Actor Name: Olivia Boreham-Wing
Olivia Boreham-Wing Interview
Q: How did you end up getting the role on The Blacklist?
A: I actually, probably as most people do on the show, I auditioned for roles and booked this one. It's actually kind of a funny story how I got this show. I did make it to the audition, but we were about to go away for a family vacation because I'm 17, and we go on family vacation before I start school, and we were going to South Carolina and I didn't expect there to be a call back – and there actually was. So we were scrambling around Charleston, South Carolina trying to find someone who could tape me from a cell, because I couldn't get back to New York in time for the call back.
We eventually found someone who turned out to be really, really great, and then sent in the audition tape. We didn't expect anything, and we found out a couple of days later while we were still in South Carolina and so we had to fly back that night for it. [laughs]
Q: Were you auditioning for this specific role, or was it in hopes to be cast in something eventually?
A: No, no, it was for this specific role. My agent got the audition and sent it to my manager who sent it to me.
Q: What was so intriguing for you about Blair that you wanted to run all over Charleston during your family vacation to make sure you got a chance to play her?
A: I think any character that doesn't completely make a cliché of teenagers is interesting to me, because you see a lot of the sort of classic angry teenager, who goes to school then spends all their time cell phone, and angry about boys and things, and I think any character that makes teenagers have a bit more depth is always gonna be interesting. Because it's true, that's not what all teenagers are like, and teenagers are often forgotten about and considered just to be clichéd. Blair is obviously a very deeply disturbed character, but she's been through a lot. But she's not very cold, she has a heart, and she cares about her father and her family – what's left of it – and that's sort of what motivates her in the story.
Q: Tell me a little more about her backstory, because she's pretty young for a Blacklister.
A: Her story is that her mother was killed in the OREA bombing that happened at the end of season two, the terrorist attack that happened on the OREA building where her mother worked, which she believes Elizabeth Keen was responsible for, so she puts Elizabeth on this website which is essentially a bounty hunter site for assassins to find people, there's a price on each person, each target which goes up, and she sort of gains support for the assassination of Elizabeth Keen because she believes her to be the bomber that killed her mother.
So she's really fixed on Elizabeth, and she's responsible for putting her on this website and keeping her on this website and creating that sort of thing where all these people are now going after her.
Q: As an actress, do you approach Blair as a villainous character, or is there something that you can tap into, being apparently close to your own family, that you can understand about her actions as someone trying to get justice for the death of a parent?
A: It's kind of interesting because in this situation you're able to see – yes, I think she's a villain, and I consider her to be a villain for what she's doing. But I think you can disagree with that because you can see her justification behind it, and you can see all of them emotion of what she's going through and that being the motivation of what she's going through, and seeing her side of things some people might say, ‘No, I don't think she's a villain. She's doing what she feels she has to do to get her closure on her mother's death.' But there are other ways to get closure, obviously, than sending out assassins to kill someone. And I think, maybe in a typical kind of teenage way, she's going to go with the most rash decision, and the most dramatic conclusion right away without considering other ways of getting what she needs. So, yes, she's a villain because she didn't think things through.
I think I do understand, in a way, from her eyes and what she was going through. So, I actually, to prepare for this, I imagined that I was in her position. My dad came with me to the set, and I imagined my mother had been killed in a similar thing because I know where she works, she works in an office building, and I took myself through what would have happened if that building would have been destroyed; what she would have been doing in those last moments before she died, and just kind of going through what this character was going through and imagining it in great detail. That really helped me connect with where she's coming from but also what she might want to do with that motivation and emotion. I could see it after a while that level of vindication.
Q: In the episode, she does get a chance to interact with Liz and Reddington. How was it to spar alongside James Spader and Megan Boone?
A: Yes, I did have one scene with both of them, and it was really great. It was not the first professional TV set that I've been on, but it was the first role that I've had on a TV set, and it was so professionally done, and everyone was friendly, and you could tell that the crew was very close and the other cast members were very close, and they were both extremely professional and polite. They knew my name immediately after me saying it, and I was really impressed that they knew my dad's name when he came with me. Yeah, they were very kind. But they kind of kept their distance I think because it was a very intense scene and everyone was trying to stay in character, and it was a really, really great experience to work with them both.
Q: Were you a fan of The Blacklist before you auditioned for the show?
A: I actually had never seen it before, and then I got the audition. It was during the summer so I wasn't doing much and decided to start watching it. And I completely got into it, and I got my mom into it, too, and now we're sort of racing to catch up to each other. When I started school this year, it got more difficult to watch episodes. But I'm half way through the second season, and she's a couple of episodes behind me.
I've never really been a fan of cop shows or FBI things like this, and this is the only one I've ever really been interested in because it has, aside from a story each episode, it has an underlying story about Elizabeth and Tom, and her connection to Red and everything. So that keeps you going through the whole thing. It's a really, really good idea for a show.
Q: Are your friends excited about you being cast? Will you have a viewing party for the episode?
A: Not a viewing party, because it's on a Thursday and I think a lot of people are busy. But with my friends, I've made them write it down so they're all really excited to watch it. And my mom, of course, told everybody as well. [laughs] She has people in England watching it. My parents are from England, so we have all of the family over there planning to watch it on, I don't know what channel it airs on back there.
Q: Is there anything interesting about the character that you're excited for people to see?
A: The character, they dressed her very goth, and very edgy, and I had pink hair on the show and black lips, and I look absolutely nothing like that in real life. I do not wear make up on a daily basis. I wear dresses and things like that. I'm completely opposite of the character. So they had to work extra hard to make me look really edgy, which was really funny. It took them an hour to put the extensions in my hair [laughs], so half pink hair and half my real hair.
Q: Was that transformation fun for you?
A: Oh yeah, it's fun to look completely different than every day and the way you see yourself. And I think it actually helped get me into character because I wasn't me anymore. I was suddenly Blair.
And they had to put the pink extensions in my hair with this adhesive tape, and then they had to get it out with rubbing alcohol, and they actually left a piece of the adhesive tape in my hair for about two weeks after, and I could not get it out. [laughs] So that was a nice little memory.
Q: How was the experience for you being on a television set different from the work you've done working in theater productions
A: I mean, I haven't really done a lot of base theater, I've mostly done it at school. I think there's the obvious thing about toning it down for the screen, but I do think you have a closer relationship with a director on screen. I think you talk a lot more directly with the director on a film set, in the theater the director tends to work with the producers, and they do work with actors, but not as closely so the actors are left to their own devices largely for theater. And for film it's actually very specific, so that was interesting as well.
Q: You've modeled, theater and now venturing into television work, do you have a sense of what your goal is as an actress? Is there someone's career you look at whose path you want to emulate?
A: Yeah, I think acting isn't something you can ever predict, or ever try to emulate someone else's career because it's so unpredictable. A lot of people say that it's all about being in the right place at the right time. I mean, it's about so many different things. I would love to be able to do this and just kind of make a living at it. I don't really plan to be rich and famous or anything, but all an actor can hope for is to be able to do this and not have to have a side job as a waiter or something like that. But I am going to college, not next year because I'm taking a gap, but the next year. So I'll study acting in college as well.
Q: You'll be 18 in December?
A: Yeah, December.
Q: So lots of new milestones, and transitions, in your life. Is it exciting for you? Daunting?
A: I think it's only ever going to be exciting, and I'm not easily thrown. It's just what I've wanted to do and we've been preparing for this. We moved up here from Philadelphia a few years ago so I could do this, and I think it's always going to be exciting. You never know what's going to happen, so you just have to be prepared for anything.