Briana Buckmaster – On Spinoffs, Squee and Women on Supernatural
One of my favorite parts of Vancon this year was catching up with Briana Buckmaster, who is beyond awesome. You already know from my episode reviews that I love her character on Supernatural and her chemistry with Kim Rhodes, but spending some face-to face-time with Briana has made me love her even more. She brought along her wonderful husband, Jose, and her beautiful daughter, Valentina, too. We gave them a little tour of the con, took them shopping in the vendors’ area, and then we sat down with Briana for a chat while the rest of the family enjoyed exploring the convention center.
First, Briana filmed a segment for us for the upcoming film “Squee! The Fangirl Documentary,” which I have had a blast working on as co-writer and associate producer along with the amazing producer/director Hansi Oppenheimer and our super-talented post-producer Adam Williams (who also makes Supernatural look incredible with his VFX talent). Briana gave us some wonderful insights into fandom and fangirls for Squee. She’s a fangirl herself – witness her tweet of last night in response to that unfortunate and terribly misinformed SpoilerTV article:
@OfficialBrianaB: Sure I’m a #CasualFemaleViewer. I mean, I binge watch hundreds of tv shows, tweet about them, dream about them. You know, super casual.
Like I said, fangirl.
Then the camera crew headed out and Briana and I settled into the comfy chairs to chat, along with editor and good friend Alicia (since Kathy couldn’t make this con).
Alicia (who also makes a kickass PA): Don’t forget to ask about the spinoff! [Wayward Daughters – the spinoff idea that has a ton of support among fans, with Sheriffs Donna and Jody taking in Claire and Alex and any other ‘wayward daughters’.]
Briana: How did you know about the spinoff idea?
Alicia: Well, because Lynn said ‘There are five questions I want to be sure to ask her, so remind me….’ But also, I think the whole fandom knows about the spinoff.
Briana: [laughing] Does it? This is the thing, right? Kim is another one that I talk to about that stuff because again, I don’t know who’s who or whatever. You just listen and you’re grateful that people are saying things and you just kind of close your eyes and go on with life. Otherwise you pine, right?
Lynn: Right. Fans sometimes pine a lot.
Briana: But when I was doing that first episode, I mentioned this maybe to you when we first talked – that when I was face-down filming The Purge, buck naked, getting the fat sucked out of me, Phil [Sgriccia] was pitching this idea of a spinoff.
Lynn: Yes! That’s in the first interview I did with you.
Briana: I mean, it was during that! I mean, years ago almost now. And it was Brad, who’s camera A, he’s the one that said, ‘Oh, that sounds like a spinoff!’ And I was just so new to TV, I was like, a spinoff? What? This is like my sixth television job!
Lynn: [laughing] It is kind of bizarre that in your first episode anyone would say, Oh, your character should have a spinoff…’ It says something really good about your character and your acting.
Briana: It is great. I remember Misha saying that to me. He said, ‘It’s amazing, there was no reason for them to bring you back. They found a reason for you to come back.’ Can you be any more flattered? That’s unbelievable. It’s like an actor’s dream.
Lynn: Well, I feel like if any producers understand the power of chemistry, it’s Supernatural. The success of the entire show is based on the power of chemistry!
Briana: You’re right, you’re so right.
Lynn: And you have the capacity to have chemistry with people. I don’t know why, because I don’t act, but you have that. You have it with Kim.
Briana: It’s true, I’ve worked with a lot of actors who are really hard to get to know. And sometimes it makes them really really good, but I’ve been acting since I was 18 and so that’s a long time and I thought, if I’m not gonna get really close to people, this is not gonna be fun. Because it’s not gonna get me rich.
Lynn and Alicia: [nodding]
Briana: But yeah, I don’t know anything obviously. I know some of the writers know about it, Kim and I have talked to the women who started the Wayward Daughters Tumblr pitch. It’s a no-brainer, we would both be involved in a second. If neither of us books something in the interim. We are still working and auditioning. I love working for Supernatural, but they’re not going to hire me for an entire season any time soon.
Lynn: Not unless the spinoff actually happens.
Briana: I think, in talking with Kim, if they were planning a spinoff for next season, we would have known by now.
Lynn: They got a little burnt by Bloodlines.
Briana: I never saw Bloodlines. What was it about it?
Lynn: I love the show, but really, that was not the show.
Alicia: It was a Supernatural intro, 40 minutes of Vampire Diaries, and a Supernatural outro.
Briana: I guess that’s what they thought they should do, because it’s the CW, so they tried to young it down. But I think maybe they need to do the opposite.
Lynn and Alicia: Yes! They lost half of their audience.
Briana: Because they have the Vampire Diaries already, they have Pretty Little Liars, they have all those shows. But a lot of TV viewers are now in their thirties.
Lynn: It may also be because of their reticence to think that two women leads can carry a show. And the perception that in the early days, SPN fans didn’t like female characters.
Briana: That has changed for sure. It’s remarkable because I have heard that a lot. I heard that from friends of mine who were fans of the show.
Alicia: I think people just want to watch a show about Sam and Dean, not a show about them getting married and having kids… It’s not that, ‘Oh, if Dean’s kissing her, he’s not kissing me…’
Briana: What was the season that he was shacked up with the boy?
Lynn: Wait, Dean was shacked up with a boy? Are you sure that wasn’t fanfic?
Alicia: Season 6? You mean shacked up with Lisa? And Ben?
Everyone: [cracking up]
Briana: Yes, yes. Wasn’t the show originally supposed to end after season 5, wasn’t that the deal?
Lynn: Yes, Kripke originally planned out 5 seasons. And maybe that was why season 6 floundered a bit, because he left. I think S6 was really hard. Sera Gamble took over, and she’s great, but that was a tough mantle to take on.
Briana: It would be, you’re right.
Alicia: I do think part of the reason Jody and Donna are so accepted is because they’re not love interests, but that’s because it also makes them richer characters.
Briana: I was gonna say, it’s not only that we’re not romantic interests for them, it’s that the characters have desires for themselves that are beyond sexual.
Lynn and Alicia: Exactly. They’re complex.
Lynn: Yes, they’re not there just for Sam and Dean, they’re there because they exist in their own right.
Briana: They have their own goals, their own desires, yeah.
Lynn: That’s why Hibbing 911 passed the Bechdel test with flying colors – you have women talking to women, you have women with agency.
Lynn: I mean, I would love the spinoff…
Briana: Sign me up, I’m in! And I’m not only in because it would of course be wonderful to have a show, but I think it could be really good, and different and new and I think there are new stories that could be told. There are just so many ways it could go. I mean, they could – women ARE allowed to have sex and they are allowed to have relationships, so those stories could be told, but it doesn’t have to be all the stories told. There are pasts to explore, there are future relationships, like relationships with other women and other men that aren’t sexual relationships, too.
Lynn: It could be a really empowering show for women. Two women who’ve been through a lot, much like the male characters on Supernatural have been. You know, Donna and Jody, it’s unusual, they have a lot of backstory, they’re fully fleshed-out characters.
Alicia: That’s the other thing about the attempted spinoff, they just plunked four new characters in – Supernatural had been on the air 9 seasons, and they could have drawn in so many of those guest actors!
Lynn: Yeah, all the ones fans love at the cons and have so much loyalty to, but they didn’t use any of them!
Briana: [nodding] Yeah.
Lynn: So talk a bit about your con experience so far. When we chatted before, you hadn’t been yet. I heard you were a big hit at karaoke – so sorry we missed it!
Briana: Oh, really? I heard from people right after, but of course people were gonna say ‘Good job, good job.’
Lynn: I think it really was a good job.
Briana: [grinning adorably] My first con was epic to me. I had so much fun, I got to meet so many people that I’d been communicating with for years and felt like I can reach out to them, you know what I mean? I know there’s a lot of that at cons, you meet so many people who the TV show has meant so much to them on so many different levels. Some of them are sad levels, and you want to reach out to them and you can’t do that on Twitter. It was very special, that you get to hug somebody like that.
L: That’s what’s so different about this fandom, this reciprocal relationship. Of course you’re gonna want to hug fans!
Briana: I hugged everyone who came to the photo ops.
Lynn: Most people do.
Briana: Good, I’ve been told that. I mean, I wouldn’t feel comfortable – if a fan asked for a hug, saying no! I don’t want to break the rules, though. That’s why I loved karaoke yesterday, because we could take all the selfies we wanted. Anyway, yes, it was great. And I’m happy that the panel was as fun as it seemed. I heard that Fridays are quieter days, but it didn’t seem like that at all.
Lynn: No, because you and Kim were not quiet!
Lynn: It’s like, some people could be the best actor in the world but they don’t have the personality to get up on stage like that and entertain.
Briana: I was talking to Theo [Devaney] about this as well last night, because he has a big theater background, too. That I feel way more comfortable at the cons than I do on set.
Lynn: And he was clearly very comfortable, too.
Briana: Yeah, he loves it. Oh, and he had his panel today, how did it go?
Lynn: It was great! He did a great job.
Briana: Aww, and he’s so charming, too…
Lynn: And he has that accent…
Briana [fangirling along with me]: You can’t go wrong with that! It’s like, ‘Say it again, say it again…’
Lynn: Hehehe, oh god, yes….
Briana: Like, what’s that, you were reading a menu? Keep going…
Lynn: Here’s a phone book…
[Theo Devaney, are your ears burning yet? Are you blushing??]
Briana: And Ruth, too.
Lynn: Oh yes, Ruth! I interviewed her and there were times I just zoned out listening to her voice, like, ‘What? What were you saying? Oh, I’m supposed to be asking you questions…‘
Briana: Oh, it’s beautiful. And on the show she speaks so slowly, I love her character on the show.
Lynn: Me, too! So did you do any meet-and-greets at DCCon?
Briana: Mm-hmm. Oh, they were great. It was so funny. People are always shocked, they always say I’m so much smaller in person. And I always appreciate that, but at the same time, I really like the idea that Donna was overweight – IS overweight – and I really like playing an overweight character. Because I definitely can relate to that and I think a lot of women can.
Lynn: I think most women can.
Briana: Even women who are not scientifically overweight.
Lynn: Yes. We all live in fear.
Briana: Yes, yes, it’s terrible. But I want – I really want to – and nobody’s asked me this yet – if they do, it’s fine – but I really want to move the conversation away from talking about women’s bodies. Because it’s not necessary. We don’t talk about men’s bodies, there are lots of different shapes of bodies on the show for men, but they made an episode about Donna being overweight and I get that, and they got the conversation into it and then they decided that it’s okay, and then in the next episode she was still insecure about it, as we all are a little bit, but it’s hard because I don’t want to bring it up because I don’t want someone to say something like, ‘Wow, you look good,’ and then I’d go, ‘But let’s not talk about that, guys,’ you know? It’s a tricky thing. But yeah, the meet-and-greets feel like you’re at a dinner party. That’s the best description I can give for it. In one of them we played a game… Supernatural….
Lynn: Cards Against Humanity?
Briana: That’s it, yeah! And it was hysterical! I’d never played that game before. There’s nothing about the conventions that’s not fun. Zero. The only thing that I’d complain about, and I know it’s for my best interest, is that I spend so much time in the back of the building that I really don’t know what’s going on. When you do a convention, you’re so busy. I had one handler that was given to me, and they bring you to a room and then to another room and then to another room and they have a machine going and it’s working very well.
Lynn: Yeah. I don’t think I’d be a good actor. I think I’d suck at that. I’d be like, ‘No, I don’t wanna do that, I wanna go here…’
B: (laughing) I don’t wanna go there! And I have to go to the bathroom all the time. My handler, her name was Jen, and she was wicked, I’m sorry I haven’t seen her here.
Lynn: One of the Jens is not here this time [Hi Jen!]
Briana: Someone texted me about getting a ride to karaoke last night and she was named Jen, and I was like, ‘Jen? My Jen??’
Lynn: There are multiple Creation Jens.
Briana: She was like, ‘No, sorry.’ She’s so great, I miss her. She’d take me out of a room and ask, ‘Do you need to go to the bathroom?’ It’s such a crazy whirlwind and I’m so grateful to be here.
Lynn: We’re glad you’re here, too! So, two more questions.
Briana: Oh, it’s fine, I’m having the best time!
Lynn: Well, they [Briana’s family] look self-sufficient. Well, your husband anyway. Maybe the baby isn’t quite self-sufficient…
Lynn: Any questions from fans that have surprised you? Either on Twitter or at cons?
Briana: I think it’s funny when people at cons ask you things that are just odd. I remember somebody asking us what kitchen utensil you would be.
Alicia: Someone here is asking everyone what tree you would be.
Briana: Okay, that’s a trickier one. The utensil one made me laugh and I had a terrible answer, but I will always remember that question. And that’s why they ask those questions, I guess. However, the ones that make me really think about – I like when people ask me about the juggling involved [in being an actor and a mother]. Kim, I think her husband is the primary parent currently, where I’m the primary parent currently, and I do find it a big struggle. Her child is a bit older, so they’ve figured it out. Jose and I are still trying to figure it out, and now with conventions it’s a struggle because I have to leave town. But I liked Kim’s answer because she went, ‘Um, I just am a mom and an actor.’ And that’s the best answer. Because, I don’t know, we need to stop asking women that question.
Lynn: I liked your answer – I think you said, almost all the guys have children, but nobody ever asks them how they juggle.
Briana: I think about that all the time for Jared and Jensen. They work so much, and I know – I mean, Jared has mentioned to me very briefly about what it’s like to juggle that, but I could not imagine. When my husband comes home half an hour late from work I’m like, ‘Where are you?’ I was exhausted. You know?
Lynn: I do know. I have two. And you’re right, Jared and Jensen do take it very seriously.
Briana: Again, a machine. They’ve been doing it for a long time now and they obviously have massive communication between them and their wives.
Lynn: I was at dinner with them once and they were brand-new parents, and they asked Night Shyamalan, who we were with, for advice on how he did it – how he raised a family and made it work while he was working.
Briana: That’s such a nice story. I was supposed to come to the panel tomorrow because Trisha and Zabrina who does makeup have never been to a convention and they were like, ‘Do you want to come with us?’ I don’t know if it would be cool for me to be in the audience, though. Maybe if I hadn’t been at the karaoke – I don’t wanna cause like a thing. Not that I’d distract anyone from Jared and Jensen! But they’re coming and they can’t wait, they want to see what it’s like. Everybody on set wants to know what it’s like. I took a video of karaoke yesterday, but it didn’t do it justice of how crazy it is.
Lynn: You have to be there to get what it’s really like, I think.
Briana: You’re right, it’s that energy, you have to be there.
Lynn: People did get good videos of you, though.
Briana: Oh, good. Rob met me for the first time yesterday and he could not stop laughing, and I said, ‘No shame. I will do anything.’ We were backstage and he made a joke, pardon my language, but he was like, ‘What are you doing back here?’ I grabbed – there were like shots of whiskey – and I was like, ‘Fuck you’ and drank a shot of whiskey, threw the glass at him, and walked onstage.
Lynn: [laughing] That’s why you fit in so well.
Briana: Just so fun!
Lynn: So, talk a little about what you’ve been doing since SPN.
Briana: This summer I did a theater production. I hadn’t done any theater since Valentina was born – she was kind of why I got into TV, because theater takes way more time, but I love it. So it was my challenge to say, ‘Can I go back?’ It was very challenging and I don’t know if I’d do it again any time soon. Valentina was young and it was too much work, but the show is great. It’s a very different style of memorizing. Style of acting, yes, but also in TV you memorize one small scene that you shoot for six hours. [In theater], you have to memorize 60 pages for two hours. I actually thought for a second, ‘I don’t know if I can do this anymore, I’m so used to memorizing shorter scripts’. And if you screw up in TV, you can stop. I mean, it’s not their favorite thing, but you can. But onstage… it’s terrifying. So that was weird and fun and good for me.
Briana also worked on Ryan Curtis’ new film, The Weirdo Hero, which screened after Vancon. The film deals with depression and suicidality, and carries an important message. I was honored to do a little bit of consulting for the film, and Ryan was sweet enough to include an acknowledgement in the credits, so I was very disappointed not to be able to stay for the screening. Hopefully we’ll catch it on the film-fest circuit. Kudos, Ryan and Briana (and other SPN Family members Ty Olsson, Jason Cecchini and Jim Michaels, too). If it comes to a film fest near you, go show your support!
More info at theweirdohero.com
Briana: And now I’m back and I’m in the writers’ room for a new animated show that’s being produced by Vine, so they’re six-second episodes, very very dark. It’s called White Ninja, dark, dark comedy. So there’s six of us in the writer’s room, comedians from all over Canada. We’ve each written six episodes. It’s really fun. And it’s new, I’ve done writing but I’ve never done writing in a room with the creator.
Lynn: And each episode is six seconds?
Briana: [nodding] Six seconds is tricky because it’s not dialogue-based. It’s set-up, punch line, twist. Set-up, punch line, twist. You’re lucky if you get two lines of dialogue. So it’s really challenging and fun, exciting to see where it goes.
Lynn: It’s so fascinating, the different content platforms now. All these different formats.
Briana: Yeah, TV is no longer the medium – even major producers like Tina Fey are producing stuff on Hulu and things that are only for streaming.
Lynn: People don’t want to be constrained in terms of content. Very cool.
Briana: So I’m excited about that and there’s some other stuff that I can’t talk about.
Lynn: Oooh! What a great face you just made! Whatever that is, I’ll be very excited to hear about it!
Until then, I’m looking forward to seeing Briana at more cons – and still thinking about that spinoff…
See you back here VERY soon with an episode review of the Supernatural Season 11 Premiere!!!! Are you ready????
For more about fandom and fangirls and
Jared and Jensen and Misha, check out our
Books on Supernatural at the top of the page