Home TVInterviews Interview: Vagrant Queen’s Adriyan Rae

Interview: Vagrant Queen’s Adriyan Rae

by Charles Trapunski

Adriyan Rae, your new (Vagrant) Queen, is an interesting individual. If you’re watching the series Vagrant Queen on SyFy or Citytv, and really, you should be!, the first thing that jumps out at us, really, is Adriyan herself, as in “Who is that and where has she been hiding all of this time?”.

The series, from Blue Ice Pictures, filmed in Cape Town, South Africa, is from Jem Garrard and based on a graphic novel by Magdalene Visaggio. The story involves Elida (played by Adriyan Rae), the former child queen, who has become an outcast (hence the title), and meets up with an old friend, Isaac (played by Wynonna Earp and Schitt’s Creek‘s Tim Rozon) and then meets a new ally, Amae (Alex McGregor), and let’s just say that this a series that has no parallel, so long live the queen.

Adriyan Rae is a charismatic lead, and this is a condensed and edited version of a cool phone conversation with your new queen.

Why Vagrant Queen is the perfect fit for her:

“It feels like the perfect fit for me. I didn’t know that acting was going to be an option, so I can’t say that I wanted to do it my life, because I didn’t know that I even wanted to be an actor, coming from where I come from, in such a small town (Seaford, Delaware). But after I got into acting, I knew that I wanted to do a role that incorporated comedy, drama and action. I got the sides for this and I read the pilot, and I was like: “Ah! It’s got the badass female lead, I can fight, I can say little funny things that I think are funny but nobody else gets it. [laughs] It’s snarky, it’s the got the weight of an orphan child who finds out her mother is alive…” There were so many aspects to it and it’s so dynamic, it’s literally perfect. It’s my dream role”.

On different pursuits in her journey:

[Laughs] “I don’t know! It’s weird. [laughs] I double-majored, so that helped in the timelines. I double-majored and then while at school, I was asked about singing, and from there, I was introduced into acting and then I got on set and I fell in love with it. So it all happened quite fast, it was one of those life journeys of dabbling in different things and seeing what I liked and what I don’t, and I had to be real with myself. I was like: “Alright, yeah, I could make a decent amount of money being a scientist, but I don’t love it”, but then when I was on set as an actor, I was like: “I love this“, and I know I could make a decent amount. I knew it might not be easy or come very fast, but I think that I’m going to try it, so I took that leap of faith that, yeah.” [laughs]

The fascinating way that she came to Vagrant Queen:

Well, my manager, he works at a company – Stride Management -and they got a phone call about a different client who had booked a different series. I was super happy for her and I was like: “That role’s perfect for her”. She booked this really great series, Blue Ice called to see if she was available to audition and, of course, her rep said “Say no”, and my manager overheard the conversation and he was like: ‘Well, I think Adriyan would be great for that”, and he had never talked to the casting directors before or anything like that, and he was like: “I’ve got a pitch”, so he calls and he pitches, and they were like: “Alright, she can send in a tape”. And [laughs] then I do the tape and  we hear back super fast, so it was really him pushing for me. Because we didn’t get a breakdown, it was really on the basis of them reaching out to people for whom they knew and wanted, so we didn’t get a breakdown, and find out about it the traditional way, he really pushed for me and then from there, I clicked with her (Elida) and as well, the sides really resonated with me and I auditioned [quickly] And I got it!” [laughs]

Her experience filming the show in Cape Town:

It was so much fun. I mean that whole crew and that cast…they’re [chuckles] they’re so hilarious and they became like family. It was so cool because I tend to be a little different or eclectic or some people could say ‘weird’, and it was really cool because my weirdness was normal. Everybody was weird and we could all interact weirdly together. [laughs] It was like: ‘Oh, we’re all at home’. We all got along really well and South Africa is a really fun place to shoot, it resembles L.A. a lot in regards that you have the mountains, the water and the palm trees, so it’s just beautiful there. And they had so many different terrains on which to shoot, so we were actually able to get shots that made it look like we were really on completely different planets. It was amazing. I was like: “How is all of this in one spot?” And there were some long drives, but we were in South Africa and it was amazing how there was such a range of terrains.

On what it means to be the lead of the series:

It means the world to me. Like I said, it’s my dream role and I’m surrounded by amazing people, from Jem [Garrard] to my cast mates, to the cameramen, to the grip, to all the cast and crew. It’s a story of how equality is equality, love is love, how it’s okay to be a free thinker, it empowers women, it’s woke without pushing it down your throat, it’s entertaining while still funny and it will still pull on your heartstrings. It means so much to be able to bring this character to life because there’s so much put into her and put into the storyline and put into the vision of it all and what we want to get across. I think that the platforms for which Vagrant Queen stands make it mean so much more to me that I’m a part of pushing that into the world and being impactful in that way, for the different cultural things that are going on within that show that actually transfer and parallel over to today’s climate.

On co-star Tim Rozon:

Oh he’s hilarious. [laughs] Tim is hilarious! Isaac is hilarious, Tim made Isaac so nuanced and hilarious [chuckles] literally, I can’t stop saying that he’s hilarious. Working with him is really great, he’s so chill,  he’s so laid-back, he’s like the big brother that you’ve never had, but he’s also like this rock star who does all these different things. He’s like, if somebody waltzes in and they’re like: ‘I bet that you couldn’t do this…’ or ‘I bet no one knows you could do this…’, I would bet on Tim that he could. [laughs] It could be like [chuckles] bouncing balls through 17 hoops and he’d be like: “Yes, I was an excellent baller seven years ago and I was in the Olympics for it and you know, I also used to be in rock band.” And he has so many stories and he’s so good at so many things [laughs], that’s why I call him…he’s the rock star of the cast.

On how much Vagrant Queen is looking to source material and how much is building a world:

I think that I read it for the first time when I got the audition because I wanted to get all I could of the understanding of this world. So I did that and then once I talked to Jem and I understood how much Jem loves comics, how much she’s been [chuckles] working on this and how much she included the things that she felt needed to be in television adaptations and trusted her on that, I only went back to the source material for things like nuances of how she was portrayed to hold her arms or things like that. So I went back to the source material for that, but as far as like character building as in feelings or storylines, that sort of relied on Jem who was really collaborative and open with what she wanted and what she felt was best for the character.

Whether she’d ever seen a show like this:

“I haven’t! No, when I read a lot of the comments, I get like, ‘Oh, it looks like Firefly mashed with something else’. I’ve also heard, because we hop to different planets, it reminds people of Guardians of the Galaxy and things like that, but no, I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s more raw than other stuff I’ve seen on tv right now in the sci-fi realm. The way that, you know, we have blood from people’s heads splattering all over the place [laughs], we have those type of things going on, and then this really cool ‘I don’t want to be Queen’ storyline, that goes really far and takes twists and turns. I haven’t seen anything like that.

How she immersed herself in the character:

It was different. I come in as myself and I go out like: ‘Oh, okay! I’m Elida’. They even made me stand differently, because she stands very differently than I do. It’s a really good feeling when you’re immersed in character completely and I took to her very well and I dove into her completely. I’m already across the country, across the world, and I’m not around any of my family, I have all new people around me. I’m like: ‘I’m going to completely dive in’- Elida’s a vegetarian, so I became a vegetarian and, yeah I really tried to stay within her and it made it easier because I was in so many scenes, and we worked six days a week, it made it a lot easier to be back into character.

On what she thought watching the series:

Seeing the series in its finished form, I was even more amazed at what we did on our budget. I was like: “Wow. We really did this. This is amazing”. And then it was nostalgic, because I would really remember my thoughts right before they said “action!”, or I would remember that take and be like: “Oh! That’s the take that they chose. I like that take”. It was weird because I literally remember…the things that were flying past my eyes, and I was like: “Ah man, they’re going to get my eyeballs for this take” [laughs], and then I look and I was like: “that was the take, oh my gosh!”. It was more like that and amazed at how we really pulled off some amazing stuff with our budget.

Why Vagrant Queen is the perfect series to watch in this current climate:

Well, you have plenty of time to watch and it’s relatable – you’ll be able to relate to at least one of the characters. And on top of that and being relatable, it’s sci-fi still, so it takes you out of the chaos right now, it makes you forget about all of that which is going on right now. You are engulfed in this world and with these characters and what they are going through. And it takes this pressure off of you of what you’re always thinking about what you are going through. That’s what makes it so great to watch, which is take a break from stressing.

About which shows she likes to watch:

“Right now my favourite shows are Killing Eve, Succession and The Outsider. I looove those shows and those types of shows in that realm. I love Sherlock and those types of things, they’re…I’m obsessed with Benedict Cumberbatch and anything in that realm.

On who would really enjoy this series:

I think people that are open-minded and they’re looking to be invested in this show but be able to laugh still and not make them feel super heavy. They’re definitely going to appreciate what we have created. Most people haven’t seen very much of it, but people who have seen it, the response has been great. All of them are like “it’s very different” and they love that, and they don’t think they’ve seen anything like this on tv. I’m hoping that the public will find that it’s something that is unique as well, that draws them in every week. As regards to the public right now, based on the teasers and things like that, a lot of those comments are about other shows on Syfy. I think that it’s going to take them actually seeing our show to redirect their focus to our show. [laughs]

About which scene made her laugh the most:

“Oh [laughs] there’s a scene with Colin (Moss) that we knew when we rehearsed it that it was going to be difficult because the comedy of it is too funny. [laughs] It was one of those, he would say his line and I would be starting, and he would be like: “Don’t, don’t do it!” and I was like: [laughing louder] “I can’t not laugh!” But I can’t tell you the scene yet because it tells something that happens in a future episode, but it’s in episode four and [chuckles] you will find out. [On if we can see her laughing] I think that we nailed it. We got two takes on his and on mine, in which we nailed it without laughing afterward [laughs], after they said “cut”. But I think that episode four is one of my favourites and episode eight.

On a potential Season Two:

Ah!! We have to, because there’s so much that I need to know [laughs] after the finale, it’s essential for us to have a season two. It would mean the world to me. I really miss my South African friends, my South African cast and crew, I miss Tim (Rozon), I miss Jem (Gerrard). It means a lot to be able to reconnect with them to continue this story and to continue to impact our communities in the world to how we are trying.

About a coupling at which is hinted in the first few episodes:
[laughs] “I don’t know what you’re talking about!”…”I’ll say that Amae is a very hot alien”.


Vagrant Queen premieres tonight at 10pm ET on Syfy and on Sunday at 10/9c on Citytv

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