I have always been keen to talk to Alexis Slade, not least because she knew Rachael Hip-Flores before she became Vivian. However, that is not the only reason for my wanting to spend some time talking and getting to know her. I think it is sometimes easy to forget the struggles that her character, Elisabeth, has had to go through on the show and the quality of her performance can sometimes be overlooked.
As a young mother, Alexis’ experience of high school was vastly different from Elisabeth’s. In the first season we saw Elisabeth struggle with the demands she placed on herself as she pursued her dream to become an actress. In the second season we have seen these pressures added to because of her burgeoning romance with Archibald. Seeing where Season Two left her we can only speculate what further complications her life will face.
Alexis’ portrayal of Elisabeth is both endearing and genuine; she has created a character that is not only vulnerable but steadfastly determined. You understand her focus and drive but at the same time wish that she and Archibald would just stop being so stubborn and talk to each other. Their relationship can at times be as sweet and equally frustrating as the central relationship of Vivian and Aster.
I have learnt over the last few months how exceptionally wonderful everyone involved in ABM is, and Alexis is no different. She is as sweet and funny as you could ever expect someone to be. It felt as though I was talking to an old friend as we swapped stories about living in London and just how much of a pain that Rachael can really be.
I am sure that with the storylines that have opened up involving Elisabeth our love for this character will continue to grow. With Alexis playing her, how could it possibly not?
ABMFans: Tell me about it, but no student will ever believe you when you say that, I miss learning. Knowing you have Christmas off and those long summers? They have no idea how good they have it.
Alexis: True. Well, I had a very different college experience than most. I went to Mason Gross School of the Arts, which is a part of Rutgers University. Believe it or not, it was the last place I wanted to go. They didn’t have a musical theatre program and at the time I was big into the musical theatre world.
ABMFans: I love musical theatre. I’m actually listening to the Jersey Boys soundtrack right now.
Alexis: That’s too funny. I haven’t seen it…was it good? I kinda wanna see Addams Family with Nathan Lane. I’m sure it’ll be a hoot!
ABMFans: It was actually, I wasn’t sure because everyone was telling me unless you really want to know the story of The Four Seasons then don’t go and see it but the music is just so catchy. He’d be amazing in anything I think. I’m a bit concerned about these film to theatre adaptations but I was pleasantly surprised by Billy Elliott and even more so by Legally Blonde.
Alexis: Yeah, it’s one of those things…either you love it or you hate it. In any case…in terms of my college experience, I truly lucked out. Even though I didn’t know it at the time, Mason Gross turned out to be the best place for me. There were only 16 of us in a class for the entire four years so we were all really able to get the personal attention that we needed to perfect our craft. My class became my family. Our professors were outstanding. And of course the highlight was being able to study at the Globe Theatre in London! Though I must say…I was extremely home sick and I missed my son terribly. He was only 5 at the time.
ABMFans: Yeah that’s got to be hard at any age. Rach keeps telling me horror stories of how cold it was and how you guys could never find anything open past 8pm, obviously you guys just didn’t know your way around. Plus, the area you were in I’d imagine there was plenty open late at night.
Alexis: She’s right. It was soooo cold and gloomy. I’m a sun person. I missed the hot sun.
ABMFans: What did you guys expect? Sunshine and palm trees? And hey, NY is plenty cold. You really can’t come here expecting sun, that’s just asking for disappointment.
Alexis: So true. I don’t think we really knew what to expect. But no matter the weather, I still had such an amazing time.
ABMFans: Do you miss it? I know Rach does, but that’s probably partly my fault coz I keep tweeting her London things.
Alexis: I wish I had explored a bit more though. We were in class six days a week so our free time was really limited.
ABMFans: Come back .
Alexis: I do miss it.
ABMFans: I keep bugging Tina and Susan to get you guys over here. Eventually they’ll do it just to shut me up. When I met up with Meredith she’d said that London is apparently where the biggest fan base is and I asked her if they were sure that wasn’t just me clicking on things.
Alexis: With someone like you on our team, we don’t need any one else! You hold it down girlfriend!
ABMFans: That’s why you need to come to London.
Alexis: I shall. Not a question of IF, just a question of WHEN : )
Alexis: P.S. I adore Meredith. In fact, I don’t have enough Meredith in my life. I need to work on that.
ABMFans: This is everyone’s opinion of Meredith, I must admit she is pretty awesome. She rescued me from an Eagles game that was getting sort of messy because they were losing.
Alexis: Oh man, I really need to get in to some sports. I always feel so left out.
ABMFans: Well I had no idea what was going on, get into football (proper football not your lots version), it makes much more sense.
Alexis: People talk about the game and the players …I’m totally lost. And by proper football you mean soccer right?
ABMFans: I’m okay until they start talking statistics.
Alexis: See that’s why I don’t even try.
ABMFans: I mean football, you’re the only country that calls it soccer.
Alexis: I know, I know. I actually don’t like either…soccer or football. Basketball is probably the only game I can sit through.
ABMFans: I’m currently deciding whether to be a Mets or Yankees fan, it’s becoming quite a fierce debate amongst the respective supporters.
Alexis: I say go with the Yankees. Only because I like the uniforms better. That’s how I pick teams. No joke. Isn’t that a shame?!
ABMFans: Well you know, a reason’s a reason .
ABMFans: If you’re going to support a team then there may be clothing involved so you need to consider these things.
Alexis: Exactly. I stand by my reasons! You understand me Gemma, so I know I’m not crazy.
ABMFans: Or you know…I’m crazy too.
Alexis: Even better!
ABMFans: Come to London, if it’s football season we shall go to a game and then that will probably completely turn you off the idea of supporting a team.
ABMFans: So, you went to school with Rach, and you lived with her in London, so…dish the dirt. I mean, I have my opinion of her, but I’m not sure how many people believe me anymore. She’s a nightmare right? So demanding.
Alexis: Oh I knoooow! She’s a tyrant! A monster really.
ABMFans: See! This is what I think but no one believes me. The only reason I’m nice about her is because I’m kinda scared.
Alexis: I know! Everyone loves her…but I’m with you….watch your back when you’re around her. Danger is her middle name.
ABMFans: I think she’s more dangerous to herself than anyone else, unless you’re in the vicinity.
Alexis: She’s actually quite the opposite. Intelligent, kind, honest…she’s a doll. I adore her.
ABMFans: I see she has you scared too.
Alexis: Shhh, don’t tell anybody.
ABMFans: I don’t think anyone would believe me anyway.
Alexis: No, probably not. She’s a master of disguise. No one sees the evil in that girl. But we are on to her!
ABMFans: Yeah, at least we know.
Alexis: We didn’t actually live together in London. But we spent practically every waking moment together. She was always one of the most level headed of the bunch.
ABMFans: Now I know you’re crazy.
Alexis: I know, it’s hard to believe…but honestly, I looked up (and still do) to her. There were moments when she knew exactly what to say or do to diffuse a bad situation.
ABMFans: I’m not sure I can print that about her.
Alexis: It’s the truth my dear. I tell you no lie.
ABMFans: I know, that’s what makes it so damn hard, that girl is definitely something – the best possible something.
Alexis: Most definitely.
ABMFans: How excited were you when you found out you’d be on the show together? did you know before or after you went for it?
Alexis: I was all kinds of excited when I found out! We didn’t know until after the cast list went out. And when I saw her name I was like, “No way! How awesome is this going to be!”
ABMFans: Do you two get up to mischief together?
Alexis: Of course! But I’ll never tell…the stories are much too disturbing for your ears.
ABMFans: Hmm…okay, so if anything goes wrong on set I’m pretty much thinking one, or both of you, will be at fault then.
Alexis: It’s quite possible. The two of us get together and do a lot of laughing. That’s the best kind of friend to have, isn’t it?
ABMFans: Absolutely, she is responsible for a lot of laughter. Both in terms of because of her and at her.
ABMFans: I laugh at her ridiculousness so it comes around back to her, she laughs at my Britishness
Alexis: Aw, I like your Britishness!
ABMFans: She does too, but she won’t admit it. How’s your British accent? Must be pretty decent after six months here.
Alexis: It’s okay. My Cockney is better. I made some friends that had these really heavy Cockney accents, and I got such a kick out of it.
ABMFans: Oooh I wanna hear that one day, maybe I should ask Susan and Tina to write it into a scene. So you know cockney rhyming slang? Apples and pears and dog and bone and all that?
Alexis: I’d love to do that!
ABMFans: Consider it asked!
Alexis: No no…I mean I know about the slang, but I don’t really know what they mean. I didn’t really pick that part up.
Alexis: Wish I did though .
ABMFans: More reason to come back .
Alexis: I would teach all my friends so we could have a secret code language. See, I am mischievous.
ABMFans: I think there’s a lot of things that us Brits say that I’m only figuring out, like calling someone “your old china” means that they’re your mate because of the rhyming slang – china plate equals mate.
Alexis: Oooh I like that! I’m gonna start calling my bf that. Oh, but mate means friend right? Not necessarily boyfriend.
ABMFans: Got it! He’s your umbrella!
ABMFans: Umbrella equals fella.
Alexis: Perfect! Okay, I’ll tell him when I see him…he’ll be so confused. I’m not gonna tell him what it means for a while…see how mad I can make him!
ABMFans: Uh huh, mischievous. I’ll be careful around you and Rachael.
Alexis: Yeah you better!
ABMFans: I’m generally careful around her, she’s tricky.
Alexis: Tricky little thing…yup.
ABMFans: You guys are pretty much a family, the ABMers, how important do you think that is to how well the show’s done?
Alexis: Well, the more comfortable we are with each other, the more vulnerable we can be. We all became real friends, and I think it does help our work not only on screen but it makes for a safe environment in general. Being on set never feels like work. When it’s time to leave, we all get sad.
ABMFans: Yeah I can imagine that happening.
Alexis: That’s the tricky thing about acting…it demands complete vulnerability, no matter the circumstance. We feel safe with each other. We trust each other. The cast, the crew, Susan and Tina…we all genuinely like each other. So when it’s time to work…we can really just let go. And we have an outstanding team. It’s like flying a plane…we have the pilot and the crew…everyone knows what they are doing…so we can fly! Haha! Cheesy and mischievous.
ABMFans: Not sure I’d trust a plane you guys were flying but I like your analogy, although I suppose I have to trust you because I’m emotionally invested now.
Alexis: Hey! It’s the party plane! You’d have a blast with us!
ABMFans: Well right now you guys have left us in free fall after the end of the last season!
Alexis: Girl…you and the rest of us. We don’t know what’s gonna happen either.
ABMFans: Don’t get me started on that whole VivSter mess, that’s still too painful, but even Arch and Elisabeth aren’t doing well and she doesn’t even know why .
Alexis: I know! It really is a big dramatic mess now. I want Elisabeth and Archie to work out so badly. I think they are so perfect for each other…but they both have a lot of growing to do before it can happen I think.
ABMFans: I know just when you think things are working out with them there’s some kind of misunderstanding.
Alexis: And the VivSter thing…well, dare I say…I’m rooting for Sophie.
ABMFans: And you were doing so well in getting me to like you!
Alexis: Oh no! Well let me explain…
ABMFans: Hmm, you can try, go on then.
Alexis: I love Vivian and Aster together. I do…but I think it’s time for Vivian to branch off and try something new. I think it’s necessary for her growth. And Aster’s too. And even more so for Sophie. Aster was there for Vivian when she was trying to find herself. She’s a huge part of who Vivian is right now…and that’s something that will never change, but I believe that Sophie is in need of that same type of support and love.
ABMFans: She doesn’t have to get it from Vivian! There must be other gay people in Westchester, in fact I know there is – Jamie!
Alexis: Haha, aww I know. But it’s Vivian. She is the chosen one.
ABMFans: I think Sophie needs to chose someone who hasn’t already been chosen.
Alexis: If ABM were in the Matrix, she’d be Neo.
ABMFans: Well Vivian needs to pick whichever pill it is that involves her being with Aster.
Alexis: Ooo, we are getting a little feisty Gemma! I love it!
ABMFans: I am unswayable on the topic of VivSter.
Alexis: I understand…and ultimately they probably will end up together. But they need some time to grow. Separately. The relationship will be so much better in the end.
ABMFans: I admit that Vivian was wrong to lean into the kiss, and I will even admit that Aster over-reacted in a ridiculous (although you can hardly say unpredictable) manner, but this can’t be the end of them. Have you seen the music video they did for the Rachael Cantu song? Rips my heart out yet again.
Alexis: Yes … it was so beautiful AND heart breaking, for sure. They are a great couple. It’s all very upsetting.
ABMFans: It’s like Aster knows she messed up – BIG time, and she’s looking at Vivian but she’s looking at her like, ‘I don’t know if I can forgive you for what you did.’ It’s been five months and it still upsets me.
Alexis: And that’s the thing….time for forgiveness is also important. Jumping back in to the relationship as if nothing ever happened or trying to mend it without taking the time to really work on themselves is not healthy.
ABMFans: Yeah I hear you, I don’t want to, but I do.
Alexis: Oh I know. Cuz the writing is excellent. It’s so true to life. Screws you up.
ABMFans: We don’t even know where Season Three will pick-up, I mean will it be right after the kiss or will some time have passed? They’re killing me here.
Alexis: I am so excited to see where they take us. It’s gonna be goooood!
ABMFans: That’s what makes it even worse too – because I know the writing’s so good I have to trust that whatever it is they do is going to be the best for the characters, but I at least know that Susan is part of the team that wanted Bette and Tina back together on the L Word so she has a history of not tearing apart the central couple for too long. And Arch and Elisabeth! Those two just need to start talking properly, and Elisabeth needs to take it down a notch, she gets worked up too easily.
Alexis: Right…well, you never know…she might surprise you!
ABMFans: Don’t say things like that, it’s not nice.
Alexis: She sure does. I can’t even argue with you on that.
Alexis: I’m sorry . Don’t worry about it though! Just wait and see what happens…..then freak out!
ABMFans: Oh man.
ABMFans: This is why Vivian needs to be happy, so she can help Arch out, he needs someone to make him see sense.
Alexis: He sees her doing something shady…he freaks out and leaves. She sees him do something she doesn’t like…she freaks out. I think they get off on the drama. Break up to make up type stuff.
ABMFans: It does seem to be that way, but let’s hope they have some more happiness next season though. Arch is such a sweet guy and Elisabeth is of course lovely. When she’s not losing it.
Alexis: I hope so too. She is so crazy. Very much like me. I can relate to her madness.
ABMFans: Did you walk into lockers too?
Alexis: Well…..no. But I remember being so ridiculously emotional when I was in high school. I still am I suppose. I just learned how to control it. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I can’t help it. If something upset me, everyone knew about it. And not because I would get angry and be reckless, but I would cry. I’d cry for myself and everyone else in the world. If someone I didn’t even know was hurting about something and I knew about it…I would seriously feel it in some way. I would be hysterical over things that I was so distant from that other people always thought I was crazy. It’s not crazy to me though…its compassion.
ABMFans: Sometimes I think that’s better though that being completely detached, I’ve always found it easier to turn something down than feel something you don’t. It’s crazy that feeling something is looked at strangely.
Alexis: It really is. If only more people saw things the way we do…our world would be a much better place. Right now it’s a lot of seeing and knowing the bad that’s going on, and turning away from it because it’s more comfortable to just pretend it doesn’t exist.
ABMFans: Unfortunately, yes. High school was emotional for you then, what other issues/moments would you like to see explored on the show? I’m thinking a prom.
Alexis: That would be so fun! I know that Susan and Tina have a clear vision for us, so I’m sure whatever they choose to do will be awesome. Teen pregnancy would be interesting. I’ve been through it…it’s was so scary. I felt so lonely.
ABMFans: Barbara Pitts and I went a bit nuts in her interview and we were going crazy with storylines, including a teen pregnancy one, and one involving Sophie having an affair with Aunt Jodie’s ex-husband.
Alexis: You guys are too funny! Run the story line about the affair by Susan and Tina…let me know how that one goes!
ABMFans: We were trying to figure out why Aunt Jodie and Sophie never talk but they’ve been neighbours her whole life.
Alexis: Hmm, that’s a good question. I don’t know.
ABMFans: See, this is what happens between seasons.
Alexis: Maybe there IS something going on there.
ABMFans: Exactly! That Sophie is so naughty. She’s another one you have to keep an eye on!