Dispatches From Elsewhere Q&A — Cecilia Balagot (Clara)

Cecilia Balagot, who plays Clara on AMC’s Dispatches From Elsewhere, discusses her character's unique sense of childlike wonder and the significance of Elsewhere blue. 

Q: Clara is one of our two narrators in this story. How is her lens different from Octavio's?

A: She’s a kid and she’s the only kid in the core six, so she brings that childlike energy that’s unique to just her character. She’s different from Octavio.

Q: We finally learn about her backstory in Episode 5 and see that she’s afraid to become like the people of Fishtown – including her own mom. How does this influence her life path?

A: I think she feels a great love and loyalty to her town. She doesn’t want to leave the people that she loves, but she’s still such an escapist. Her art is her escape. It becomes – literally – her only window out of the town, but she’s so generous in spirit that she thinks that everybody should have access to this wonderful feeling that she feels. I think that’s her main mission – to help everyone feel as happy as she does when she’s painting. Clara is always so honest and forward. Why leave the story all to herself? She thinks she has some good ideas and she just wants everyone to hear them.

Q: She describes that feeling as the color blue. What does color add to this story? And hers in particular?

A: I think it’s a really good idea to watch out for the color themes on the show. It’s such a strong device that they use and everybody gets a little bit of Elsewhere blue throughout the season. The first thing that comes to mind is Episode 2 when Simone is just pouring her feelings out to Peter and blue is suddenly behind her. She’s free from worry, free from all the stress and all the things that are always piling on her. She just feels freedom and bliss. I think that’s what that blue might be.

Q: Why do you think Clara is able to inspire Peter, of all people, so much?

A: I think what Peter has really lost is his inner child. That’s what he’s been looking for, even though he doesn’t really know it. He wants to see magic everywhere. He thinks the game is magic and that’s how Clara sees the world – full of whimsy, surprises and real magic. And she comes to visit him like a ghost. [Laughs] So, I think she just really resonates with him and he takes a little bit of her with him throughout the whole journey.

Q: When Clara meets Octavio, she rejects being one of the “special ones” for the sake of her friends. but she’s still torn about it. How would you describe that inner conflict?

A: She’s a bit of a utilitarian. She wants to do what’s right for the greater good. Octavio claims he can bring her all of that and help all of these people, but not only does she not know if she can believe him but this would mean leaving behind the people that helped get her where she is. Even more than she’s generous, she’s also loyal – it was those two parts of her and those two virtues that were struggling.

Q: The Jejune Institute comes for her at night and she describes it as “being swallowed up by the dark.” Is there anything you can tell us about that metaphor?

A: I’ll leave most of the mystery there, but I will say that it was super incredible to film that whole part where she gets pulled out of the window. That was just truly epic. The stunts were 100 percent super fun. It was super fun to just swing upside down, too.

Q: What is your favorite memory from filming the show?

A: I’ve never been to Pennsylvania before and I’ve never really been to the East Coast at all. I got to explore Philadelphia, which is such an amazing city. I went with my mom and we had such a good time just walking around the town and doing all there is to do. We were right in Center City and there are a million things to do around there with so much culture and history. Everywhere you turn, there’s a beautiful mural on the wall. Philly is one of those places that never really leaves you. It’s like a hidden treasure.

Read an interview with André Benjamin, who plays Fredwynn.

Dispatches From Elsewhere airs Mondays at 10/9c.

Want to receive exclusive content, sneak peeks, interviews and more directly to your inbox? Sign up for the Dispatches From Elsewhere newsletter.