In lieu of the season two premiere of the irresistible Frankie Drake Mysteries on CBC, we caught up with lead star Lauren Lee Smith. Lauren plays Frankie Drake in the series- a strong, gutsy, and fearless detective in the 1920’s. Frankie may not be the typical female character we’re used to from that period, but it’s exactly what we’ve been missing. Catch the Frankie Drake Mysteries on CBC this upcoming Monday, September 24th.
What are some of the things that you love about working on a show that’s set in the twenties?
One of the things I love about doing a period piece is that the world that is created for you does a little bit of the work for you. In a sense, you immediately get into character the minute you walk onto the set that the designer has created. Then the wardrobe and the hair and the makeup, it just transports you to this other world and makes the make-believe acting part of the job more heightened to a certain degree. But there are so many aspects, it’s just a fun era to watch on TV.
What do you have in common with your character, Frankie Drake on the show?
You know its interesting because I usually look for the aspects that I admire or that I would like to have in characters instead of what I have in common. Like in my life I am not as gutsy or rebellious, or tough, or as confident as Frankie. And I think that’s one of the things that was such a draw for me in terms of this character. She’s way more outgoing and way more physical than I am in my day-to-day life, so it was really fun having to learn those things, like having to get my motorcycle license. And all of these other things that I had to learn and I got to explore through this character. But of course, some things are similar that also draw you in. I think her sense of loyalty is something that we have in common. And she is very much a feminist and this forward-thinking woman. And I sort of like to think of myself in that regard. Especially since becoming a mother to a daughter. That’s opened up my world more to those things.
How has the industry progressed for women in recent times?
I think it’s progressed in a way that there is a level of comfort that’s finally here that should have been here a long time ago. Women can now feel more comfortable and confident in this industry as they should have all along. Now women are getting amazing roles. There are also amazing roles being written for women. Like even looking at CBC, they have ‘Working Moms’ which is a completely female-driven cast. They have ‘Baroness Von Sketch,’ they have ‘Frankie Drake Mysteries’. This is all sort of amazing to put it simply. To have all of these shows that are completely female-driven and we didn’t see that even a few years ago. So it’s just incredible that more and more of these shows a popping up and gaining popularity and the proof is in that people are watching and they want to watch.
What are some of the struggles that you’ve faced in the industry?
There are the typical things like never knowing when your next job is going to be. Which makes it difficult to live any kind of normal life when you’re always kind of thinking, “I wonder if my show will get picked up by season 3?” Or “I wonder if I’m going to be jobless in three months?” So that’s definitely an ongoing struggle that I’ve had in the last twenty years of my career. And most people laugh when I say that and they’re like wow you’ve been doing this for twenty years, you’ve been working for twenty years, but that feeling doesn’t go away. You still get that sense, “am I going to work next month?” Am I going to work next year? What’s my next job going to be?” I think to me that’s been the biggest struggle. It’s just hard to plan your life. I can’t make certain decisions when everything’s up to other people. As actors and people in the film industry, we’re very much dependent on everyone else.
What was the pivotal moment for you in your career?
I think the biggest one for me was the very first film that I did in 2005. It was a film called ‘Lie With Me.’ And I think it just opened up my eyes to a whole different world of acting. Up until that point, I was doing roles that came very easy to me. It was very much like Lauren playing Lauren, which was fun and great to do once in a while. But this film was the first opportunity to do something that was so outside of myself, and it let me challenge myself, physically, emotionally and mentally, and it sorted of ignited this fire I guess- the acting bug. And that sort of fuelled the whole sense that I want to go outside of myself and take on roles that are a little bit scary and a little bit daunting.
What advice would you give to an aspiring actor?
I always say the same thing which is kind of a downer and maybe not super encouraging, but I do believe it. You have to want this more than anything else. Like if there’s anything else you love to do or you’re passionate about, check that out first. Because this is such a crazy life and the ups and downs and the rejection and the competition, it’s a lot. As much as you try to be the bigger person, it’s very difficult and so you have to want this more than anything else. And some people just don’t. Some people have other passions. And I always tell them if you want this, you have to want this more than anything else because if there is something else that you love equally then try that first. Just to see. It might save yourself a lot of heartaches.
Why should people tune into Frankie Drake Mysteries?
I think people should tune in because we have a little bit of everything. It’s a show where you can escape for an hour into this really beautiful world. There’s action, adventure and you get to see some really nice character development. It’s like the female Indiana Jones. And I think in this world that we’re living in right now, it’s important to support these kinds of shows. That are just good old fashioned television. You can sit down with your family; you can sit down with your kids or your mom and your dad or whoever. And just tune in and let go for an hour and be thoroughly entertained and taken on a little journey.
Frankie Drake Mysteries premieres on September, 24th on CBC