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Ksenia Solo Gets Her Big Break(s)

From Orphan Black to Turn, the season’s most popular series all star this actress

Everywhere you look, there’s Ksenia Solo. The Latvian-born, Canadian actress—who fans know from Black Swan and the series Lost Girl—is returning to Turn as Peggy Shippen, the second wife of Benedict Arnold, in the Revolutionary War thriller. She will also make her debut on Orphan Black as Shay, a love interest for one of the series’ infamous clones.

With a brief break in her busy schedule, Ksenia spoke to DuJour about making each series, keeping her characters straight and what she’s up to next.

You’re on two anticipated series with new seasons kicking off the same week. That must be odd.

I had finished the last season of Lost Girl and the next day I got on a plane and went to Virginia to start on Turn—and while I was filming Turn, I was also doing Orphan Black. But having everything air at the same time is definitely an interesting experience. I’ve had to rewire my brain because each role is so specific, and I need to be secretive about Orphan Black. I’m basically not allowed to say anything. I didn’t think this year I would have three projects airing within a week of each other, but I can’t complain.

Ksenia Solo

Ksenia Solo

Considering you can talk about Turn, what can you say about the new season and what it has in store for Peggy?

Peggy is a fascinating young woman. People had this idea of who she was, this party girl and very much a socialite, but what people didn’t know was that there was this whole other dimension to her: she was very well educated, cunning, critical and savvy. She understood the way men operated and she used that to her advantage. And so, we go on this journey with Peggy that involves getting mixed up in a love triangle with John André and Benedict Arnold. That’s what I can tell you without giving the whole thing away.

Do you do a deep dive on the history books for a character like this? 

When you’re playing a real person, there’s a responsibility that comes along with that. I wanted to make sure I knew everything I could about that time period and about Peggy. So, I bought every single book and DVD about the American Revolution, and to be honest I’m still watching and reading. I’ve read fiction, I’ve read non-fiction and I’ve just tried to really capture who she was while going by our script. At the end of the day, that’s my focus.

And what about Orphan Black? Were things kept secret from you on set or is it only post-filming that things get so hush-hush? 

To be honest, I’m a big fan of that show and I tried to read as little as possible because I wanted to watch the show as a viewer along with everyone else as the season came out. So, I did a good job with keeping myself in the dark. What I can say is that I play a character who’s a spiritual healer— she’s very open, very compassionate—and who’s quite different than the people we’ve seen in Cosima’s life. She brings a completely new energy and perspective.

Being a fan of the show, is it hard to get to work once you’re on set and seeing how scenes with multiple clones are filmed? 

Absolutely. One of the first things I did when I was on set was find John Fawcett, who is one of the creators, and says, ‘You have to tell me how you filmed this clone dancing, it’s so genius and so much fun to watch.’ He explained it to me and it was nice to get that inside scoop. I think that technology is advancing, so if people thought that they did crazy things in the past seasons, they’ll be in for quite the ride this new season. It only gets bigger, better and wilder.

Now that you’ve got some time off, are you going to leap straight into another series?

To be honest, I would love to take a vacation! It’s been nonstop for me since August of last year. In addition to the TV series, I directed a music video last year with a talented artist named Craig Sickland. I always wanted to get behind the camera, so to direct a video was really exciting. I like to be very selective and work on projects that I am crazy passionate about. Those don’t come along every day.

Photography by Stephen Busken

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