Dre Davis (Project Runway) is one of the latest recurring guest stars on Pretty Little Liars portraying Sara Harvey, the other girl who was kidnapped around the same time as Alison. We first hear about her in season 4 when Hanna’s digging up research but it isn’t until season 6 that we get to meet the mysterious girl.
Sara most recently has stolen the heart of Emily Fields, resident leather-wearing badass and I had the pleasure of chatting with Dre about their chemistry, the future of Sara and how she prepared for the post-traumatic distressed character. Check it out below!
Your character, Sara Harvey, was held hostage for a few years and when she gets thrown back into society experiences major PTSD. How did you prepare yourself for that?
“Well I thought about her physicality and vocally because she hasn’t been speaking for so many years, so how would her voice come out? I thought about how her voice would evolve from when she first got out of the bunker to each day going past that because if she hasn’t been using her voice and nobody’s really been touching her, she hasn’t had any human interaction. So there’s a lot going on physically as well as emotionally. Emotionally it’s a completely different ball game. She’s just completely on edge and fragile and afraid. So there were a lot of elements that I felt helped me in the creation of her. Coming out and almost reawakening to the world.”
Almost immediately she instantly bonds with Emily. She could have bonded with any of the other characters, they were all kind of in that situation, not as long as Sara but they were all in that isolation state. Why do you think those two really seemed to connect?
“Part of the reason is Emily came to the hospital and she opened herself up to Sara and Sara hasn’t had anybody look out for her. It’s even one of the lines, ‘I’ve never had anybody look out for me before’ and that’s Emily’s personality. She watches out for people. Sara hasn’t really had anybody like that really approach her.
So that’s part of it but I also think that with certain people there’s a certain chemistry that is unexplainable and you’re like, ‘I don’t know why I can’t be away from this person right now,” but you just gravitate towards another energy and Sara and Emily share that, they’re drawn to each other. Especially because they’re both also struggling not just with being locked up but also with understanding their sexuality and who they are. You know they’re young girls, they share some similarities.”
I really like that about Sara. She didn’t have some revelation it’s just that she had that connection and it just worked.
“I think with some people it’s instant. You know there are some people in your life that it almost seems immediate. You can’t really fake that and that’s what Emily and Sara have together.”
Going off of that you and Shay Mitchell had a lot of heavy, drama-filled scenes, so how do you guys tend to shake off that tension after filming?
“It’s a pretty light and fun set. I’m a bit different I don’t really pay attention to how other people prepare. When I’m going into a heavy scene, I usually sit in my trailer or I spend time alone, getting into a certain emotional state. But then afterwards you just step out of it. We go so fast, you only have a couple takes and there’s really not any rehearsal time. You have to get in there, get to the meat of it and then you’re on to the next scene. That’s how TV is, I have a lot of experience in theater where you had so much rehearsal time and time to work on the scene with other people. With TV it’s just not that, so that was an adjustment for me but it’s just something I had to adjust to.
It’s so much fun and it’s strange because I’ve been acting for years but when I got into the TV set I was a little scared because it’s such a different medium. It’s a great medium but it’s different how it affects your process.”
Were you a fan of the show before you got involved with it?
“Years ago when it came out I thought it was so great that these girls booked the show. It’s such a great opportunity so now looking back on it it’s exciting to see that I’m involved in it. I didn’t watch every episode but I watched it when it first came out.”
So you were already aware of the type of reception audiences gave the show before joining. What have you learned being part of such an incredibly provocative and highly social media integrated show?
“I wasn’t expecting that people would make edits of me on Instagram or have a reaction to me. So it was exciting but I also see it as an opportunity. So many girls reach out and are like, ‘growing up is difficult’ and what’s so great is that we [on the show] have the opportunity to sort of reach out to these young girls and even in the writing, in the characters, they’re all struggling with things. Which I think helps young girls realize that they’re not alone and feel like they can relate to the characters on the show.
I’ve seen this as an opportunity to have a voice and help people in a way. And not everyone likes me but that’s totally cool! [laughs] I like them anyways!”
I know your character has definitely gotten some backlash because of who your character is dating. I will say I was one of them and then I saw this week’s episode and I thought, ‘okay…I get it. It’s okay’.
“[laughs] Yeah you never know what to expect with the show! I just tell myself I’m not the writer, I’m not Sara, we’re just actors. I’m not really in a love relationship with Shay. I don’t take it personally.”
The summer finale is coming up in about two weeks can we expect to see Sara in the next few episodes and hopefully in the next season as well?
“I don’t even know how many episodes I’m signed on for. They let me know as I go but you will see me in the time jump and then we’ll see.”
Far we hope!
“Absolutely [laughs] I’d love to stay!”
Your interaction on the show has been kept mainly with Emily and her mom. Will audiences get to see you interacting with the rest of the cast and if not, who from the show would you like to see Sara interacting with?
“I’ve been in scenes with everyone but I haven’t had much interaction, like one-on-one interaction with everyone. I think…Aria. It would be cool to have a scene with Aria I haven’t had a one-on-one scene with her.”
That would be interesting. She’s kind of against Emily immediately bonding with Sara so that’d make for an interesting dynamic.
“I agree, I think Aria has a strong character and I think Sara has silent strength. So it would be interesting to see what would happen, if sparks would fly, I don’t know [laughs]. I also think Lucy’s a really great actor so it would be cool to do a scene with her.”
I think that’s the thing with Sara is that there’s so much we don’t know about her. What do you think audiences would be most surprised to find out about her?
“Well I can’t really say! [laughs] She is a surprising character, she’s very mysterious so you just have to stay tuned and see! But honestly I’m surprised by her every week because I get the scripts as they come and I’m just like, ‘Oh my God Sara! Sara what are you doing?’ it’s so fun!”
There’s only two more episodes left this summer so be sure to tune in and check out Dre Davis and the rest of the cast on ABC Family’s, Pretty Little Liars and you can follow Dre on Twitter and Instagram @DrelynDavis.