Alanna Masterson, who plays Tara on AMC’s The Walking Dead, talks about playing the series’ first LGBT character and how she keeps the cast motivated on set.
Q: You tweet about a lot of the fan mail you get. What’s the reception been like since you joined the cast? Do your friends watch you on TV?
A: It’s been really positive. What’s so great about the fans is that they really accept you with open arms – even characters that are hated, per se, like The Governor. I’m so grateful for that. When I booked the job, I couldn’t tell anyone what I was doing and then my face popped up on my friends’ TV and they were like, “Holy sh*t!”
Q: What has playing The Walking Dead’s first LGBT character been like for you?
A: I really love telling Tara’s story. She’s very different from all the characters on the show. I think she has a different sensibility about this world. I’m happy to represent the LGBT community because this is real life. It’s a responsibility and I’m happy to have it.
Q: You’ve talked about the importance of characters’ back stories. What did you know about Tara’s?
A: When I auditioned, I didn’t know who she was or what she was doing. I never knew how long I would be on the show, but when I kept coming back for more and more episodes and didn’t die at the end of the season, I was like, “Oh, great!” [Laughs] I think there’s so much more story to tell with her. There are so many of us and each person is going to get their time.
Q: Do you enjoy your status as the first character on the show that was adapted from the novels? Any perks to the title?
A: I do know that Tara and her sister really came from the novels. I think she’s really created her own voice and she’s such a beloved character. I like that no one has any expectations from the comic. I like that no one has any idea who my character is and what she’s done.
Q: Tara has such a lighthearted personality and even tries to joke during the zombie apocalypse. Are you similar to her at all?
A: Yeah, definitely. That’s one of my favorite aspects of Tara. She doesn’t make light of the situation in an irresponsible way. I think she tries to make realistic jokes. This is the world they live in now and she’s accepted it.
Q: Have you started to fist-bump people in your real life now?
A: Definitely not! People come up to me [for one]. It’s definitely funny. [Laughs]
Q: In Episode 505, Tara is the one that suggests finding bikes after the loss of the short bus. What would be your ideal mode of transportation during an apocalypse?
A: Probably a motorcycle. I think that’s the way to go.
Q: Riding around with Daryl Dixon?
A: Sure, why not? I love that dude, he’s awesome. I don’t know that I would get on the back of his motorcycle. He’d probably get on the back of mine. [Laughs]
Q: Tara names her crew “GREATM,” based on the initials of everyone. Are there any other names you could think of that you’d name the group?
A: The coolest Mother F’ers alive!
Q: You mentioned keeping a “I might die every episode” attitude. What goes into making this attitude? Has it leaked into your personal life at all?
A: I go to work grateful every day and I leave work grateful every day. I’m excited for the time I have and if that time goes, it would be a wonderful chapter in my life. I try to keep a positive attitude about it and it’s a good thing to keep in mind.
Q: Tara gives Eugene a pep talk about facing his fears. Are you typically the inspirational speech maker or taker?
A: I give a lot of advice. I give good advice. My friends come to me for those things. I try to help people and have empathy for how they’re feeling and what they’re doing. You can’t change people or dictate what they do, but if you can offer someone advice to help them, then I’m all for it.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice anyone’s ever given to you?
A: Um, don’t eat yellow snow. My wise older brother told me that.
Q: In your first Season with the show, you mostly acted with small groups of the cast, first David Morrissey, then Steven Yeun. What’s it been like to work with the larger group?
A: It’s awesome. I love working with everyone. They’re so different and so wonderful and colorful. We’re a melting pot. It’s a team push to get episodes done when you’re exhausted at four in the morning. I’ll start telling jokes or Norman will start punching people in the face. [Laughs]
Click here to read an interview with Danai Gurira (Michonne).