RUTINA WESLEY from True Blood Exclusive Interview

Rutina Wesley

Recently I got a chance to speak with RUTINA WESLEY who plays Tara on one of the best show on television, HBO’s True Blood.

Rutina Wesley is one of the Emmy hopefuls this year, and if you have seen True Blood then you know this is definitely an award-worthy show and Rutina Wesley is one of the people that help make it that way.

Rutina Wesley talked about what is coming up this second season for Tara, how she got into acting, and much more. So enjoy her interview below.

Congratulations on getting such good ratings for season two. How does it feel?

Rutina Wesley: It feels really, really good, and I’m telling you, I’m sort of shocked at the ratings. I knew that we had a huge following, but the fact that so many more people are loving the show, it’s all great and positive.

Had you originally read all the books, or have you read them since doing the show?

Rutina Wesley: Well, I read the first book. Tara is very different in the books than they’ve decided to take her in the show. So after the first book I sort of didn’t read anymore so that I could then create my own character along with the rest of the creative team since they had taken her in a different direction. But my mother has read all nine [laughs].

Did she like them?

Rutina Wesley: Yes, she loved them.

Do you think you’ll eventually read them, maybe at the end of the show?

Rutina Wesley: Maybe at the end because if I read them I’m going to know what happens. So I want to sort of wait for it to be over and then go back and read them and see some of the things that they took out and all of that.

What was your process in creating Tara since you didn’t have more than the script to go on?

Rutina Wesley: Right. Well, I mean, I would say that the script gave me a lot of life and then my own life experience, friends that I know, also living life and also knowing people like Tara who have this wall up, but if you look closely they’re just this little flower inside that needs to be taken care of. I think we can recognize that in a lot of people. A lot of people have defenses that are earned. I do think that Tara’s defenses are earned, but as the season goes along, and as you saw in season one, she’s just never learned to be a child. She never got to be a child. She never got to be taken care of and so that’s why she sort of walks around like a brick wall, so to speak.

We’re seeing a lot more of her vulnerable side this season, especially with Maryann. Do you think that’ll be a good thing for her or will it smack her in the face?

Rutina Wesley: Right. Well, it is drama. It is ‘True Blood’. There has to be some sort of chaos of course. But I do think that Maryann is definitely taking on that motherly role that Adina Porter who plays Lettie Mae didn’t necessarily give to Tara. So we’re going to see her getting taken under someone’s wing. Then of course a little bit of romance hopefully with Eggs. Tara has never really been good at romance. Maybe this time around she’ll have some luck. Fingers crossed.

Can you talk a bit then how Tara evolves throughout the season?

Rutina Wesley: Like I said, we’re going to see Tara getting taken care of. There’s going to be some romance and then there’s chaos of course, but without giving too much away I do think that just generally it’ll be a softer side of Tara that we’ll see this season. I mean, her edge is still there, but she’s not as edgy as she was last season. She’s definitely a lot more vulnerable and I think it’s very beautiful to see a Black character on TV that the writers have given so many levels to and so much complexity. She’s not just the angry woman. She’s got so much more to her and that’s why I enjoy and love playing her.

A lot of the storylines are pretty separate. Tara hasn’t been as involved in the whole vampire environment like Sookie and Bill. Will she eventually have a storyline with them or does she remain separate?

Rutina Wesley: That’s a good question. I want to ask Alan [Ball] that question, too. No. Actually, I think ultimately she is involved because her best friend is dating a vampire. So she is ultimately involved in that. I can foresee her getting more involved in that because they live in the town and also there are so many supernatural creatures and other things that are obviously in the book that will be coming into our world. So I know that something will cross our path in the future, but nothing of course has been said to me. They keep everything top secret.

There might be a new housing arrangement for Tara. Is that going to be a positive thing or will Maryann reel her back towards her?

Rutina Wesley: I think it’s time for Tara…in the back of her head Tara knows that something just isn’t right. She doesn’t trust it and yet things are going so well. I think that when Sookie gives her this amazing opportunity, and it’s an amazing opportunity because it’s like, ‘This is my best friend. Oh, my God, yes. We’re best friends for life. Yes. We should be living together.’ Also, it’s a chance for Tara to be on her own again and just sort of regroup. I think, without giving it away, Tara might move in and see how it is to be on her own so that she can try to figure Maryann out because things are just so weird at that house [laughs].

What’s your favorite episode this season, towards the beginning or towards the end?

Rutina Wesley: I would say that it’s going to be towards the end because the chaos hits. That’s all I’ll say.

Who’s your favorite character, apart from Tara?

Rutina Wesley: Oh, everyone. I’m being totally honest here. It’s really hard to have a favorite because especially this season the creative team has given everyone something so meaty and juicy to work on and everyone is playing it so well. I think that all of us have been cast right on and so everyone is playing their part brilliantly and there’s no one person that I lean more towards. I mean, I love Nelsan Ellis. We went to school together. I’ve always loved him, since we were in school. I enjoy working with Anna Paquin and Adina Porter who plays my mother and of course Michelle Forbes who is amazingly…her and Adina are two of the most amazingly grounded women and actresses that I’ve worked with in my life. They’re just there. I’ve learned so much from working with them. It’s been a real treat.

Can you talk about when you knew you wanted to be an actress and how it all happened for you?

Rutina Wesley: Well, I mean, my parents were dancers and so dance was my first love. I wanted to be a dancer and I went to a performing arts high school where I majored in both theater and dance. Then I decided that you can’t really focus on both. You have to focus on one and just kind of keep up with the other. I just kind of enjoyed musicals. I love to sing, too. I just thought that with theater you could do it all. I could dance, sing and act. Those were all the passions that I loved. I decided to go to college and just focus on acting. My dad who’s a tap dancer was like, ‘Well, what about your feet? Don’t forget about your feet.’ I said, ‘I won’t, daddy. I’ll keep on tapping until the day that I die.’ But I love telling stories and I love being a vessel for these wonderful characters that get written and I’m able to play them. For me the biggest reward is when an audience member or a fan comes up to me crying or just so excited, like, ‘Oh my God, Tara, you’re my best friend –’ or ‘I get your story and that’s my life.’ That’s a big reward for me, that I’m portraying it in a way that I move someone because that’s what I’m here for, to tell the story. Hopefully the audience will get something out of it. It’s been that. It’s the storytelling. It’s the creation of characters. It’s the anything goes and that I can use my entire body as an instrument to play these characters. That was a lot.

Do you think we might see you in a musical soon?

Rutina Wesley: I would love to. I keep auditioning and hopefully if a job comes my way and it’s meant to be it’ll happen. I did do the Broadway workshop of ‘The Color Purple’ with one of the Idols. That was a treat and also working with Julianne Moore and Bill Nighy in ‘Vertical Hour’ was…Nighy was one of the most amazing actors that I’ve ever worked with in my entire life. I’ve been, I would say, considerably lucky since I’ve been out of school that I’ve had the sort of career thus far that I’ve had. I take each blessing with great appreciation because with where we are right now with the recession there aren’t a lot of films and jobs going on out there. So I’m just so thankful that I’m on a hit show and that they gave me the opportunity, and that it’s my first show. That I have a first show that just happens to be a hit, I feel like that’s so rare and I kind of hit the gold there. So everyday I’m just kind of like, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’ [laughs]

Is there an actor that you would love to work with that you haven’t had a chance to yet?

Rutina Wesley: Angela Basset.

If could guest star on any other TV show which one would it be?

Rutina Wesley: It’s off the air now but I was dying to get on ‘The L Word’. I know that’s a Showtime show, but I loved that show. Also, I think if I could, ’24’. It’s just quick and fast and maybe I could be some villain or something like that. I’ve always secretly wanted to do like Angelina Jolie action films. Like, give me a cat suit and some boots and lets do some ‘Tomb Raider 12’. Lets just rock it out.

You can’t really do that in ‘True Blood’.

Rutina Wesley: [laughs] No. Wouldn’t work.

Any upcoming projects that we can look for you in?

Rutina Wesley: No. No upcoming projects. Just ‘True Blood’ which is, you know what, enough. The fact that I have that is amazing. Hopefully some other things will come up soon.