interview by JANA LETONJA

Actress Serinda Swan most recently starred in the second season of Amazon’s hit series ‘Reacher’. Fans also know her from her roles on HBO’s ‘Ballers’, USA’s ‘Graceland’, Ryan Murphy’s ‘FEUD’ and in Sony’s ‘Devotion’, where she played Elizabeth Taylor. In addition to her acting, Serinda is the co-founder of Blueprint, a dynamic education platform where students can actively engage in mental and emotional wellness. 

Serinda, the second season of ‘Reacher’ just concluded. What surprised you the most about this season and the story of your character, Dixon?
Apart from how cold it can get in Toronto? That was surprising for all of us. For our very last episode I think it was – 40 and we had doctors on set making sure we didn’t get frostbite. But we made it through. On a more serious note, I think the surprise for me was the depth of character that was pre-existing from the books. When I started to read Lee Child’s ‘Reacher’ series, I realised that each one of his characters had a very specific backstory and as an actor that’s always something fun to work with.


What excites you the most about this action crime series and your character?
I think part of the excitement was going back and working with my old show runner Nick Santora, as well as cast-mate Domenick Lombardozzi. Back in 2010, we did a show together, called ‘Breakout Kings’ and that was one of the best experiences I’ve had with a cast and crew and production team. Nick manages to create these incredible worlds where it mixes a lot of hard work and a lot of fun, and then you get to kick some ass. I was also very excited to do a show where I could highlight some of my action abilities. I was a gymnast growing up, so these types of fight scenes are in my wheelhouse. 

Which of the past roles that you’ve done would you say left the biggest impression on you and why?
Each character that I play leaves a mark on me and the way that I see the world, but overall I think it would be playing Liz Taylor. To wake up every morning and step into that iconic woman’s shoes was life changing for me, deep diving into her life and her advocacy. She truly was a legend.

How did you prepare for this role, to portray such an iconic person?
I prepared with my acting coach, Victor Villar-Hauser, and dialect coach, Jamison Bryant, who both did an incredible job working with me to get her essence and vocal pitch. I would actually love to do another project playing her, if the opportunity arose. 

You’ve gotten to work alongside many big names in the industry. Working with whom inspired you the most creatively?
I would have to say Jeff Bridges. I worked with him at the beginning of my career on a film called ‘Tron: Legacy’. I remember he walked into a warehouse where we were rehearsing and came straight up to us and introduced himself. He knew each of our names. I had a very small role in the film, but here was the lead coming over and saying hello and welcoming us to the set. Every time I saw him, he always made you feel like you were a part of something, or more importantly that you were important to the project. It’s something that I’ve taken with me on every set. To make sure that everyone in the scene understands that they are important and we’re all here to make this project together.

Has acting always been what you knew you wanted to do in life?
I come from an acting family. My mother was an actress when I was young and she brought me to set, and I ended up being able to be one of the extras in the film. I ended up absolutely loving it, which is why I think I ultimately became an actress, but I really didn’t start acting until I was in my early 20s. 

Besides acting, you are the co-founder of Blueprint, a dynamic education platform where students can actively engage in mental and emotional wellness. Tell us more about this organisation and why is mental and emotional wellness so important, not only for the students, but in your life as well.
I believe that all children should have access to mental and emotional education. I wish I had had it sooner in my life. In school we are taught skill sets like math, English, etc., but we’re not taught life skills like self-awareness, conflict resolution or communication skills. This world is a complex place to navigate as it is, but after the pandemic, a learning gap emerged among our youth and at the root of it was the lack of mental health support. And there’s always been stigma around mental illness, but as we push our adolescence farther into a state of isolation and disconnection through social media, there are no resources, especially personalised learning resources, to help guide and support them. 

Our goal at Blueprint is to support students with a personalised learning platform with mental and emotional wellness curriculum. We use the power of storytelling by thought leaders like Jim Kwik to create transformative and engaging content and curriculum. Think of it as Masterclass for kids, only state standard aligned. Instead of focusing on what children want to be when they grow up, we focus on who they want to be. We mix the oldest format of communication and education, which is storytelling, with the newest format, which is technology and AI. Blueprint’s goal is to harness the capacity of the mind, while also harness capacity of the heart.

dress SANDRO

What are some of your other passions in life, besides acting and Blueprint?
My writing partner and I just finished a script in our slate that is getting some heat. We’ve brought on producers and are out to show runners now, so it’s moving quite quickly. It would be a dream to be in something that I created. 

What is coming up next for you? What projects will we be seeing you next in?
I have a really exciting project coming up that I can’t say anything about just yet, but let’s just say it’s the first time I’ve ever done something like this, and I can’t wait for it to be announced.

top and shorts LAQUAN SMITH
tights FALKE

photography RAUL ROMO
make up GRACE PHILLIPS at Tomlinson Management Group
hair RICKY FRASER at The Wall Group
editorial director and interview JANA LETONJA