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Vampire Academy stars say the show’s diversity shouldn’t be ‘one thing’

Stay in the sun and, whatever you do, do not go beyond the protections.

That is the best advice that Daniela Nieves and Sisi Stringer can give TODAY to avoid the Strigoi, the red-eyed vampires whose monstrous thirst for blood threatens the worlds of their characters in “The Vampire Academy,” whose first four episodes premiere on September 15 at Peacock.

Based on the novels by Richelle Mead, “Vampire Academy” is set in a world populated by many different types of vampires, many of whom spend their time serving looks within the magically warded walls of St. Vladimir Academy.

In case you missed the YA novel and the 2014 movie adaptation craze, here are the details on “Vampire Academy”: A conventionally evil group of vampires known as the Strigoi are on the hunt for their elite, magical Moroi vampire counterparts. . Only the Dhampir, a race of human-vampire hybrids, had a chance to protect the Moroi from danger, and they are expected to give their lives to do so.

For their part, Strigoi are what you’d expect from vampires; Immortal blood zealots who burn the sunlight with no humanity and an unflinching obsession with all-black outfits. Royal Moroi, non-royal Moroi, and Dhampirs, on the other hand, exist in an archaic, oppressive social system whose foundation is based on making Dhampirs disposable.

Nieves as Lisa Dragomir, Mia McKenna-Bruce as Mia Karp in “Vampire Academy.”Jose Haro / Peacock

As in the books, the main villain of “Vampire Academy” is the hierarchy. Translated to the screen by young adult television phenoms Julie Plec (“The Vampire Diaries”) and Marguerite MacIntyre (“The Originals”), “Vampire Academy” is a contemporary political fairy tale set amid the precarious balance between tradition and progress, highlighting the sacrifice and hypocrisy sit at the center of both ideologies. It’s exciting and captivating in its reflection on relationships and the way trauma and pain try to isolate us, all while serving up some of the most exquisite fight choreography in existence.

But there is a key difference in the transition from book to screen: Mead Rose (played by Stringer) and Lissa (played by Nieves) deuteragonists are now women of color. In fact, almost the entire cast is played by people of color.

This casting comes at a time when the presence of non-white people playing mythological characters in works such as “The Little Mermaid”, “The Lord of the Rings: The Ring of Power” and “The House of the Dragon” has generated racist criticism.

The stars of “Vampire Academy” see their series as another opportunity to show that people of color can also be mermaids, elves or blood-drinking creatures of the night, with the intention that, with enough portrayals, we can drive a stake. the debate.

TODAY: Sisi, you were a fan of the books. Tell us when you found out you were going to play Rose.

sisi stringer: (Daniela and I) did a chemistry reading together and I left feeling great. I did one with Keiron (Moore), I came out feeling really, really good and I was like, “I could really do this!” I love this character and have loved it since I was fourteen years old. And then I got the call and I screamed, I cried, I danced, all of that.

I love it, all your neighbors say, “What’s going on?”

Stringers: Exactly!

Fantasy as a genre is not necessarily known for its diversity. What do you think the impact will be on audiences, specifically young women of color, seeing two badass vampires of color fighting and being friends?

Daniela Nevis: You never really see diversity in fantasy, so…

Stringers: And if it’s there, then people back off. People complain and get angry, which is not good.

Nevis: yes I think the goal is for it to not even be a thing anymore. Make it so normal to watch a fantasy show or any show you love and see all kinds of people that look completely different, that sound completely different. And just make you feel less out of place. As if there were people representing you somewhere.

Vampire Academy - Season 1
“I got a letter from this beautiful girl on Twitter like, ‘It’s great to see a black girl being bold and powerful and valued,'” Stringer said. In the photo: (from left to right) Kieron Moore as Dimitri Belikov, Sisi Stringer as Rose Hathaway.Jose Haro / Peacock

Stringers: Representation is really important. Not just for someone to see themselves, but for other people to see that specific race and identity and be…

Nevis: exposed to her.

Stringers: Exactly. And it’s very cute, the fans are very, very excited. I got a letter from this beautiful girl on Twitter like, “It’s great to see a black girl being bold, powerful, and valuable.” We know exactly how they feel and that makes us feel good.

The two play characters from such different social positions. What aspect of that relationship did you feel was most important for this season?

Nevis: Lissa goes through this situation where she has been privileged all her life. Even though she has been through all this tragedy, her life will never be difficult compared to Rose and all these Dhampirs. It’s always been so easy (for Lissa) to say, “I don’t want to do anything political. I just want to sit back and enjoy my privilege and live comfortably.” As it goes on, you see Lissa say, “I can’t afford not to be political. I can’t afford not to participate. I have to see what’s going on.” I think it will be great for people to see that and see a bit of themselves in it, especially young people who might find politics annoying.

Vampire Academy - Season 1
“Lissa goes through this situation where she’s been privileged her whole life,” Nieves said. In the photo: Daniela Nieves as Lissa.Jose Haro / Peacock

Stringers: I assume you are checking your privilege. Being apolitical is a privilege in itself.

Nevis: Yes

Throughout the season, we see a dynamic where the younger characters deal with extreme trauma and have to continue to strive for the preservation of the world. I wonder how he thinks that story will resonate with a post-pandemic audience?

Stringers: Trauma is the human experience. I think every person in the world has a trauma. It’s great to see a character you love overcome adversity from her and to see the characters supporting each other through the trauma. Lissa has so many mental health issues and Rose is trying to help her, but she shows how hard it is, not just going through it, but trying to help someone else go through it.

Nieves: I remember there was a moment, I was going through something personal and I was in my Lissa costume and makeup and it was a very strange feeling. It was like Lissa was a person and she was giving me a hug. When you watch any kind of fantasy show, you get lost in the world and become attached to these characters. I hope people get attached to us that way.

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