Actress Aliyah O'Brien stars alongside Rachel Bilson and Eddie Cibrian in the ABC summer hit show Take Two, which is turning out to be the guilty pleasure show of the year. O’Brien is not only an incredibly talented actress, but she is also a very spiritual person who is passionate about advocating for all women.
O’Brien recently sat down with TV Fanatic to discuss Take Two, her magical first acting job and why she is living her dream.
TV Fanatic: You're having a busy day!
Aliyah O'Brien: Yes, honestly it has been crazy! I had back-to-back appointments as I try to return emails. Usually, my life is not quite this chaotic, but I decided to cram it fully today. But it is all good!
TVF: It is nice to meet you. I'm a big fan of the show and you. I have been a fan since your work since you were on Rookie Blue, so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to talk to you.
AO: Thank you.
TVF: Let's dive right in then. Can you tell me a little bit about how you got into acting?
AO: I liked acting in high school. I did musical theater even though I can't sing to save my life. After high school, I veered away from acting and ended up in the personal training fitness world.
Then my friend Dave said to me, “do you want to go to acting class for fun” and I went “yeah.” So we did this acting class that was in a church hall, and our teacher was awesome.
She gave us good juicy scenes to work with and something just kind of came to life in me that I didn't know was possible. I guess you could say I became a little bit addicted. I wanted more and more of acting, so I sought out more and more classes.
Also, it didn't help that we had these final performances in our class and our teacher's friend from Toronto, who was a director, came to watch our final performances that by the way, I invited no one to it because I was too embarrassed.
She came up to me after and told me I should consider doing acting as a profession. At first, I was like no, but in the back of my head, I was like really I could do this as a profession oh my god so fun.
Then I started taking classes part-time on the side and very quickly felt it was something that I needed to pursue so that I didn’t regret not doing it. I was living in Victoria at the time but decided to move myself to the big city and go to acting school to see what would happen. The rest is history. I haven't looked back.
Sometimes people say to me do you have a backup plan or what's your backup plan? I always answer there is and never was a backup plan. It's just full steam ahead until I hit a brick wall that I can't crash down and I haven’t hit the wall yet.
TVF: You have had a fantastic career and landed some great roles. How did you begin booking some of your first jobs after acting school?
AO: It is an interesting process becoming a working actor because we to have our everyday Joe jobs, I bartended three or four days a week for seven years while I was getting my acting career off the ground. In the last six or seven years, I began to bartend once a month.
So I am still hanging onto that job, but I began not to need it as much because I started to get more roles and have more opportunities. I came out of acting school and got an agent, who I am still with at Premiere Talent Management. My very first job, I hadn't even signed with my agent yet, I still had to meet with a couple more agents, but I had a really good feeling about my agent. However, I thought I would do my due diligence and meet these other agents.
The night I met my agent she called me and said “I know I haven't signed you yet, but there's this callback for a commercial that I think you'd be perfect for. It shoots in Argentina. I think you should go to this audition.” I went to the callback and ended up booking it.
The beautiful magic of the whole thing is that my little sister, who's six years younger than me, was living in Buenos Aires Argentina at the time, volunteering for a youth group. I have goosebumps right now, just thinking about it. I got to go for five days and hang out with my little sister in Argentina while getting paid to do this commercial. I know it was a universal gift, if you will because it was just so perfect how it all came together.
So that was my very first job. After my first job, I was booking job, after job. First, it was a lot of commercials; I'd say like four or five gigs. I was like, “God, this is easy,” then there was like nothing for a good stretch. It was like, oh, there's the reality peaks and valleys. You have to have extreme faith and be tenacious and hardworking. But the thing is, if you can ride the wave, it's so rewarding.
TVF: When you got the first commercial, and it was meant to be because you also got to spend time with your sister. Did that reaffirm for you that you were on the right track and acting was what you were supposed to be doing?
AO: Yeah, definitely. I'm a very a spiritual person. I believe that things happen for a reason and that for me was a real sign I was on the right path. It was a sign I was in the flow of my life.
It was a little a pat on the back that said you're doing the right thing keep going. Actually, I don't think I've ever questioned if what I'm doing is the right thing or not. There have been times where I'm like, I really could use a job that would make me feel really good right now, but I think that I've always had a lot of faith I am on the right path.
TVF: That's half the battle sometimes just knowing you are on the right path. Do you have a character that you've played so far that has spoken to you the most or that you feel you related to the most?
AO: There are always aspects of each character that resonates with me. I'd say that my role on Take Two sits really well on me. It feels very natural even though I'm this wild and free Bohemian spirit and Detective Christine Rollins is not.
There are elements of her that are strong and independent, even kind of a little bit sappy. I'm also very caring, and so is she, so I resonate with her on that level. There is definitely a side of me that is a strong woman and when I get permission to play that it feels good. It feels natural.
The character that felt the most relatable to me is probably Holly on Rookie Blue. I love that character so much. I love that dynamic, and I love that it was a love story. There's probably lot more of that in Rookie Blue then I get to play with Rollins. I love that I got to explore that side of myself.
There is strength in Holly that speaks to me because I'm not so serious or hard ass. I'm softer. I mean I'm a badass but a more soulful badass. I feel like Holly is a badass that is not afraid to show she cares or show her true feelings to people.
TVF: Do you have a process or ritual you go through to get yourself familiar with a new character?
AO: Yes but it's always different. It's organic and depends on what I feel I need to do to dig in. It's hard to say there's like one specific process, but sometimes I'll flesh out a backstory.
I will sit down and almost daydream about the character. I imagine what she's like in her home, where she came from, her parents, and her siblings, what were some of her hard times. I will try to build a foundation for the character.
Sometimes I'll think about she is physically like how she walks, does she walk leading with her chest, with her head, where does she hold her center? There's more physical work to it when I process a character from that direction.
Sometimes it’s about me dancing around in my room, my house, moving my body. I will say the lines and sort of drop them into my body so that when I go to perform them, it comes out organically and naturally.
I'm very physical, so I like to do movement things to get the words into my body. I always like to do a bit of a physical warm up, so my body feels it's pliable to, however, the character is.
I used to do a ton of script analysis and break down the scenes. But I've come to know myself as an actor better. I know I'm a more instinctual actor. It works better for me to have my instrument loose and ready so I can follow my instincts, as well as be free in the character.
TVF: Let's talk a little more about Take Two. Detective Rollins is a supporting character. Are fans going to get to see an episode that gives us some more insight to her and her life?
AO: Yes they will! It is coming up. I don't know if I can tell you which episode but it is coming up very soon, so keep watching because it will happen.
TVF: Oh great, fans will be on the lookout for that in the next couple of episodes. Can you share what it is like working with Rachel Bilson and Eddie Cibrian?
AO: They're dicks, just kidding they are awesome. Their chemistry is so good. It’s so great to watch them on screen. In person, they're super chill, kind and humble. It's so cool. Honestly,
I feel like our entire cast gets along really well. We don't have any egos. The crew is amazing too; everyone on the team is fantastic. We're so lucky that we don't have any negative nellies. There is just an excellent batch of people on our job that get along great, and are extremely humble. It's rare that you get golden eggs. We're really lucky.
TVF: Do you know yet if there's a Season 2 or are you just as in the dark as fans?
AO: We're in the dark. The network doesn't have to decide until the end of October. It depends on many factors but ratings for sure, so keep watching!
TVF: Is Christine starting feel threatened a little bit by Sam and the close relationships she has with Eddie, even though Christine and Eddie are not in a serious relationship?
AO: Yeah. I think I can speak to this now that it has aired. I would say no she's not. You know how we as people have our higher selves. We'll call it our shadow selves. There's your heart, your soul, and your ego and they are sometimes in conflict.
I think with Christine, her higher self at first enjoys how annoying Sam is to Eddie and you know, how much Eddie has to deal with this nuisance. Christine finds that quite funny. But she starts to see this side of Eddie that Sam brings out and it is something she hasn't seen in a long time. It strikes her as special, as well as good for him and something he might need to explore.
In Episode 4, Christine basically tells him they're not going to sleep together anymore because she thinks the relationship with Sam is something Eddie needs to consider. I think the relationship between Christine and Eddie is a deep friendship. It's a deep caring, and there is real loyalty. .First and foremost, she wants the best for him.
It is also part of her being an independent woman. I think she's capable of not being emotionally attached in that way. She's emotionally attached and cares about him very much as a friend, but that is it.
TVF: The friendship aspect adds so much depth to the character and it puts a different spin on the show don’t you think?
AO: Totally. We need more examples of women championing each other and of female caring friendships. We need examples where women realize what's good for the other person and they are not petty over a guy because that's not the reality.
Women are awesome. Women are powerful beings, and we need more examples of that. I'm a huge advocate for female friendships and women raising women up. I think we really need to see more of that because there's so much that counters it.
There's so much competition. Social media has women feeling insecure and putting other women down. I feel like there is already so much negativity between women. We need to show lots of examples in the other direction of supporting each other.
I know for me, my female friendships are important. We need each other. We need to raise each other up because there are hard times when we feel insecure, and we need other women to build us up, not tear us down.
TVF: Yes, it should always be about positivity, that is such a great way to look at the character and life, very empowering. What would you say to people who have not watched Take Two to get them interested in checking it out? Why should a person start watching the show now?
AO: It's relatable. It's not just a comedy either. The characters are all very enjoyable. I think people will be wildly entertained, but also maybe even feel and learn something wonderful. You can go to bed and not have nightmares after watching it, which is good compared to some dark content on TV today.
TVF: That is a great answer because not having nightmares at bedtime is essential. I can relate to that. Are there any other projects you are currently working on that you can talk about?
AO: I know I can talk about Gears of War 5 now that it's been announced the game is being released. I play the lead character in the video game, and I have been doing that about four years now. The spring of next year is when Gears of War 5 will be released. It's honestly one of my favorite jobs ever because of the Microsoft people and the team in animation at Universal Studio so wildly lovely, and It's a great job. I get to be a super badass chick, and that's fun.
TVF: If there were one thing that you would want our readers to know about you or the show what would it be? Something your fans may not know about you or Take Two.
AO: I always find myself getting tickled when I get to speak to a part of me that's really an advocate for our personal growth and self-love. I talked about raising women up, and that is important to me in these times that we're living in.
My words of advice, encouragement or inspiration would be to take care of you, spend more time loving yourself. Whether that is access to health care or looking at yourself in the mirror and just saying I love you even though it's super cheesy. Keep trying and, and do things that really support you and those around you.
We spend so much time focusing on getting shit done, getting ahead and proving our value that we don't do the most critical work, which is looking inwards and taking the time to love and take care of ourselves.
You Are A Bad Ass by Jen Sincero is a great book to read on this topic. The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein is another excellent read, a little more on the spiritual side, but it's fantastic. The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins is a recent favorite of mine, which will also help you get stuff done. Those are great reads to help you improve your own growth and self-worth.
TVF: I am going to have to check those out. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me. It was a pleasure talking to you.
AO: No, thank you so much. I appreciate it too and enjoyed talking to you as well.
Take Two airs Thursday nights on ABC, and you can watch Take Two online if you have to catch up!
Rachelle Lewis is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.