I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down and chat with Katherine Barrell, whom many of you may know as the iconic bulletproof vest wearing Nicole Haught from Wynonna Earp. We talked about being part of the stand out Syfy drama as well as the impressive number of projects she is currently involved in.
What has it been like being part of Wynonna Earp?
“It’s been awesome. It’s been a really great experience getting to live in a female driven show, getting to know the show, getting to know the world. It’s been a bunch of fun.”
Were you expecting the massive positive response to your character, Nicole Haught, and the Wayhaught ship?
“I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t really have any kind of frame of reference, but it’s definitely exceeded my expectations for sure.”
What have been some of your favorite fan experiences?
“I think something that stands out is finding the fanmail and hearing how positively the show and the characters have impacted people’s lives and people saying your character helped me come out. That it’s part of who I am and I haven’t been represented on tv and that I saw myself for the first time. I mean things like that, those interactions definitely make it, that’s the best part of my job.”
Even though you can’t show me, have you received or seen any cool fanart?
“Yeah, all the time, there’s been some beautiful stuff. From pencil drawings to photoshopped images, it’s really pretty amazing.”
How do you feel that you personally relate to your character?
“I think her moral compass. She’s a really morally driven person and her drive to do good, almost to a fault, is like a focal point in a way. I think it’s something that I can relate to.”
What have been some of your favorite on set moments?
“We got to shoot that final scene where everyone is in it, that gathering at the end of season one. I think that one was my favorite because it was the first time I got to work in a scene with the others, it was a time where we were all together. It was a really fun couple of days when we were shooting that because we hadn’t all really worked together yet.”
This scene was one of my favorites, what was it liked when you punched Champ?
“They blocked it and we walked through it very slowly. One of the really challenging things was the bottom of my dress. I had these heels on and they kept getting caught and actually ripping through the dress. The most challenging thing wasn’t even the physical fight, it was trying to hold onto my little clutch and have the dress and the heels, and walk up the stairs. That was actually way more challenging than the timing of the punch.”
Do you have any hints for season two?
“No, we’re still working on getting me confirmed so I don’t really have anything.”
What was filming the bulletproof vest scene like?
“At the time that we shot that scene I didn’t really know that wearing a bulletproof vest was going to be a big reveal. We had shot that scene last year in late February, and I didn’t realize it would become as iconic as it has. I think that’s a really great thing because I was so kind of naïve to the pressure that was going to be on that character, all the attention, and then to have her become a role model character. I would have felt a lot more nervous going in, but for me it was just thinking like I’m a cop, I get shot, and that’s why I’m wearing a vest. That’s what it felt like for me personally as an actor. The fact that Nicole is a queer character doesn’t factor into how I play her. She’s a cop and she has a crush. With the bullet proof vest becoming so iconic I just wasn’t aware of its importance when we were filming.”
Besides Wynonna Earp you are actually working on a show that is coming out in 2017, Workin’ Moms. Can you tell me a little about that?
“My character’s name is Alicia Rutherford and Workin’ Moms is a half hour comedy focusing on women who have young children and are trying to balance their relationships, basically it’s challenging the notion of doing it all. It’s a really fun project, it’s amazing working with all these female comedians. Alicia Rutherford, my character, she is the do-it-yourself, organic mom. She makes everything, she’s like the perfect mom. She’s really fun to play because she becomes the villain of some of the scenes. She’s completely different from Nicole, the attitude, the type of person she is and her energy is so different. It was amazing to have such an opposite role to go play.”
How is this different from working on Wynonna Earp?
“It was really different. One of the greatest things about doing Workin’ Moms is that I’m in a big ensemble group of female comedians, which is not per the norm for comedy. It was pretty special. I love doing comedy, I trained in comedy for a while. It was a lot of fun to flex a different muscle in my arsenal. I think if I had gone on to do another cop show it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun.”
I heard that you were involved in some directorial projects, can you tell me a little bit more about those?
“I have two short films that are currently going to be running the festival circuit in 2017. The first is Cannonball, it’s about a young woman coming to terms with loss on the eve of her 30th birthday. I directed that after my producing partner suddenly passed away as a reflection of what it felt like to go through an experience and lose someone who is very young and you never thought was going to die. It’s dedicated to that. The other is Expecting Gwen. It’s an ensemble female comedy, about a woman, Gwen, who is at an age where she doesn’t know if she wants children or not, but her biological clock is ticking. She is taking a home pregnancy test and has a panic attack. She passes out and wakes up in her own mind. She has conversations with the voices in her head about what her future should look like and what decisions she should make. Cannonball just played at the Toronto International Film Festival, but I have submitted them both to about 15 festivals and I’m just waiting to see about the future.”
What other upcoming projects do you have coming up?
“I just finished filming a Hallmark movie, A Nutcracker Christmas, in late October, early November. It stars Amy Acker, who most people know from Person of Interest, and airs on December 10th. I filmed a Lifetime movie, Girls Night Out, I believe that comes out in 2017. I also have a feature I filmed a couple years ago, My Ex-Ex, that’s coming to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon in 2017, probably in the Spring, as well.”
I know that you’re involved with Girl Talk Empowerment’s Pink Box Program, could you tell me more about your work with them?
“Girl Talk Empowerment is this awesome Toronto based, Canadian organization. They run empowerment workshops for young women, mostly girls under the age of 16. They talk about self-esteem, positive body image, thinking about yourself in a healthy way, being a leader, leadership skills. Things that are really important to breed the next generation of strong young women. I’m an ambassador for Pink Box, which is a monthly subscription based program where the organization sends out a package to subscribers that contains beauty and health products that follow the Pink acronym: Positive, Inspiring, Noteworthy, and Kind. These products are often by female led companies, sort of products that women would enjoy and that have a positive impact on the world around them. I’m looking to do a couple of workshops with them in the new year.”
I couldn’t resist asking, how is your adorable dog Bernie?
“Bernie is good, I’m watching him right now. He’s digging for something in his bed. He is great, we actually just did a photo shoot the other day for a doggy magazine at a nice hotel here in Toronto, which was really great. He is getting really good at traveling. He’s fun and funny.”
And just because I’m a Katherine interviewing a Katherine I had to ask, are you named after any particular Katherine?
“No, I don’t think I am. I know my mum picked Katherine with a K because it was more Slavic. My mom is Slovenian and wanted something with a Slavic influence. I think she really just liked the name.”
I would like to thank Katherine Barrell again for taking the time to talk to me. It was wonderful being able to speak to such a vibrant and bubbly person all about the things that she is passionate about.
*Some images from AfterEllen and IMDb*