Wynonna Earp has fast become a TV Goodness favorite, and we had the chance to speak to little sister extraordinaire, Waverly herself, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, this afternoon, about the show, her role, and the fan reaction to #WayHaught.
Raised in Bristol, England, she moved to London at 16 to pursue a career in musical theater, and by 19 was working on the West End in the hit musical adaptation of Dirty Dancing. “I was always performing when I was a kid. I knew that was inside me. While I was doing Dirty Dancing, I realized my true passion was straight acting,” she shares. “So I used it to take numerous amounts of courses during the day and did the show at night. Slowly but surely I managed to get onto a TV show.”
“I feel very lucky that Wynonna came about. I’ve done bits and bobs before then, but I feel like Wynonna‘s been a huge stepping stone for me. It’s been a huge personal adventure and has allowed me to move countries and explore a whole different part of the world. I’d never been to the West of Canada. When I was younger, my Mum and Dad taught me the more work you put in, the more you get out. In the UK, you’re likely only ever to be seen as a musical theater actress. I feel very fortunate to be taken seriously as an actress.”
Similar to the situation Tim Rozon encountered, she originally auditioned for the role of Wynonna, after learning of the project through her manager. “She’s in New York and she’s fantastic. She always send things my way, so I saw the breakdown and thought, ‘What is this crazy show?’ Originally I read for Wynonna, and I absolutely loved the script and thought it was so funny and so well written. I put [myself] on tape in my bedroom in the UK and I didn’t hear anything and I thought, ‘I haven’t got it.’ A few months later I had a phone call that they wanted me to read for Waverly,” she recalls.
“It’s always nice when the same project comes back. I read the Waverly sides and I thought, ‘Now this is more like me.’ It’s also nerve-wracking because I thought, ‘I have no excuse not to get it.’ It’s also really nice because you think you can genuinely see yourself playing the role. I did a self tape [and was sure]Â there was no way they’re going to get the little girl from England [but] things aligned. I feel extremely lucky.”
She auditioned both times with an American accent and didn’t plan to tell them she was English ahead of time, but Emily [Andras] knew. “Emily was very confident from the get go. I feel very lucky and grateful she took a chance on me. She wanted to meet me so I went to Toronto and I met Mel [Scrofano] and we had a chemistry read and the minute I met Mel and stepped into the room, it just clicked,” she recalls. “It was the weirdest thing. It was like I had known her for ten years. We sat down and just started chatting between the two of us and they let the camera roll. And Emily turned around and said, ‘I don’t think we even need to do the audition. We’ll just leave the cameras on and you can write the TV show bantering off each other.'”
Waverly’s not just near and dear to the fans, Provost-Chalkley adores her, too. “What I love most about Waverly is that she’s such a grafter, such a hard worker and go-getter and she puts all her attention into things. When she gets an opportunity she uses it really well. She makes things happen. she doesn’t shy away from it,” she says. “She doesn’t dumb herself down for anyone. She’s going to go for it. I thought it was important that I knew what I was talking about. I started looking into the [Earp] history just to have some knowledge [going into it]. I was careful not to mix myself up too much. It was nice for me. I’m actually quite similar to her in that way. I enjoy all the research.”
We’ve seen in the episodes so far that Waverly didn’t perhaps make the best choices with her friends and boyfriend, Champ, and Provost-Chalkley says that definitely arose from Waverly trying to create a life for herself that was wholly distinct from Wynonna’s history in the aftermath of their father’s and sister’s deaths. “I was really interested in Waverly’s background because I think it informs who she is now and what has happened up to that point. They had the same experience, but turned out completely differently,” she points out.
“Waverly experienced these things a lot younger, but I think when they were going through their young teens, Wynonna was getting a bad name andÂ [Waverly] was adamant she wouldn’t, so she’d overcompensate and be absolutely nice to everyone and keep it really, really light. Even though she’s interested in the family and the curse, she puts on a front to the world. What’s so wonderful about how Emily writes these characters is that you can see her transitioning and growing up. Waverly is realizing that maybe these coping mechanisms she’s used up to this point aren’t really her and she needs to address that, so you see this lovely change in Waverly that will progress throughout the series.”
One of those changes is the new friendship, and maybe more with Officer Nicole Haught (Katherine Barrell), which fans embraced right out of the gate with #WayHaught on Twitter. “I feel very grateful [for the arc]. When I was reading the script, I didn’t know this was going to be part of it. I was reading the original episodeÂ two and I sent Emily an e-mail and said, ‘Oh my God, whoever wrote this in is a genius. I’m so excited.’ She didn’t realize I didn’t know,” she says. “I was so down with it because it was a fantastic opportunity for me as an actress and Waverly as a character. I think it’s important to address these types of moments in a young girl’s life.”
“It’s not spoken about as much as they should be. These things happen. I’m not saying that she’s necessarily going to be a lesbian. People feel things and you need to work out what that is. That is extremely important to me. I feel very lucky to be representing that. Regardless of the outcome, Nicole has come into Waverly’s life and she’s opposite to Waverly in many ways. She’s unapologetic about who she is. She’s so confident. There are a lot of traits [Waverly] admires in Nicole, and maybe she will take something from that. There’s a few traits she would like to embody herself. I think Nicole Haught will have a huge impact on Waverly, just as a person.”
On the fun side of things, Provost-Chalkley has wholly embraced Waverly’s signature high-waisted wardrobe. “We have an incredible wardrobe team. We had a few ideas and color palettes. It’s my favorite part when I get to go and play around,” she explains. “The moment you step in an outfit you get a sense as to whether this feels right. We started playing around and she had a few high-waisted looks, and we tried on the skirt and she thought that looked great. I was like, ‘If we’re going do it, let’s make it her thing.’ So then the short shorts came out and the rest is history.”
In last week’s episode, Waverly took on The Stone Witch, while Provost-Chalkley took on the cold–this was the episode we’d heard about in early interviews with the cast as she stood in a teeny-tiny dress in sub-freezing Alberta. “I had to keep looking at my hands to make sure the skull was still in it,” she laughs. Now that Waverly is on the Witch’s radar, Provost-Chalkley says it’s a balance ofÂ anticipation and fear for her character.
“I think in a way Waverly is excited about being a bit more of a part of it because she’s been in the office doing the research. Now with Curtis leaving her the skull, she’s been allowed to become a partner. It’s a dangerous place for her to be, and I worry for her,” she admits. “She’s going through a lot of periods of transition with all this Black Badge stuff and she’s learning she can fight, and I hope it brings something out in her. She’s got a lot inside her, maybe a little bit of anger she can utilize. This facade that she’s been putting on for all these years, maybe there’s a bit more depth to her and hopefully we’ll see that.”
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
In “Two-Faced Jack,” airing this Friday, we pick up in the aftermath of Wynonna and Nicole’s abductionÂ as Bitten‘s Greg Bryk drops in to have way too much fun, and Doc and Sweet take time out to wrestle (sort of). It’s a gripping episode, but thank me later when I tell you that you maybe should hold off eating during the first half.
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