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Interview: ‘Vagrant Queen’ Breakout Star Adriyan Rae

Adriyan Rae - Vagrant Queen
Adriyan Rae (Courtesy of Diana Ragland)

While many are busy concerning themselves with what new DC or Marvel adaptation they expect from film or TV, SYFY is out here doing good work adapting a sprawling, funny, and badass indie comic Vagrant Queen. The series (based on the Vault comic of the same name by Magdelene Visaggio) began airing on the SYFY network at end of March, and for many this was just the beginning of self-isolation and quarantining. A perfect time to get into a fun space opera/ sci-fi!

The show is one of many projects that was an unfortunate casualty to the global pandemic; whatever promotional plans for the show were halted. However, the show must go on. Vagrant Queen has left a strong impression on many sci-fi fans – from it’s bright and colourful production to the charismatic trio on screen, it is safe to say that Vagrant Queen has a bright future. The show ends with a cliffhanger, so fingers crossed for an epic second season because the show and its leading lady have a lot to give.

If you have not watched the show yet, you can click here to begin watching the 10-episode series.

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Adriyan Rae, virtually. She has left quite an impression on me as she has the intensity, warmth, and comedic chops to hold her own as the lead of Vagrant Queen. You can read the interview below, but please be aware that it contains spoilers.

Vagrant Queen synopsis: Former child queen Elida was driven from her throne at age ten and forced to wander the galaxy, evading the revolutionary forces that wanted her dead. When an old frenemy claims to know the whereabouts of Elida’s long-lost mother, she is forced to return to her former kingdom and stage a rescue.

Vagrant Queen is a big project and a major leading role. How did the stars align for you to get this job (which you are absolutely perfect for by the way)?

Adriyan Rae: Why thank you! Well, the audition came in through my manager who heard about it through the grapevine. They hadn’t called me in but had inquired about another actor at the management company who was booked out. He thought I’d be great for the role, so he submitted me and called and asked if they’d at least let me tape. I’m really so grateful to have a team that believes in me and fights for me like they do. 

How did the costuming and overall look of the character come together? (Also, that eyeliner was on point!)

Rae: You’re so kind and full of compliments! Gas me up, friend!! Haha. The costume came about through our wardrobe department with reference to the comic for sure. Very detail oriented, immensely talented, and skilled people! They brought a bunch of great ideas, and we just had lots of long fittings to see what worked best, not just aesthetically but for stunts and comfortability as well. 

To play Elida you are balancing a character that is fierce, moody, and an overall badass persona with comedy. For you what was easier to slip into, the comedy or the drama? How do you find balance?

Rae: I’m weirdly an actor that does both drama and comedy, so it wasn’t hard to slip into either. Elida’s comedy is more situational anyway so that was all Jem and the amazing writers!

If you were to sell the show to someone unfamiliar with the comic or the premise of Vagrant Queen, what would you emphasize?

Rae: I would just go through the log line: basically, a childhood Queen who has her monarchy overthrown and her mother is killed in the process. From there she is forced into a life on the run to survive. While living her life, she makes friends and enemies, and a long lost friend comes to tell her that her mother is indeed still alive and that’s what catapulted this epic space journey. Also, I wouldn’t fail to mention it’s a show with a Strong Black Lead, LGBTQ+ representation, that has a Guardians of the Galaxy type feel. 

Okay, so in my house, we are team Amida. How did you and Alex McGregor develop that relationship? 

Rae: Naturally – we just created our characters and lived in the moment. We always checked in to make sure each of us was comfortable and we just lived presently in each scene. Feeling all the feels within and between the characters. 

Adriyan Rae - Elida Vagrant Queen
Adriyan Rae as Elida in Vagrant Queen (© 2020 Syfy Media, LLC)

Elida and Lazaro are on completely different paths. One does not want to be a ruler, the other is desperate. Was there any discussion or collaboration on how to flesh out this dynamic?

Rae: I believe dynamics are character born. The writing is there telling us what happens, we get character descriptions and we all work day-in and day-out on our characters, their backstories, etc. and building them into the most fleshed out version possible. When you do that, I don’t think two actors necessarily have to work out their dynamic together. It happens naturally on camera when these two characters come into contact with one another. Paul is absolutely fabulous to work with!

What was the final showdown like to shoot?

Rae: Oh man, it was soooo much fun! I was sore for like three days afterwards, but it was great! We basically fought for eight hours different angles, wides, rehearsals, etc. 

So, season 2. Mom took a turn. Elida needs to get Amae and save Earth…and the universe. Lots of pressure. How would you like the show to proceed if a second season were to happen?

Rae: I would love to plop into Earth and see what it’s like in this time frame. Also, would love to see Amae’s earth journey, Elida being on Arriopa and if she actually takes the throne, and how being so close to getting to Earth and now so far from it affects Isaac!

During this time of quarantine and self-isolation, what book, show, movie, or craft have you been consumed with and would recommend to others?

Rae: I don’t get too consumed with anything really, or at least I try not to; but I really loved the series Succession, Killing Eve, and re-watched all of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Also been reading a lot, re-reading Celestine Prophecies and been picking up painting which is really nice. I’m shit at it, but it’s fun nonetheless. 

Thank you for brightening up my quarantining with this excellent show!  It was a pleasure speaking with you.

Rae: Thank YOU for the interview, lovely. You’re appreciated 🙂

If you have not read the comic, Vault is offering the first issue free to readers and you can buy the ebook here. Or, you can visit your local comic book store and pick up volume one!

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