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central character? ” I thought it was potentially a very big mistake. And
who knows how Season Five will be received? But I’m confident with
what I have seen and read so far of Season Five. I am highly interested
in seeing what happens in the prison post-Bea. I am sure even our most
scandalised fans will be as well.
SF: What was it like for you, coming in to such an established and well-
loved show with, as you said, such passionate fans?
KJ: It is incredible to discover the amount of online sleuthing our fans
get up to—I was sent fan mail before I was even on the show! I did feel a
sense of responsibility because the cast and crew, the producers and the
writers had created this juggernaut of a TV series. I was a fan of it before
I was involved in it. So I definitely felt a responsibility, to quote actors on
set: “not to fuck it up”!
I had to make Allie someone people could believe and invest in. Bea
desperately deserved some kind of respite and love, an escape from her
world, and that’s exactly what she got in the end. Prison wasn’t where she
wanted it to be, but she did escape, she got out and she probably never
thought that she would.
SF: Now that there’s no Bea what does Allie’s story become?
KJ: My initial reaction was a naïve one: “If I’m not Bea’s girlfriend then who
am I?”, which is a very narrow-minded way of looking at my character.
Bea’s death makes Allie a much more interesting character. She was so
close, for the first time in her life, to being with someone she loved and
who loved her in return, and despite the obvious dangers, made Allie feel
safe within the prison walls. But now that’s gone, she’s not safe, she has
no one, and her love has been ripped away from her. Obviously there will
always be drugs in prison, so she’s exposed to them, she’s vulnerable,
devastated, heart-broken and dangerously obsessed with revenge, so
that’s a far more interesting character than a happy girl with a crush.
SF: You had wonderful on-screen chemistry with Danielle. It felt so
authentic, and once you got together especially, it crackled. You must
have had a great working relationship with her to be able to achieve it?
KJ: I adore her! When I arrived on set I didn’t know her, but I held her
in such reverence. My journey and Allie’s were similar because I had a
kind of talent crush on Danielle. As we got to know each other, and
our relationship solidified and deepened, we fell into this fun and easy
friendship, much like Allie and Bea, although obviously theirs’ had the
added romantic element.
A competent actor can manufacture a convincing level of chemistry, but
it is invaluable and a huge gift if you really adore the person with whom
you are going on the journey. It was so much fun working with Danielle
on this relationship. It never felt awkward or weird; it always felt organic
SF: It did come across as all of that. I imagine as an actor that is what you’re
aiming for in any role, authenticity, particularly when you’re playing two
people falling in love. Allie was so sweet and caring, she never pushed Bea.
Even though a lot of the character comes from the writing and the script
you’re given you brought a gentle, emotional, pursuit of Bea that added to
that truthfulness. How did you find who Allie was, and how she should go
KJ: When I was presented with this character, I straightaway understood
who she was, where she had come from, and why she would be so
instantly and totally attracted to Bea. I knew that the character had to be
very different from the other openly gay character on Wentworth, Franky.
It was going to take a lot for Bea Smith to take her walls down and open
herself up to someone, regardless of the gender of that person. It was
going to take an added something for her to be able to open herself up to a
woman because I don’t think Bea ever identified as gay, bisexual, or queer
or even considered herself remotely attracted to women.
So in my mind, although it might sound silly, I always imagined Allie as a big
warm blanket, like someone that when you give them a hug all of the worries
in the world just magically disappear? I felt that Allie had to be someone like
that, someone who knew who she was and who was at peace with her
incarceration. I tried to make Allie a calm, inviting, non-threatening oasis
of a character, someone who the audience could understand why Bea
surrendered to her.
If Allie had been a tough alpha-lesbian who could click her fingers and
seduce any woman that she wanted (which can be very attractive to a
lot of people) she wouldn’t have been what Bea needed or wanted. Allie
had to represent safety and comfort. She had to be trustworthy. She had
to be vulnerable because Bea had spent her entire life both inside and
outside prison dealing with really dominating adversaries: her husband,
Ferguson, Franky, and then Kaz in Season Four. I felt like Allie needed to be
the antithesis of all that.
SF: People will want to know about the sex scene. Did you sit down
beforehand and have a talk about it, how you wanted to approach it, what
it meant, what you wanted the characters and the audience to get out of it?
KJ: Yes, we had a long discussion with the director about how it should
look, what it should say, what kind of music would be played. I learnt a
good lesson, which is always to listen to your director. I had been looking
at it too logically—from the point of view of finding what a woman would
need sexually to reach climax. I was caught up in the logistics of a woman
having sex with another woman, especially of a woman who had never had
sex with another woman before. I felt we were leaving important elements
of lesbian sex out. The director was brilliant, he understood the dynamics
of television and storytelling much better than I did and made me realise
that it was about the connection, the trust, and about finally stripping down
all of Bea’s walls and her being completely vulnerable. So I learnt it is not
always about what is most logical—instead it is about what tells the best
story and I think the director did a really beautiful job with that scene.
Read Read more about Kate Jenkins relationship with
Torri and her thoughts on marriage equality go to lotl.com
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