Toronto-born Lexa Doig is no stranger to playing smart, tough women, from comic book villains to doctors to everything in-between. And she doesn't take one second of it for granted.
As someone who always knew she wanted to act, she has found a way to remain Canadian-based and still parlay her passion into a successful career, while maintaining balance, a sense of humor and humility.
William Shatner got the ball rolling for her professionally and the ball hasn't stopped ever since.
How did you get your start?
I started acting in Toronto. It was something I always wanted to do. But being a child of the late 70s and early 80s, it wasn't necessarily something I thought I could do. I only envisioned myself maybe doing local plays and whatnot.
I was actually scouted by a modeling agency when I was 16. I'm not very tall, but I did a bit of catalogue work and then quick to commercials. That's where I had some friends that were actors that said "No you need a talent agent, not a modeling agent." And that's how I got into the acting side of it.
What was your first big break?
There was a miniseries that turned into a series called TekWar, which was based on a bunch of novels written by William Shatner.
I remember one of the first auditions I ever had was so bizarre because there was no camera - there wasn't even a reader. And I literally didn't know that wasn't normal. William Shatner was in the room and usually there's a whole process before you get put in front of the directors and producers.
So I went in and I guess ignorance is bliss because I wasn't thrown by any of this. I was just too busy being nervous that I was reading for Captain Kirk! But I did manage to get the job and it was recurring.
It was science fiction which has been very good to me. It's great because I like science fiction, I like that genre of storytelling. At the time it was a genre in which I'd get hired, because I'm mixed race and in the early 90s, that was still uncommon. A lot of times people didn't know where to put me and I ended up in sci-fi.
You also played Talia in Arrow. Are you a fan of comic books?
I like comic books! I wouldn't claim comic book fandom because there are people who are genuine hardcore comic book fans who have dedicated their lives to the collection of comics and knowledge of the different universes. That I can't claim, but at the same time, I enjoy that style of graphic novels and storytelling.
I especially enjoy it when it's smart. And I think what sucked me into that originally was Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series which is extraordinary. Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, so I do really like the genre.
Whatever the genre, you often play really strong, smart women, including a lot of doctors. Do you find yourself particularly drawn to those parts?
The doctor thing is interesting because my mom is a nurse and when I was a child, I always thought I'd be a doctor. Until I realized there's a good 16 years of post secondary education. School and I didn't really get along very well, so it's ironic that as an adult, I get to play a doctor and pretend to understand all of this stuff, but I didn't have to go through any of the schooling.
Then again, I don't have the responsibility of saving any actual lives. So I guess the tradeoff is pretty fair!
Let's talk about The Arrangement, which just got picked up for a second season!
It did! I just got the call from Jonathan Abrahams, our EP and creator.
Can you tell us a little about Deann, your character on the show?
Deann is a producer in the Hollywood world. She's a pretty powerful one in the sense that she's producing these multimillion dollar, blockbuster movies which all star Kyle West, who's played by Josh Henderson. She's married to Terrance Anderson, played by Michael Vartan, who runs, created and founded the "Institute of the Higher Mind" - which is a self help organization.
I think Deann is somebody who's a very capable, no nonsense kind of person who loves telling stories. But her life is largely defined by her relationship to the men in it. And I don't think she likes that very much.
Do you think there's a history of these kinds of arrangements in Hollywood?
I think so. We often find out years later, especially when you hear stories from old Hollywood of, if not arranged marriages, then arranged relationships that were done for PR purposes back in the studio days. I think those relationships, to some degree, exist now.
I consider myself fairly lucky, as living in Vancouver - being in a satellite of Hollywood - we don't really get exposed to the same kind of methods of achieving attention, as some might.
It's fascinating and I've heard that people's publicists will set them up to go on a date, which strikes me as being fairly innocuous. I imagine it might be difficult to meet people, if you're at a certain fame level. I don't think the idea of contract marriages in Hollywood is anything new.
I heard recently there's actually a pretty expensive "Tinder for celebrities."
A friend was just talking about a site that was exactly that! You have to be approved apparently. I'm just happy I've been with my husband for 16 years and I don't have to deal with that stuff anymore. It blew my mind! I thought what do you mean you "swipe?"
Besides the next season of The Arrangement, is there anything else you're working on?
I can say, because the cat's out of the bag, that I'll be returning for the season finale of Arrow. But I'm not going to say what I'm actually doing in it!
Then I think I'm actually going to take a break, because I've been going between The Arrangement and Arrow and these series of things I did for the Hallmark Channel called the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries. That's fun to do because it's very different than my other roles!
In your ultimate dream, is there a director or another actor with whom you'd love to work? Who's on your wish list?
Viola Davis is on my wish list. Obviously, Meryl Streep. Even if I just got to be a background performer and watched them work. There's so much to be learned.
I remember years ago, I did a miniseries for our national network here in Canada (the CBC) about human trafficking, (Human Cargo). And I got to work with Kate Nelligan who is an extraordinary actress. I didn't have a ton to do, but I really enjoyed watching her work, watching her process, how she approaches material and how she talked to the director, who was a friend of mine. You learn so much just by watching.
And side-note: it slays me sometimes when I see younger actors on-set whose heads are buried in their phones. And I just want to say open your eyes! There's so much to learn by watching everything that's going on, not just uploading to your Instagram.