Mia Kirshner Dishes on Playing ‘Defiance’s’ Mysterious Brothel Mistress

by | April 4, 2013 at 12:06 PM | Defiance, Interviews

"Defiance": Mia Kirshner as Kenya Rosewater -- (Photo by: Joe Pugliese/Syfy)

Despite the fact that Mia Kirshner has admittedly never played a video game in her life, the 38-year-old star of “Defiance” is enthusiastic about how the gaming element of the upcoming Syfy series will play out. “I’m interested to see how people react to it,” she admits.

On April 15, at 9/8c, the epic post-apocalyptic drama is debuting as both an original series and a multi-platform video game, a collaboration between Syfy and Trion that is breaking ground as the first-ever convergence of television and online gaming.

For Kirshner, joining “Defiance” in the role of Kenya Rosewater was not about the groundbreaking multi-platform experience. It was, quite simply, “all about the character.”

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Kirshner describes Kenya as “like a geisha.” She is the proprietress the Need/Want, the town bar which is part brothel and part gaming establishment. “[She's] sort of a commander of the sexual universe where she encourages people to experiment and play and find their true selves,” Kirshner says.

On the surface Kenya appears to be honest, but underneath she is anything but. “I think the most important thing with the character is that nothing is what it seems. She seems one way but there’s something very different going on. She’s a very cunning character.”

Learn More About Kenya and Amanda Rosewater:

Further complicating Kenya’s tale is her relationship with her sister Amanda (Julie Benz), Defiance’s mayor. “Amanda is an idealist,” Kirshner admits. Needless to say, she hardly approves of her sister’s activities and friction soon arises.

So what else can you expect when “Defiance” premieres on Monday, April 15? Read on as Kirshner details the hardest aspects of working on “Defiance” and why she thinks the story is a cautionary tale for the way we treat Earth.

On the Need/Want: It’s a very sexualized place. It’s a place where anything you want you can get, sexually spiritually and socially. And Kenya is at the epicenter of all of this.

On the biggest challenge of making “Defiance”: Green screen was pretty challenging. It’s weird because you don’t know what’s behind you. It’s a heightened reality.¬† [Additionally] A lot of the show is in another language. But more so in [upcoming] episodes, some scenes are done in totally different made-up languages, so getting used to hearing them was difficult. It was like, I can’t believe I’m spending this much time learning this language when I should be learning French. I can’t believe it, I’m going to be fluent in this made up language and I’m still not fluent in French!

Learn About the Languages of “Defiance”:

On whether adding a video game element makes the experience of watching the show more inclusive: I can’t speak to a video game audience, but I think I like working in TV because it seems to reflect more of a reality and it seems to be able to take more risks, in my experience with it. So I think that’s why the viewers engage. The show basically for me is about where we’re going in the world, environmentally, culturally and politically, so I like that.

On the message of “Defiance”: Be careful what you wish for. Be mindful. We’re asking a lot of technology. We’re asking a lot of the Earth. We’re such consumers now. So be careful because you might get what you wish for.

On whether she thinks “Defiance” is a cautionary tale or an aspirational place: It’s not all bleak but I think that you’re looking at a place that’s [suffering through] the effects of war and how people put themselves back together so it’s aspirational in the sense that people are recreating their identities and their homes and cultures. But there’s been a lot of people who have been ravaged by these wars. And there’s a caste system as well¬† that’s very uncomfortable to watch. I like the idea of a caste system because I think there’s definitely caste systems in our culture, but we don’t call it a caste system. So there’s a real disparity between certain races of aliens and certain races of humans and for example, Stephanie’s [Leonidas] character, Irisa, she’s considered of the lowest caste and so it’s really put out that nobody wants to be around her. Whereas the Castithans are the highest cast and perhaps it’s a skin color thing. I think it’s an interesting thing that the show examines.

“Defiance” premieres on Monday, April 15 at 9/8c on Syfy.