You know her as half the ship that is Portiana but the lovely Claire Gagnon-King is so much more than that. She brought a fierce and kickass side to a lovely, light and bubbly character by nature, proving that people can be both. Check out our interview with the actress below on all things Portia, Portiana and All For One.
netTVnow: Was this your first web series, if so what was this experience like for you compared to other projects you've done?
Claire Gagnon-King: Yes this was my first web series and it was interesting because it was this weird mix of theatre and film because we were going so quickly. So we memorized the entire episode and just had to go for it all in one take. Usually you do a couple of takes and then switch camera angles and other things. So it was really interesting to just have one go at it and it was neat to have to adjust your acting, accordingly.
netTVnow: How did you initially get involved with the series?
CGK: I saw a post for the audition online, contacted them and they brought me in for an audition. Then weirdly I found out later that I knew two of the crew members who didn’t even know I was on it until after all the casting had been done.
netTVnow: What attracted you to Portia?
CGK: I really liked the character description for her. She’s this outgoing, bubbly person that kind of brings the whole group together in this weird way. I’ve always been more attracted to comedy and comedic type characters so I was looking forward to playing a very light person.
netTVnow: For someone who was so light, she had some really emotional episodes as well. You portray her so well that when she has this huge epiphany moment she completely changes. What was that like for you to tap into that different side of Portia?
CGK: It was really cool and an amazing gift to me on the writers’ part. Both RJ (Lackie) and Sarah (Shelon) really crafted this character that didn’t let much faze her and is super go with the flow. Then she had way too much of it and had this huge outburst and it was really cool because I was waiting for that moment because enough was enough and I really wanted Portia to have that for herself. It was really great to bring a different side of her into the episodes. You only really see one side of her when she was with the rest of the group but I think that Portia’s a really strong person invidivudally as well. She just lets herself get swept up into whatever’s happening at the time too often.
netTVnow: What would be one thing that you would want audiences to know about her that we don’t get to see on screen?
CGK: In the episode where it was just Portia talking through the walkie talkie, a lot of her strength is shown but I think a lot of her anxiety came through in that too. She really has a hard time believing that people might actually want to listen to her. And I think that kind of self consciousness doesn’t come through as often, especially in the beginning because Portia was very much a one to two line character who just kind of threw things in and everybody would laugh because it was hilarious, but she has a really great strength that she isn’t aware of. I would’ve loved to explore more who her and Ariana were as a couple because you never just see them together.
netTVnow: We know that a lot of things happen off screen and in between episodes, Portia and Ariana’s break up being one of them. There was very little of the breakup that we did get to see, was there a process that you and Angie (Lopez) went through to prep for that?
CGK: It’s kind of funny actually. I think Angie and I put more work into Portia and Ariana’s initial relationship than we did the breakup part. When we first got started on things we came up with this whole backstory idea that we had and tried to explain why they were together and what drew them to each other. By the time we shot the breakup episode, which was one of the last days of shooting, we were pretty close, so the breakup itself came out in a really organic way. We rehearsed it a couple times and I just remember saying, “Whatever happens is what happens,” in the scene and because we had become closer and were pretty good friends at that point it was almost like it was actually happening. It was like a friend breakup in a way, so I started crying in the middle of the scene and afterwards Angie was like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you cried that was crazy!” [laughs] so I think it really came out organically because we had developed such a closeness throughout the days of shooting.
netTVnow: Because we never saw Portia and Ariana’s interaction together, how do you think it happened? You mentioned building out this backstory!
CGK: Our backstory probably doesn’t match what the actual backstory is [laughs] but the whole idea we came up with was that they were maybe childhood friends who were just so close and eventually went to school together and developed feelings for each other later on. I think that’s sort of what we went for because we needed to find a reason for why two people who seem to be so opposite could be together.
Our idea was knowing each other as kids, kids don’t really care about that kind of things. Kids are just friends with whoever happens to be around at the time. So we thought that interests like computer hacking and crazy adventures that Portia’s into, probably developed at a later point in their lives and they ended up being around each other for them. And that’s how they were able to handle the fact that they were completely opposite. I’m pretty sure Sarah and RJ told us they met at school [laughs] so we were wrong with that one, but it did help in creating a very natural feel between the two of us, thinking that we already had this friendship that just developed into a relationship.
netTVnow: What was the hardest episode for you to shoot?
CGK: Definitely the walkie talkie one [laughs] it was just so consistently high energy and there were quite a few lines and I don’t have much experience acting where I’m not interacting with another person with me. I’ve always been a part of group scenes or shows or films where maybe you’re alone the whole time but you don’t talk much. So having to interact with the other girls and not be able to see them and just hear them it was throwing me off a little bit because I couldn’t see their body language for when they were about to start talking. So that episode was really hard and it was hard to stay frantic for all of three minutes [laughs].
netTVnow: Was there someone off to the side feeding you the lines?
CGK: No, basically what we had was a setup where they had Portia at the computer and way far off to the left was Angie, Gwen (Cumlyn) and Alejandra (Simmons) standing in front of a microphone just saying their lines. So I still had them in their character voices and timing was the same, I just couldn’t see them because I was looking straight into the camera.
netTVnow: Speaking of filming, what was it like doing the live episode?
CGK: It was so crazy. That was a lot of fun to do and the show already felt like theatre to me but that one automatically felt like being on a stage. It was really interesting having to interact with people live. We tested it out in a couple of rehearsals just in case something failed during the live shoot and we wanted to still be bale to provide the context of that episode. So we tested out a bunch of the interaction parts but I didn’t realize how quickly we’d be interacting or what people would even be saying, so that was extremely interesting. Also knowing that if we messed up, that was it [laughs]. Everyone did an amazing job though, I don't think anyone messed up and it was the best one out of all the rehearsals we did.
netTVnow: I have to ask, would you have wanted Portia and Ariana to end up together?
CGK: That’s a good question, I don’t know if I do. At first when I got the scripts and found out they were breaking up, because we didn’t know that in the audition, we found out when we did our first table read that they were breaking up. I think they just became so different throughout the season that a breakup made sense. I think they had grown apart as people and needed to figure themselves out and figure out how to get back to who they were and they had to do that separately. I think their friendship could be a lot greater than their relationship.
I think Ariana forgot maybe, what Portia meant to her because she got so caught up in the drama. She needed to remind herself of what Portia meant to her.