the outside so it makes sense we rarely speak of how they feel while they are healing.  These moments are easier to open up and talk about after we have processed some of them ourselves.  Giving these thoughts to others isn’t an easy task, mostly because it is difficult to express things you are only beginning to understand yourself.

To assume that Brianna wasn’t capable of feeling love and joy in the same evening as she experienced pain and healing is to accept Brianna is a one-dimensional person. This implies she is incapable of complex emotions and that theory goes against almost everything we know about this character.

We have to keep in mind, this isn’t the beginning of Brianna’s healing journey. We are walking through it with her.

I applaud Sophie Skelton and her attention to Brianna’s thoughts, subtleties and mannerisms during this process. Her character’s life is always moving forward while she is still healing and dealing. It is a balance and Sophie’s interpretation is en pointe!

What I am going to say now isn’t about Bree but about us humans overall. Many people keep their secrets locked inside because they are aware of how the people in their lives will react.

Common reactions when difficult news is shared;

  • feel sorry for them and pop them on the “I’m worried about you” track
    • this causes them more anxiety because they now worry about someone else worrying about them. The fear of becoming a burden comes true
  • take what they have said personally, get upset or angry (with or for them)
    • this causes more hurt because they will now feel they have to defuse this situation or make things better for others
  • to get involved, try and fix it
    • if they wanted someone to interfere that would have been their first request. Also takes the power away from the person with the problem, they may fear losing control and why they were hesitant to share

We should always let those we love know we are there. No judgements, no advice, just a hand to hold or lots of chocolate to give. “I know something is bothering you. I don’t need to know the details. I only need you to know I have chocolate and hugs. You can choose to tell me what is going on or you can tell me what you need me to say to you, I am here.”

And if they just want to be silent. Trust them but still listen. As we learned by watching The Fiery Cross, that silence still can speak to you.

Sher xo

I would love to hear how much you enjoyed the first episode of season 5! See our live tweet stream by following #OutlanderCAN  on twitter.

**Watch this space for a very special blog with a lament worthy cast member. COMING SOON.**

endjamiemurtagh

 

 

 

BADaptations #Outlanders on the bright side.

I need to have a little fun. The whole world is NOODLES N NUTS!

We are on the countdown for season 5. Everyone is getting antsy. There is a lot of activity on the Outlander Starz accounts. W Network is gearing up for us Canadians. I’m doing Meme reruns getting jacked for the live tweets every Sunday night followed by, what I hope are some interesting blogs.

For now, I’m going into Imaginationland.  There is always a lot of discussion in the fandom about deviation from the books.  If you have read my blogs before you know my stance on the books vs the show. There really is no vs. for me. They stand alone.  I have been reading the books for 25 years, pretty much know them inside and out. The show has to be a different thing, so I can fully enjoy the experience. Others do it their way, that’s cool. That is what makes the world go ’round. Well, that and gravity sciency stuff.

We have all seen movies, tv shows and mini-series created from books that have been slaughtered by the production company once they had the rights.  I still see people claiming that has happened to Outlander.  I disagree with those assessments. Here, I am going to show you what I envision a REAL slaughter looks like.

 

 

This is a GAG blog. A few things I have pulled out of my thinker that Outlander’s writers COULD have done if they so chose to. I’m not sure everyone is aware they could have done whatever they wanted and still had an audience. It may not have been you or I but it would have been someone.

I recall, in the beginning, many claimed Ron D. Moore and the writers had a love affair with Frank. They percieved this odd amount of empathy was given to his character and with too much screen time. He was Claire’s husband, it made sense to me to show his story, however, if they REALLY loved Frank so much they could have made him a much bigger part of the story.

What if? What if at the moment when Frank and Claire were at the stones at Craigh na Dun, appearing at the same time (200 yrs apart), the power of her desire to see him PULLED him through the stones?  Before you say that never could have happened. The writers are all-powerful in their storytelling. They can make anything they want, happen.  We are just lucky they didn’t.

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We all recall when Jenny was nearly raped by Black Jack Randall. Remember the nasty gossip that Dougal told Jamie?  That Jenny had a child as a result and BJR was the father? That would make for a juicy storyline, wouldn’t it? Almost too juicy for writers to pass up.

Here we could be, Jenny has BJR’s child. Ian still marries her because he loves her and raises the child as his own because that’s what the men on Outlander do, right?  BJR comes to Lallybroch frequently trying to steal the baby, it’s an added side story.  Oh, you know – extra drama! Most writers on TV want drama above all else and this story has years of drama written all over it.

giphy-11It didn’t really happen. Shh…

Ron Moore is currently involved in a super cool show called For All Mankind. The series explores an alternate history showing what happens if the space race never ended and the Soviet Union succeeded in the first manned Moon landing. Let’s put Outlander in that same headspace, shall we?

Since we are clearly aware Mr. Moore isn’t afraid of taking chances, like changing history. We should probably be happy that he didn’t get that itch out of his system with Claire becoming the ‘time traveller that could’. What if that became part of our epic new drama? Hmmm.

Culloden? WINNING! Bonny Prince? Bonny KING, thank ya, kindly. Jamie, no prison for you! You and all the Scots that battled so bravely now have your independence.  That’s a story for the ages, is it not? Yes. This could have been a thing and people would still watch. There would still be blogs. They might suck but they would be there.

I see folks on SM insist that Outlander writers have never read the books. Even though the writers have discussed their process many times of using the books as their outlines. If they never read the books or used them as a reference we could be looking at some crazy shit.

Imagine this. A new writer pops on the scene that has no idea what Outlander core stories are and they decide this –  Frank takes Brianna to a park for the afternoon. The park has this strange rock formation beside it, Brianna is skipping and playing around the rocks. One moment everything is fine and the next moment, she is gone! That’s right, Brianna has travelled through time as a 6-year-old! Frank is now forced to believe Claire after all this time.

That kind of storytelling would match the comments that production on Outlander has gone so far past what the books are about, the story isn’t recognizable.

I could have gone on and on with badaptations for days, it was kinda fun, to be honest with you. I bet some of you reading have ideas of your own. Drop them in the comments and we can have some laughs!

I do admit we all perceive the characters and much of the heart of the stories with our personal filter and biases. That is a completely natural way of enjoying or having contempt for what is happening on screen.  I hope we can look at the brighter side of our experience with Outlander’s adaptation. Yes, there may be some stuff that grinds our gears or twists us up. I most certainly do not take anything away from that. It’s natural for some peeps to fan that way.

The whole point of this little blogscursion. There are some downright horror shows of adaptations. BADaptations.  Granted, those badaptations are creations by people far more talented than I am. Everyone has a vision. I am sure there are people who will love those adaptations just as much as those who don’t.

It is my opinion that Outlander is a RADaptation. (Yep, Gen X’er here)

 

 

I hope you all have a FANtasticalamazirifisome day!

Sher xo❤

 

 

SunnuvaBonnet. I can’t even…

but I will try for the sake of this blog. If you have spent any time following me on Twitter, or talk to me in real life, you will know I have a pretty visceral reaction to Stephen Bonnet. I HATE him. Like HATE HATE HATE him.

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In case you didn’t hear me the first four times (source)

Yeah, I know. He is a fictional character. When he existed only on the pages of Diana Gabaldon‘s books. I hated him there too BUT I had more control over him. Diana could describe him as handsome as she wanted. For me…in my brain…in order to accept this man as the evil he was…that physical attraction couldn’t exist. That would be WRONG. So…good old Stevie BonBon had one eye on scan and one eye on lock, big ole skin tags plaguing his face and I gave him lips like a fish.  For me, that was enough to set him off the hot scale and into icksville.

Then, Ed Speleers was cast. Ed beautiful Speleers. Gorgeous, delightful, handsome in every way.  Like many others, I knew him from Downton Abbey. I saw how good he was at playing dickish but delightful…I felt this just wasn’t gonna be good for me.

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Nope. No darn good. (source)

I was right.  He WAS delicious and it tore me up. In my opinion, the worst kind of evil is the kind that seduces and charms you in one moment and destroys you in the next. It causes you to trust, makes you feel sorry for it, which makes you drop your guard.  Evil like that does it solely and completely to take advantage to get what it wants.  The end result is for their gain.  Any loss someone else may have suffered means nothing to them, in fact, they barely notice the damage they have done. They only care they’ve won.

What I found difficult about watching Season 4 unfold the way it did, was the way Stephen Bonnet just sailed through being scum. Everyone was looking to blame someone for the miscommunication, the lies and the secrets yet…the person, smack dab in the center of ALL of it…was the silver-tongued devil that committed theft, murder and rape. He sat in the corner flipping coins betwixt his scungy fingers with that slimy grin on his face while the world burned around him.

He was the piece of shit that threw the match and everyone watched him do it.  Yet, they all screamed at the person that built the house, they blamed the one who made the matches and they got mad at the hay that became the kindling. They even had the audacity to shame the person that was trapped in the fire, burned and scarred the worst.  Those in the story got mad at themselves for lending him the matchbox and some pretended the fire wasn’t even burning around them. The whole thing made my head want to explode and knowing I sound like a drama llama, made my heart hurt a little too.

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It’s pathetic, really (source)

There was ONE person who deserved the blame, anger and hostility.  The one that manipulated, murdered and raped. Full stop.

This is why I burn with the hate of a thousand suns for the likes of that sunnuvaBonnet. It is the Halo Effect. These types are everywhere. Disarming people with their smiles, leading people with fear and getting away with being the worst kind of human because they don’t look like a bad guy. Think of the Brock Turners of society, the Ted Bundys…how many “Oh, he’s too good looking, he couldn’t possibly be bad?” people in the world that keep getting free passes because they don’t fit what society thinks a bad guy looks like.

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Don’t be fooled (source)

I have written a story here 3 times. Deleted it 3 times and it will stay deleted. I don’t need to share it for us to know that these people don’t just exist between the pages of books or in front of cameras on TV shows. To different extents, of course, but they are real and exist in our lives. They walk around believing they can say and do whatever they choose with no consequences simply because they want to. They see it as their right to get what they want no matter who or what gets in their way. This is why I believe this character ticks all the boxes of horrible, evil, no good sunnuvabitch for me. Watch this space for a blog comparing ‘Outlander Villians’. My brain kept going there while writing this so I figured I might as well do one. 

Every time that sunnuvaBonnet appeared on screen, my husband would side-eye me, waiting. He knew it was coming and every time I TRIED…I tried so hard not to do it but I couldn’t, I would snap and spill “Oh My GAWD! I hate THAT guy! I hate him SO SO SO SO MUCH!!!”  I had to say it, I had to let it out. Every. Damn. Time. Hubby would chuckle at me and shake his head but I found I couldn’t focus on what was happening on screen until I verbalized my hostility. I know. I know. I have issues. At least I admit it.

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Under no illusions here, folks. (source)

At first, like I said, I was concerned with the casting of Ed Speleers because he is so incredibly beautiful and that really messed with my head. I figured I would never be able to enjoy him in any other production as I would always see him as Bonnet or I would always see Bonnet as this attractive guy and it would cause me even more animosity towards him. That would be very very dark and not at all healthy.

I am happy to report that somehow Ed morphed his sweet dimpled face into a darker version of itself. I believe I will be able to watch him in other things and see him in the real world without connecting him with Bonnet’s pure evil. Screenshot (2038)

By the time the episode rolled around that Brianna confronted him, that transition was completed in my mind.  His appearance wasn’t beautiful. I realized that he looked more like I felt about him – if that makes sense. I wasn’t seeing the striking eyes or chiselled features. I was seeing the ugliness that was inside of him and again, I thank Ed Speleers for that.  Unlike my imagination having to create these traits for book Bonnet, Ed’s powerful performance with sunnuvaBonnet created that hideousness that seeped from the inside to manifest itself on the outside.  Of course, it didn’t make the character anymore tolerable for me but, it did help me.  It helped me because I didn’t have to feel that battle of being attracted to a person that was a complete piece of human garbage.

Ed, on the other hand. RAWR.

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I mean…he is very talented et al. (source) 

 

Until next time,

Sher (ABOotlander founder)

 

 

 

Talking to Sera-Lys McArthur about Johiehon, Outlander and MUCH more…

Providence, episode 12 of #Outlander is receiving praise across the fandom. Sera-Lys is the extraordinarily talented and beautiful First Nations actress who played Johiehon, the Mohawk woman who fell in love with and had a child with the priest, Father Alexandre Ferigault.  I spoke to many people about Sera-Lys‘s performance and each one was impacted in some way by her portrayal.  It made me want to know more.

 

We all know I’m a Canadian, I talk about that on the regular. The actor’s Outlander auditioned for the Mohawk and Cherokee this season were chosen from First Nation actors in Canada. I found many have familiar faces from our television landscape.  When Sera-Lys popped up on the screen I had a “Hey! I know her moment!”  Only because I had watched her on a show called Arctic Air. Not because I actually ‘know’ her. Since we are both Canadian, I felt confident enough to reach out to her.

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It probably shouldn’t, but this is me. (source)

It is with no surprise that I can share with you, she is 100% delightful, 110% smarter than I am and yes, I think we are best friends (don’t tell her, she may not answer any more of my DM’s)

So without further Sherry babbling, please enjoy my “Interview with Sera-Lys”

I understand you grew up in Saskatchewan and were fairly young when you started acting. Now, many reading this might not understand my asking but how did that happen for you? (Saskatchewan isn’t really known as Canada’s Hollywood)  Haha, oh thank-you! Arctic Air was a big breakout role for me in terms of my Canadian career, it’s nice that people still remember that show. And you’re right, getting a start in acting from Saskatchewan is uncommon. I didn’t ever think that a person could even pursue acting as a career. My neighbour signed up for modelling classes when we were 11, and I wanted to join her. I really enjoyed it, so my mom supported me in signing up with a local agency in Regina. A couple of years later, when I was 13, there was a CBC miniseries coming to town called “Revenge of the Land,” directed by John N. Smith (Dangerous Minds, The Boys of St. Vincent). They were casting the role of a young Metis girl (a word that describes a mixed-blood Indigenous person) and had already cast actress Carmen Moore (She is in Outlander also, her role was introduced this week and continues in next week’s finale) to play the character’s mom. I went to the audition and the director and casting director were instantly impressed at our resemblance. Then they said, “But wait, can she act?” and I did my audition. It was my second audition in my life. I guess I didn’t suck, and they asked me if I had ever acted before. I said I was signed up for a workshop ‘next week.’ They smiled and told me to take the workshop. When I was at the workshop, they called my acting teacher and I was informed that I had got the role. It was very surreal! Needless to say, I loved the experience and was “bitten,” as they say. I continued to study Musical Theatre and Acting and audition throughout high school and later, in post-secondary education.

Where is home for you now? As a First Nations person and actor, I have the ability to “live, work and cross the border freely as [I] choose” thanks to the “J Treaty.” I really see Acting as my home, and wherever it leads me. I will always have roots in Saskatchewan and that is still where my family lives. Lately, I split my time between New York City and Toronto.

As a young Canadian woman, what would you say has been the biggest challenge in your career thus far? Historically, there are not a lot of substantial roles for women in general, less for women of Colour, even less for Indigenous women, and even then, we often lose these roles to non-Indigenous actors. This is because it’s a catch 22 in the industry: An actor has to have proven their ability to green light an X-million dollar production, but no Indigenous actors have ever done this, so investors find us to be too risky to cast. Sometimes they rewrite Indigenous roles and change their ethnicity to suit an A-lister that will attract more investors. It can be very frustrating. But I am happy to confirm reports that this is finally changing in our industry. The amount of opportunities for everyone seems to be growing, and so those of us who have been waiting and working on our skills all these years are finally getting a chance to show what we can do. Outlander 412 “Providence” was definitely one of those opportunities!

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Sera-Lys on the Outlander set with her costars

I see you have worked on a few projects with women at the helm, as we are in a (much needed) time of change in the industry, how do you find this is impacting you? For one thing, it has been the status quo for so long, that it was an important dynamic for me to learn how to negotiate. I get along with most men, I have many platonic male friends. I choose to connect with human beings, not genders. Now, of course, I have noticed an inequity and it does bother me. But it is important to create allies, not otherness. I have had excellent experiences working with male directors, and equally as wonderful experiences with female directors. I feel blessed to be able to collaborate with all of them and I am hopeful that more and more women and minorities will be given a chance to helm large-scale projects. 

Did you audition for the role of Johiehon specifically and what was the process like for you?  Yes, I did audition for her specifically. I knew the character was supposed to speak Mohawk and French, but the sides were given in English. Like most Canadians, I studied French in school growing up, so that was the easier part. Mohawk is another story! There’s no google translate option for Mohawk! While the casting director said that it wasn’t necessary to translate for the audition, I know from experience that producers almost never cast Indigenous actors for period-dramas from a tape where they speak English. They want to cast someone they know can handle the language challenges that the role demands. So I reached out to my friend Devery Jacobs (Sam in STARZ’s American Gods) who is Mohawk and also was auditioning for the role. She passed along recordings, translations & phonetic transcriptions of the Mohawk lines. I went in for my audition a few days later, and I guess I kinda “nailed it:” one take and done. Then I was “On hold” for over a month. During this time I auditioned for another role on Outlander, the Cherokee translator played by Crystle Lightning. When I got the call from my agent that I had booked Outlander, I had to ask, “which one?” 

I am very grateful to belong to a community of supportive First Nations actors. It’s a rarity in this industry and even this day and age that someone would aid their “competitor.” But I would have done the same. We really want each other to succeed, and we know the best way for us all to experience success is to support one another. 

I know I shouldn’t feel personal pride in the fact the First Nations actors from my home country behave in this manner as the only real thing we have in common is we are from the same country, but damn, this makes me proud.  To know there is such a cohesive unit of actors, working with one another to assure each other’s success knowing it will make the whole stronger in the end.  That’s probably the most empowering thing I have heard in a long time. It makes this screenshot mean a lot more to me.screenshot (2083) (1)

How did you find out you earned the role of Johiehon? My agent Rich Caplan called me while I was on a lunch break from a theatre workshop I was doing with Oregon Shakespeare Festival (in Manhattan). He had called me earlier that day to say that I had booked a role in a Canadian independent feature called Robbery, which is currently doing the festival circuit. It was a pretty awesome day!!

When you read the script for Johiehon’s introduction and demise, what were your thoughts? The introduction I knew from the audition, but the demise was a big surprise! They kept it under wraps from even me until about 2 weeks before my contract in Scotland began. She had a different name than in the books. It definitely explained why it was only a one-episode contract! I was shocked and excited. The second-to-last episode is often the climax of the season in today’s television market. A big fiery, epic ending in this episode was very exciting! I actually portrayed a young Nakota woman who died by fire in another CBC miniseries called The Englishman’s Boy about 11 years ago. So I knew I could perform it well. Still, I had never seen anything quite like the fire and stunt work that I witnessed on Outlander. It was truly amazing!

Truthfully, you had such a little amount of time to endear yourself to the audience, allowing us to feel you had this deep love with Father Alexandre and that Kaheroton was deeply in love with you, and…you did it. More than did it. I was sobbing when you (well, your stunt double) walked into the flames.  What was your reaction when you saw it all put together for the first time? Honestly, I cried too! It was so beautiful. It was so sad and visually stunning. Mairzee Almas, the director, did an amazing job with this scene and episode. It was her idea to put the Adagio For Strings music over the silent slow-motion sequence. In my mind, I compared the epic, emotional moment to The Last of the Mohicans, and it definitely delivered. In today’s industry, an actor rarely gets the opportunity to act in something this grandiose! I feel truly blessed to have been a part of it. I am proud of my work and of the entire team. It’s tremendous.

I have to admit, Providence stands in my top 3 episodes of the whole Series thus far. From start to finish, every extra and every effect, every performance held my attention. 

Richard Rankin is the regular cast member you had scenes with.  He is known as being a very light-hearted guy. How was working with him? It was great! He is very friendly and easy to be around and work with. Poor guy had to be in constant “pain” during our scenes. It also was a very demanding season for him, so I am very impressed with his stamina and commitment. His scenes with Father Alexandre in the “Idiot hut” are truly remarkable and were rewritten right up until filming. He brings an amazing sense of humour to his portrayal. A true professional and a warm-hearted person. I feel lucky to have worked with him. 

I often worry about the portrayal of first nations and indigenous peoples in television and movies. We want the portrayal to be true, respectful and not a caricature. I understand you are a modern woman, not a historian but am interested in knowing, how do you feel Outlander did, as a whole, in regards to portraying the Mohawk/Native culture? They really did a very good job. They went all out in their research. The costumes, hair, make-up and wardrobe were all very specific. And that set! It really transported us there in our minds. They worked with two Mohawk elders from Akwesasne and had them answer questions and do translations and coachings with us. They also gave us a document about Mohawk customs and culture, especially pertaining to what was happening in the scene. For me, the biggest departure from reality is that a Mohawk woman would ever abandon her child and commit suicide to be with her loved one. But it is a fantasy after all. It’s a beautiful story.

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Sera-Lys McArthur with director Mairzee Almas and costars BTS

 It was most certainly a part of the story I always struggled with, but yes, fantasy, love stories, tragedy. They tend to go hand in hand. Speaking of fantasy – I am envious you travelled to Scotland. How long were you there? Tell us a bit about your experiences if you could. I was there for 3 weeks. I was happily able to explore quite a bit. I went to Edinburgh, stayed in Glasgow and near Pitlochry. I went with fellow actress and friend Carmen Moore to Loch Lomond. That was a special experience. After my role was completed, I went on a horse ride in the countryside or a “hack,” as they say in Scotland, with Tannoch Stables. We stayed in a beautiful castle hotel during filming. It was breathtaking. Scottish people, on the whole, are lovely, friendly and have a great sense of humour. I highly recommend going and I hope to return someday soon!

You were surrounded by many other Canadian actors/esses while on set, which must have been interesting. Being in another country but still with people from home. What was that like? It was a surreal and pride-filled experience. There were other people from the Prairies and even an elder who spoke Nakota (my Native ancestral dialect). There were multiple other actors that I had worked with before who reunited there for this production. One of them, Gregory Odjig, looked at me at one moment and said, “We’re at work right now. Halfway around the world, in Scotland. That’s friggin awesome!” And I couldn’t have agreed with the sentiment more. Very special and unique.

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Sera-Lys  with costars and friends Carmen Moore and Tom Jackson Fonab Castle Hotel

What was your biggest take away from your time with the Outlander production?That all the years of struggling and career ups-and-downs were worth it so that I could experience something this amazing. 

I see you have some projects that include writing and producing. Besides acting, what field do you see yourself pursuing more in the future? Acting is my true love. But acting leads me to producing and writing. I want to do them all, but most of the behind-the-scenes work I do is so that I can act in the production myself. I am sure this will continue to evolve. Acting and storytelling are my “Buffalo,” they provide my soul with sustenance, similar to the traditional life of my ancestors when they followed the herds of bison. I will follow them wherever they lead me. 

That is so beautiful. Our First Nation culture carries with it such a powerful spirit. We have so much we can learn.

The issue of MMIWG (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) in our country is one that was long ignored. The more the loudest voices speak, the more the silenced can be heard.  Can you please tell me more about the project ‘In Spirit’?In Spirit is a very special project. It was written and directed by Tara Beagan and designed by Andy Moro. While we changed the character to a fictitious girl, the original play was based on the murder of Monica Jack. You can look up all of the details available on CBC’s website. 40 years later, they have finally arrested, tried and found a man guilty of kidnapping, assaulting and violently killing this young girl who was days away from celebrating her 13th birthday. It is very emotional and speaks to the core of our community. It illuminates the bigger problem with our society today. I hope we remount it and many more will get to see it. It’s truly riveting. I hope that the conversation continues and we work together to stop this senseless violence. Native women have been too easy to prey upon. Native people are victim to systemic violence, racism and erasure by historical and modern society. This has to change. We have to talk about it more and more. And if we could please stop objectifying our women in so-called “sexy Indian” costumes, that would be a great place to start.

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If there was a mic- I’d get her to drop it (source)

Do you have any other upcoming projects that you are excited about that we can watch for?  You can currently catch me in Season 2 episode 3 of Friends From College, I have a really fun soccer scene about 8 minutes in. I will be doing a play at Portland Center Stage in Oregon called Crossing Mnisose by Cherokee playwright Mary Kathryn Nagle. That opens in April. Other than that, stay tuned to my social media @seralysmcarthur for announcements.

Once again, your performance in Providence was captivating.  You managed to create a heartbreaking love story within an episode of television that left a fandom bereft. If there is anything else about your experience with this role you would like to share, we would love to hear it. Well, while Yan Tual and I were busy working and dying on pyres and crying for literally days, the other actors and supporting artists were often on break, if it was only filming our close-ups. As I mentioned, the set was impeccable and while much of it was natural, we would randomly find “set dec” hidden amongst the natural world: fake rocks, sticks, mounds, grass, etc.

Richard Rankin, Carmen Moore, Greg Odjig and some of the Mohawk warriors/ stunt actors made hilarious behind-the-scenes videos of knocking Greg over the head and body with these set pieces. The resulting videos were HILARIOUS!! What a fun group of people to work with!

Outlander BTS video Credit goes to Gregory Odjig

Thank you so much for sharing that hilarity with us. It is the perfect way to lead into my the typical ABOotlander closing question for our guests – since you are Canadian, you have an advantage.  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

Prairie Oysters. I def gotta try one someday to be truly Canadian! (I do know what they are, lol!)

It truly was a pleasure to have Sera-Lys take the time to invite us into a few corners of her world.  I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed putting it together for you because I enjoyed it A LOT!

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Sera-Lys ROCKS (source)

Sher (Founder of the ABOotlanders) 

Be sure to live tweet the Finale of Outlander with us while watching on W Network on Jan 27th.