If there were an actor I could vacation in, Being John Malkovich-style, it very well might be Bianca Lawson. I mean, her resume reads like the Favorite TV Shows category on my Facebook page. My So-Called Life, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Dawson's Creek, Nikita, The Vampire Diaries, American Horror Story, Pretty Little Liars and now, Teen Wolf.
Ms. Morell, Beacon High's guidance counselor, is the latest mysterious woman Bianca has brought to television over the last 15 years, and I caught up with her yesterday to talk all about her killer career, what's to come on Teen Wolf, the power of "Emaya" and whether the ageless star has actually located The Fountain of Youth!
TheInsider.com: What attracted you to Teen Wolf?
Bianca Lawson: I think it's a really great show. I love the supernatural aspect and the darkness. Morell's got a lot of layers and a great mystery about her that will slowly reveal. One of the things I loved about her is that while she gets to interact with lots of people, but her approach and her energy is different with every person. In that way, it brings up a lot of questions about her: Is she an ally? An enemy? A frenemy? What's her motive? You ride that fine line and until you get to the ultimate answer of who she is. And that’s fun to play and fun to watch.
Insider.com: And that ultimate answer comes this season?
Bianca: It's not fully explained, but by the season finale certain elements of her will be resolved. There's a lot of answers coming – but those open up a lot more questions. After I shot my last episode of the season, Jeff [Davis, creator] was like, "This is what I've been hiding from you the whole time!" I was excited.
Insider.com: This is not the first mysterious character you've played -- I mean, we didn't know for a long time what Maya's true intentions with Emily were. Do you enjoy that or is it frustrating to not have access to answers?
Bianca: I love it, actually. I feel like you get to add things as an actor that might not be on the page when you don't know everything. It's like life. You meet someone and think one thing, but the longer you're with them, the more you learn and your opinion can change. You're constantly discovering new things about people – which can be exciting or disappointing, and I like that mysteriousness of finding out the truth of someone.
Insider.com: How did you approach Maya then?
Bianca: I always took Maya at face value. When I would get the scripts, I played it like she saw this kindred spirit and fell in love with Emily. Obviously there was a lot of character work I did as an actress to decide how she got to this place. How she became so confident in who she is and how that helped her identify so much, so quickly in Emily. When Maya came back from camp, she was different and I had to take what I knew about Maya previously and re-frame it in light of these new revelations. That can be fun, but also tough because you have to justify their actions within what you have decided the character would be. Obviously things change, I think that experience at camp did have a great effect on her psychically.
Insider.com: The fan reaction to Emily and Maya, or Emaya as they've come to be called, has been extraordinary. Is it safe to say this is the first time you've professionally experienced an outpouring of support like this?
Bianca: That would be very fair to say. Social media didn't exist when Buffy was going on, but I can only imagine. But it's on the street too. I was at the mall and this little girl, she had to have been four years old, was in line next to me and she looks up at me, her eyes get really big and she turned to her family and goes, "It's Maya!!!!!!" She started crying because Maya had died. So yes, in terms of people really personalizing and identifying and having so much love flowing to me, this was an extraordinary experience. You go to work, you do your job and put so much of yourself into these roles, but you never know if it's going to mean anything to anyone else. So it's been really touching and inspiring to see how people responded to Maya.
Insider.com: What does it mean to you to have been part of such a beloved, and revolutionary, TV couple?
Bianca: I am super honored. I didn't even grasp the gravity of this super special storyline until people started telling me how much it meant to them. I've had several girls, who are black and lesbian, come up to me and talk about what this show has done for them. When you see someone who looks like you and sounds like you on TV, it lets you know that you’re not alone and your feelings are OK and other people feel the same as you. I feel like images are so powerful and seeing something portrayed in a way where it's genuinely about love and could easily be a heterosexual couple, but just happens to be between two girls of color, is amazing in and of itself.
Insider.com: A moment ago you said "because Maya had died." Does that mean she's 100 percent dead? Or has Marlene [King, PLL creator] hinted at a possible return?
Bianca: I feel like anything is possible in Rosewood [laughs]. Personally, I don't know anything for sure, so I'm right there with the viewers waiting to find out.
Insider.com: You played a teenager on Buffy in 1997 and a teenager on PLL in 2012 -- clearly you look ageless, but is it strange to still be playing high schoolers more than 15 years later?
Bianca: It's interesting. I have played adults, but the things that end up getting the most publicity, or become the most popular, are when I'm playing a teenager. It's a blessing for sure, but when you're up for other jobs, you can be perceived as too young – even though I'm an adult [laughs]. Obviously it allows you to have a very long career, so I see it as a blessing that allows me to play more characters. I mean, Emily on Vampire Diaries was over 100 years old and Kendra was young but she led the life of a slayer, so she had a different experience which gave her an ageless quality too. It's flattering but can be frustrating if there's a part I really want but [casting directors] perceive me as being young because of my roles. For me, I've always seen myself as a character actor, so whether they're 15 or 50, I think I can play it.
Insider.com: So you're officially shooting down rumors you made a deal with the devil or found the Fountain of Youth?
Bianca: [laughs] I wish I found the Fountain of Youth – I really do. But, yes, I am officially denying, on the record, that I've made a deal with the devil.
Insider.com: You mentioned Emily, do you think we might see her again on The Vampire Diaries?
Bianca: You never know! You never know! It's another one of those shows where there are all these great characters who come in and out, and their stories never finish.
Insider.com: Lastly, I am a huge fan of every show you've been a part of -- so how much have my personal preferences played into your career choices?
Bianca: [laughs] A lot. You don't know, but I've secretly been stalking you trying to choose roles that you would love. I've been following you – I'm your "A!" [laughs]
Teen Wolf airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on MTV and Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC Family.