Q & A with Sonya Cassidy – Liz on Lodge 49

The True Lodge got the chance to catch up with the amazing Sonya Cassidy aka "Liz" from Lodge 49.  We appreciate her taking time away from her holiday to answer our questions and give us her perspective not just on Lodge 49, but her perspective on the industry as well.

TTL: Thank you again for taking the time to share with us. Growing up in England, how did you get involved in acting?

SC: My Mum heard about a youth theatre near us and took me along as another hobby to get involved in. I immediately took to it. Delving into other worlds and seeing people respond to that gave me the bug. I continued with youth theatre throughout school and then applied to drama school when I was 17. I’d just turned 18 when I was accepted into RADA and then set off to London. That was an exciting time. I remember that day - getting the call- so clearly. Thankfully now here we are...

TTL: Speaking of acting, I must compliment you on your non-regional diction in Lodge 49.  Do you mind sharing how you came up with your American accent?  Also, you have mentioned with other characters trying out different voices for characters be settling on final tone. Any fun voices you tried out for Liz?  

SC: Thanks very much! I did a lot of American plays when I graduated so retuning my ear to this accent was easier than most. Liz is pretty deadpan most of the time. That naturally informs the voice. You know good writing when you read something aloud and it feels effortless. It flows. That happened straight away with Jim’s scripts. An instinct for her voice kicked in. Once you have a character’s voice and their physicality you just drill it till it feels natural.

TTL: With your past work, you seem to have a penchant for period dramas.  Is that coincidence or a strategic choice? 

SC: Coincidence really. We do a period drama well in the UK, it has to be said. It’s probably our major export. The draw for me is character and writing. To keep the variety in what I do, whenever it’s set, on stage or screen is what’s important to me.

TTL: What inspired you to work with Lodge 49 show, it seems so very different from your past work?

SC: A perfect example of the above. I’d not read anything like this before and I knew I wanted a shot at bringing Liz to life. Even reading the sides I just ‘got’ her. It’s rare to go from laughing to welling up in the space of a couple of pages or a scene. I think all of us felt we were reading something special, something wonderfully unique, yet rooted in a world we know well.

TTL: Are there any differences in the production of and working with an American production company than with UK television?

SC: Not particularly, no. Though craft services (set snacks) were a revelation to me.

TTL: Liz is a very complex character,  were there any challenges or different approaches used in becoming Liz?

SC: Since drama school, I’ve my ‘toolbox’, my go-to prep for each role. There are certain things that I always do, but every job is different and what’s required to find that particular character has to be new and appropriate to them. I love this part. Once I was offered Liz, as I was still in LA I went to Long Beach. I wanted to get a feel for the Dudley’s home, a place totally different to where I grew up. I went to Hooters. I was mindful of Liz not feeling like a drag to be around. She is complex. She’s likeable and a piece of work in equal measure. Her grief about her Dad and stress over the debt she’s been lumbered with is active. It’s not interesting to watch people moan about their problems and do nothing about them. We have to be with Liz, just as we are with Dud and Ernie and the rest of this lovely bunch of people who find themselves floundering or lost.

TTL: If you met Liz in real life, do you think you two would be friends, if so why or why not?

SC: (Laughs) I’d like to think so. I admire her no bullsh*t attitude to life. SoCal though she may be, there’s a touch of the Brit in there too. She just gets on with life and deals with the cards she’s been dealt. I like that about her. However she could, without question, drink me under/ through the table.

TTL: Do you have a favorite episode or scene from filming Lodge 49, and do you mind sharing why?

SC: Ah there are so many. Any scene with Wyatt watching TV. They’re contained moments but they tell us so much about the characters and their relationship to each other and the world. Scenes with Dan (Stewart Sherman) and the rest of the Shamroxx guys were a joy. It was difficult not to corpse (die laughing) most of the time.

TTL: On the show Liz shares her thoughts and advice with her other characters, like her brother or Alice. As a father of girls, I am curious, what advice would you give to young women about making it in your field, or in life in general?

SC: Blimey... Well, part of Liz’s problem is that she can give advice but not heed it herself. We’re all guilty of that I suppose. I think Liz has a healthy attitude of not really caring what other people think about her. You take her as you find her and that’s pretty liberating. For what it’s worth, at times in life where I’ve struggled over a significant/difficult decision I ask myself what would my 80 year old self say. When I’m old and spending my time reflecting on a life lived, will I be agonising over this decision I’m about to make. No one can go through life with no regrets of course. But a lot of what consumes us will become a painless anecdote one day, just a tale to be told. The less time we spend time on those things, the better. With regards to the industry, I’d say don’t go into something creative to replicate someone else’s career or to be ‘the next’ whoever. Be really honest with yourself. Are you good at it? Does it invigorate you more than anything else? If I may rehash my own attempts at wisdom, if it’s something your 80 year old self would kick you for not trying then go for it. Give it 100% and be as open as possible to it not going the way you’d planned. Under no circumstances should being female hinder that decision, in front of or behind the camera. Things are changing, steadily. Female roles are becoming more of what we see and live. Those of us who find ourselves in the minority or a stereotypical box have to support each other, encourage those tales not yet told. Otherwise why on earth are we doing it?

TTL: Also, because it is an organization doing such great work for children, what would you like to share about Springboard and your involvement with them?

SC: Springboard’s story is an inspiring one. The charity was founded 30 years ago by a group of Mums who had children with SEN and disability. They quickly became aware of the lack of support for them and their little ones beyond dr’s visits. It remains the only charity of it’s kind where I’m from, in the UK and provides essential early learning for children with additional needs. Having spent time working in this area I can’t emphasise enough how important Springboard’s work is. Without it, many children wouldn’t have the first-start they deserve.

TTL: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us about Lodge 49, we all hope for more seasons to come. In closing, Jim Gavin has talked about the show being a fable of sorts, what message do you hope people come away with after watching the show?

SC: In community there lies hope.

If you've not watched all of Lodge 49 buy it on your favorite Streaming Service or get the AMC Premium app.  Thanks again Ms. Cassidy, we can't wait till Season 2.   And for those who want to learn more about Springboard,  check out  https://www.springboardweb.org.uk/