Small town girl grows up as a tomboy and works at a scientific lab but always dreams of being more. One day she is whisked off to a strange land with all sorts of fabulous and rich people. Then while she tries to earn her way up the ranks she finds out she is the daughter of space royalty and goes on a journey to save her mother. No this isn’t the synopsis of Jupiter Ascending 2 but the amazing real-life story of Adriyan Rae. Well the first part is. The latter is the role she has been seeking since she fell in love with acting. That opportunity came in the form of SyFy network’s adaptation of Vault Comic’s hit series Vagrant Queen. Adriyan takes on the role of Elida, the daughter of a royal empire who has been on the run since her family was killed in a coup d’état. She has learned her mother is still alive and goes to find her as well as get some payback. We spoke to Adriyan about the role, working with an all-woman team of writers and directors, and being an action hero.
CASSIUS: What drew you to the role of Elida?
Adriyan Rae: When I read the script I just resonated with her so well and it wasn’t just one specific thing. It wasn’t, ‘oh she’s funny, oh she’s quirky, oh she’s badass.’ It was all of her. Just the way she was written. The way that Jem [Jem Garrard, Showrunner] created the world around her and her back story. For some strange reason, you know I’ve never been an alien or part of a monarchy or on the run from the republic, the story and everything that went on with her was just so relatable to me that when I read it I was intimately connected with her. Instantly, I knew her lines. Like after reading it one time for the whole pilot episode. So I was like whoa this is a thing. I love her.
CL: You’ve done dramas like Burning Sands, supernatural with Light as a Feather, but how was your first foray into sci-fi?
AR: I have learned so much from being an actor. It’s really let me know that I really love character acting. And it’s probably something I wouldn’t say I prefer, but as of right now, I am very much in love with character acting. Because I can just have a whole other world around me. It’s not even of this earth or of this galaxy. It’s really amazing. So I found I like those type of roles and those characters and I wouldn’t have known without having this role.
CL: Have you read the comic?
AR: Of course, though every time I went to go to the comic store to get it, it was sold out. I like how Jem has tied the comic in with the pilot and how they are holding to that but still making it work for television and putting her spin on everything too. I really liked how the worlds merge. I really love it.
CL: Before this were you into comics?
AR: Honestly, I wasn’t. I mean I liked the Avengers, and Marvel and Thor and Captain America. I liked the Marvel stuff and I was cool with DC but I didn’t know much about the DC world. But no I didn’t know about comics before so it was a different space. Once I got the role and people are conversing with me and they are talking to me about all of these comics from 20 years ago and I’m like ‘yeah, I don’t know about that.’ But I will read it. As a kid, I was mainly a tomboy. I was outside and running around playing with my friends and beating boys up. That stuff.
CL: Have you been to Comic-Con yet?
AR: No and I am so excited. So my castmate Tim [Tim Rozon] was in Wynonna Earp so he’s been to Comic-Con and he was like, ‘girl it’s just the best. It’s the freaking best. Wait till you see people dressed up like you and it’s going to be so great.’ And I can’t even imagine that. But I’m so excited for that whole energy. I’m so excited to see all of the people that are excited for the show. And to meet other great actors who portray people in comics.
CL: You have said that one of your dream roles was being an action hero. So you’ve accomplished that. Was it all you dreamed it would be?
AR: Yeah. So my dream role was something that embodied comedy and action. Like I always wanted to be an action star. Always wanted to kick butt. I like to be a strong independent woman and get to be more than the pretty person next to the lead. Just personally, that wasn’t a goal of mine. I wanted to be the independent one to show little girls and everyone else that’s what you can be and nothing can stop you from being that. My ideal role was comedy, drama, and action and literally, this script comes along and its comedy, drama and action and I’m like let’s do this. When I got the call back I’m like, James [my manager] ‘oh my God.’ We were looking for something in this realm and it didn’t fall into our laps by any means. We literally went looking for this role. So we all worked hard on it but it was very something we wanted because we had already made a plan for it.
CL: How did you prepare for it?
AR: So I can be very mental when it comes to my acting. So the way I prepared was, of course, I have my coach and they helped me get into a mental state of someone who was isolated and alone for so long. Someone who used to be a part of a monarchy. Something in that realm. Not that I can actually empathize with that but we had to put it into terms that I could understand the mind of Elida. Why she does the things she does and how she would say this because she’s trained as a queen but she rebelled. So it was a lot of that going on. As well as for the action part I had to really work hard on that. While in South Africa I had stunt training with the team three times a week. So I was just trying to get my body into the physical condition to do the things because I did my own stunts for Vagrant.
Women can push the envelope, women can be leaders…
CL: You are pretty active on social media including some skits. How do you keep the balance?
AR: I try to be the same person I am in person that I am on my social media. I feel as though I am a dynamic individual and yeah I can make you laugh and I can do goofy stuff. I also want to make sure you’re uplifted and that you’re great and know that you’re special and unique and you have powers to create your own reality. So I try to keep a balance of that. I have had interactions before where people have said ‘You should stop posting those quotes, they don’t get as many likes.’ And I’m like, no, I’m going to keep posting them. They’re reaching somebody. And the great thing is now sometimes I post them and I’ll get someone who comments, ‘Oh my God I needed this.’ And then I’m like literally that post was for them. They needed that. So that’s why I put it up. Of course, I want to make everyone laugh and it’s fun to do the things with Cornell [Cornell Ross @_cornell_] and things like that. The difference is we shoot it on camera and show the world. And then it’s like, this is so true. I have this skit about what if girls hit on guys the way guys hit on girls. That actually happened to me while I was in the grocery store days before we did that skit.
CL: How did it feel being a part of something lead by a team of women directors and women writers?
AR: It felt so at home. I felt uplifted. I felt very much understood. There’s something that, I’m not going to say a man can’t understand but it’s just a little different when you’re talking to a woman and she knows. She already knows my mindset on something. The thing is with Jem, particularly. I honestly think she is my twin in another world. We’ll finish each other’s sentences or she’ll know what I’m thinking. The way that we can talk to each other is great and the dynamic between the cast and the crew was just great. Women can push the envelope, women can be leaders, women can do all of these things and be seen in so many different scopes and it’s an amazing thing to be a part of that and I’m so grateful for it.
Vagrant Queen airs Fridays on Syfy at 10/9 Central.