The Walking Dead celebrates 10 years of TV history on October 31, 2020. In celebration of this historic milestone, we I nterviewed several actors who have participated in the show over the years. These interviews started to be published in early September and run until the end of October, are being launched daily. When we will end with a big surprise that we prepared exclusively and with great affection for the fans.
Our guest today is Sabrina Gennarino, who played Tamiel during seasons 7 and 8. The actress told us about Tamiel’s loyalty to Jadis, about what it was like to work with Pollyanna McIntosh both on The Walking Dead and on other projects, about her participation in The Purge series and more!
Without further ado, check out our exclusive interview with Sabrina Gennarino:
It’s an honour for us to talk to you in such a special moment for The Walking Dead. It’s not just any show that get to its 10th anniversary. Can you start by telling us how was the audition for the show? How did you hear about the part? Did you know the show beforehand?
Sabrina Gennarino: Thank you! It’s an honor to be considered for your fansite! Basically, I got the audition from my agent. I taped it and was lucky enough to get the gig! I was and still am over the moon about it. I did know about the show beforehand. But I didn’t watch it as at the time, I was “sensitive” as I had just had my daughter and just couldn’t handle anything or anyone being hurt.
We know nothing about Tamiel’s past. When you played her, did you come up with some backstory or it wasn’t as important? Did the writers tell you anything about her to help you?
Sabrina Gennarino: A backstory is ALWAYS important. That’s what brings “life” to the characters you create. Scott Gimple and I discussed the incredible backstory he had for Tamiel. I loved it and didn’t change a thing. There were some things he didn’t share about her backstory. So I do have that in my head. Maybe one day, we’ll get to see it
Why do you think Tamiel was so loyal to Jadis and the way of life of the Scavengers?
Sabrina Gennarino: For me, in my mind, it’s because they were the first ones there and probably knew each other “before.” They had a shared vision of existing artistically, minimally with an “All for one. One for all” mentality. Bypassing gender and limitations that we’re so strapped with in today’s world.
The Walking Dead always had empowered female characters: Jadis was an incredibly strong leader and Tamiel was very strong and decided as well. How was it for you to act as such a powerful woman? How important do you think this is for other women?
Sabrina Gennarino: I think its extremely important! It’s a beautiful thing to see the strength of women on the screen! The Walking Dead does such an incredible job with this. I look forward to the day when strong female characters aren’t considered to be, “empowered” or “strong” but just women. Better yet, a person doing what a person would do to survive in an apocalypse, regardless of gender.
How was it to be on the set as a Scavenger? How was it to work with Pollyanna McIntosh and Thomas Francis Murphy? Do you remember any funny moments from the set you could share with us?
Sabrina Gennarino: Anytime on set is amazing. Regardless of the project but I will say, being a part of an iconic show, like The Walking Dead, and in such fine company, surrounded by brilliant people is a such a gift and I feel incredibly blessed.
Ya know, you’d think we’d all be incredibly serious, the whole entire time we’re filming. But somehow, it was such a light (as in energy) set. That has so much to do with Andy and the crew. So many funny moments but “Derelict” had to be one of the funniest…Our runway walk on top of our garbage pile channeling Derek Zoolander.
Tamiel was killed by Simon and comes back as a walker. How did it feel to shoot your last episode? How and when did you find out Tamiel was going to die? How was the process of turning into a zombie, with all the make-up?
Sabrina Gennarino: Impossible not to cry throughout the whole thing from both gratitude and sadness. How and when did you find out Tamiel was going to die? Scott called to tell me, about a week before I was scheduled to film. How was the process of turning into a zombie, with all the make-up? So, so cool. Totally worth the many hours it took.
Looking back at your time on the show, which one would you say was the most fun episode to shoot? What about the most challenging? Why?
Sabrina Gennarino: All of them. Why? Going back to the “everyday on set is a perfect day” for the fun. Challenging…because…well…being an actor in itself IS challenging! To live in the shoes of someone else, in a very real way, is challenging. Conveying that character, in this case, without a lot of talking, is challenging.
Do you remember your first day on the set? What about your last one? We’d love if you could share some details of your reception and farewell on the show!
Sabrina Gennarino: Of course! We’d love if you could share some details of your reception and farewell on the show!
First day: Immediate family vibe. You think it’s just a thing they say when you hear about the TWD family. But its dead right.
Last day: Felt like I was moving to another planet and I wouldn’t get to see my family, including our incredible crew, ever again. Which of course, isn’t how it is. We see each other often at cons and many of us talk frequently. Thank the Universe on that!
If Tamiel had survived longer on the show, with which characters would you like him to interact with? Is there any actor you’d like to have worked with more closely during your time on the show?
Sabrina Gennarino: How could I not say, “Every. Single. One. Of. Them.”?
What steps do you follow to start playing a new character? Do you have a kind of ritual before getting into scene? How do you prepare?
Sabrina Gennarino: I don’t really break it down that way, but if I had to describe it…
1. Do I feel a connection with the character? Yes? Proceed. No? Respectfully Pass.
2. Yes? Building begins, as in, the life of this person in your mind that you don’t read on the page, while learning the words that person says.
3. Pray that you don’t suck.
I can’t really have a specific ritual because every character is different. If I did, that would be me, not the character, which we take me out of the head and body of the character I’m playing.
Now, about The Walking Dead ending: I don’t know if you continued to follow the show after leaving it, but we’d like to know how you think the show should end.
Sabrina Gennarino: Nah…I’ll definitely leave that up to the brilliant peeps that write it.
You also worked with Pollyanna McIntosh in Darlin’, written and directed by her. How was it to be directed by her? How challenging was this project?
Sabrina Gennarino: Ugh! She’s the worst! Seriously though…legendary. Truly brilliant and beautiful human. It was an honor to have that experience with her. I can’t even describe how difficult it is to do what she did, with grace, with power, with kindness while still slaying it. She blows my mind. Every role is challenging!
We need to talk about The Purge and how incredible you were as Madelyn! How did you hear about the project? And how fun – and scary- was it to be part of it? Personally, would you rather face a walker horde or a purge night?
Sabrina Gennarino: Aw! Thank you! I LOVED her! Same way I do the majority of the time: through my agent. Every job is fun! And scary! I’d have to go with walker horde! At least you know what you’re dealing with! Ha!
We know the pandemic postponed a lot of projects and The Walking Dead fans are still suffering for the season finale. How did it affect you? Were any of your projects postponed? How have you been taking care of yourself?
Sabrina Gennarino: It’s awful. It’s awful for everybody. Sadly, yes! But I have no doubt everything will bounce back, better than ever. Straight up quarantining and safety precautions. Writing more! And we (my daughter, Izzy G! and my husband, Pieter Gaspersz) started a company called Biddle and Bee! Vegan clothing and accessories but right now, our focus is on custom made, custom fit, custom fabric, ultra-safe masks, that exceed CDC recommendations. And it’s given us time to also focus on Crap Free Skin Care, our vegan skincare line and…most importantly, each other. We always do our best to find the silver lining in the clouds.
To wrap it up: here in Brazil we are particularly fond of The Walking Dead and all of its cast and crew, past and present. Brazilian fans are very passionate! Does this love get to you somehow, through conventions or social networks? Can you send a message to your Brazilian fans?
Sabrina Gennarino: LOVE BRAZIL!!!! You guys are the best! Not always! So this is so lovely to hear! So truly grateful to hear this!!!!! BRAZIL!!!!! YOU ARE THE MOST AMAZING FANS IN THE WORLD!!! I LOVE YOU!!!!