FREERIDGE, a new half-hour comedy, is a spinoff of ON MY BLOCK. Both series are currently streaming on Netflix.
In FREERIDGE, four East Los Angeles high school friends start to believe they are cursed after buying an old box at a garage sale. Not only are they being beset by a lot of weird coincidences, but an old woman who is supposedly dead shows up at the door.
Ciara Riley Wilson plays Demi, one of the quartet. Wilson, whose first name is pronounced “Sierra,” has a background in dance and designs fashion when not acting. Although FREERIDGE is her first stint as a series regular, Wilson previously had recurring roles in CHERRLEADERS, COOP AND CAMI ASK THE WORLD, L.A.’S FINEST, and KIM HUSHABLE. Wilson has also appeared in the telefilm KIM POSSIBLE and in episodes of series including GREY’S ANATOMY, SPEECHLESS, and QUANTUM LEAP.
Speaking by phone, Wilson discusses FREERIDGE, what she has in common with her character Demi, and more.
ASSIGNMENT X: You moved from Oregon to Los Angeles when you were eleven. How did that happen? Did you convince your family to move?
CIARA RILEY WILSON: Yeah. I was really creative and outgoing as a child. I was accomplished in dance, and I took an acting class in L.A. over the summer. At the end of the camp, we had agent meetings, and one agent was interested in me, and I was like, “Wow, I could really do this.” My parents took a risk and supported me, and that’s how it happened.
AX: You were in an episode of ON MY BLOCK. Were you playing Demi then, or were you playing a different character?
WILSON: When I auditioned for FREERIDGE, it was a potential spinoff of ON MY BLOCK, originally. So, they had dummy sides [fake script pages] and they sketched out the character, but they didn’t have a full script yet, so in ON MY BLOCK, I was playing Demi, but an early version, and we had a little cameo at the very end of the season finale. It was really fun.
AX: Were the other leads from FREERIDGE – Keyla Monterosso Mejia as Gloria, Bryana Salaz as Ines, and Tenzing Norgay Trainor as Cameron – also in that episode of ON MY BLOCK?
AX: How would you describe Demi as a person?
WILSON: Demi is fifteen years old, and she’s a very spiritual and empathetic person. She’s obsessed with crystals and tarot cards and astrology. And she’s really passionate, optimistic, and kind of the therapist friend, very emotionally intelligent.
AX: What is the group dynamic like between the four of you playing the FREERIDGE leads? Did you go out for lunch together to get to know each other at some point, or did you just jump into it and start doing scenes?
WILSON: I booked the role I want to say about two years before we actually started shooting, so I had a lot of time to get to know the two other girls. Tenzing, the guy, came on a little later. But we knew we were going to be filming together some time in the future, so we got to know each other really well. I actually knew Bryana, who plays Ines, before we booked the job, so we were already friends. And then we did a lot of cast bonding before we started filming, and then on the weekends, when we had days off, we were still spending time together, and they’re simply some of my best friends ever.
AX: If something like the possibly cursed box happened in your life, would you think, “Okay, these are coincidences,” or would you think, “Okay, this is a real curse”?
WILSON: That’s a fun question. I would probably think it was real [laughs]. In my character work for Demi, I got really into spirituality, and I learned how to read tarot cards, and so I kind of started incorporating that into my own life, and so if that’s something that happened, I think I would react very similarly to how Demi did.
AX: Does FREERIDGE get any scarier as the first season goes along?
WILSON: It gets a little spooky. Nothing crazy, more just like funny coincidences, and it’s more rooted in comedy. The magic of the show is that you don’t really know if we’re teenagers reading too much into this, or if these things are actually happening around us.
AX: Where do you shoot FREERIDGE?
WILSON: We shot in Burbank [in Los Angeles County, California].
AX: You had a recurring role on L.A.’S FINEST, which also shot in L.A. County. Who did you play?
WILSON: I was the best friend of the daughter of Jessica Alba’s character.
AX: That was a big action show. Did you get to do any action in that?
WILSON: I didn’t. I got to witness it a couple times when they were shooting things, but my stuff was more in the home.
AX: You were in KIM POSSIBLE, which is a YA fantasy. Did you have action in that?
WILSON: I did [laughs], a lot of stunt choreography and working with wires. We shot in Vancouver, Canada, and we were out there for a month before we actually started filming, just to do stunt training, so it was all very cool.
AX: Do you enjoy doing action?
WILSON: I do. Because growing up in dance, it’s very similar. Stunt choreography is like a dance, because you’re choreographing each move, and so it’s something I definitely want to do more in the future.
AX: Is there any opportunity for you to do action in FREERIDGE?
WILSON: Yeah, definitely. In Episode 3, my character gets in a fight with another character, and we got to do a whole stunt choreography sequence where I’m jumping on her back. It’s a funny fight, nothing too intense, but I got to dip my toes back in stunt choreography for a bit.
AX: You started out as a dancer, so how did you decide that you wanted to act?
WILSON: I actually came out [to Los Angeles] originally to act and dance, because dance was still a pretty big part of my life. Early in my career, I was doing hip-hop for music videos and commercials and stuff like that, and then I was doing both of them simultaneously, and then acting kind of took off a little more, and I found more passion in that. Dance is really physically hard on your body. You have to train a lot, and I saw more of a lifelong career in acting, fell in love with it a little more.
AX: Do you have a favorite acting role that you’ve gotten to do so far?
WILSON: I would say Demi is definitely my favorite, because she’s very similar to myself, and she’s my first series regular, so I really got to dive into the character and make her my own. But another standout was, I did a guest star role on QUANTUM LEAP last year, and that was just such a fun experience. I got to play this really cool character, Leah, and it was set in the ‘90s, so I got to wear this cool ‘90s outfit.
AX: In addition to acting, you’re also a fashion designer. Do you think of characters you’re designing for, or do you design more for what you would like to wear yourself?
WILSON: It’s a mix of both. It was fun. For the premiere and the press day for FREERIDGE, I got to design and make my entire outfit, and that was really cool, because I took inspiration from Demi. I made this top that had all these individual patches on it that were inspired by different moments in the show, and astrology, and the moon, and stuff that Demi would like.
AX: On FREERIDGE, do you get any say in your costumes?
WILSON: Yeah. That was one of my favorite parts of filming, because Demi has a very similar sense of style to me, and so it was fun to work with the costume team. They let me go in on the first couple of fittings, and said, “You pick out what you want your character, and we’ll build your outfits around what you are initially drawn to.” So, that was really cool.
AX: How do you see your career progressing, as far as time acting, time costume designing, time doing other creative endeavors?
WILSON: I definitely see myself acting and doing fashion design alongside each other for a long time. I think they go hand in hand really nicely, and I get really excited when I have a project I get to promote and I can cross-promote my two passions at the same time, and wear what I made on the red carpet. As for acting, I’m just really excited to see what kind of projects come my way and maybe step into some different genres.
AX: Do you have anything else coming up that we should know about?
WILSON: I’m going to be starting a clothing brand later this year, so if you follow my Instagram and my TikTok, I promote everything I’m doing on there.
AX: And what would you most like people to know about FREERIDGE?
WILSON: I would say FREERIDGE is a really funny, surprising, fast-paced show that has a lot of humor in it, but also has a lot of heart in very surprising moments. I think people will really love it if they give it a shot.
Follow us on Twitter at ASSIGNMENT X
Like us on Facebook at ASSIGNMENT X
Article Source: Assignment X‘
Article: Exclusive Interview: Ciara Riley Wilson chats about her new cmedy series FREERIDGE – a spin-off of the Netflix half-hour comedy ON MY BLOCK