Interviews / TV

Diandra Lyle Welcomes Life’s Twists and Turns

Actress Diandra Lyle enjoys taking a character from the page to a visceral reality. Having a connection with the audience makes her work worth it. “I love being able to bring people and characters to life that other people can relate to,” she says. “The characters, the stories, the situations – I just want it to be as real and as authentic as possible. When people watch something I’m in and they go, ‘I believe that character,’ or ‘I understood that character,’ or ‘That story touched me,’ then to me, my job is done. I love creating stuff that is real and inspiring and relatable.” The melding between actor and character is vital to make each role your own. It all starts with a spark of similarity. “I think that you can always find a little piece of you in every character. There are going to be things that you can relate to or understand, but then there are also going to be things that you don’t. It’s just a matter of combining the parallels between you and this character, infusing those with the things that aren’t you the ‘pretend side’ – to ultimately imagine how this character would be and bring them to life.”Diandra’s career is red hot right now, a success that she doesn’t take for granted. “As an actor, I am very grateful. I have a few different things that all came out at the same time. I couldn’t have planned that if I tried. Being on Secrets of Sulphur Springs for three seasons has been such a joy. To bring my character Jess Dunn to life and to be able to represent a single mother that’s loving and protective of her kids, but still a little fun at times – I think it’s important to see that. I also just recently joined the show, Bel-Air, in a recurring role. Playing in more of a grown-up world and dressing all fancy has been a fun change of pace. I’m thankful for these opportunities and simply being able to do what I love.”

Jess and the crew are juggling more than ever in the third season of Secrets of Sulphur Springs. “The stakes are raised quite a bit,” Diandra reveals. “It’s a little deeper. It’s a little darker. Jess is finally coming to the realization that there may be some truth to the rumored ghostly spirit within the hotel walls. Before she was probably thinking, ‘Eh, you guys are just making that up,’ or ‘I don’t really believe in that.’ But now that some unexplained things are happening, she, along with the other parents and kids, are trying to get to the bottom of things. Meanwhile, Sarah is having a hard time with what’s going on, so Jess offers support to both her and Ben, while continuing the duties of being ‘mom.’” 

In contrast, Bel-Air offers Diandra the chance to play a decidedly more divisive kind of boss lady. “Erika Baker is a high-powered attorney who went to college with Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv – with whom she was also best friends. After 20 years and some estrangement, the three are reunited. It’s certainly going to be interesting unearthing their past histories with one another – and seeing how things evolve in the present. She may bring a little bit of drama to the show, but Erika is a lot of fun to play.” Diandra is unafraid of Erika potentially ruffling viewers’ feathers. “Some people may like her, some people may not like her, but if she gets under people’s skin, then I guess I did my job!”

Joining the cast of the Bel-Air universe is a dream come true. “That iconic family is TV royalty, so it’s an honor to get to play in that world. And then on top of that, everybody involved – the crew, the cast, the creatives – they’re just so nice and down to earth that it doesn’t feel like work. Everybody is doing their thing while enjoying each other and supporting each other. It was just a great experience overall.” In an industry that is notoriously fickle, this role feels manifold in its blessings for Diandra. “I’m always very grateful to get an opportunity to work another day or another job in this business. So to come onto a show that is doing well and join them for half of the season, it’s the icing on the cake. I get to do what I love on a fun show with great people. I can’t complain at all.”

You can also find Diandra in a guest appearance on Quantum Leap. She was excited to stretch different muscles as a performer. “That was another amazing experience. It’s an iconic show as well – and now that I’m thinking about it, I’ve been doing a lot of time-travel and reboots/reimagined shows lately! We got to ‘play’ in 1985 for that episode, which was especially fun, as I like jumping into different periods and genres and being more of a character actor. It was a touching episode with a strong storyline about love. I was fortunate to work alongside some strong talents, both in front of and behind the camera. Sure wish I could come back on that show, but my character was in 1985, soooo…yeah, not gonna happen.” Diandra laughs. 

As for future aspirations, she’d like to step back onto the silver screen and explore her bad side a bit more. “I like variety and I’ve been blessed to be able to do drama, comedy, and now thriller sci-fi kinds of things. I would like to keep those diverse roles coming. But I’d also like to get more into film. Early in my career, I did quite a few indie films, but sometimes this business can inadvertently place you in either a TV or film corner. I’d like to just have that crossover access and be able to enjoy a wonderful blend of film and television roles. As for specific types of roles, I would love to do something in fantasy. I’m a big fan of shows like The Witcher and Shadow and Bone. I think it would be exciting to play in that world. It’d also be exciting to be a villain, so we’ll see what happens.” Even if convictions don’t align with morality, they can still be compelling. “You know, most bad guys and villains don’t really think that they’re bad. That dynamic is something to lean into, embracing the humanness of that character…empathizing with it…understanding it…and not necessarily looking at it as, ‘I’m the bad guy.’ The character is just doing what he/she/they believes in, which just happens to probably not be good.”

Life is not always linear. Diandra is the perfect illustration of unexpected twists. “I’m a big advocate for listening to your spirit in your journey. I didn’t plan on being an actor, but here I am. Your path can change. I went to college for something completely different. I was working as a rec therapist at a psych hospital in my former life, and now I’m acting. It’s okay to shift gears in life. I think as long as you’re following what’s on and in your spirit, then that’s what you need to do. Of course you want to be wise about the moves you make, but at the same time, life is short. So go for something if it’s in you. Nothing beats a failure but a try. Have fun. Live this life the best you can and just enjoy the ride.” She intends to take advantage of every beautiful surprise that this world presents to her. 

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Diandra Lyle Welcomes Life’s Twists and Turns. Photo Credit: Diana Ragland.

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