By Pauline Perenack
Audiences may recognize Violett Beane from her turn as Jesse Quick in The Flash, or from her heartbreaking portrayal of Lily on The Resident, but she finally gets a starring turn on the latest series from Greg Berlanti, God Friended Me.
The new show follows an atheist podcaster (Brandon Michael Hall), whose beliefs are challenged when God friends him on Facebook, and Beane’s character is one of the first people he meets.
With God Friended Me premiering soon, I caught up with Violett to talk about what audiences should expect from her new show, who her new character is, and what cast snack obsession makes an appearance later on in the season.
Congratulations on your new show, God Friended Me. But, before we get into that, tell me a little bit about yourself. How did you get into acting?
I was born in Florida and I was raised in Austin, Texas which is where I really found my creative side. I went to an arts school that technically you had to apply for, for high school and I was in theatre for a long time, and I really liked it. I was in the plays and musical roles. In my senior year, we got a new theatre coach, and for whatever reason, the two of us just did not get along, so he stopped casting me in any of the plays. But I still had this creative side of me that I wanted to explore and to show, so I found a local agent in Austin, a film and television agent, and I started going out on auditions. I got my manager, and I eventually booked The Flash, and then I moved to L.A. Now I’m in New York, but it was just a matter of getting out there and doing it.
Let’s talk God Friended Me. Can you tell us about the show and what audiences should expect?
On the surface, it’s about an atheist who gets friended by someone who’s calling themselves God on Facebook. He eventually accepts the request, and immediately gets these friend suggestions for people, and he sort of unknowingly becomes this person of change in people’s lives and he starts helping them. It’s a really uplifting, positive show that’s about the connectivity of the world, and how we can be there for each other. I play Cara Bloom. She is actually one of the friend suggestions that Miles gets and through the God account, Miles helps her reconnect with her mom and instead of that being it for her, she decides to stick around. She’s a journalist, so she loves a good story and she’s getting that out of the God account, and she’s making new friends. She and Miles are kind of hanging out.
Talking more about Cara, what else can you say about her?
Cara is a very, very strong-willed person. In the pilot, you find out that her mom left her and her dad when she was 7 years old. And in some ways Cara never recovered from that, which is totally reasonable. That’s a really extreme thing to happen to a kid. So she moves to New York because she finds out that her mom moved there, and she basically goes on the hunt for her and it kind of just shows how she doesn’t back down from challenges or a story. She wants to get to the bottom of things. And with the God account, she really loves that they’re able to help people, and I think that says a lot about her as well.
What was it that drew you to the concept of this show?
The Flash is uplifting in a way, but I feel like this show is definitely the one that sends a really positive message to people and to humans in general. It’s just about accepting people and helping people, because we’re all going through stuff and that’s what you’ll see every week with the “Friend of the Week,” as we call them. You’ll see that with every episode, there are very believable, real stories about things that happen to people, and you’ll see that everyone is going through something, and if there’s just someone out there who can lend a hand or help them figure it out, that’s kind of what we need.
What can audiences expect from the show? Is it more of a comedy? More of a dramatic feel-good show?
It’s definitely a dramatic feel-good show, but there are some comedic elements. The cast all get along so well, and our creators are really close, so there’s definitely elements of comedy in it. And we just have fun on set, and I think that shows through the show.
You guys have been really bonding off set and that’s helping you with stories that you’re filming?
Totally. When we filmed the pilot, we basically spent every waking hour together, and with our creators as well, Bryan [Wynbrandt] and Steven [Lilien]. We just read this script for episode seven and were at the table read reading, and there’s this mention of Insomnia Cookies, which during the pilot, Brandon [Michael Hall] would order every other day, because he was obsessed, so they threw that in there, and we all had a huge laugh. It’s really family, for sure.
Do you have a particular episode you’ve done already that is your favorite? And if so, why?
I really liked episode two. I think it’s just really, really heartbreaking, and our guest star did an amazing job, and I’m really excited for people to see that. And the episode we’re working on right now, actually, there is a lot of development with the relationships between all the cast members, and I think it’s a special one.
Speaking of guest stars, do you have one that really stands out this season, and now that you’ve gotten the flow of the show, can you think of one you’d like to have in the back half of the season?
Honestly, I’ve been so impressed by every single guest star we’ve had, and it’s interesting, because I’ve guested a lot on other shows. So when I’m meeting them, I kind of remember that, and it’s been really special meeting all these people and seeing them pour their heart out. And they’re doing such a great job. As far as who I would like to see, absolutely Tatiana Maslany. I think she’s just so talented, and I think to be able to work with her would be a learning experience on its own, so that would be pretty cool. Plus I think she’s in New York right now, so it works out.
You’ve also recently been in two very popular television shows, in The Flash and The Resident. What’s it like to be on something that has such a huge fan base – and even more so, on a brand new show that just exploded in popularity?
It’s definitely the complete opposite. With The Flash, when my casting got announced, everyone was freaking out, people were messaging me, and commenting things, and I’m like, what is going on? And with this show, it’s up to us to get the word out, and I think having the pilot out before it airs [on CBS] is great, because it gets young people watching. It’s totally different, but I’m excited to see it build a new audience and a loyal one, because I think it will.
Since the pilot has been out already, what kind of feedback have you gotten already? Are people reaching out on social media? Are you seeing that conversation already happening?
Absolutely. Just based on the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter streams, there are so many comments, and so many people saying they can’t wait to see the second episode. Some of them are angry that we released the first episode so soon, and now they have to wait, and it’s great. It’s all been really positive, and I love that. I love hearing what people have to say, even if it’s negative. I’ll take it, I’ll hear the feedback, but I just love interacting with people, and a lot of people have been saying it’s helped them relate to someone, which I think is the point of all of this. For me anyways. Every single character comes from a different background, so I think people are going to be able to watch this and see a friend of theirs or someone that they know in these characters, and they’ll be able to have a conversation.
Due to the various shows you’ve been on, you’ve had the opportunity to film in many different cities. Did any of them stand out as a favorite for you? Why?
I loved all of them because they’re so different, but I really did enjoy filming The Resident in Atlanta because Lily is so different for me, and she was going through something that I personally, fortunately have not experienced or anyone close to me, and so it was a learning curve, and it was really exciting to step out of my comfort zone for that.
I like ending with an easy question – What’s your current favorite book, favorite song, and favorite TV show out there?
Whoa. Ok, favorite book I read recently was ‘Kiss the Ground’ which is a non-fiction book about how the way that we farm in America, and around the world, but mostly in America, is killing our soil and how it’s actually making it unplantable. It’s a really informative book, but it’s essentially just bringing awareness to small farming, and to how big farms are killing the agricultural business. It’s a great read. Favorite TV show is probably Killing Eve. So, so, so, so good. I think I watched all ten episodes in less than a day. It’s amazing. Favorite song, I think the album just came out, so I would say ‘Pretty Little Fears’ ft. J. Cole, which is on 6LACK’s latest album.
God Friended Me premieres Sunday, September 30 at 8pm EST/PST on CBS, or watch the first episode now on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.