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Ally Walker Dishes on Helena, “Colony” and Her Impressive Career

ally walker

Even though actress Ally Walker became curious about theater in college, she didn’t immediately pursue it as her career. Instead, she graduated with a science degree and dedicated herself to working in the field of genetic engineering. It wasn’t until she was discovered by a producer in an L.A. restaurant that Walker left her science profession behind and took a chance on acting. He cast her in her first role, and from that point on, she was head over heels in love with it.

As an actress, Walker has made a name for herself on the small and big screen. On television, she starred on the Emmy-winning shows Santa Barbara (1984) and True Blue (1989). In 1992, she scored roles in the films Singles and the action-thriller Universal Soldier. Afterwards, she returned to television, playing the part of a private eye in Moon Over Miami. Around that same time, she was offered the chance to audition for Friends but instead chose to take a part in Andrew Davis’s comedy Steal Big Steal Little.

Although Walker has been involved in a plethora of projects over the course of her career, her most notable roles remain that of Ashley Bartlett Bacon in While You Were Sleeping and Dr. Samantha Waters in the groundbreaking show Profiler. In addition to being the only show on network television at the time with a single female lead, Profiler paved the way for other forensic dramas, such as CSI and The Mentalist. When Profiler ended in 1999, Walker began to ping-pong between shows, guest-starring on Sleeper Cell, ER, and The Mentalist. After filming her award-winning documentary about the Los Angeles Foster Care System, titled For Norman…Wherever You Are, she took a part in HBO’s series Tell Me You Love Me and did guest spots on the shows Law and Order, Boston Legal, CSI, Southland, and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Then, in 2008, she was cast as sociopathic ATF Agent June Stahl in Sons of Anarchy, on which she made recurring appearances until 2010.

Her subsequent television credits include The Protector (2011), Taxi Brooklyn (2014) and Longmire (2015). In addition, she starred in the movies Toe to Toe (2009), Wonderful World (2009), Angel’s Perch (2013), and April Rain (2014).

Now, Walker’s playing the character Helena on the hit sci-fi drama Colony. Talk Nerdy With Us recently had the pleasure of participating in a conference call with Walker in which she chatted about her extensive career, her new role on Colony and her passion for environmental rights. Check it out below!

What did you find the most fun about playing this role?

Well, yes, I like playing strong characters. And it’s another, you know, it’s sort of another strong female character. And that always speaks to me. Because I think, you know, that – there’s a lot of great roles out there for women now in TV I think. But this kind of woman just really intrigues me. I think it’s really hard to play ball in a man’s world. And she’s a real, you know, power ball, power hitter. And she just kind of calls the shots. And she’s very – I like the fact that she’s very –it was just funny. I was talking to Maria Menounos about this. I like the fact that she’s very detached and unemotional. And she’s, you know, she’s like a corporate girl. She knows how to solve problems. And I like that. I like showing that kind of, you know, cold decision person. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a, you know, where they go with her.

Is there anything that you find difficult or that you’ve found difficult about playing the role that you had to work out?

You know, for me it’s really just about doing what the writer prescribes. I just try to do what’s on the page. And, you know, and if I don’t understand something then I, you know, go to the writer or the director or — and we usually figure it out. I think with this particular show – and with others, you know, you’ve got to meld a lot of information when I started. And I kind of had to, you know, ask them, you know, where is this? What’s happening? So it’s such a fresh idea. But it really is amazing watching people, you know, survive and what comes out of people. And I like Helena. She kind of keeps a tight lid on everything, you know. So I found that very interesting.

How much do you know about Helena? And how much do you know about her role in regard to her contact with the Hosts?

I don’t know-, unfortunately, I’m working with Carlton and Ryan they don’t give you as much. I don’t know if I interface directly with the aliens. I think that I do but I’m not sure. I haven’t really been given all the details of my, you know, kind of interfacing with them. I think I do. I mean I’ve been lead to believe that I kind of do. 

How do you think she views Proxy Snyder?

I think for Helena, everything’s a game of chess. Everything is – she doesn’t commit. And she doesn’t let go of too much. And in that way, she maintains the game. So I think she admired his, you know, sort of wanting to do the right thing. But she’s not going to allow anyone to really see her cards. So she keeps her cards very close to her vest. And I really like that. And that’s about survival.

Your character in the Profiler was so good and saintly. And your character in Sons of Anarchy was just so bad. Were you kind of hoping Helena falls on the spectrum between good and bad? And what kind of roles do you favor playing personally?

Helena is different, you know. I’m not really sure where to go with Helena. I think what’s interesting about each of these characters in this – and I’ve said it before is that, this is about, you know, I think the writers talk to me about how people dealt with Nazi Germany. And how they had to survive. And what they had to do. And who they had to, you know, befriend in order to just stay alive.

And I think that’s a similar situation here. I think it’s basically – it will be interesting, you know, I think that Helena is more corporate. I would like to see her human side come into play a little bit more. I mean that’s like peeling back the layers of an onion and seeing exactly what happens. But I think that when the characters on this do that, they get killed. So it’s a little scary. But I think it’ll be interesting to see people’s course. And I don’t know that you’ll see hers for a very long time. I think she is used to doing this in the corporate world. And she’s going to continue covering herself and kind of, covering her bums – for lack of a better phrase. So that she doesn’t die, you know.

Can we expect to see a little bit more of you in Season 2? We’ve only got a little glimpse so far.

I have no idea. I don’t – I don’t arrange these things. I don’t write. So I mean I’m hoping so. I really love the show. I hope we bring her back in a more, you know, kind of quantity way. But, I’m just waiting to see. It’s a great job. I’m just really enjoying playing the part right now.

In listening to you talk – taking this role sounds a lot like dating. Where you don’t know what you’re getting in the long-term. But you have that first date and then you go from there. And you don’t know what you’re going to find out about that person. What was it about Helena that you were informed about that sold you on it? Because it doesn’t sound like you were given much but yet you did it.

I saw the pilot. I knew Carlton Cuse from – I did one – I think my first pilot or maybe my second pilot with Carlton about 25-years ago. And it was a remake of the “Witches of Eastwick.” And it was hilariously silly and — but he and I became friends. And I’ve seen him on and off over the years. He’s a great writer. And so he had called me. And said, do you want to look at the pilot? And I thought, yes, sure, okay. You know, not thinking much. And just, you know, hoping for the best. But I was floored. I really thought, it’s just – I like doing different and, you know, everybody does.

“Profiler” was so original. June Stahl was so original for me, you know. And this show – when I saw it I was, like, oh, this is very original. You haven’t really seen this before. It’s a very fresh idea and a very human experience. And I just was kind of floored by the pilot. They said, don’t worry. You know, I’m going to write something good for you. And I said, great. And so I just jumped in. Because I trust those writers. I thought, you know, what they did with the pilot was extraordinary. And I love Carlton. And I thought, you know, this will be good. So sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith, right, just like in dating.

There’s a lot of action on the show including shoot outs. Is Helena going to get involved with that or will she be hanging out behind the scenes?

Well, I certainly hope she doesn’t get her hair messed. (laughs). But, we don’t know. We actually don’t know what the plans for Helena are. I have not texted the writers. I have not talked—I think by the end you will see her reacting in a more forceful way shall I say? And get a little bit more involved, yes, she does. But whether that involves shooting and being violent – I’m not really sure, no.

If you were living in an occupied city like the one on the show, would you join the resistance? Or try to get in with the transitional authority?

You know; I think I would probably in the resistance. I’m always kind of difficult. I think probably I would feel like it’s time to, you know, to change this. I really try to be a little bit more proactive, you know, politically and things. So I would probably be in the resistance any day.

So we’ve established that you don’t much about where your character’s going. So where would you like to see the character go? Or based on what you do know, where do you think they’re going to take her?

I think they need to find her humanity a little bit. I don’t know how long that will take. I like the idea of her being able to outmaneuver people and then may be in the resistance and working for the side of, you know, man. I think that would a really interesting way to go with it. But then I don’t, you know, I don’t mind playing evil as, you know, from June Stahl. It depends on the story. We’re all players in a story. And it really depends on what they want to do with the story. Then you have to service that story no matter what, you know. So I think it will be really interesting. I’m interested to see what they do with this character. I’d like to see her fleshed out a little bit more. I think that would be a lot of fun. I mean that’s, you know, every actor wants that for their character.

Tonight’s episode leads into, you know, the final three. And it really takes a distinctly different and exciting turn. Without giving any spoilers at all – which I know you wouldn’t do anyway – what was your reaction when you read the scripts for the final three?

Well, I like them very much. First of all, I think the writing on this show is extraordinary. I think it’s really difficult to have people on the edge of their seats every episode. And they’ve managed to do that. You know, a lot like Lost was, you know. I didn’t really watch Lost a lot but I was told that. That it was always like you didn’t know – didn’t know which way it was going turn. And I think that’s a real art form. And it’s hard to pull off. And I think these guys are doing it. And I think they’re keeping the show really riveting and fresh because of it. So my reaction was this is good, because if you really can, you know. I think there’s very smart people running this show – it’s a very smart show. It really is. And you have, you know, I love Josh and I love Sarah. I think they are excellent as their parts. And the kids – you really have a lot of compelling things going on, so. I love those last three shots. I’m excited about it.

Great. It was one of those – all three of them I sat there watching with my mouth hanging open. So that was very exciting. Are you a sci-fi fan?

Do you know what? I’m not a sci-fi in the terms of, like, Star Trek maybe or something like that. But I’ll tell you one of my favorites is Blade Runner, like, really one of my favorite films of all time. And that is just brilliant sci-fi because it blends the human experience with, you know, sort of this futuristic – I love that movie. I thought that was genius. I really did. Actually, I love the old Soylent Green too. Yes, I guess you could say I’m a sci-fi fan.

Colony is extensively a science fiction show but it’s got sort of element for low-key. And it hasn’t really been marketed as sci-fi. Do you think is something that’s helped it capture an audience and been nearly successful as it has been?

Yes, I do actually. I think that, you know, when you tell a story, you know, I think for people to get really involved they have to have a sort of a deck to feel it. And in order to feel it they have to a human experience. And I think Carlson and Ryan been very smart to kind of set this, you know, futuristic, sci-fi show with human term and tell a human story. And I think that’s kind of brilliant actually. I think that’s its greatest appeal.

And this as an actress has really been your first introduction into science fiction and science fiction fandom. How has that experience been for you so far?

It’s been fantastic. I just try to play my card. You know, I’m—that’s my job is to show up and do my work. And I do that. But it’s been — science fiction fans have been very – very lovely to me. Very welcoming and very supportive, you know, and I’ve really been very touched by it and very appreciative of all the support. So it’s been great. It’s been really great.

What is it like working with the rest of the cast on Colony. And do you have any behind the scenes funny moments that you can share?

Well, Peter is a funny moment happening all the time. You know, sometimes when we’re working and you see that wave of cedar pass over his face. It’s hard for me not to laugh. He’s a really good actor. But it just cracks me up—his character. Proxy Snyder really cracks me up. Josh is one of the most down-to-earth people I’ve ever met. He’s just a sweetheart. And he’s just—I mean you just kind start—I mean I hate to this but he’s just so easy on the eyes. You just kind of drool whatever. I’m, like, hi, Josh. You know, my voice goes up an octave. It’s like you’re never too old for a little Josh, you know. And I roughed him up. Sarah taught me how to use Instagram. I didn’t know how to do it. And she was, like, listen, we’ve got to get you some followers. This is what you do. And she’s a mom. She’s really cool. And she’s a real good actress. I just really had nothing but a great time with people on the set. They are all very real, very cool people. And, you know, at the end of the day you want to work with nice people – you really do.

Oh, definitely, definitely. I mean it makes for a much more pleasant work environment, you know, for everybody to be friendly and open and…

Yes, no ego. Yes, competition of egos that just can get old and crazy.

 So this question’s a little bit different, and I know you’ve mentioned that you don’t know too much where your character’s storyline is going, but what kind of person do you think Helena was before the arrival happened?

She is using what she learned from corporate America. She’s playing 3-dimensional chess all the time. She’s learning how to protect—she learned how to protect herself. Manipulate people into doing what she wants, seeing what happens, and buffering herself against blame. And I think that has served her very well. And she’s now putting those, you know, skills to use with the aliens where she’s protecting herself and making sure that things get done. And I think that’s what she’s doing. So I think she was a corporate girl. She was pretty good.

In the episode 8 exclusive clip, we hear Helena mention a performance review with the chief minister of the Pacific Coast. And that tells us another layer of the transitional authority. Do you think that fans are going to be surprised just how far up the chain of command is going to go with the authority?

Yes, yes, I think they’re building this intricately woven kind of community of what’s what and who’s who and who deals with what. And that’s really, you know, truly great because it’s not all explained at once which is why people are on the edge of their seats which I think is a very smart move on the writer’s part, you know. You know, who’s to say it’s not a manufactured, you know, kind of conspiracy. You know, it’s really fascinating what they’re doing. And they’re just telling a story, parsing it out a tiny bit at a time. And, you know, I think there’s a – then you leave yourself open for so much and don’t trap themselves in a corner. And think the writers have been really brilliant about that.

What do you think of the historical aspects and the social commentary as it compares to other occupation stories and shows such as the original Z with its World War II allegory?

You know, I didn’t watch the series “Z”. I think this has a World War II allegory as well. But, you know, what was interesting to us was how people survived. So it’s really a character study. The study of human nature. What people, you know, both will do to survive something. Especially something as horrible as, you know, I just read. What’s his name? The meaning of life – who is Frank, oh, god, I can’t remember anybody’s name anymore. It’s—I was reading it while I was filming “Colony.” And the things that people went through. And what they had to do. What the new normal became inside, you know, Auschwitz. And it’s stunning the power of the human spirit. And I look at this and I see it, you know. And you begin to wonder, you know, hopefully, it makes you think more of other people living on the planet. And, you know, I remember being in school. I had a very outspoken boyfriend in college. And he said, you know, because of the Cold War and everything that was going, the only way that human beings would ever be united was an interplanetary war. I think it’s kind of ironic though. Sure enough – they’re uniting. But anyway, so I think it’s, you know, it’s a tale as old as time. There’s always the conquer.  There’s always, you know, the people who are subjected and enslaved. And how do you – how do you deal, how does the human spirit deal? So it’s interesting.

Considering you support the environmental defense fund, hopefully, the environment is one thing that humanity can come together for.

Thank you for saying that. I’m really, you know, yes, I’m sort of horrified by, you know, what’s going on. And that there hasn’t been more done especially in the United States to combat climate change. And the fact that it was up to the Supreme Court let’s you know just how far big business is willing to go to stop, you know, any form of healthy energy creation. What I can’t fathom is we have the – the Constitution is beautiful with these far-reaching minds crafting it. And look at how it’s being used by these short-sighted, greed driven, group of people. I mean it is unconscionable to me.

What’s it like working in sci-fi?

I think sci-fi’s fun. I think it’s more about—it’s just a—it’s a larger canvas to paint on, you know. It’s sort of forces you to stretch your mind a little bit. And, like, this is a different language. That’s a different language. The unimaginable becomes imaginable. We’ve been taken over.

I think human beings are pretty good at that. So I think that science fiction is sort of like that. You just take a new realm, a new set of rules, a new, you know, language perhaps, dress differently—and there you go.

Will we be seeing you in the next season of “Longmire” again?

Well, I certainly hope so. I think you will. I hope I’m not dead. I can’t answer these questions. (laughs). 

This is a more personal question. When you were doing “The Profiler,” you were in a new marriage and you were having a baby. How did you manage to do something like that? To kind of weave all of those different parts of your life together.

I don’t know. I didn’t do it very well. I kind of left Profiler because I was expecting another baby and was tired of dealing with the hours. I just couldn’t keep up. I was talking on home and family on a Hallmark show yesterday. And I think it’s airing today. And I said, you know, you can—somebody told me once you can do everything just not at the same time. And I really learned that at that point in my life. I had so many blessings. And it was wonderful. But I was truly, truly, exhausted. And I really wanted to be with my son. And I really was anxious to start that part of my life.

So that’s the reason I left. I don’t think I could do it very well after a while. It was too much for me. I could do smaller roles. I could write and do other films. There was a documentary – I did my own film this year, “Sex, Death, and Bullying,” which is on iTunes. It’s going to be on Netflix next month. But I couldn’t do those 16-hour days anymore. You know, I couldn’t do it. I was just—it really knocked me out.

Many times, actors are kind of summed up by the roles that they previously played. For you, it’s “The Profiler.” Anytime someone mentions your name, “The Profiler” is often attached to it. Who are you to you? Who do you see yourself as, you know, as far as you do environmental work, you’re a parent – who are you to you?

I mean, first and foremost, I’m my boys’ mom. I think that’s been the biggest and the most rewarding role of my life. You know, I really love my kids. And I had at an age—where I was in my mid-thirties—and I was really ready to have kids. And I’m their mom. And that’s who I am. You know, we don’t—I don’t talk about my career with my kids. There’s a long period of time when I didn’t work as an actor. Where I really took a lot of time off to be with them when they were really little. And I shot a documentary about foster care. And I did other things in my life. But first and foremost, you know, to this day I really haven’t wanted to sign on to, you know, a show where I’d be gone all the time. I tried a little bit of that a couple of years ago. It didn’t really work out. And I really put that first because that’s the real deal. That’s my real life, so, I’m their mom.

Going back to another one of the causes that you are passionate about—you just mentioned it briefly a minute ago. But the foster care system and the documentary you shot. This might be a little bit of a stretch, but does the Charlie storyline in “Colony” resonate for you at all? A child away from his parents trying to deal with things on his own, perhaps?

Absolutely. I mean, there’re so many homeless kids in the city of Los Angeles that it’s absolutely frightening. There’re so many homeless people. And I look around and I think about it. And foster care is a very tough situation because it’s a huge business as well. And I really think it is something that we can’t aside. We have to do the right thing by it and I think, in this day and age, that’s something that’s very hard to do.

I’ll tell you a performance that really moved me: Michael B. Jordan in “Creed.” He plays a young African-American who’s a product of Apollo Creed’s relationship with a mistress. And he’s in a group home. And this guy is such good actor. When he started talking about the group home—you know, I went to several group homes—it broke my heart because I started thinking about those kids again. You know, I tried to effect change, but there was very little I could do. I did the best I could with myself. But that’s heart breaking to be so abused and to be alone in the world like that. So that’s a performance in particular. Yes, Charlie, I think it’s very effective.

You know, there’re so many children around the world who deserve so much better. The world’s a different place. It really is. It’s really different now. Very different and it’s scary.

You said that Helena is kind of a character who plays with her emotions very close to her chest. Can you talk about some of the challenges in playing a character like that as opposed to playing with one who can perhaps more freely express themselves?

You know, doing that is kind of tiring actually because you retain a large portion of yourself. You can feel like you’re not being real – if that makes sense. Because if you’re not really connected to how you feel, it’s like you’re playing two things. You’re playing the subtext of it. You can’t let them know what you’re thinking. I have to be very careful to never let anybody know.

So it can come off, you know, you can feel like you’re being a little bit one-dimensional as an actress. But then you think about and, you know, you don’t really show people that you’re scared if you’re not – if you don’t want them to think you’re scared in real life.

Yes, there’s this constant battle. But it your fear and your manipulations have to be kind of underneath everything. So that makes it kind of hard sometimes actually to play. And, you know, you can make some wrong choices at times. Hopefully, I’m not. But it’s a little more difficult sometimes actually.

What do you think is the greatest truth or the greatest lesson that we can learn from the show right now?

Yes, I think fascism is never a good idea. I think that’s what we can take from it. Look, I think people need to treat each other better. You know, that’s basically the bottom line of everything. I think that everybody deserves a seat at the table. I look at Bernie Sanders and people like that–people scoffing at him, saying he’s unrealistic in his mission. But, you know, why we can’t we have universal healthcare? Why? We can. You know, I think that humanity needs to always look to its better side. And I don’t think we always do that. And therefore, history repeats itself constantly, unfortunately.

Yes, I definitely agree. Who do you think is the best moral compass on the show at this point?

Well, I think that everybody has their own moral compass. And I think that’s what – you know, I think Sarah is great. I think that Will is great. I think he’s kind of in a position of wanting to make sure that his family is safe. And that is always a very, very appealing position. And to do the right thing even if he’s put in the wrong setting. You know, what I mean. And that’s always, like, that’s a cure too that you get, you know, you feel very – a lot of compassion for.

I love Sarah. I love her portrayal of Katie; I think it’s genius. I think she’s really, you know, idealistic and wonderful and trying to put it into working form as a parent and as hope for the future. Especially because she has kids.

So I find both those characters – perhaps as a whole, like, it should give more comfort. I’m not really sure, you know. It’s a really great look at how horrible situation brings out – what it brings out is new.

New episodes of Colony air on Thursday nights at 10:00 pm ET/PT on USA.

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