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Interview with The Tribe's Tori Spence (Salene) at DragonCon 2004
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See a short clip from this interview here

A = Dreago
T = Tori Spence

A: As the character of Salene, I find especially fascinating that The Tribe has a wonderful reputation for the female characters which is something I think there is a real dearth of in television in general – What have you learned from playing Salene?

T: Heaps, I think. Probably something I’ll have to talk a lot at mature themes I hope. She out of most of the characters has had to deal with a majority of very intense issues. She had so much to go through because I remember playing her originally…she was very motherly and a little bit vulnerable all the time and it became quite, for me, almost hard emotionally as well? I found I’d go home after work and feel quite drained. (body slumps) But she started to grow, like with her relationship with Ryan and things? I found it was a real journey as a person and for me, being 14 when I started until now, being a lot older. I go through changes with her as well. And I actually feel though it is quite cliché, I feel quite attached to her. I really, like, got annoyed, I’d get very peeved off that she was always following people, she didn’t have a very appropriate way of handling things but then the kind of scripts became almost, well, her story line became so much stronger. And with Ryan, going to find Ryan- it’s tough the way she did that, she became so much stronger, it became really like empowering for her. And I think, her, yeah as she had to grow it definitely makes her one of the, I think, maybe not stronger the way Amber was, as a leader, I think very strong from an emotional standpoint. A lot of people, characters, went to her for advice as she was a person who went through so much stuff throughout the life in the mall.

A: Absolutely. My partner and I who couldn’t be here today, she was talking about, uh, how does it feel to be the Kelly Taylor of the Tribe, from 90210? All the horrible things happen to her.

T; That’s really true! (chuckles) I’ve never actually thought about it like that. Umm, yeah like I said, I did actually get a little bit um, at first I’d be like ‘not again’ when we’d get another block of um scripts and we’d be like, ‘oh god, here’s another issue she’s got to deal with.’ And um, yeah, for me, it was a bit infuriating because there is only so much anxiety and depression and kinda of just churning through issues you can go through and because obviously the storyline was short you don’t have to deal with it for a long time the way you would in real life. But I mean, it does become very tiring. And um, I was soooo depressed like when I got back from between filming 4 and 5 and I did so much of that during my last year of high school. And so I had a lot going on during that year as well. It was really nice to come back to 5 and she had done a lot of growing as well and comes back with a bit of a new look and a butt kicking personality. It was really nice cause now Salene, the character is starting change and she’s growing up as well. It was really nice to get to do things like that in 5.

A: How do you cope with that at the end of the day? Being emotionally drained, like what do you do for self care?

T: Not a lot! I would really, I’m quite, umm, I like to be by myself quite a bit. I love, I’m a huge social person. But when I get in the mood, I got into my room and listen to music, I act out scenarios in my head. I’m one of those, I’m very like, yeah, one of those people who goes to bed and will lie awake for two hours and thinking about (mimics a conversation and looks off into the distance) ‘hmm! Yes, yes’. You know, but umm that’s probably the way I deal with most things but then again, if I’ve had a really down day or she’s done a lot of crying, I umm, Beth lives in the house with me in (season) 5, so we were kind of a pillar of strength for each other a little bit when we’ve had a tough day and probably take walk and things like that, go for drives, go into town and see Toni, things like that. It kinda helps when you around other people and you kinda of realize that ‘okay, I’m back in reality, I’m not on the set anymore.’ For me, getting out of costume is a huge feeling. She uh, being in costume I don’t really feel like myself? A lot of the stuff I wear is so not me. I’m such a causal, a very casual person. I don’t like wearing shoes. (laughs) You know things like this and I’d be wearing thick shoes and I was like, I did a lot of scenes without shoes and everyone was like, ‘Tori, put your shoes back on please!’, but things like that helped me get out of character quite a bit as well. Just it got me out of that frame of mind. Sweet, I’m Tori again, it’s all good. Getting my make-up off again.

A: So would you say that once the costume goes on, you’re more of a method actor? Tell me a little bit about your acting philosophy.

T: Umm, at first I didn’t really have a philosophy at all. I basically read my lines and go on set. Umm, once I got familiar – it’s hard to get into a character straight off. You can see it in my acting because in the early series, like you watch it now and I was a bit wooden at the beginning. And now I feel so much more relaxed into the character and I can settle down into her a lot easier and she, I think for me, I’d go home and I’d do lines into the mirror, because I didn’t even know what my face was doing! And I had a real thing for acting with my eyebrows, I got told. Apparently I did this a lot (raises eyebrows in surprise), I was a very startled actor! But yeah, it’s quite amazing what you see on camera. Like when you actually watch yourself back, ‘like gosh, I’m doing that? Oh, embarrassing!’ But it’s one of those things that once I am in character, I’m not always, I’m not as Tori as I normally am.

A: One last question I have to ask. As a woman, do you feel the pressure is different for you to be a role model because of your gender?

T: (softly) I think a lot of it was with weight and stuff like that. Especially when you’re fourteen? ‘Cause you don’t have breasts or anything, do you? I still need to grow up. My body doesn’t do much changing during the show. But I thought, in New Zealand you don’t get it as much but just because it doesn’t have too much of a fanbase there, but umm, I think in England we got a lot questions like young girls coming up to as and saying, “you helped me get over bulimia and things like that”. And that’s really nice, it makes me go ‘Oh my gosh’, I’m really glad that they did come up with issues like that because if an issue like that can help someone, that’s amazing. Not so much in New Zealand, it’s different, and I think overseas it’s big issue and I kinda took that into my role as well. I started acting and I’m acknowledging that I do play an big effect on people with my storylines and things like that.

A: Thank you.

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