In & Out of the Lab w/Astrid Farnsworth: An Interview with Jasika Nicole from FRINGE
At WonderCon in San Francisco recently, I was thrilled to
find out that Jasika Nicole (Astrid Farnsworth on Fringe) was going to be there. She was
delightful, outgoing and warm; with an infectious laugh and very friendly
smile, I felt like we were old friends after only a few minutes of
conversation. Jasika was kind enough to answer a few questions for an interview, and I also obtained both an autographed photo and poster for two
of YOU to win (see details at the end of the post)!
1. In addition to Fringe, you caught my attention last year
when you were featured in the New York Times article “Out in Hollywood.” And then I was thrilled to discover your very sweet and
autobiographical comic (via a link on your blog). What has been the response to that
article and from fans in general?
Jasika:After the article came out, I got a few incredibly supportive
and sincere emails from some fans, but there wasn’t really an onslaught of
extra attention that I noticed. My comic High Yella Magic has inspired more
people to write to me and offer their opinions and encouragement than that
article did. I really enjoyed being a part of the Times piece, but, in regards
to my story, it was mostly factual and barely personal – it let the world know
that I was queer, out and proud without delving very much beneath the surface. My comic offers a pretty personal
look into who I am and what my experiences have been, and I think that people
tend to connect with and respond to that in kind.
2. A few years ago, you had the opportunity to work with
the late Natasha Richardson (on The Mastersons of Manhattan). Did you share many scenes with her, and would you mind sharing
your memories of her?
Jasika:I did a sitcom pilot with Natasha Richardson in which I
played the seemingly sweet live-in nurse to her ailing father who was also
sleeping with her husband and her nephew. I had a couple of big scenes with
Natasha, but when I wasn’t on the set, I spent all my time just watching her
and Brian Benben and Molly Shannon create really dynamic comedy with each other
in rehearsal. James Burrows was the director for that show, and watching him
and Natasha work together, him coming up with an idea on the fly and her being
able to take that and give him something even better than he asked for – it was
3. After the show The Return on Jezebel James was canceled,
were you looking for another television series?
Jasika:No, not at all. I just wanted to be working! After my
Jezebel dreams were crushed, the effects of the Writers’ Strike hit full force.
There were hardly any auditions at all, so I tried to prepare myself for the
worst, which, in my head, was not screen testing or being cast in any projects
at all during pilot season. Fringe ended up being a complete shock
for everyone on my end.
4. How did the opportunity to audition for Fringe arise, and
what was that process like?
Jasika: I was submitted for the role of Astrid, and all I knew was
that she was supposed to be a young, tech-savvy FBI agent. I remember thinking
“uh uh, not with MY hair,” and I didn’t put very much energy into the
audition. I figured that it was such a long shot that I didn’t even need to get
my hopes up for her. I had about 3 callbacks before I screen-tested, and at
this point I still had not read a script or anything, so I was excited about
the prospect, but not sure exactly what I was excited about. My manager and
agent put me on a three-way phone call to tell me the news that I was cast,
where we all proceeded to scream in each other’s ears for several minutes, and
I was on a plane to Toronto to film the pilot a few weeks later.
5. Who makes you laugh on set; is there a practical jokester
among the cast?
Jasika:John (Noble) and Josh (Jackson)and I are always in fierce competition to make
each other laugh, but Josh probably wins since he is able to make himself laugh
as much as anyone else. We have such a natural, easy rapport with each other
that it’s almost impossible not to have a good time when we are in the lab. I
refer to them as “the Damn Bishops” and they call me “Agent
6. I’m sure you’ve heard or read about the frustration that
some Fringe fans have about the lack of action and story for Astrid…both in and
out of the lab. Will we see more of or about Astrid before the end of Season 1?
Jasika: Astrid gets out of the lab again in the second half of the
season! WOO HOOO! Hopefully the fans will feel validated…but if they don’t,
there’s always Season 2.
7. Given that you live in New York (where Season 1 was
filmed), how do you feel about the production move to Vancouver for Season 2?
Jasika: Initially I was very frustrated. I hated the thought that
this giant crew of people who put so much blood, sweat and tears into the show
was not going to be able to continue to build onto what they helped create.
It’s so hard to say goodbye because we have become a family over the past 10
months of working together. But eventually I had to realize that this is the
nature of the business and that I just needed to be happy that our hard work
had paid off. I’m still not looking forward to parting ways, but I plan on
adding all the friends I made from the Fringe crew to my Facebook.
8. I see that you’re still involved with the theater,
appearing in various charitable events such as the Our Time Theatre Company
gala next week. Do you foresee a return to Broadway someday, or in between
films and seasons of Fringe?
Jasika: I would absolutely LOVE to get back onstage again for a
show. I miss the theatre so much! I used to think that I preferred theatre over
film and TV, but eventually I realized that they are two completely separate
art forms, like apples and…bacon. I like them both for such different
reasons, but I have been away from theatre for a really long time and that’s
why I miss it so – I’ve forgotten what it’s like to stand on stage and sing to
people! It’s amazing – you become so aware of your body when you’re under those
stage lights that you start to notice how your breath reaches all the way down
to your feet!
9. What can you tell us about your next film, She’s
Out of My League?
Jasika: I hope my scenes didn’t get deleted.
I would like to thank Jasika for taking the time to answer these questions, and wish her an early Happy Birthday (April 10)! She is quite talented, as well as a personable and sweet human being. I look forward to more Astrid on the small screen, and new comics as well!
If you are a Fringe fan and would like to win a Jasika-autographed photo of her and Walter Bishop in the lab or an autographed small poster of the cast, simply leave a comment for Jasika below and your name will be entered! The winners will be announced on April 17.