Stitchers Interviews: Emma Ishta, Allison Scagliotti, Salli Richardson-Whitfield

This is the first of the Stitchers Interviews. As in all things chivalrous it will be ladies first, blame my mother, followed by the fellas and then capped off with the creator/executive producer.


ALLISON SCAGLIOTTI

Allison Scagliotti was number two in the interview queue and after admitting that I’ve had a “mad crush” since watching her play Claudia in Warehouse 13, she spoke briefly about how much fun that series was (Yes it was as fun as it looked.) and how lucky she felt to have landed the part of Claudia Donovan at that time.

Allison: “I felt extremely fortunate to get that role at that age. 18 can be a real dead zone for actresses. You’re too young to play a cop or lawyer  and I had so much fun on that show. It was a lot of laughs and I got work on it for five years.  (I mention how much I loved the tap-dancing bit in the final season.) I loved that. I got to do so  many things, play guitar, dance…it was just great. I really do miss it all the time. 

After a little ‘R’rolling, we shifted into Stitchers territory and talked Camille and the fact that her character arc was one of the most interesting in the show.

MFT: In the first season you pretty much led Linus around by the nose…

Allison: Did I? 

MFT: Oh yes, your interaction was brilliant. I was telling Ritesh that when his character and Camille get together she gets that look in her eye that says, “I’m in charge.”

Allison: Yes she does sit in her power sometimes.

MFT: In terms of character arc, Camille is pretty horrid in the first episode; pretty much anti -Kirsten and then it is revealed that you work for the Stitchers program and have done so, presumably, for ages.  This is reinforced in the Halloween episode where Camille says, “you know that Halloween party I throw every year?” Meaning that you have a long history with the program.

Allison: “Good point.”

MFT: Those things, like the pop culture references, make the show really stand out. I was hooked from the Buckeroo Banzai reference.

Allison: I’ll admit that most of us have no idea of the references and have to either have them explained or look them up. 

MFT: Kyle did admit that when we talked about his excellent delivery of the references.

Allison: “Well, I’m going to toot my own horn a little bit, it is usually Kyle who does not have a clue about the references and because of my history working in sci-fi I’m like ‘That’s from Star Trek Voyager and this character said it’ even though I’ve only seen a few episodes of Star Trek, it is just the verse I grew up in.”

MFT: “During filming earlier, I heard you mention Krav Maga…”

Allison: “Have you heard of it?” 

MFT: No.

Allison: “It is an Israeli fight system. When you take the classes they emphasize that it is not a martial art but a fighting system that the Israeli militia goes through. So for personal and professional reasons, over hiatus I trained all summer and got my yellow belt.”

MFT:” Well done.”

Allison: “I wanted to learn a form of self defense for a number of reasons. One, in this day and age it is, unfortunately, important for female to have self defense training and as an actor, performer, it is also important to have a fight skill and be able to think quickly on your feet when doing a stunt sequence.”

MFT: “Definitely.”

Allison: “After we got picked up for the second season, I spent a lot of time thinking where I wanted  Camille to go in season two. I mean, they gave her a tablet and a place to stand in the lab but what does she do. Why does she need to be there. So I went in and met with all the writers as they started up and said, ‘Look I’ve learned this thing so why can’t we make Camille the muscle. Especially considering the scary events of the finale.’

I mean here is this girl from Bakersfield who’s never been exposed to this technology and danger before so how would she prepare. And this has gotten her closer to Detective Fisher and affected her relationship with Linus, although where that is headed isn’t clear. 

But it was a lot of fun and honestly? One of my favorite days to come into work was when we had our version of a Krav Maga studio and not all stunt guys are trained in Krav Maga. It’s a very particular system so we hired my trainer! He’s worked in front of the camera a number of times; he’s an actor was well as a fighter and all the extras were other instructors I’d taken classes with. 

It was a brilliant and bizarre merging of my worlds to get to come to work with ‘my crowd.”

Talking about the interaction between Camille and Linus and that she appears to be gravitating toward Damon’s character a bit, Allison revealed that one of her favorite scenes last year was the dinner party with Linus’ parents. And that it was his immaturity that put Camille off Linus a bit.

Allison: There is not a lot known about Camille’s background. She comes from a less than privileged background and she’s had to struggle.

MFT: You can see that s he’s a scrabbler, someone who’s had to work to get where she’s at.

Allison: Exactly.

MFT: I’ve got to ask, and I hate these type questions…

Allison: Hit me up

MFT: Well, I got to observe and interact with you a bit in the video viewing room and you come across, in real life, exactly as you do on camera.  Quick witted, glib and really sharp. So…how much of a stretch is it for you to play Camille. Is she that far from you?

Allison: “I know what you’re aiming at and it’s a good question. I’ve been lucky, so far, in my career to be cast as women with agency; who don’t ask permission and don’t apologize or have to justify their reason to be there. And with Camille, in episode one, I really didn’t know yet who she was. 

It wasn’t until I saw the script for episode two and the rave with Camille going after Linus that I realized where Camille was headed. I have to admit that my vision of her was affected by reacting to what everyone else was doing with their characters. 

Okay, so we have this very ‘buttoned-up’ dead-pan intellectual in the center, these two nerdy guys who are falling all over themselves and the powerful and very straightforward Maggie. Who’s going to be the voice of the audience? Nodding and winking and raising their hand saying, ‘You guys.’

So the first order of business was to put a little ‘Allison’ in the mix while trying to delineate her from Claudia. After all she was a computer hacker so people could say, ‘Isn’t that type casting?’ Two computer hackers in a row, sure that is to an extent but they are not the same person. 

Of course they do have some things in common; the glibness, the witticisms, yes that is me but there has to be  a character like that. With a cast that is driven by so  much ‘nerdiness’ you have to have that one person to let some air in.”

MFT: “It really is the perfect mix and your character has this tendency to ‘forecast’ what is going to happen next in terms of events. So many times I’ve rewound the scene to check and find that ‘yes, she did just say that,’ she’s predicted what’s going to happen!”

Allison: (laughing) “Yes! So many times! Thank you for noticing! You’ve got a great eye sir. She also tries to be the voice of common sense.”

MFT: “So where do you see yourself going, as Camille, if there is a season three?”

Allison: “I’d like to see Camille have her own apartment…I’d also like to see her out in the field more. As you said, earlier, everyone else falls into the category of desk jockey and Camille is the social chameleon who could go undercover more easily because of her street smarts. There is something simmering between Fisher and Camille and I’d like to see that go somewhere. Damon is such a brilliant actor to work with and a lot of fun.”

MFT: And very funny…

Allison: “Yes! And very funny! Other than that…Well, you do get a bit of backstory on Camille this season and I like that but I don’t feel the need to dwell on it. We gotten a taste; we know where she’s come from and with a mere line we know that Camille is bisexual and I love that there is just a taste of diversity in there that makes her interesting.”

MFT: “Thanks for taking the time and chatting!”

Allison: “Thank you!”

It should be pointed out that the brilliant selfie of Allison and I was taken by her. She pointed out, quite logically, that selfies were a product of her generation and after my ham-fisted attempt she graciously took over.

Allison Scagliotti
Allison Scagliotti

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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