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Idara Victor Interview

Idara Victor may be best known for performing in period pieces, both on and off screen, but that’s only one side of her. She’s a wonder to watch and truly engaging in everything she does, such as her Broadway performance in Les Miserables. She’s the kind of woman that can make you laugh, cry, and feel all over. We were fortunate enough to chat with her between shooting to discuss her time on the historical period drama, TURN: Washington’s Spies, and her adjustment to the modern world of Rizzoli and Isles.
Cliché: Where does your love of performing stem from?
Idara Victor: I grew up always trying to make my family laugh by acting stuff out. I liked telling stories. That part was from my dad’s side—he wanted to be a writer. But my mom was a dancer when she was younger. I think I got the desire to perform from her. I was enrolled in ballet class at 6 years old. Around the same time, my first grade teacher started doing plays for the school. Once I got to play a lead, I fell in love with performing.
Is there any character, in any genre or work of fiction, that you would love to play in the future?
I would play many characters from adaptations of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novels. Half of a Yellow Sun has already been created, and I hear that Americanah is next to be produced. But Ms. Adichie creates a wealth of rich female characters, and I’m here for all of them. I would also be happy to do something from Zadie Smith or Junot Díaz. An action movie, especially an old-school style romance/action combo like Speed, would be a lot of fun.
Before working on Rizzoli and Isles, you appeared on TURN: Washington’s Spies. What was it like working on a period piece and would you return to that series?
It was truly amazing—one of the best experiences of my life. It was the period piece Elizabeth (1998) that made me sure I wanted to act. It’s my favorite kind of work to do because I can’t make any assumptions or presume firsthand experience with who these people are. In preparing for the role, I wanted my research to focus more on examining aspects of their lives outside of the pain of captivity—like how they coped, loved, and what they did to find joy. AMC really gives their creators the freedom to bring their visions to life. Craig Silverstein and the TURN writers really made themselves and the information they gathered about early America available to us so we could perform as though we truly lived during that time. I can’t wait to do it all again. Our second season premieres on April 13 on AMC.
Idara Victor
How does it feel going from the days of our Founding Fathers to modern America’s crime scene? It’s a big change of pace, isn’t it?
[Laughs] A huge change of pace. TURN is this sweeping drama, and it gave me so much space to just feel my way through the role. Also, we shot in Richmond, and I think being a little closer to the South, in a very historical area, life just seemed a lot slower and simpler.  On Rizzoli & Isles, the pace was much faster. All of the actors had learned each other’s rhythms over the years and were working together so seamlessly. I had to jump in there like it was double-dutch and just flow with everyone! But, they made it easy for me by embracing me like family right away.
How do you think your character has developed within the group by the start of the new season?
Nina is definitely a greater part of the team by the new season. She’s been in their world for some time, and she’s starting to understand their personalities and make friendships. I can’t say too much about her story, but I can say that she steps outside of the confines of her workspace. In Season 5, we mostly saw her glued to her desk in BRIC. Season 6 shows her branching out a lot more and getting her life going in Boston.
Do you have anything in common with Nina?
Nina likes to find creative solutions to solving problems, and I’m definitely the same way. I believe there is always a way, always an answer, and I am fine with using unorthodox means to get there. I tend to prefer it, and I think she does, too. I think it’s what makes her passionate about her job—putting the puzzle pieces together. My belief is that Nina is only so knowledgeable about the latest technology because she wants every method available to her to solve a crime. She thrives on the feeling of accomplishment from providing answers and serving justice. It gives her a sense of control and peace in a world that has, at one time, made her feel powerless.
What do you hope fans walk away with from this season of Rizzoli and Isles?
Well, the show was already groundbreaking because it was the first crime show in this era to showcase two female leads as this dynamic duo. Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander are powerhouses, so art was reflecting life. This season is great because it brings even more strong women to the forefront and gives a true picture of how multifaceted women are today—smart, silly, eclectic, multi-ethnic, multi-talented, and of all ages. From Lorraine Bracco’s character ‘Angela’ starting a new career later in life to my character being a former cop who is also brilliantly tech-savvy, the show is continuing its standard of bringing to life relatable women that break the molds of old stereotypes.
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Idara Victor Interview: Photographed by Nathaniel Taylor 

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