Wondercon 2018: Interview with Ariela Barer

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Runaways was Marvel’s break-out hit of the 2017 television season. Hulu’s teen drama focusing on “The OC but with superheroes” introduced fans to great characters, brilliant stories, and a brand new take on the Marvel Universe featuring superpowered 11-year-olds, dinosaurs, magical glowing girls, and a brilliant mystery. The series has been greenlit for a second season and its’ stars are obviously very excited.

The Marvel Report had an opportunity to sit down with one of its breakout stars, Ariela Barer, at Wondercon. Ariela Barer and Star Trek: Discovery star Emily Coutts teamed up to deliver a panel about the work that goes on behind the scenes in science-fiction and fantasy shows. We sat down with Barer to discuss the nature of her role, just how she became Gertrude Yorkes and how she prepared for the role, as well as what’s next for her (and what we hope is next.)

Q: Let me get right to the point, how important is the behind the scenes team on Runaways?
A: In a bad metaphor, it’s like an iceberg. For every foot, there’s like 10 feet below. What you see on screen with every actor is what motivates us. Everyone is so motivated and passionate it really helps us along.

Q: Are there any unique or exciting moments that happened on set? Any “funny stories?”
A: I wrote a song with Sid (Siddhartha Kholsa) for the show but that’s not a funny story. I had to change my hair, I dyed my hair purple for the first episode. In my head, it’s what helped me get the role but that’s not it, but I dyed my hair purple when I was 16 so I literally emailed the producer every picture of me with purple hair saying “I’ll do it, I’ll do it.”

Q: Your show’s set in LA, what makes Runaways LA different from LA-LA?
A: The beauty of it is that it’s not. Everybody who’s been in LA for longer than 5 years will find something to relate to. There’s a line where one of the parents starts to freak out and the teacher says “Brentwood parents.” It’s relatable. While LA is this out of this world [in the] show, they try and ground it in a real world way which makes it easier for people to connect with.

Q: You’re both on shows that have a really devoted fanbase, did you do any background research?
A: We didn’t know what we were auditioning for! I heard a rumor it might be a Marvel show. It allowed for a lot of freedom without any preconceived notions. The second I knew what it was I researched everything. It was nice to be able to read about Gertrude from an outside perspective. Every moment she overcomes was an exciting moment for me and a great entry into the world.

Q: You have a very visual effects heavy show. How is that, what’s that like?
A: Well, the dinosaur is a robot, sometimes it’s a ball or nothing. The robot is incredible. You know it’s a robot, but it’s so impressive it might as well be a dinosaur. I’ll never get over it.

Q: Do you guys have any other media that you’ve been interested in?
A:  I’ve been directing a bunch of shorts during our hiatus!

During the panel, Barer joined with composer Siddhartha Kholsa and sang some of “Gertrude’s Lullaby” for fans, proving what she said about just how much work goes into the (seemingly) simple things in the show that fans love. Fans of Runaways should take note of the show desiring to portray what’s normal, a diverse cultural landscape and different romances. (Los Angeles contrary to popular belief only has dinosaurs at Universal Studios.)

Another important point is Barer’s desire to direct, and with Marvel’s push for more female directors, Marvel should take this into consideration, particularly when it comes to women of color. While it might not be in the cards for Ariela to direct an episode yet, it’s worth pushing for more seasons to feature women and people of different genders in behind the scenes roles. Thanks to Runaways, Marvel looks to be preparing to do just that.

Runaways season 1 is currently available on Hulu. Season 2’s premire date has yet to be announced.

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