Midnight, Texas, NBC’s newest series, premieres on July 24 at 10/9c! And since the premiere is so close, the embargo has been lifted from my set visit earlier this year! I was able to sit down with Parisa Fitz-Henley, who plays Fiji Cavanaugh on the new series, to talk about her character, what drew her to the series, and what she can tease for the first season (along with some of my photos from set)!
Not familiar with Midnight, Texas? Take a look at the trailer below.
What drew you to the show? Can you talk about this character and what she is going through?
Parisa Fitz-Henley: Totally! My intuition drew me to the show. Before I even read what it was about, I had a feeling. Like my agent called on a Friday evening. I had just completed the week. It was 6pm, and I was like, “Okay, this week is done. I’m looking forward to next week’s auditions and stuff.” And I got this call and I kind of just had a little feeling with the call, and then they sent the email and I had even more of a feeling.
Then I saw Monica Owusu-Breen’s name on it, and I was like, “let me see what else she’s done.” And then I saw “Lost”, “Fringe,” two of my biggest obsessions. And I just suddenly felt really safe and like this is something special. And then I wrote a poem for her like a dork. I totally did. I don’t know if she knows that. I think I might show it to her at some point.
And then I read the script. I was like, “Oh my God! Where is the rest of it? I want to read more. I love this! I got to get the book!” I swear I got the book online like off the Kindle, and I started reading and I was like…
Fiji, the character, she’s me!! No, basically, what drew me to Fiji was her warmth, she’s eager, and she means well. She’s very sincere. In particular, when you see in the books how much she struggles to feel comfortable in the world, and that’s something we also wanted to make sure was a part of her experience in the show. Because I feel like so many women experience this, where we know somewhere deep down inside that we’re powerful. We know we have something to offer, but the world tells you you’re the wrong shape, you’re the wrong size, the wrong this and the wrong that – and Fiji is really conscious about her feelings about that. And that is something that I’ve also dealt with in my life. So those are the things that drew me to her and… and yeah I can relate to being in love with a guy that you don’t want him to know about it.
How has your character’s journey and evolution this season surprised you, especially since you have read the books?
Parisa Fitz-Henley: I wouldn’t say that Fiji’s evolution has surprised me as much as I would say its given me an added amount of respect for Monica who has written the show. Because it’s someone’s growth over three books and what you can imagine from a book you’re just reading versus what you can do in a show that’s just ten episodes… It amazes me what she is able to write for Fiji that feels really real. Like, Fiji grows the way I think people grow. Sometimes it’s two steps forward, two steps back. Sometimes, it’s just two steps back. And we see that throughout. If anything, if there is any surprise, it would be that, to be a part of a show where they really honor something like that. I’m just very humbled by the woman Fiji is. So it’s been and honor and fun to play her.
How does it feel to play a character that has the ability to fight back?
Parisa Fitz-Henley: Because that is something that she struggles with. She’s not entirely comfortable with her ability to fight back. It feels authentic. I don’t know. It’s like stepping into her and the challenge of “can I do this for myself?” It feels real. And what’s great and feels very natural about the relationships on this show is that when she does not believe in herself, one of her friends is reflecting her back to herself and saying, “You know you can do this.” Where she is also doing that for them.
In the pilot, you crush a car… Is that unusual for her to go to that length and be that angry or fearful for her friend?
Parisa Fitz-Henley: Yes! It is unusual; because it’s something she newly really made an effort to contain. Because she knows that if her emotions get the best of her anything can happen. So it’s not a power that she is wielding comfortably.
What spell casting might we see Fiji do?
Parisa Fitz-Henley: Something that is very important to Fiji is the idea that magic and science are maybe the same thing. And I think about it even like, you have a cup of herbal tea, which is just tea, but like 200 years ago the lady doing that in the woods, putting herbs and stuff together and maybe making someone feel better – she might also get put on the stake because it was like, “What did you do?!” You know? And now it’s like, “Oh yeah.” It’s not even science anymore. It’s just good hospitality, you know?
So I think Fiji, she sees that, but maybe there are things that she didn’t do that aren’t explained yet, but probably will be. So she’s kind of dealing with witchcraft all day. People are coming to her with illnesses, coming to her with emotional concerns, and she puts things together.
You said, ‘you are Fiji and Fiji is you,’ are you into magic, tarot cards and psychics?
Parisa Fitz-Henley: You know, I’m open to a lot of it and I have a lot of respect for the ways that different people choose to navigate through the world. Like I grew up in a religious community that was accepting of all faiths. So that opened me to, “Oh this person does this, this way and this person does this that way.” And they are all valid, and they all add something to the beautiful mix of humanity, if we allow them to – If we make space for each other. I think Fiji sees the world in a similar way, which is why I was so attracted to her, because she looks at not just Wicca, but the entire world as a school in a sense. And brings these different things into how she lives her life. And I think I do that too. So like, you know, I’m big on crystals and I love my incense, and I think beauty is a big part of life and it really uplifts. So things that represent beauty – I want those in my life…flowers, crystals or whatever.
How close is Fijis style to yours?
Parisa Fitz-Henley: I’m a lot lazier than Fiji. Like way lazier. I wear the same outfit to work every day, and I don’t own it. Like sweatpants that costume designers give me and I’m just like, “I can just wear this like a uniform.” But I think Fiji knows she has her store and she represents Wicca and she represents people who aren’t outside the box, so when she’s out showing herself she puts herself together very beautifully. But also in her private life, Fiji, because she also believes in beauty and believes that different objects affect you in different ways, she’s inspiring me fashion wise.
You and the cast have a really camaraderie. Can you talk a bit about that?
Parisa Fitz-Henley: Aside from the tequila, because I don’t drink, otherwise we’ve gone out to eat like every weekend. I stayed at Ariel’s house when I was in LA, we’d go to work together, and we’d go get our nails done together. Bernardo Saracino and I did a short film together… I’m like in love with everybody. It’s so wonderful. You know, I worked on a show called “Luke Cage” before this, and that cast also had a really beautiful camaraderie, so having this experience now twice has been so encouraging to me. You hear the stories, like, “Oh, acting… everybody is catty” and “It’s a terrible business, and Hollywood…. blah blah blah.” But what I’ve been finding in particular in the last year or so, there are a lot of people who get a lot of joy from their work, and then it spread out and it feels like a wonderful gift to be on this series.
Midnight, Texas premieres on July 24th on NBC at 10/9c! Will you be watching? Let us know your thoughts below!