Nichole Hiltz

Recently, Daemon’s TV took part in a conference call with NICHOLE HILTZ who plays Brandi Shannon, Mary’s sister, on the new USA Network show, IN PLAIN SIGHT.

Nichole Hiltz talked about the future of her character, her favorite episodes, why she first got into acting, and more.

Don’t forget to watch In Plain Sight Sundays at 10pm on USA Network.

For now, enjoy the interview below.

Can you talk a little bit about what we can expect to see in your character this season?

Nichole Hiltz: Without spoiling it, you can expect some trouble. She starts out sort of lost at the beginning of the season. She actually ends up pretty lost too. But she has a lot of heart, has a lot of fun. You know, fun that gets her into trouble, and the audience can sort of see how she gets there and how she didn’t really mean to fall flat on her face. From an outsider’s point of view, she’s sort of just jobless and useless. But that’s not really the case when you look a little bit further into her world. So we’ll see a lot of that. She’s very heartfelt, and she’s kind of tough and vulnerable all at the same time.

Does your character get more involved with Mary’s work life or does it stay separate as far as the family goes?

NH: Oh, that’s a good question. I think what is very interesting about playing this character is that I don’t know anything about Mary’s work life. That makes sense, her being in witness protection, she can’t talk about it. But she doesn’t really know anything about my life either. There is an emotional block there that, as family members, they’re not speaking enough and reaching out enough with each other. So I don’t ever really get involved with her work, but our lives start running kind of dangerously close together, without spoiling anything, by the end.
I never really get to know what she does for a living, which makes it sort of a fun read, because I’m reading the script and I know, and then playing the character I have to rethink it and remember that I know nothing about where she goes during the day.

How is this experience different from your previous experiences?

NH: I think all of them are different. This one has been different because we were away shooting in Albuquerque and I was a series regular. I get to play the ‘girlfriend’ a lot and in this show for me I get to be a daughter and a sister, and that’s been very nice for me. That’s been a whole new avenue of work that means a lot to me and is very exciting. And being away in Albuquerque, New Mexico for four months was definitely a life change. I’ve been on the road before a lot of times, but not to New Mexico, and this to me was more interesting.

Does Brandi’s past, with the suitcase full of meth, does that come back to haunt her later?

NH: Oh yes. It’s not as obvious as it sounds, but yes, the meth comes back. You can tell just by looking at it that there is no way that that is really going to go away clean-handed. It causes her a lot of trouble. It causes everybody quite a bit of trouble.

How did you get into the character to find her, what was your entry point into Brandi?

NH: It’s kind of bizarre, because in the pilot it didn’t give a lot about information of how she got there. Basically, all it says is that she has shown up and we see the mess and she’s crying. We get the idea that she has a boyfriend in Albuquerque, but there’s not a lot of information.
She was so bratty — I remember not really liking her, at first. And I had to think, why is she behaving this way? So I tried to come up with these reasons, good reasons why somebody might be in that place and behaving that way, strangely. And then, once we got picked up and the episodes went on, I started learning more and more about her through our writer, David Maples and it all sort of made sense. I just ended up falling in love with her once I got over how bratty she was and I tried to find a good reason to make her bratty.

How did you get into the Trailer Park Bullet?

NH: I actually just auditioned for it on tape, here, which is very interesting. As you know, it’s such a huge phenomenon there and it was sort of random, but it ended up being a huge part of my life. And I spent a lot of time there, I love Halifax.

How did you get involved in the show?

NH: Well I needed a job and I read for it. Actually, I originally read for Mary’s character, which I couldn’t have been more wrong for. I mean, they are completely opposite characters. And then they had me come back in and read for the sister, and that was sort of it. After having to fight through a couple of other contenders, I was lucky enough to get the job.

But at first you really disliked your character?

NH: Yes, I sort of did. I think in playing a character you have to have compassion and love for it in order to play it authentically. And, like I said, I read for Mary’s character and she’s this hero and I was like, “Oh, this is great.” But then I had to go back and reread it with somebody else in mind now. And, on paper, Brandi was just very selfish and spoiled and I was like, “I don’t like this.” But I did like the writing and I did love the show. So when I went back and separated, I actually came to discover that I don’t think there’s ever been a role closer to my heart, so it’s funny how things work out sometimes.

Do you think you share any traits with Brandi?

NH: Emotionally, I think we’re very similar. Yes, there are a lot of things that are very much the same between me and Brandi, except that I have a job and I don’t have a meth addiction. Neither of us have boyfriends and, yes, she’s very heartfelt, very much loves her family and is very much into her friends and forgets about herself a lot. I can relate there sometimes.

We know that your boyfriend on the show, Todd, gave you that suitcase of meth to sell. It sounds like Brandi may need to go to the witness protection program soon. If you personally were to, where would you choose to relocate?

NH: Oh, that’s a good question, nobody has asked that. Well it wouldn’t be Albuquerque, New Mexico, now that I’ve lived there, personally. Given the choice, I would go somewhere tropical, but I don’t really think you get those options when you’re in the witness protection agency; the show sort of shows that. Everybody is usually being uprooted to somewhere that they really don’t want to be. They have no choice.

What is your favorite episode this season?

NH: My favorite episode altogether, and now I’m forgetting some of the titles, but episode four I really like. There are some episodes that I like all together, because they’re almost written like a play and everybody’s character really comes forward. And the finale, I think, is incredible.
I like the episodes the further along in the season that we get, because I think it becomes more family oriented. In the beginning, we’re still sort of trying to set up the procedure of it all and get to know everybody. Without spoiling anything, I really love ten, eleven and twelve. I think they are just great. And personally my character gets to be involved with Mary a lot more at that point and I enjoyed that, because in the beginning the whole point is that we really just keep missing each other and that we can’t connect. By the end, we sort of have to and that’s where a lot of the better work came in for me.

Why did you first get into acting?

NH: You know, I’ve never really wanted to do anything else. I watched Michelle Pfeiffer playing “Catwoman” and I had a big crush on Punky Brewster and I just never really wanted anything else. After high school, I was taking film acting classes in Boston and nobody ever really told me that I couldn’t. It’s weird doing this now; it’s almost like I never looked up, I never took the time to be scared of it, and now I’m doing it and madly in love with it. It’s the best relationship I have in my life.