Despite COVID-19, Rebecca Olson Continues to Make Inroads in Television and Film

You might recognize her from her various small screen roles—“A Wedding to Remember,” “Just My Type,” and “Tempting Fate,” just to name a few. As a matter of fact, actress Rebecca Olson has been lighting up your TV for over several years. Since landing a guest starring role on the hit CW series “Supernatural” in 2014, Olson has continued racking up television credits including “Hell on Wheels,” “My Best Friend’s Bouquet,” and most recently a role in The CW’s widely talked about “Kung Fu,” which debuted earlier this month.

The Vancouver-based actress has found herself at home on the small screen, and in a year crippled by the global COVID-19 pandemic, Rebecca has managed to continue stacking her acting resume with a TV movie, “A Vineyard Romance.” Rebecca Olsen found a brief moment away from the set of  her current project to chat with Fashion Reverie about her new role in “Kung Fu,” upcoming projects, and how she managed to keep accumulating acting credits during a year when most of us were stuck at home.

Image courtesy of wikifeet.com

Fashion Reverie: Hello, Rebecca. You’re in Vancouver right now, correct?

Rebecca Olson: I’m back and forth between Vancouver and shooting a project right outside of the city. We aren’t allowed to travel abroad right now, so any chance to get out of the city with work is a treat.

FR: Congratulations on the projects you’ve been booking lately.

Rebecca Olson: Thank you so much! It’s crazy, because it’s been such a difficult year for so many people. I’m in a long-distance relationship across the border. I have family I haven’t gotten to see in a year. But, somehow, this has been good for the acting industry in Vancouver, in some ways, because of more opportunities going to local actors.

FR: There’s been so much film and television work produced in Vancouver recently.

Rebecca Olson: It’s been crazy. Opportunities with American productions and ensembles where American actors would have been guaranteed a certain number of roles have gone to more actors based here in Vancouver ever since the borders closed and people were unable to travel.

Image courtesy of The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

FR: I want to talk about your role in the new CW series “Kung Fu.” How were you cast in that series?

Rebecca Olson: I was lucky I booked that role prior to the COVID-19 lockdown. We weren’t sure what was really going to happen with the show after the pilot episode. All production shutdown, and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen after that since a lot of productions decided not to come back to Vancouver. There was a waiting period of uncertainty. One of my co-stars, Gavin Stenhouse, who plays the character Evan, reached out to connect to see what I was doing. He kept me in the loop, [as] he was part of the main ensemble, so he was likely to hear what would happen with the show before I did. By the end of summer, the show resumed production, and we went back to filming.

FR: Were you getting nervous about having your character cut?

Rebecca Olson: Yes, I was for sure. I wasn’t sure whether they were going to change around the plotlines or relocate. I had booked another small role on a Netflix production during that in-between time, and that production decided they were going to relocate so they didn’t have to deal with the quarantines. The fact that “Kung Fu” came back to shoot in Vancouver was amazing.

FR: What’s it been liking forming working relationships with co-stars between the quarantines and COVID-19 pandemic? 

Rebecca Olson: That’s what’s been so interesting. I shot a movie called “A Wedding to Remember” this summer. As far as I know, it was either the first, or at least one of the first productions to start back up in North America after the height of pandemic. We shot in Colonna on a resort and my quarantine bubble was me and three other actors. Most of us knew each other from previous projects, but that was a very unique experience. Everything was shot in one location and all four of us were constantly hanging out with each other.

 It was a unique situation because usually when you shoot on location, you’re with the same people for a while, and you’ll bond in different ways, but now I’ve got co-stars seeing me come downstairs in my pajamas. Working this way creates a different bond, because a lot of people don’t have their families up here or couldn’t go home to them because of the pandemic, so the cast got so close.

For “Kung Fu,” we shot two episodes I was in before I went on to work on other projects, then almost two months had passed before I came in to shoot for my next scene, and when I walked in, I was immediately treated like family.

I did three movies last summer, and the working relationships I formed with co-stars last year were some of the strongest I’d ever formed because we were only allowed to socialize with each other. You’re living and working together, so that’s something I will miss in a post-COVID world when things go back to normal. I created bonds over the past year that I don’t think I would’ve had under usual circumstances where a shoot day wraps and everyone goes back to their after-work lives at the end of the day.

FR: How would you describe the character you play in “Kung Fu,” because I know your role gets bigger in later episodes that haven’t premiered yet?

Rebecca Olson: What I loved about the character Sabine and the direction they are taking with her is the love triangle. Sabine is clearly struggling with her boyfriend’s ex coming back into the picture, but nothing is ever done with malice. That insecurity is inevitably going to be there for her, but she’s trying to fight against it and be supportive. When it comes to Evan helping Nikki, she puts her own insecurities and feelings aside because she feels it’s the right thing to do. It would’ve been so easy to fall into the trope of pitting these women against each other, and it’s so not that, and I love that.

FR: You describe your character Sabine with such complexity. How did you prepare for this role?

Rebecca Olson: Life. When you get to a certain age you’re dealing with other people and other relationships in their life and history and learning how to navigate that with a balance of great, at the same time making sure your feelings are heard and validated. There was so much for me to tap into in things that I’ve been through in my own life, it was so effortless. When I read the role I immediately connected with Sabine and felt this hasn’t been something that is seen enough. I know so many women who are like this and it often gets portrayed as the need to go after the other women, but it’s not always like that.

Image courtesy of Jenna Berman Photography

FR: In your character development process as an actor, do you typically draw on your own past experiences or do you ever look to people you may know for inspiration and physical characterization?

Rebecca Olson: I feel lucky in that the roles I have played most of the time I was easy to connect with the character. I’ve yet to play a villain, that would be interesting for me. But if I did, I would still find the parts of them that are lovable to make it interesting.

For me, especially with the romantic comedies I did this summer, I build organic relationships with my castmates because then we read better as an ensemble on screen. I’m most comfortable when I can draw on my own experiences.

FR: Television shows and television movies seem to be a real sweet spot for you as an actress. What do you love about working in television ?

Rebecca Olson: What I love about television shows is the potential for growth and arcs that are unseen. Your character can get brought back in later episodes if they are guest or recurring. Your character can go through a process that isn’t even written. Whereas when you are shooting a movie all the action are determined already. With television, another season could happen, and your character could be taken in a whole new direction. I love that unpredictably and how you can sink your teeth into something that is going to evolve. Even with a show like “Kung Fu,” I’ve an found opportunity to change and adapt as a recurring character.

FR: You have an upcoming role in a new made-for-TV rom com, “A Vineyard Romance.” Could you elaborate about that project and the role you are playing?

Rebecca Olson: I play Sam Hart, she’s a journalist who works for a wedding magazine. Her passion is writing, and her dream is being a romance novelist. She’s a total book nerd, just trying to pay the bills. She’s been waiting for a promotion and she gets the opportunity to cover an influencer’s wedding taking place in her hometown. She’s confused because her hometown is a nothing town and can’t believe that’s where the wedding is happening. She goes home and finds out it’s her ex that’s getting married. She covers this wedding of ‘the one that got away.’ She and the ex-boyfriend never had closure, and she has her own feelings, but she’s doing her best to be supportive and be the bigger person and do right by this couple, even if she’s still dealing with old wounds. She and her ex-boyfriend finally figure out where things went wrong and try to figure out what this means for them going forward.

Image courtesy of Jenna Berman Photography

FR: What’s up next for you?

Rebecca Olson: I’m in the middle of working on “American Dreamer.” The cast is stellar. It’s Peter Dinklage, Shirley MacLaine, Danny Glover, and Matt Dillon. I’ve died my hair brunette for the first time in my career, and I’m playing a twin, so I’m playing two roles. It’s been a whirlwind of a few weeks. I’m so excited.

“Kung Fu” is currently airing on The CW Wednesday at 8pm EST.

—Kristopher Fraser

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