When you sit down to watch ABC's exciting family thriller, Emergence, tonight, Alexa Swinton will be the center of attention.
In one of my favorite pilots to view this season, Alexa plays a lost little girl who appeals to the soft nature of local law enforcement, specifically a woman named Jo (Allison Tolman) who refuses to let the girl get sucked into the system when she cannot guarantee her safety.
What results is a new series that is both thrilling and family-oriented that offers very few answers for the identity of the mysterious little girl who immediately begins stealing hearts. We had a chance to chat with Alexa Swinton in preparation for the new season, and I think you're going to like her.
Hi, Alexa. How are you?
Good, how about you?
Good, thank you. I had to turn off my Amazon Alexa to talk with you. I bet you don't have one of those, do you?
I do, actually. You know what's really funny, I have four of those, but we had to change their name to Echo because they blew a fuse because we said Alexa way too much.
I can imagine. So what can you tell me about Emergence?
I can tell you that Emergence is really about this little girl who's found at an accident crash site, the police chief who brings her in and shows her to her family, and how the family evolves around this little girl and how she doesn't know anything about herself, not even her age or name.
What do you like most about the character of Piper? Well, I know her name is Piper on the show.
I love the fact that she's very observant and the fact that she really notices and listens more than really talks because she wants to take everything in before she lets something out. She's also very resourceful.
She uses everything that's around her. So I feel like she's really an awesome character to play because she's like resourceful and very observant. I feel like those are two things that I love. Also, very smart.
Yes, I would agree with that. How is Piper different than all the other characters you've played?
Oh, I think that Piper listens more than most of the characters I've played. I feel like she's a little more to herself than out. She's more of an introvert than an extrovert.
There's a big mystery surrounding your character.
What are you most excited for people to see whenever they watch?
Ooh. Oh wow. Ooh. Let me think. There are so many things that, that's a really good question. I mean, Ooh, well I mean, what would people be really excited to see that happens with the mystery? Maybe even like about the chemistry of the family.
How they evolve around this little girl is, I feel like, part of the mystery. Because I mean like you really don't know. It's going to be very interesting how they do.
You have a really great cast that you're working with. What's that like on set, and what's it like working with everybody?
Oh, my God. I feel like I hit the jackpot, the lottery with the cast. I mean Alison is the best lead you could ever ask for. She's really nice, and she says, "Always be the kindest to production because, without them, you wouldn't really have your own show."
Then Donald, he always says, "You have to get your ad-libs in before they shout cut." Quincy, well he's, we were doing this acting thing, and Ashley and I wanted to talk, and he was like, "Shush girls, it's time to work now."
I mean we're on because we love to talk, but you know, we also have to work.
You had a small role on last year's mysterious hit TV show, Manifest. How are the two shows similar?
I think the two shows are similar because they both, they're both sci-fi and they both have this giant mystery that the whole show revolves around.
If you had to compare your show to any other show, what would you compare it to, if not Manifest?
Oh wow. I have to think about that. Wow. I mean I think it's really original, personally, but like maybe any family show, any real sci-fi show, but actually some Steven Spielberg movies like maybe First Encounter Of The Third Kind. I feel like it's very similar to that.
Oh that's a good one. You know, you have had so many ...
Not very similar but like I feel like the way that the visual and like the way that the story is written is a little like that.
Right. So it's similar in tone.
You've been in a lot of shows and stuff already. What's your favorite thing about being an actor?
Mainly the fact that you get a, you get out of the chai after every single audition you do. Because that's my mom's reward. You can do an audition, you get a chai or a bubble tea, which are my two most favorite things after a show.
My second favorite thing or really my first most favorite thing is getting to play different roles. One day I might be auditioning for a fairy. The next day I could be auditioning for just a regular person in the regular world. It feels like you could literally do anything when it just, there's so many different worlds.
You could be an Egyptian thing or are a thing in the Amazon. It's just, it's really, you don't know what is going to be next, and that's why I feel like it's the best industry. What's going to happen next?
Is it different? You're a lead now. Is it different being a lead than being in a supporting role and how it different?
The trailer. The trailer's different and maybe the fact that you miss more school when you're a lead.
So you have a nice big trailer this time?
I do. Yes. Instead of a honey wagon, I have like an actual trailer.
Nice. Is everybody jealous?
Oh, I mean, I don't think so because we all have the same trailer. Yeah, we all have the same trailer, so it's like no one really cares because there's always like you have the same one.
When you have time to watch TV, what do you like to watch?
Oh God, this is like really easy. I love watching Friends. Friends is my favorite show ever, and I feel like, I feel like it's the best show right after Emergence. I do have to say that I am a Rachel but with I'm a 96% Rachel, 3% Monica, 1% Phoebe.
I didn't happen to be any percent of the boys even though I did the full percentage so you could be anything. It was a little sad to me because I sort of wanted to be like Ross.
Did you want to be a Rachel?
Yes, she's my favorite character ever. I was like if I get a Rachel I'll be so happy because she's like my favorite character.
You know, I feel like they're all equal. She's definitely, I feel like, the best character just because I like her role, not how she portrays it. Obviously, I like how she portrays it, but I love the role so much because it's like an awesome role to play.
There's a big, it's a big reunion, not a big reunion, a big anniversary of Friends this year. Are you going to go out for Halloween as Rachel?
I think that's a good idea. Wow. I mean like the reason I love Rachel is because you went from like a wannabe person that only spent money from her dad to like this hardworking person that had a job offer in Paris. Like come on, I'm definitely going to be for her for Halloween. For sure.
I think you should. Get your friends, get your friends to be all the friends.
Oh my God, thank you for that idea!!!
Then you have your ...
That's who I'm going to be for Halloween!
You have to have your post pictures.
I will. I was so sad because the pop up was sold out. I was crying literally because I was like, "It's sold out and I wanted to go." The pop up in New York City for the 25th anniversary. I was crying. Really.
So if they do a revival of Friends, are you going to try really hard to get on it?
I'm going to work my butt off. I will work day and night to get on that show.
This is going to be a great interview because our readers love Friends, and we're always doing articles about them. Now you're going to fit right in.
Before you go, is there anything that you can tease to get people really excited about Emergence?
There's definitely a lot of twists and turns. I feel like you should definitely watch the whole thing, and that the secret's going to come out sooner rather than later of who Piper is.
Oh, nice. That's a good one. It has been so nice talking to you, Alexa. I hope that everything goes swimmingly and you get the world.
Thank you so much. I really appreciate this time. I love this conversation. Thank you so much.
Emergence Season 1 Episode 1 premieres Tuesday, September 24 at 10/9c on ABC.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.