Exclusive Interview with Rutina Wesley!

July 3, 2009 by  

Rutina Wesley True Blood Tara ThorntonRecently TrueBloodNet.com got the opportunity to interview the beautiful and talented actress who plays Tara in Alan Ball‘s True Blood, Rutina Wesley. She talks a little about her past, where she is right now and what she’d like to do in the future.

TBN.com: What was it like growing up in Vegas?

Rutina: Growing up in Vegas was awesome. A lot of people give Vegas a bad name because of the strip and the gambling and stuff but I always say “Hey, I turned out ok.” (laughing) It’s a good town and I got a good education there. Vegas is changing but it’s definitely a crazy town.

TBN.com: Do you think growing up where there was a healthy entertainment industry influenced your choice of professions?

Rutina: Yes, being surrounded by my parents who were both dancers and going to the first performing arts high school in Vegas helped strengthen that choice.

TBN.com: When and how did you know that you wanted to be an actor?

Rutina: When I was in junior high I did a play called “The Case for Two Detectives”. I just liked being on the stage and telling a story…using my entire instrument to tell a story. I like to create characters and be the vessel through which they are played.

TBN.com: You have mentioned that you attended the Juilliard School along with several other cast members (Nelsan Elllis and Carrie Preston). You also had the opportunity to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London . What was that experience like?

Rutina: RADA was one of the best experiences in my education. I got engaged in London and got to play “Juliet” in “Romeo & Juliet” which is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays and favorite roles. They were so gentle with us as students and I remember running home every day excited about doing Shakespeare. I remember thinking “Learning is fun!” and I wouldn’t change that experience for the world.

TBN.com: What was your very first performance and how did it go?

Rutina: “Finian’s Rainbow” and I was 7. My line was something like “Last one down to Finian’s Hill is nothing but a rotten vegata-bill!” My mom was in it too so that was fun. See? There’s theater in Vegas! I was a big old ham…pretty much did anything I could to get a laugh.

TBN.com: You have starred in the dance movie “How She Move” and have mentioned in one of your previous interviews you love watching shows that deal with dancing. Is this an avenue you would have taken had you not gone into acting?

Rutina: Definitely. Dance is my first love. Its still a passion of mine. I try to dance whenever I get a chance.

Rutina Wesley True Blood Tara ThorntonTBN.com: Are you watching “So You Think You Can Dance?” this season and if so, who is your favorite?

Rutina: Yes, I am watching and I’m rooting for all of them because it sucks to be picking and choosing who’s the best dancer when all styles of dance are so different and each is beautiful in it’s own way.

TBN.com: The various mediums of acting can have very different requirements and advantages, what medium do you prefer to work in film, TV or the stage and why?

Rutina: There absolutely are advantages to each medium. Obviously, there’s more money in Film & TV than in theater. I’m just going to be honest and say that. But as far as preferring one to the other, I don’t have a preference. I approach the work in the same way. I think of theater as the grounding place where we get to go back to be rejuvenated. It’s why I’m always dying to get back on the stage.

TBN.com: What was the hardest scene you’ve ever done and why?

Rutina: Well there’s a couple scenes that are coming up towards the end of Season 2 that were really tough. I can’t really say much about them without giving stuff away, so you’ll just have to watch.

TBN.com: What was your first impression of True Blood when you tried out?

Rutina: I read it and was like this is great…amazing. I did think that Tara was really hard and I hoped that she wasn’t just going to be this angry stereotype and, then, lo and behold the wonderful creative team has created this complex girl who i have the wonderful opportunity to play.

TBN.com: Once you had the role of Tara, how did you prepare for the role?

Rutina: Well, I read the first book but then since they really changed the character I decided to not read the rest of the books. Since they did that, I get to do my own thing which is always fun for an actor. So I just created her off my own instincts and with the help of the creative team.

TBN.com: Had you been to Louisiana prior to getting this role?

Rutina: Nope.

TBN.com: This season Tara plays a larger role with her own storyline full of intrigue, a new love interest (Eggs is pretty yummy!) and a new style. Are you happy with how Tara is evolving this season?

Rutina: Yes, very, very happy with the way she is evolving. The creative team has given her an incredible journey, as they did last season. It’s not just Tara – every character has somewhere to go. For us actors..everyone has something to work on. We actually get to come to work and work our butts off. By the end of the day, my body and mind are so tired…that’s what I trained for. It’s amazing to be on a show where you really get delve into the characters.

TBN.com: Were you prepared for the huge acclaim that the show has received, and the devoted fan following that it has?

Rutina: No. I was not prepared for it but I knew it had a huge fan base so I thought it would do well. But, no, I didn’t know people were going to flip out for like they have done.

TBN.com: What changes have you noticed between season 1 and season 2 of working on True Blood?

Rutina: Season 2 is more raw. We’re really coming at you. It’s more of everything you got and loved in season 1 just…MORE. It’s more “True Bloodier,” if you will.


TBN.com: What have you enjoyed the most about working on True Blood and what’s been the most challenging thing about it for you?

Rutina: Some of the stuff in Tara‘s storyline this season has been really challenging…having to go there emotionally — but that’s why i love it. If it’s too easy, it’s not for you. It should be hard. The most enjoyable part is working with the cast, crew and creative team. We all love each other and get along. I couldn’t ask for better ensemble. I feel very lucky.

TBN.com: You have mentioned before that you are different from Tara yet you can relate to her. What do you admire most about Tara ? Where are you most different?

Rutina: I’m most different in that I don’t go around cussing people out all the time! (laughing) I do admire her tenacity and gumption though…the fact that she can speak her mind right there in the moment. I tend to avoid confrontation myself and I like that she is not shy about standing up for herself. I also love that she’s self educated. She’s basically taught herself.

TBN.com: We know that a lot of acting on a TV or movie is waiting. Do you have one particular activity you like to do while waiting?

Rutina: I play solitaire or read.

TBN.com: Are there types of roles that you’re hoping to do, that you haven’t had the chance to do yet?

Rutina: Yes…i would love to play more ingenue roles like “Juliet”. I love romantic comedies, particularly “Notting Hill”. I would love to do a film like that. I also would love to do some big action movie, in a catsuit toting an AK-47 side-by-side with Angelina Jolie!

TBN.com: We saw you at the Paley Fest and must say that you are absolutely stunning in person. Do you have a philosophy or approach to fitness or skin care?

Rutina: Wash your face, wash your face, wash your face! No matter how tired you are at the end of the day, wash your face! And moisturize and use sunscreen! I also like to try and do 20 minutes of cardio a day to stay healthy…and not eat at “In and Out” as often as I’d like!

TBN.com: Also it was obvious that the cast seem to be very tight. Do you guys have fun behind the scenes or is it a fairly serious atmosphere? Do you have any behind the scenes stories you’d like to share?

Rutina: Yes, the cast is extremely close. We had a late shoot last night and around 3 am, you just get a little bit punchy and we all got the giggles. Ryan Kwanten was on a roll last night, he had us all laughing so hard.

TBN.com: Do you find yourself being easily recognized on the streets? How do you handle that if so?

Rutina: Yes, just recently I’m starting to be recognized. I try to handle it like any other thing. It’s really nice to know you have fans…to know that someone has been touched in some way by my work is a really nice feeling.

TBN.com: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time (if you have any!)?

Rutina: I like hanging out with my husband and our kitty. I’ve been going to the batting cages a lot recently.

TBN.com: Has True Blood reshaped how you think of good and evil?
Rutina: In a sense…Just because someone is dead doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have rights and don’t still have human qualities. In a way it’s a parable for our society right now. Some of the people on the show who are “do-gooders” are actually bad and vampires, who are usually thought of as “bad”, are actually good.  Alan Ball puts so much subtext in the show, it really does make you stop and think.

TBN.com: If Tara died what would you want on her headstone?
Rutina: “For Tara: May her little flower bloom and be nurtured through this earth, and grow in spirit. Now may she rest”.

TBN.com: Do you have a favorite charity?

Rutina: Save Darfur because of a play I did at the Public Theater (in New York) a few years back called “In Darfur”.  [Editor’s Note:  Winter Miller’s play, “In Darfur”, is a compelling tale of 3 lives woven together at an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp in Darfur, Sudan.  The triad of a protector, a survivor and a witness tell story of what is continuing to happen in Darfur.  The protector, an aid worker striving to save lives in this modern day genocide tries to assist a Darfuri woman seeking safety from the daily abomination that is life in the Sudan while a journalist experiences the horror firsthand while writing for his hometown paper.  To learn more, go to savedarfur.org]

TBN.com: Do you twitter and, if so, would you like your fans to know what your twitter name is?

Rutina: No, but I do have a fan page on Facebook.
Rutina’s Facebook Fan Page

We want to thank HBO and Rutina for a wonderful interview. We absolutely love Rutina and Alan‘s interpretation of Tara and can’t wait to see what happens to her this season on True Blood. Tara has the only storyline which isn’t woven through with vampires and seems to ground everyone to the day-walkers of Bon Temps. Wherever the story line goes this season and into the future we’re sure that Rutina will continue to bring it to life in touching and intimate detail.

(Photo credit: Actors: Rutina Wesley, Mehcad Brooks: HBO/ John P. Johnson, Rutina Wesley: HBO/ Jaimie Trueblood, Paley Center: Kasandra Rose)

Rutina Wesley True Blood Tara Thornton at PaleyFest