They’re rough and tough, wild and wily, and they’re taking the West—and the rest of the world—by storm. They’re Emily Andras and Melanie Scrofano, and together they bring Wynonna Earp to life every Friday night on Syfy. With writing and producing credits on such shows as Lost Girl and Killjoys, Emily has proven herself a genre goddess. Melanie, whose credits include Haven and Gangland Undercover, has burst onto the scene as Wynonna Earp, a woman chosen to kill the demons created by her ancestor Wyatt Earp. Between Emily’s writing prowess and Melanie’s acting chops, Wynonna is a woman of many facets and flaws. I had the pleasure today to talk with both these women about the show and Wynonna herself.
Where did you get the idea/inspiration for Wynonna Earp?
Emily: Well, I was lucky enough to get the inspiration from this incredible comic book series called Wynonna Earp (funnily enough), which was written by a man who bills himself as the manliest man in comics, Beau Smith, but he is without a doubt the biggest gentleman in comics. So I have been lucky enough to segue as a TV writer into genre. I got to go write on a show called Lost Girl which was a pretty beloved hit on Syfy with strong female characters, very sexy and kind of sophisticated but also very campy and fun. And that was a big joy for me. It really changed my life as far as what I wanted to do with my career. I never want to leave genre—you can’t make me! The publishers of the comic book, IDW—which is a very well-known comic book company, were looking for a strong female showrunner to take this cult property and turn it into a TV show. So they sent me the comic book, and it is no exaggeration to say when I opened it up my scalp got tingly, I felt like angels were singing, I feel like this was the perfect property for me. (Laughs).
It had so many things that checked off boxes on my ideal project. It had a really strong female protagonist who was three-dimensional, a complete mess, totally badass, very vulnerable, it had kind of a ragtag group of underdogs trying to fight the paranormal, and then it was set in the West, which I thought was so fresh. I feel like a supernatural western hadn’t been done in a way or really modernized in a long time, and I actually grew up out West in Calgary, which is like Canada’s Montana. (Laughs) And that’s actually eventually where we ended up shooting the series, so it really felt like kismet.
I came in with a pretty strong pitch because it was a comic book and comic books are only twenty-two pages versus you need thirteen hours of TV. I pitched it as Buffy meets Justified meets Frozen because I really was interested in the idea of sisters. I think the Western, if you look at it carefully, is a genre filled with men and brotherhood and the patriarchy and I really wanted to flip that on its head and have a bunch of chicks running around the West with giant rifles. And that’s what we got! I was so grateful that Syfy got it; they kind of were astounded. I think they thought, ‘Well, if you can pull this off we can definitely say it’s something we haven’t seen before.’ (Laughs). And they really liked the idea of having a grown-up 10pm Buffy.
I feel so privileged that we got to make it. Sometimes I still watch it laughing and I’m like, ‘I cannot believe that we did that!’ But we did, and the biggest gift is that now people are seeing how great Melanie is and how great the cast is, and people are really responding to the show. They really get it, so it has just been a dream come true.”
You were talking about the sister aspect, so will we see more of their younger years and the events leading to the night of the father and Willa’s murders?
Emily: I would say that’s a good possibility. We really loved the child actors who played Willa, Wynonna, and Waverly. We thought they were really strong. What we’ve seen so far has mostly been through Wynonna’s eyes and the memories, the events of that night. But memory is such a funny thing—it’s not a perfect beast, so I definitely think some new revelations and some new surprises are coming down the line. [To Melanie] Now, do you agree?”
Melanie: No! I felt like it went another way, Emily! I didn’t play it that way at all! (Laughs).
Emily: But yeah, we love the sister stuff.
How about Wynonna’s foster home history?
Emily: We don’t see so much of that, but we definitely get a little more sense of where she’s been. I kind of like the idea that the years between the tragedy that they saw—her family, when they killed her father, and when she came back to Purgatory—I like that they’re a bit of a mystery, and I would definitely say that near the end of the season there’s a bit of a hint that some things happened during those ‘missing years,’ so to speak, that defined Wynonna and maybe she may have to atone for. They may come back to haunt her. When we’re on season 17, which we’re totally going to be.
This is for Melanie: How did you find out about the role of Wynonna? What drew you to the role?
Melanie: Well, the way most actors find out about roles is your agent sends you in for an audition, tells you that’s the audition you’re going in for. There was something different immediately about this character—at least in my head. I was not sure that they were going to go for my version of Wynonna, but in my head she wasn’t your typical action hero lady, if there is one, I don’t know, and I really loved the humor that I saw on the page but I also loved how tough she is and how she’s a vulnerable, flawed, strong type of person. And luckily Emily let me play her that way instead of some other way that was maybe less interesting but a bit safer.
What aspects of Wynonna’s personality are most or least like your own?
Melanie: Definitely her sense of humor. I’m really darkly funny. Like, when bad things happen I sort of use humor as a—
Emily: She’s hilarious!
Melanie: I’m actually the funniest when I’m pissed or sad—when the stakes are higher I’m really funny and I think I share that with Wynonna.
Emily: You’re like a good time at a funeral. (Laughs).
Melanie: Yeah, I’m the worst at a funeral. (Laughs) So I really identified with that. And I love that she’s just so—I feel like I say this a lot but it’s one of the things that I love about her and find so inspiring, and I don’t think I’m so much like this, is that she’s very in a place where she can face her fears. Fully head-on, just run towards them and be like ‘F*** it, I’m going in!’ And I’m not like that…yet.
Of all the shows you’ve written for, which of your character’s personalities is most like yours?
Emily: I wanna say Wynonna/Bo, just sexy sex on top of sex—just going in and seducing everyone, but it’s not true. I’m going to say I actually think I’m a little bit like Waverly. I’m like a Waverly/Kenzie; I’m this witty-wit-wit quip-quip-quip joke-joke-joke. I think I’m less cynical than Kenzie, so I’m going to say I’m a bit like Waverly. I’m actually a little bit of a cheerleader, and certainly when I was younger. I just never could be cynical about the world; I wasn’t that cool. I never saw the point in not loving the things you love and embracing love and life and being enthusiastic about the stuff you dig. I think that’s why I’m in genre now. I’m just kind of a big nerd but I love it.
I just think life’s too short to be too cynical or too dark or too bitter or too uncertain. I’m definitely not as brave as any of those girls, though. I would like to be, but—in any good writing you put a little of yourself into every character, right? The truth. Otherwise, it would be false. I think I’m more sidekick material, but I’m happy to be there.
Are there any plans for a story arc of the Revenants outside of Purgatory? Of them going outside?
Emily: I would definitely say this is a bigger world. We’re kind of peeling the onion, right? First, we had Purgatory, then we found out about the Triangle…I would say that we’re definitely wrapping up some stuff going towards the finale that highlights the importance of this area on the map and what it means to both humanity and the demonic. So stay tuned!
Well I’m going to stay tuned anyway, because the show is awesome!
Emily: Well thank you! I’m glad to hear you’re having fun.
For Melanie: Did you learn how to ride a motorcycle for the role or did you already know how to ride?
Melanie: I definitely did not know how and I didn’t have any intention of learning, and when I found out I got [the role] one of the first things that they sent me to do was to get my motorcycle license and take a course so that I was insurable. (Laughs) So yes, I can ride a motorcycle.
Do you enjoy it now that you’ve learned?
I freakin’ love it! In Canada, it doesn’t really make sense to own one unless you’re really hardcore because the season’s so short, but I saw one yesterday and got a bit jealous and hungry for it.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever done in character as Wynonna?
Melanie: Anything in a harness when you’re flying through the air and anything could happen when you land. It sounds so stupid and easy but it’s not, it’s so much center-of-gravity and—but it’s so fun you’re just like ‘Anything could happen! Okay, I’m about to land!’ If you don’t die it’s a good day. (Laughs). It’s just a rush and our stunt coordinator is such a cheerleader—Steve Mc Frankel—and he’s like ‘Oh, you killed it! You’re so good at that!’ And I think he’s lying but I’ll take it. It’s such a rush. I loved it so much.
Doc or Dolls: Who would you choose?
Melanie: It’s such a—they’re so different but they both check so many boxes, so…I can’t. I can’t. Who are you?
Me? I’m for Doc. There’s something about that ruggedness. Dolls is cool and all, and he’s got some awesome scenes where you don’t mind scrolling back a little bit…
Melanie: He is pretty much equally as delicious to look at in real life.
What’s your favorite nerdy pastime?
Emily: I love cons. That’s my secret. Either as a speaker and a panelist or also just going to cons, I absolutely love it and I love the energy and I just love being amongst the fans and being amongst my people. That’s probably my favorite nerdy pastime—going full nerd.
Melanie: Darn. I misinterpreted ‘nerd’ I think. I was thinking making pizza. But I don’t want everyone making fun of me.
Emily: It’s nerdy.
Melanie. There’s nothing sexy about yeast. (Laughs).
New episodes of Wynonna Earp air Fridays at 10/9c pm on Syfy.