If you haven’t heard already, Family Channel’s new show, DEBRA!, premiers tomorrow! Niamh Wilson stars as the bright, peppy, and unique Debra Delong: the girl who’s always out to make the world a better place. Her and her friends at Canfield High are usually seen getting themselves into wacky situations, usually with Debra orchestrating the event. We got the chance to chat with Niamh Wilson about her new role, fashion, horror movies, and crushes on Orlando Bloom.
So, tell me about your character, Debra…
Debra is a very happy, positive, very eccentric girl and her number one goal in life is just to improve people’s lives and really improve the world and just make it almost a better place to live because when more people are happy, it’s going to be a nicer place to live. She doesn’t have a lot of friends, but the friends she has are very nice and she always likes to talk to people, people who she doesn’t even know, and she wants to say hi and maybe just make their day better.
Were there any other eccentric characters that inspired you for the role?
Oh ya, one of the things that my mom and I used to say is she’s like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We used to watch it when I was little and she’d say she’s very peppy. She’s like “You know who Debra’s like? She’s like Buffy the Vampire Slayer!” But now I sort of realize that she’s very, very hyper, very peppy.
Are you ever exhausted after filming?
At the end of the day, you’re just kind of like “Ugh!” and lunch rolls around and you’re just like “Oh my goodness, thank you so much”. So I just eat, get my blood sugar back up.
What’s an example of Debra’s attempt at making someone happy?
In all of the episodes, she ends up helping one of her friends out. You have Austin, you have Auzzie, you have Brud, and then you also have Dancy, and then you have a bunch of characters coming in like you see her cousin, and you have a boy who’s trying to graduate and she’s helping all these people. And as you know, Auzzie’s kind of the “ladies man”, or he thinks he is anyways, and she tries to make him more attractive to girls but because he tries to get Dancy, so she tries to bring out the charming Auzzie, but then he ends up going all crazy and they have to try and change him back to the old Auzzie.
Do you think of your personality kind of like hers at all?
Well, I try to think of myself as fairly positive and I try to really see the best in people. And we both wear glasses, the glasses that I wear in the show, those are my actual glasses that I wear to school every day. They’re not set or fake glasses, they actually have a prescription and they’re from a little store in Oakville (Ontario), but yeah they’re my real glasses. We’re also both kind of nerdy. We’re both just geeky and that’s another thing I share in common with her.
Your previous works include some creepy horror roles, like playing a haunting dead girl in THE MARSH and one of the victims in some of the SAW films, are you excited to play a role that’s a bit more upbeat?
Oh ya, totally! When I was little, this is the part that I’d want forever. When I was little I was always like “I wanna be older, I wanna be a teenager” and I’d watch these movies and I’d see all of these like, teens playing these roles and I was like “I wish I was in that movie, I wish I was in that movie”. This would have been my dream part when I was little and it still is. It’s amazing to have this opportunity, a lot of people watch Family Channel, so it’s kind of crazy to think that people who I don’t even know were watching the sneak peek, it’s crazy. With horror, the people on set were equally as nice as the people that had met on DEBRA. People sometimes think that people are really weird on a horror movie set, but they’re so not. You’ll probably work with some of the nicest people on a horror movie set. Since the script is so dark, people just make jokes about it, and people tend to liven up.
For most kids, their dream is acting, but you’ve been acting since you were in pre-school! As a young actor, are there any other dreams you’ve wanted to pursue?
When I was little, I didn’t really have any dreams. Other than like, to marry Orlando Bloom, like that was it. I had the biggest celebrity crush on him after watching the first PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN. But yeah, I didn’t really have any dreams. I was almost too young when I started acting to have any other dreams. As I got older, one of my other dreams was to become a dancer. I just wanted to be a really beautiful ballerina.
How do you and your on-screen rival Dancy (played by Alicia Josipovic) get along in real life?
She is such a nice person! I can’t even imagine how she can play this role because she’s so genuine and she’s so nice and she’s such a professional. She’s really amazing. Nothing stands in her way, and I think every actor should aspire to be like her just because she’s really awesome. I’m really glad that I met her and got to work with her, and she’s on Degrassi as well, and it’s funny because one of my teachers, I take improv classes as well, and one of my teachers, she’s on Degrassi as well! So I get her to say hi to her when she sees her.
Have there been any fun moments on set?
Totally, it’s not even related to any of the actors. Since we’re working with so many kids, there’s a bunch of parents on set, mainly moms. So we call them the “group of mom’s”… or the posse of mom’s. Sometimes we call them “Steve’s Girls”, Steve is one of the sound guys. He had a monitor, so all the moms would hang around him to watch the monitor and watch their kid’s act, so that’s one of the things on set. We just have so much fun and make jokes with each other.
What are some of your personal favourite TV shows?
My family watches the Food Network a lot, we really like DINERS DRIVE-INS AND DIVES. My personal favorites are the fancy cake shows like the ACE OF CAKES and CAKE BOSS. I also watch TLC a lot and I like a bunch of shows on that. I also really like DEGRASSI and I have to admit, I’m a major Gleek. Love GLEE, I love it so much.
Who is someone you would love to have guest star on the show?
There are so many actors I’d love to work with, we were actually saying one of the people we’d love to have on set is, or I would anyway, would be Tavi Gevinson, she’s the Style Rookie, if you’ve ever been on her site, and she’s a fashion blogger. I would love to have her on set because Debra has this crazy sense of fashion. She would totally fit in on set. And I love her, I love her writing, she’s wonderful. And also, and of course these guys would likely never guest star, but I’d love to work with Ellen Page, Rachel McAdams, she’s so funny, she’s amazing in MORNING GLORY. Also, Kerry Mulligan and Ricky Gervais.
What’s your favourite episode so far?
There’s one where we have a fashion show, and the second last episode is Preston’s birthday, and there’s a big party and everyone’s dancing. Jessica, who’s a mom, you’ll see her amazing dance skills. Then in the last episode, we have a big concert where the band plays and it was so much fun, everyone was dancing and having a good time, it was great!
How would you sum up DEBRA!
I think that it’s a really great family show, it’s not just for kids. I think parents would really like it, it’s something that you can actually watch with your family, and it’s different from other Family Channel shows!
Thanks, Niamh! Catch the premier of DEBRA! tomorrow night at 4pm on Family Channel.