Kiana Madeira is our second Trinkets cast member to whom we have spoken, but getting the opportunity to speak with this talented actress feels a bit like a coronation. Madeira was born in Toronto and grew up in Mississauga, but has clearly discovered a lot of success Stateside with the very popular series Trinkets, which wrapped up its run with a really moving second season. As well, Madeira has already filmed a trilogy of yet to be released Fear Street movies, which will be airing on Netflix as well.
We were thrilled for the opportunity to (finally) chat on the phone with the Canadian and she was absolutely delightful in sharing memories from the set of Trinkets and providing a bit of insight into her journey.
The following is a condensed and edited version of our phone interview with the cool and down-to-earth Kiana Madeira.
Brief Take: I thought that you were the perfect casting choice for Moe. How did you go about crafting a character so different from yourself?
Kiana Madeira: Wow. That’s such a good question. Honestly? Now that we completed two seasons and completed the show, playing Moe has been so artistically fulfilling. My favourite thing about Moe is depending on who she is with, she is so different and that’s an actor’s dream, because even learning my lines and preparing for the day to come on set, there wasn’t really much that I had to do to prepare because the whole show is just so in the moment and all of the actors were so present and it was such a gift. When I first auditioned for Moe, she was actually scripted to be more like a Goth kind of character, which you can kind of see in the beginning of season one, her style changed a little bit throughout the course of the first season and it will continue to change in the second season, but that is my favourite thing about playing Moe, she’s always changing. It’s just been a dream to play her in that way because she’s so unpredictable.
I am quite different than Moe as Kiana. But at the same time, my high school friends when they watched Trinkets, they messaged me saying: “Wow, you’re so like yourself in this” and I thought that was so interesting, maybe because I’m not in high school any more, I’m a little bit older than high school age, that I’ve kind of grown out of my high school ways of being, but there are some nuances to Moe that are so Kiana. It’s funny because not many people would pick up on them, so actually, from the first time I auditioned for Trinkets, I auditioned for Tabitha and Moe and I remember creating the character for Moe and it felt very effortless to me, and I can’t really pinpoint why. But I will say that there are some things about Moe that I was influenced from my Dad. My Dad actually really inspired me in a lot of the characters that I play and he really inspired me in playing Moe, in terms of the mannerisms and in her joking way of being, I feel like my Dad sometimes when I’m playing Moe. [laughs] It sounds funny, but it makes me really happy, so playing Moe has felt quite effortless and actually very freeing and liberating.
BT: How did you find the chemistry with Brianna Hildebrand and Quintessa Swindell?
KM: None of us actually did a chemistry read, which I thought was so interesting because the way that AwesomenessTV and Netflix set it up for us in season one, I’m so grateful for it. Because we arrived in Portland a week before we were going to film and they set up these dinners with the cast, with executives, just so we could get to know each other, so immediately after meeting Brianna and Quintessa, it genuinely felt like we had already met. I know people say that all the time, but this just felt different and that really translated when we got to set and started working in the scenes together, I felt like there was a groundedness to ourselves as individuals and to our characters, that were really given the space to explore and sit in and with which to play, so chemistry is not something which I often think about when approaching a role, it’s something that as actors, we hope is just there. And it wasn’t really until the middle of season one in which I actually realized: “Wow, we actually have great chemistry”. I think that’s why it was such a joy to be a part of it.
BT: How does it feel to be in a show that has a clear voice as to its tone?
KM: It feels special for sure. It was very unexpected because when I was sent the first script when I was auditioning, for me, on paper, I sometimes find it difficult to gage tone and even the genre, like Moe, for example, I think has some comedic qualities. And although the show is so grounded, Moe sometimes has like a bit of a bigger energy and is kind of unpredictable in her own ways, and it was really nice when we got to watch the first season, seeing how all those pieces fit together. Because there were times when we were filming, that we would finish a scene and we were like: “Okay, I really hope that this is well-received, because it didn’t really feel like we were filming a scene.” It felt very real, like you said, while we were filming it, too. And sometimes that’s a little bit scary as an actor because we have this idea in our heads that we have to put on a performance and have an arc and some structure to the scenes, and when we came together on set and we were just playing in the scenes, they would just move on to the next scene and they would be like: “Okay, well, we have to trust the creatives behind-the-scenes right now”, because that didn’t really feel like we were acting, and I think that that’s what made it so special.
BT: What do you tend to lean into thematically in terms of this series?
KM: Hmmm…that’s a really good question. I love the fact that the three leads are female characters and also, Quintessa is non-binary, so even having a non-binary actor playing not just a female character, but I would say the girliest character that we see out of the three of them. So that is so special in itself and very groundbreaking, the fact that we deal with LGBTQ content and we also deal with abusive relationships, which we don’t often see in high school shows, and I thought that was really different. Abusive relationships, we even talk about interracial relationships, with Tabitha (Quintessa Swindell) and Brady (Brandon Butler) and her parents and what she experiences with that, like you said, there’s so many things that we deal with. For me specifically, I guess I was focusing more on what Moe is going through and having a single mother who is constantly working and what that looks like for a teen. Being 16 years old and in a way, kind of parenting yourself, because there were times in which Moe’s mom was working all day and all night and Moe’s just kind of left to her devices and that often could lead to trouble, but at the same time, Moe really succeeded in an academic way and I like that viewers can watch that and think that just because you find yourself in a situation like that, you really can rise above it.
BT: What have been some of the most fun scenes to play? Your kissing scene tends to come up a lot.
KM: [laughs] Funny you mention the kissing scene, that was Odiseas (Georgiadis) and my first scene together. I believe that it was in the bathroom, it was that scene, and it was his first day on set, and I had already been on set for a couple of days, but it was first day on set and it was our first scene together and it was not a lot of talking and a lot of kissing. I think that that really opened the doors for us to feel comfortable with each other and I think because it wasn’t my first day, I kind of took charge, like: “Are you comfortable with this? Are you comfortable with this?”. In that dynamic we don’t often see the woman being the one to ask if the man is comfortable, and he told me afterward that he really appreciated that, so that was really fun for us to do, it was really awkward in a cute way, but it was really fun. In season one, all the driving scenes that we had were super fun, that driving scene in which we got to go and get milkshakes—it was freezing outside but the milkshakes were delicious and they hooked me up with vegan one, that was great. [laughs] And the party scene in which we’re on the roof was so amazing to film as well.
BT: How important is it to you that your creative team includes Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith, who wrote the book, but is building upon the source material?
KM: Yeah. It’s so important to me. I have actually been in a lot of projects that are based off of books and this one was so important to me as well, like you said, we really took the foundation of the book and ran with it. As an actor, it’s such a fulfilling feeling to be given the space to run with a character that has been established in a different medium and brought to screen, and really just bringing it to life. I really appreciate the creative team behind it because they weren’t really stuck in their ideas of what these characters would be when brought to screen, and it allowed us to bring our own nuances and ideas and creative instincts to it.
BT: Everything about Trinkets feels like it would be fun to live in that world. How does this translate into when you’re filming it?
KM: Portland is such a beautiful backdrop for the show and I think that really adds to the way that the show looks and the way that everything fits together. Portland, Oregon is such a special place. I think that just the vibe of that place and that environment in general really is evident in the show, not to mention the soundtrack, the soundtrack is amazing. I downloaded the entire first season soundtrack after watching it and it’s cool because when we’re filming, we don’t know what the songs behind it are going to be. Once in a while they would throw a song into the script to kind of give us an idea of the tone and the vibe of that specific scene, but the way that they fit the music, and like you said, the colour and just being in Portland in the fall and really everything was so timely, it just fit in so perfectly. But at the same time, as we were filming it, it felt so real and so in the moment that we didn’t really acknowledge those things as they were happening, but after watching it work, we were like: “Wow, this is special”. Coming into season two, I was able take it all in, especially knowing that it was our final season.
BT: Did you get to take anything from the set?
KM: That’s so funny, I didn’t, but now I kind of wish I did. [laughs] But we did get to keep the backings to our chairs, with our names that said Trinkets, so I love to collect those and I did take one of those. If I could take anything from the set, it would be Moe’s cool, bedazzled bike, that thing was so awesome, I wish I got to take that. But it would be kind of hard to take it on the plane back to Canada.
BT: What’s your favourite on-set memory?
KM: There’s this one scene from season two in which Tabitha, Moe and Elodie are riding scooters at night down the street, and I remember shooting that, it was 1 a.m., we shot it for about two hours and it was just so liberating. I’m such a sucker for wind, so just being on the scooter and feeling the wind and it was kind of raining a little bit and it was the middle of the night and there weren’t a lot of people around, and it was really early on into the filming of season two and I remember just standing with Brianna and Quintessa, and we really just felt so grounded in the moment being like: “Wow, this is our job, and we’re here in season two, this might be the last time” and we really made sure that we took in everything that we were doing with that pretence, knowing that it is the last time, so that is one of my favourite memories from the whole show in general.
BT: You made some pretty awesome projects up in Canada as well, too.
KM: Thank you, first of all, thank you. Yeah! I worked a lot in Canada before making the move to the States, like you said, the trilogy that we did, Bruno and Boots, the Macdonald Hall series, my character in that is so different than the character I play in Trinkets, where Diane in those movies was a little shy and timid and a little bit nerdy, and Moe is like so badass and abrasive and fun in that way. I’ve done a lot of things in Canada, I’ve done a couple of horror films as well. I actually have a horror trilogy coming out next year, it’s called Fear Street, based off of a book as well, it’s books of the Fear Street universe and I’m really excited for people to see those. We’ve actually shot all three, we shot them all back-to-back-to-back last year in Atlanta, so they’re all shot. It’s been released recently that Netflix actually picked them up and the plan is to have them released Summer of 2021. I’ve had a lot of things leading up to Trinkets and a couple of things already lined up after, so I’m excited for this journey.
BT: How does it feel that Netflix is so supportive of your work?
KM: Right?! I just sort of took it all in the last couple of weeks that I have actually been doing a lot of Netflix projects. I’ve been watching so much Netflix, especially in the quarantine we’ve experienced, it’s my favourite streaming platform, and I’m just so grateful. It’s kind of surreal, when I think about it, but I’m very, very grateful to be part of the Netflix family.
BT: How excited are you that season two is coming out soon?
KM: I am so, so excited, honestly. I know that people have been waiting a long time, it’s been a little over a year since season one dropped, so posting on social media that season two is just around the corner, I’ve seen the response from everyone and it makes me really excited because without even seeing anything, only having seen the trailer, people are so excited. So yeah, it’s just excitement all around. [laughs]
Trinkets seasons 1 and 2 are currently streaming on Netflix