Can you tell us how you got the role for Taiana Venediktov on Arrow?
I was fortunate enough to be asked to audition for it in July 2015 and that was it. I got a call a few weeks after from my agent that I booked the role.
Your character was created for Oliver Queen’s flashback Taiana isn’t from the comics as the other characters are. How did you prepare for this role?
Well, Taiana was part of the original Green Arrow comic but yes, the original character and the one I brought to life are very different from each other. I used the comic as a basic guide for when I started to develop the relationship between Oliver Queen and Taiana, and elements of that showed up in the storyline for sure. The accent was something I had in my back pocket and was so excited to play with. There wasn’t a dialect coach on set, so I had to rely on my training and making some Russian friends to make sure I was in the right place with how I sounded. Otherwise, the arch of my role was never revealed to me so I had to trust my directors, Stephen, and my scene partners episode by episode. I think by now we all understand what Taiana is doing in season 4.
What is was the biggest challenge for you while working on Arrow?
With this being the biggest role and arch I have carried in my career thus far there is more than just one challenge. In retrospect, I think the biggest challenge was not really knowing what was next. I mean, I never knew if they we going to kill off Taiana, or keep her. I really didn’t foresee all the stuff with the idol and Baron in her future, that’s for sure. Not knowing the arch or end is a tough place to work from sometimes. It really helped me develop a deeper appreciation for my intuition, and realize that I really do love what I do. I learnt that as an actor, you have to be prepared for anything, not just with the work but the politics. Dealing with fans of the show that “hate” on you is hard at first, but then you learn to deal with it. I mean, being introduced as Oliver Queens love interest really caused a big stir in the past, and still does with some Olicity fans! But I love them; we wouldn’t be able to really do what we do without them. Of course it’s always a challenge having your own expectations as well. When you hear things about the story and what might happen, or the edit is a way that you didn’t expect it to be, all those moments and more, they really help you grow. And the work itself is sometimes a challenge, being a part of such heightened emotion and circumstance, you really want to make sure you’re connected and telling the truth. Man, I feel like I wrote too much, but heck, I learned a lot working on the show for almost a full season, and I am very grateful.
You also appeared on the pilot of iZombie, another CW show inspired by DC comics but not under Greg Berlanti’s leadership, as other series of this kind. Were there any differences in the production process or in the storytelling?
Yes of course, you can feel and see the differences in storytelling between those shows; as they were lead by different people and I love that! Each show has an original story to tell, so having a variance in vision for the final product is needed I think, while they still honour the vision and brand of the network they fall under.
Could you tell us some juicy stories about working on the set and with Amell?
I wish I had some “juice” to spill, but we kept things pretty tame on set, as our time together was so short and intense – hence why we didn’t get to snap many selfies together or Snapchat etc. He’s a pretty busy guy and I could just tell that the majority of the time we had between takes, he just wanted to chill, chat with his family, or attend to other “Arrow” matters. When we did get to connect it was short and nice. He did invite me out a couple of times to join him and some crew members after set for a few beers, which was lovely. I love a good beer with good people.
What are your next projects?
I just finished recording my first session for a large role in an animated series, which has been a dream of mine for years. I am not able to share which show it is yet, but you’ll be able to see updates on my social media when I can start talking about it.
I wrapped a supporting role an indie neo-noir horror film called Residue, where I play a character named Monica. She’s the landlady of the main character Luke, and also cleans houses on the side. When a desperate Luke asks Monica for help getting his filthy apartment in shape because his daughter is dropping by for an unexpected visit, Monica agrees. This is possibly because she finds him attractive, in spite of his nonexistent housekeeping skills. But Monica gets close enough to the book Luke is dealing with to be sucked into his warped, dark, skewed and murderous reality.
I am also playing a lead role on a web series called “Reapers” and my character is a badass named Morana. She is a seasoned thief and street fighter who has had her fair share of altercations with authority throughout her troubled youth. Her life flips upside down when an unexpected turn of events puts her very life in the hands of a complete stranger. I am continuously working on growing my voiceover career and have a few spots on the air for clients like Crispy Minis and McDonald’s.
I have a supporting role in a short film called RUN making its way in the festival circuit as we speak.
RUN is a short psychodrama set in the world of Elite Triathlon. Tristan, a pro-Triathlete, travels all over the world in a relentless cycle of training and competition. As he prepares for a career-defining race, he is forced to face long-buried memories of a traumatic past, which will test him to the limits of endurance.
And I am learning the ropes behind the scenes as a producer, working on short films with my production partner. So far it’s been a great learning process. Thanks for taking the time to connect with me and I look forward to meeting you and the fans in Italy at a comic con one day.
Photo courtesy: Farrah Aviva