RYAN HANSEN SOLVES CRIMES ON TELEVISION is on the streaming service YouTube Red. In it, the actor Ryan Hansen plays an absurdist version of himself, bringing his camera crew to tag along with exasperated LAPD detective Jessica Mathers, who is played by Samira Wiley.
Wiley is having quite a year. Her popular character Poussey Washington died tragically in the prison dramedy ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. Then Wiley received a Supporting Actress Emmy nomination for her work as the severely oppressed Moira in THE HANDMAID’S TALE. On the personal front, Wiley also married ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK writer/producer Lauren Monelli.
At a Q&A session for RYAN HANSEN SOLVES CRIMES ON TELEVISION, Wiley tells reporters that Detective Mathers is oblivious to pop culture references. “There’s an ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK joke that she doesn’t get. She has no idea what anyone’s talking about, and people are laughing. So there’s that. But I think that it’s really good to commit to having her be that fictional character. She is Detective Mathers, but yeah, Detective Mathers doesn’t watch ORANGE.”
Wiley jokes that she finds it difficult “playing the straight woman, even though I’m very gay.” More seriously, she says she does find it challenging to keep a straight face with costar Hansen. “He was so much fun. He’s freaking hilarious … I break [out laughing] with him all the time. His energy level is so infectious that I want to be able to join him, I want to meet him at his energy level, but I just have to do that when the camera goes off. When you’re doing that, it’s about trying to stay in the energy that you’re going with and know that that is only going to help the comedy and trusting the writing and these guys right here.” she indicates Hansen and series creator Rawson Marshall Thurber.
When the session ends, Wiley remains for some follow-up discussion.
ASSIGNMENT X: Has anything in your acting training prepared you for RYAN HANSEN SOLVES CRIMES ON TELEVISION?
SAMIRA WILEY: My training is a part of who I am. So I’m happy this came along.
AX: Have you ever had a situation in your own work that’s analogous to what the Ryan Hansen character does to Detective Mathers, where he comes in and absolutely disrupts her job doing his own thing and she has to work around the disruption?
WILEY: Not in this way. Because he’s so crazy. I’ve never had an experience like that. I don’t think anyone has had an experience like this. He comes in and just blows everything up. So I can’t think of anything I’ve had like that.
AX: So you’re not recalling, “Well, that time this happened to me …”
WILEY: No, it’s not Method. It’s not Method at all [laughs].
AX: With the public expression of sorrow over Poussey’s death, the success of THE HANDMAID’S TALE, your Emmy nomination, looking back at everything you’ve done in the last year, what’s in the forefront of your mind?
WILEY: My marriage. Really, honestly. I just got married and all of the things about accolades for my performances and being able to work with YouTube is so amazing, but my personal life comes first, and that’s what I’m most excited about.
AX: What would you most like people to know about RYAN HANSEN SOLVES CRIMES ON TELEVISION?
WILEY: I would want people to know that it’s the best thing on YouTube Red.
This interview was conducted during YouTube Red’s portion of the Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour.
Related: Interview with RYAN HANSEN SOLVES CRIMES creator Rawson Marshall Thurber
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