Dora-nominated actress Alejandra Simmons has had a passion for acting ever since she was a child. Graduating from the Windsor BFA acting program, Factory Theatre’s Mechanical program, and the ReelWorld Emerging Filmmaker Training program, Simmons has garnered a long roster of rolls, including the multi-award winning Someone Not There. When not acting, Simmons likes to see things from the other side of the camera, her short film One Night was even selected to be screened at the 2014 Toronto Urban Film Festival and Toronto Silent Film Festival. Most recently, Alejandra Simmons can be seen portraying Alex Silleg in KindaTV’s All for One.
What drew you to the role of Alex? Did you originally read for Alex?
The production team called me in for the role of Alex, so I never read for any of the other characters. I really empathize with Alex’s need to protect other people and her desire to control the outcome of… everything. Similar to Alex, I am a pretty type A personality and control is something I have struggled with my entire life. However, I think underneath her ‘mom’ persona, Alex does not want to be in a leadership or caregiver role, she really wants to be taken care of. I think we all want and need that at times in our lives. But she is afraid to ask for the support and love she needs. This level of vulnerability is scary and rewarding and as an artist/ actor, it’s my job to be able to be fearlessly vulnerable. And it can be terrifying but also so immensely rewarding. So I totally empathize with Alex’s fear.
Alex is definitely the mature one of the group; the other characters even call her mom. Do you think that Alex likes having this role or do you think that it may be too big of a responsibility at times?
Sometimes it can feel really good to take on a leadership, responsibility position. But I think Alex is discovering that in order to take care of herself, she can’t take on that role for everyone. Also, as she finds out, everyone has their own will and volition and she cannot control other people’s actions, nor prevent them from getting hurt. She is not anyone’s mom, and it is not her job or responsibility to mother any of her friends. This is not an easy thing for her to accept, but I think it sparks an important growth in her: she realizes that she needs to mother and care for herself first.
In the beginning of the series, Alex isn’t a fan of Dorothy’s blog and the Inseparables, but in later episodes, it seems as if she has begun to warm up to the idea of online friends. What do you think sparked this change in her?
I think Alex started in a place of fear and misunderstanding on what the Inseparables were. But as she learned the role, impact and support for Dorothy they provided, she began to value and connect with them as well.
Alex dated Miller in the past and their relationship really left a lasting mark on her, and not a good one. How do you think it has affected Alex having Miller back in the picture, especially since he is/was dating Dorothy?
Miller’s reappearance really rocks Alex’s world. He forces her to reexamine the relationship they had, the story she created after he left, and the person she chose to be because of what happened between them. After he disappeared Alex was incredibly hurt and betrayed. Being with Miller she allowed herself to be vulnerable and trusted him: as one does in a relationship, and thus she opened herself up to be hurt. After he left, Alex coped by not allowing herself to be trusting or vulnerable in that way. As the series starts, we see in her friendship with Ariana and Portia, and subsequently Dorothy, she keeps herself reserved and focuses on taking care of other people rather than herself. She does this in order to protect herself from being hurt again. But Miller’s appearance forces her to question her relationships with the others and with herself. We see her start to spiral out of control as she tries to figure out who she is and who she wants to be. This is neither easy or smooth for her, and it gets more than a little bit messy.
The group has been involved in a plan to take down Rick, and Alex refused to be a part of it and even warned them against doing it. Do you think that she made the right decision not to get involved?
I do not think it is my place to judge her decision. She did what she felt she needed to do in that moment. I think if I were in that position, I would be torn between supporting my friends and the stakes of the situation. I would hope that the group would be willing to have a discussion about our options, but if I felt it was dangerous or illegal in any way, and everyone was doing it, I would definitely opt out. Peer pressure can be really difficult to negotiate, and I think the more important thing is to always trust your gut and stay safe.
All For One deals with a lot different issues, such as feminism, sexuality, and the impact that the Internet has on our lives. Do you think that these issues are central to the plot and the characters, or do you think that they’re just sub-issues that happen to make an appearance?
I think Bob and Sarah, the writers were certainly aware of these issues while they were writing, but they were not the focus. I think the brilliance of what they have created is this group of complex characters in a current/present day setting who are forced to examine these issues and decide how they define and are defined by them.
Episode 21 will be live. Are you nervous at all for that?
My background is in classical theatre, and at the time we shot episode 21, I was on contract for a Theatre for Young Audiences show, here in Toronto. So I was already in theatre mode. Shooting Episode 21 felt like the world of theatre and film coming together. Being able to improvise and engage with the audience through social media was so exciting and a new kind of challenge!
I understand that you also enjoy filmmaking. What is it like being on the other side of the camera instead of being in front of it?
I fell into filmmaking because I wanted to learn more about the industry I was stepping into as an actor. I graduated theatre school a bit frustrated with the state of theatre so I delved into the world of film building my understanding of the process and business of filmmaking. I work primarily in independent filmmaking, and there is a tremendous sense of community and passion throughout the filmmaking process. Often because there is little money involved, everyone is working because they feel this is a story that needs to be told. The work I do behind the camera has greatly influenced the work I do in front of the camera. I have tremendous respect and understanding for the process a film/webseries/television show must go through in order to reach audiences, and the incredibly skilled craftsmen and women involved. I have worked as a Director, Producer, Assistant Director, Continuity Editor and Production Assistant in various productions. And I think it is really important to understand, even at a basic level, the complex process that goes into making a film. At my core, I am an artist and a storyteller who craves connection and authenticity, whether it is through acting or filmmaking.
Since our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us, is there anything that you nerd out about?
Lord of the Rings. In grade 7 my friend and I taught ourselves Elvish. The Two Towers was the first DVD I ever owned and the first year I owned it, I watched it somewhere between 15-20 times. (Our movie collection was very limited…. Also, those behind the scenes clips definitely influenced my future desire to work in film) Those movies will always have my heart, but as I moved on to university and then adult life, my once never ending knowledge about the entire LOTR filmmaking process and memorization of every line, has faded.
Catch up with All for One on KindaTV.