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Exclusive Interview with The 100’s Luisa D’Oliveira

Photo Credit: Natalie Robinson
Photo Credit: Natalie Robinson

Luisa D’Oliveira is a Canadian Actress who leaped onto our screens and into our hearts when her character, Emori, came across Murphy, Jaha, and their band of believers on their way through the “Dead Zone” to find the City of Light.

Of course, prior to that moment, she’d been seen in numerous other roles on shows such as Motive, Cracked, Rookie Blue, Psych, Supernatural, and The Good Wife. No matter who she is playing, she brings a strength and vitality to her characters that make them real. And that is particularly well seen with the deformed and rejected Emori.

Recently, Luisa took time out of her busy schedule to chat about her character and the current season of The 100. Keep reading to see what she had to say.

Were you surprised when you got the call back to play Emori again? 

“I knew that Jason [Rothenberg, creator of The 100] had it in his mind to explore Emori a little further if he had the chance, but you just never know. You really just never know. Storylines can change very quickly. So yeah, I was very surprised and happy.”

Is Emori a character that you really like to play?

“I love playing her. I’ve never played anyone quite like her before. She’s just so…far down this path of suffering that she has completely found a way through. And it’s been a real joy to explore that and put it into life.” 

Yeah, she’s very spunky and snarky and just…isn’t gonna give up.

“Exactly. Which is incredible considering how much I imagine she’s been through in her life. The fact that she is so…it’s almost her defense mechanism..her way of survival is…everything’s almost a game, something to be conquered.”

Right.

“She’s playing…she’s playing.” 

And the banter back and forth between you and Richard, her and Murphy, is amazing! 

“(laughs) It’s very fun. He’s very fun to work with.”

Are you anything like [Emori]? 

“Well, my hand’s the same. That’s my real hand. I’m just joking.”

(laughs) Oh, my god! That would be incredible, though! It really would.

“It would be! And you know what’s kind of cool about playing Emori is that I know that I’m sure there are people in the world that do have some kind of difference in them physically and it’s kind of awesome to represent that.

As far as if I have anything similar with Emori, I guess maybe it would just be kind of that positivity. It’s not that she’s a positive person. I think that she’s a very cynical, skeptical person, but she’s always looking for the opportunity and the way through and I think that, in a much less cynical way, I have that in my personality. Aside from that, she’s a much edgier person than me, which is why it’s so fun to play that. (laughs).” 

I bet! And she and Murphy have that similarity, that determination to survive and the way they go about it is so drastically different [from each other] and yet the same. It’s just really fun to watch that dynamic. I’ve kind of described it as…Murphy’s sort of the cockroach of The 100 (laughs)… he’s just determined to survive no matter what, whether it’s a positive, good survival or not. 

“Mmhmm.”

Whereas Emori is more, I would say, like a scorpion. She’s gonna go after things and make sure that it’s not JUST survival, it’s the best survival possible. Does that make sense?

“Yeah. I like that analogy. I feel like they’re on similar paths, but Emori is just much further down that path. Maybe she, in a way, started off as a cockroach and she has evolved over many, many, many years to become the kind of survivalist that she is now.

I think that they understand that about each other. They just recognize pieces of themselves in each other and I think it’s surprising, you know, even from the moment they first met in that one episode, it’s surprising for them to find someone who understands and empathizes.” 

Yeah. Did it surprise you that just from that one scene of meeting that so much of the fandom was immediately there with them, seeing that spark between them? 

“It was incredible. I can’t – first off, I hadn’t had any experience with the fandom, obviously, before that, but I’ve never seen anything like it! Something about her and him just clicked and connected with people, and I just thought that was so awesome. It was wonderful.” 

I bet! Do you have any background on Emori at this point? How she survived after being rejected by her people? Is that a story that we’re gonna get to hear?

“I don’t wanna give any spoilers or any indication of what may or may not come. Um, but as far as her backstory goes, I guess I can say that most of my take on it is just speculation.

I think that she keeps all of her painful histories very close to the chest, which is why it was even amazing that in 3×12 – or in 2×12 – that she sort of spoke to Murphy about as much as she did. About herself.

Just those few lines that she said to him, which is probably more than she’s ever said to any stranger in an extremely, extremely long time. But in a way, it kind of mirrors, the mystery behind it, mirrors her own desire to keep it inside. I don’t know that there’s any vulnerability attached to it…that she doesn’t want to come out and mess with her head…” 

Ok. I know that now we’ve seen Emori and Gideon and Otan as far as those with deformations from the effects of the radiation…how much are we going to get to learn about that group of people? I mean, there’s the twelve – now thirteen – clans, but they’re all outside of that and it kind of seems like ALIE is ‘collecting’ them. Is that something we’re going to get to find out more about? Or is it building towards something maybe more down the line? 

“I don’t even want to say. I don’t want to point the compass in a north, south, east, west direction. I don’t want to do it. (laughs). I think it’s gonna be a really great ride. And I think people are gonna be quite engaged with the storyline. That’s all I’ll say. (laughs)”

Ok. Well, at this point anyway, it doesn’t seem like Emori is interested in what Jaha is selling. If YOU were offered the chip, what would you do? 

“You mean, like, me personally? Oh hell no! How would I do my job? How would I act? (laughs) I would have nothing to draw from.”

Do you have any other projects coming up that you’re working on? 

“Nothing I can talk about. But, everything is always pretty fluid in our industry.” 

Ok, great. So what’s your background?

“I’m quite a large mix. I’m Portuguese, Chinese, French, Scottish, a little bit of Irish in there…lots of immigrant grandparents.”

I know you’re in Vancouver now. Is that where you’re from? 

“Yeah, I’m actually from Vancouver. I was lucky enough to grow up in a city with a film industry. I’m really extremely fortunate.” 

That’s awesome. What got you into [the film industry]? 

I always was performing for my parents. I would watch a movie and then remember half the lines and re-act it out for my parents at the dinner table every night, and I’d miss dinner (laughs) and everyone would be up and washing dishes and I’d still be on the salad. I guess I just always did it. It was always an outlet for me. And I was fortunate enough to go to schools that had very good drama programs and so I was able to explore it even further, which you don’t really think about at the time, but that’s a really big thing as an asset. Having those years to really just kind of play and gain confidence and connect it with the idea of how fun it is to just hang onto all that. It was very important as far as the growth of anyone doing anything creative. And then after that, I ventured slightly into a different area while I was in school, but I just couldn’t stay away. I got pulled back in and then I really got into it in a professional way.”

Awesome. Is there any advice that you’d give to kids who are like you were who want to get into acting? 

“It can be a great outlet. For kids, it’s just so important if they’re gonna get into acting and this industry that they keep the sense of play. This is a very big industry and I never got into it as a kid so I can’t say firsthand how that might have affected me when I was younger, but I think I just know that the biggest asset to me when I was young was just being able to play and not having things feel too heavy. The pressure of the industry was not heavy. And I think holding onto that sense of play is just so so vital at any stage of your career, but especially when you’re developing as a kid.”

What’s your favorite movie that you used to act out for your parents?

“(laughs) Um, well, it would definitely be The Wizard of Oz because I watched that movie upwards of a thousand times. I watched that movie so much and would act it out so much that my mom finally had to tell me that the library wouldn’t let us take it out anymore.”

What kinds of things do you like to do inside of acting? 

“I really just enjoy everything. I really like exploring things I haven’t done before. It’s funny because actors often get the question, ‘What do you like to do?’ or ‘What made you choose this role?’ and the answer is, ‘Well I booked the job so that’s why I chose to do it.’ (laughs) We have a lot less power and control than you’d think unless you get into the upper echelons. But, I really just like good stories. Good stories with real people and real relationships. I think mostly any actor would answer the same thing, ’cause that’s the stuff that moves you. At the end of the day, that’s the reason why we do it and even a moment on set for a great role in a great film where you hit that moment when it all falls into place is so satisfying, but at the same time it’s almost as satisfying as a similar moment in class with five other students where you’re just working the scene with one other actor and you hit that same truth level and it all falls into place. The feeling of satisfaction is the same regardless of whatever framework you’re in and I think that’s why I do it and why a lot of actors do it. It’s for that. So that’s not necessarily defined by one kind of genre or anything like that, for me anyway.”

Do you have a favorite genre to work in? 

“I really like drama and I really like sci-fi, ’cause sci-fi is super fun. You get to go on these incredible adventures that I don’t think I’ll be going on in my lifetime anyway. Maybe other people will a hundred years from now. Also, I just like drama. There’s so much room to play around and there’s so much room for interpretation of a character. There’s so many different ways that you can explore something. And I really like comedy as well, but comedy does tend to be a bit more rigid. You have to hit the beats properly for it to be funny. And it could just be that I like drama better because maybe I’m better at drama and maybe I still have to exercise my comedy biceps a little bit more. It could be that. (laughs). I’ve got a whole career ahead of me. Lots of time to change my mind. Lots of time to do different things.”

Definitely. Is there anything that you really, really want to be able to do in the future, like a goal that you have that you haven’t gotten to do yet at this point?

“I would like to lead a series and I would like to do more film than I have up to this point. I’d like to do more low-budget stuff, I think, ’cause the big budget sounds wonderful but sometimes it’s just the small films that…all you have is a script and hopefully a bit of money, but it’s just the story. There’s not much else usually that’s around, like expectations that must be met, so it just comes down to telling the story right.”

Yeah. Some of those are some of the best films made, definitely. 

“Yeah, absolutely. Just look at some of the Oscar nominees this year. it’s always such a range. You can get huge big budget ones but then a lot of them are really really small. But that’s what you see so many of these incredible actors and actresses gravitating towards. It’s because of the story, because of the characters. It’s not about the money.”

Our website is Talk Nerdy With Us. Are there any ways that you are nerdy? 

“(laughs) I love that name. Talk Nerdy is such a great name. I like video games and I’m not good enough to play like the new consoles nowadays ’cause they’re crazy with like a bazillion buttons – I don’t have that motor control, I’ve not developed it – BUT my boyfriend’s very good so I love watching the video games with the great storylines like The Last of Us. I’ve always been kind of like on the more bookish side I guess I would say, not very Emori-like. I love fantasy series books. LOVE them. Like Harry Potter developed me as a person (laughs). There are just so many wonderful wonderful wonderful wonderful book series out there. There’s a reason why series’ like Harry Potter can connect with kids as they’re growing up. There’s just something about a book…it’s you and your mind and you can create anything and I just absolutely love it. But yeah, I’ll nerd out over Harry Potter with people any day. Whenever I make a friend and I discover they love Harry Potter and we’re both grown adults, it’s a great little moment. (laughs) We can share our secret love.” 

So which house would you sort Emori into? 

“I got this question on Twitter and I think I would need the sorting hat to really make the final choice. It would be between Gryffindor and Slytherin. She’s very brave – Emori. Extremely, extremely brave and courageous. I don’t know if I’d say she has chivalry. But with Slytherin, she’s definitely resourceful. I don’t know if she’s…ambitious…per se. I think she wants to survive as comfortably as possible, but I don’t know if she has further aspirations other than that.”

How about for you yourself? 

“For me myself, it’s so tainted with my desire to be in Gryffindor that I don’t even know if I can honestly answer that question. (laughs) I don’t know. I’d need the sorting hat. We’d talk it through, the sorting hat and I.  We’d spend a good five minutes discussing. (laughs)” 

Have you been to Harry Potter World? 

“No (laughs). You know what? I don’t even think I want to go. I have the world – it’s all in my head. Like, that whole world is in my head and I don’t want to mess with it. I don’t know. It’s kind of personal. You know how fierce people can get when they see an adaptation of their favorite book? When something is wrong for them?” 

Yes!

“I feel like that would just be me the whole time and that I’d ruin it for anyone I was with.”

That’s understandable. What other book series’ do you like? 

“I just got into Outlander. Which is more of a mature adventure book now. Those are probably the bigger ones right now. I haven’t gotten into Game of Thrones yet. Like, I watch the series of course, but books seem like such a…I need time because when I start reading a book, I’ll read it for a good 9-10 hours straight. I don’t put it down. And then when the last Harry Potter book came out, I  just cleared my schedule and I would get up in the morning and I’d force myself to shower and eat because I knew that once I opened the book, I wouldn’t eat again for the rest of the day basically, unless I was starving. This is how I get so I really have to clear some time. (laughs).”

Did you ever consider writing instead of acting? Or writing AND acting? 

“I have considered it. My dad’s a writer. He’s just started writing these last, I’d say, five years. So it could be that it’s in my blood. I enjoy it. I wrote short stories and I thought they were pretty good back in the day, but it’s just not something that I’ve really easily tapped into yet. I think that acting just speaks more to me. I just do. I enjoy it more. And it could be that I can be a reserved person in the way that I am and acting allows me to step further out and express and explore whereas writing pushes me to go further in and I think maybe at this point that’s not where I want to go. I think that’s probably what it is. Now I’m really getting all into the psychology of it.”

It’s really interesting how much psychology is in everyday choices, life choices, figuring out what you want to do, where you want to go, whether you want to do this or that and you don’t even think about it.

“It’s huge. Of course, yeah. It’s just a part of everything. It’s amazing. The last 10 to 20 years show much psychology has become a part of our culture in the way we discuss things. We just have an understanding of terms where a few decades ago it wouldn’t even cross our minds to say it. Like let’s say you have a friend who could be choosing the wrong kinds of guys to date, she might make an offhanded remark like, ‘Well, I’ve got daddy issues.’ Even that level of self-awareness and to put that kind of attachment to it…we have such an acceptance and understanding of how our past can affect us. It’s really incredible. 

That’s one thing that’s wonderful about The 100. There’s always two simultaneous things going on. You have this massive group of people who are now adjusting to – at different times throughout the series – a completely different life and world than they had before. And there is no going back. the change is made and that’s it. It’s final. And then you have the instant pressures of survival because of the way the world is and all of everyone is faced with having to decide where they stand on everything. And everything has such high stakes and then they have to live with their choices. When you’re not faced with those kinds of mistakes, you make a choice and the bad thing that happens is that you’re just late for work. The stakes are not that high. I feel like the level of regret, of guilt…they’re the kind of thing that haunt people for the rest of their lives. Based off of decisions where really, everyone is trying to do their best.”

Right. Well, and where there is no good decision. 

“There is no good decision. Everything is gray. Every situation someone is going to be hurt. People will be hurt to an extent. I think that maybe that’s one of the things that resonates so deeply about the show, the way it explores human nature in such an extraordinary circumstance. It makes you wonder what you would do? If you would be that strong? If you would make that decision? Maybe I would. Maybe I’d be the one that killed hundreds of people. In space, at Mt. Weather. You just don’t know. 

None of us knows what we’re capable of doing unless we’re put in that situation because there’s nothing that would push us obviously to really make that kind of decision outside of that situation. It’s a really scary place to go but at the same time, it’s a path of coming to know yourself in a way. And just by watching the show I feel like we can kind of dangle it in front of you without you having to actually bite the apple. And that makes it really satisfying, I think.” 

Exactly. Were you a fan of the show before you got cast? 

“Yeah. I watched the show. It’s Vancouver so I knew some people who worked on the show so I wanted to watch it for them and season one, after that first death in I think it was the third episode, the way it was done, it caught me completely by surprise. I said, ‘Wait a minute. This is not the show that I thought it was.’ (laughs). Then I really got intrigued and then it started to just draw me in and you come to know these people and you really come to understand and root for these people…so yeah, I really enjoyed the show so it was wonderful to be cast on it. And then it was great to come back. It was just really cool.” 

You can see Luisa Thursday nights on The CW at 9 pm ET/PT on The 100.

 

 

 

Written by Erica Schaaf

Erica is a former social worker and mother of three who has been writing since she was a child. She currently writes fanfiction for the Veronica Mars and The 100 fandoms and is published on Kindle Worlds as well as fanfiction.net and archiveofourown.org. She hopes to one day have the chance to be a fly on the wall on set of her fave shows while filming!

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