After lording over Wisteria Lane and Southfork Ranch, Brenda Strong is assuming a new position as queen of The 100‘s Ice Nation. Strong tells TVLine she’s loving the radically different role — and the power that comes with it.
“There’s a rawness and a fierceness and a strength in her that I haven’t had with characters I’ve previously played,” she says. “Nia is 100 percent in the antagonist camp. It’s really exciting for me to play someone who’s possibly unlikable, but hopefully relatable.”
Below, Strong discusses the process of bringing Queen Nia to life and shares what she loves most about the CW drama’s structure of female empowerment.
TVLINE | Let’s start from the beginning: This is such a different role for you, so how did it come about?
[Executive producer] Jason [Rothenberg] knew my work and felt that, based on who I am — I think more as a person than the roles I’ve played — would make a very fierce Ice Queen. My stature probably has something to do with it, being six feet tall, and I actually did a lot of stage combat in college, so I know how to work with broad swords and rapiers. There’s a part of me that thrives from doing action, so I was thrilled that he thought of me for this.
TVLINE | And she has such a striking look. What does it take to get Nia camera-ready?
It was quite an evolution. Our makeup artist Taylor really went through such an incredible exploration. She and Jason would go back-and-forth, and I think I was in makeup for 32 hours total before we kind of nailed Queen Nia’s look. Between that an her wardrobe, I felt like she was fully developed for me. The costumer incorporated ice picks and fur and leather and other things you’d expect to see in a remote, icier climate.
TVLINE | One of the coolest things about The 100 is the way women are placed in powerful roles without question or hesitation. Is that something that also drew you to the show?
Absolutely. In a lot of ways, if you look back at history of man before the written word, it was a very matriarchal society. Jason’s really connected to that from an honest historical standpoint. I love that our heroine is a woman and that the other leaders are women. There’s a certain strength coming through, regardless of age, in the female characters. And I think our male characters are more complex because of that. They’re having to work opposite of women who are pretty fierce and fearless. It raises the bar for everyone. It’s especially great for young women who are looking to these characters as role models. … Betrayal, leadership and integrity are also huge theme for young girls, and they’re all being explored on The 100 on a global landscape.
TVLINE | Everyone has an agenda on this show, so is it even fair to put Nia in a “good” or “bad” category?
That’s the thing — all of the tribes have these huge, sweeping arcs. What’s terrific is that everyone is in opposite of one another, so you can see the perspective of Lexa and go, “Well, she’s fierce, but she has a clear vision.” And the same goes with Nia. Unfortunately, their visions are in opposition of each other.
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