FanBolt’s Exclusive Interview with Emma Ishta of ABC Family’s ‘Stitchers’
Tonight will see the premiere of the new ABC Family sci-fi drama, Stitchers. The show features newcomer Emma Ishta as Kirsten Clark, an incredibly intelligent graduate student who is recruited by a covert government agency that uses technology to get into the minds of the recently deceased.
One of the most challenging aspects of Stitchers’s main character is that she is divorced from her emotions by temporal dysplasia, a neural dysfunction that makes it seem as though she has already experienced anything that happens to her. FanBolt recently had the chance to chat with Emma one-on-one to get the inside scoop on the new show and what it’s like to get inside such a role. (Fair warning, minor spoilers for those of you who haven’t seen the pilot yet.)
Do you think we’re going to see Kirsten learn to relate to people through her stitching experiences?
Exactly. When she stitches into someone else, she feels what they feel and that reconnects all of these pathways in her brain that are attached to her emotions. She’s suddenly able to feel the emotions in herself that she felt in the other person, which changes her whole world, her relationships with other people, the way she navigates things, everything.
What was the first moment that you really clicked with the character?
I think I really clicked with her when I read the pilot the first time, and I felt pretty good about going into my first audition with the character that I had developed. Not to say that I thought I would get it at all, but I felt good with her and I liked her and I felt good about being this person. I think that as you film a whole season of a show, you’re constantly learning and developing. Obviously I did a ton of research before I began the show, but then as you go, your character changes and grows and so you change and grow in your character and the things that you think about her change as well, so I think you’re constantly finding new ways to click and new things to portray.
The pilot certainly seemed to set up Cameron [Kyle Harris] as a potential love interest. Are we going to see that develop in the first season?
I think you’ll see it develop in interesting ways. Their friendship certainly blossoms, and they definitely have this great connection and chemistry and banter, and I think you’ll have to watch it to see what happens.
This is your first big genre project.
Does that make a difference in the way you approach the role?
Yeah! Because I’m new! I’ve acted my whole life, but I only really moved professionally into acting about 8 months before I got this role, and I was just incredibly fortunate. I’d done a few guest stars and a film and then I got Kirsten. It hardly ever happens that way and I’m counting my lucky stars.
Is there a type of work that you’ve preferred going into this, or were you always kind of aiming for genre work?
I love genre, I’m a huge sci-fi and fantasy fan. I love Lord of the Rings, I love Star Wars. But I think mostly I’m just a fan of, I like drama a lot, and I’m really hoping to continue in my career with drama pieces. But I think that any drama is in genre pieces as well anything that really sort of looks deeply at how complex humanity is and allows you to create these complex, flawed, beautiful characters and have people think a little bit about who they are and how they treat other people and how they treat the world around them and it changes their perspective slightly. That’s the kind of thing I want to do.
You’ve got two genre veterans on set with Salli Richardson-Whitfield [Eureka] and Allison Scagliotti [Warehouse 13], has that been helpful at all?
Absolutely, yeah. They’re both veterans of sci-fi, and they’ve also been acting a lot longer than I have, so they both gave me a lot of advice and a lot of support, and I’m very grateful to the two of them for that, in every way. Just being able to watch the people around me and learn from Salli and Allison and everyone else, the crew, the directors, it’s been an amazing learning experience and growing experience as an actor. They’re really cool.
Is there a particular fandom that you really enjoy?
Lord of the Rings. I know that Lord of the Rings is a bit more fantasy than sci-fi. Lord of the Rings and Star Wars are big in my family. My beautiful stepdaughter has just watched the fifth episode of Star Wars the other day. It’s been a big deal to show her. We’ve kind of been introduced all this stuff at a very young age by my dad, who would read Lord of the Rings and all these other books to us as bedtime stories. My husband and I love Lord of the Rings so much that we actually had, instead of a ring pillow at our wedding, we had a hollowed out Lord of the Rings trilogy book. So yeah, we’re big fans in our family.
Stitchers premieres tonight at 9/8c on ABC Family, so don’t miss it!