Exclusive Interview with Van Helsing’s Rukiya Bernard


Photo Credit: Liz Rosa
Photo Credit: Liz Rosa

She has a myriad of credits to her name–Supernatural, Stargate: Universe, and Witches of East End, to name a few–and Rukiya Bernard will be adding another show to her already impressive resume when Van Helsing hits Syfy this September. The actress-slash-director-slash-producer-slash…(well, you get the drift) plays the enigmatic Doc on the new Syfy show. Doc is a self-aware vampire that is being kept captive by an old colleague. Why is she being held and not hunted? Only time–and Van Helsing–will tell.

What most interested you about the role of Doc on Van Helsing?

“Well first off, the show is action packed, gory and scary, which as an actor I was stoked about. But it’s also a show that explores complex human behavior when pushed to the limit. It has a lot of heart. I was most drawn to the exploration of being a vampire that is self-aware. I had to first determine what Doc was like as a human before the vampire apocalypse and then discover what that looks like as a vampire. There was a lot of animal observation and mimicking that I did to figure out how to play her physically. It was a ton of fun.”

How did you get into the mindset of a self-aware vampire in a world of almost rabid vampires?

“I really connected to wanting something so badly (blood) like a drug. All sense of decency is out the window to get what you want, however survival is still important to vampires. A sense of rational and tact comes into play. It’s just at what level the ‘addiction’ is being satisfied?”

Your character, a doctor-turned-vampire, has a friendship with Axel, a military type. Describe the dynamic between the two characters.

“Oh Doc and Axel. The dynamic between the two? Well, Axel is her captor and her savior. It’s complicated. (laughs).”

In the pilot episode (which aired early on Syfy, before the series’s actual premiere date), it’s discovered that biting Vanessa Helsing can turn a vampire back to a human. Will Doc immediately take that opportunity to go back to the way she was?

“You’ll have to watch to find out.”

What can we expect to see from Doc as Van Helsing progresses?

“You can expect to see…wait a minute…no more spoilers. (laughs). You’ll have to watch. September 23rd at 10:00pm EST on Syfy.”

Tell us about Women Seen.

“Women Seen is a series of comedic short films directed by Amanda Tapping and produced by ACTRA that I just worked on. In these very funny parodies, the shorts expose the disparities in casting females and using female directors in TV. It was a fun project to be a part of and quite unique in that we had an all female cast and a 90 percent female crew, which is very rare in this industry. Great project with a message. Check it out. #womenseen”

In Women Seen, you work with Jodelle Ferland and Amanda Tapping, fellow Syfy channel alums. Does that link help you form bonds with the other actors?

“Well I had worked with both Jodelle and Amanda before. I did THE UNSPOKEN a couple years ago with Jodelle and Amanda directed a few of the episodes of ‘Van Helsing.’ We have a lot of friends in common. It’s how I got involved in Women Seen.”

You have quite a few acting credits under your belt for being such a young age…is it hard to keep up with family life when you’re so busy with acting, producing, directing, etc.?

“I don’t consider it hard. It’s busy, but it’s just the life I’ve chosen. Working within my passion actually fuels me. I feel it’s the best example of living your life that I can give my kids, so the crazy that is my life is well worth it.”

Do you have any other upcoming projects that you’d like to discuss?

“I have a couple of movies I appeared in, PHIL and LITTLE PINK HOUSE, about to start doing the festival circuit. And on a personal note, I will be doing a waste free month this fall. I’ve been taken by the waste free movement where I live and after observing how I live, I can afford to further reduce my output. I think we all can. It just takes a little effort.”

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