Smart, sassy and streetwise – when it comes to getting out of a tricky situation, Lost Girl’s Kenzi has plenty of experience. Despite coming from well-connected family, she chose to make her own way in the world. Sometimes that requires her to do things most of us would consider not strictly legal, but for Kenzi it is a matter of survival. It was one such escapade that led to her crossing paths with Bo, a beautiful woman with a secret alter ego. Their subsequent friendship has forever altered Kenzi’s life and introduced her to a world she never knew existed. For actress Ksenia Solo, who plays Kenzi, it was the beginning of a brand new TV adventure and taking on a role she has worked hard to make her own.
“Kenzi is such a special character because she’s not one-dimensional. In fact, she’s the exact opposite,” says Solo. “She’s a thief – a very successful thief – and this really brave, tough girl. At the same time she’s also vulnerable as well as extremely loyal and bright. Kenzi is all these kinds of wonderful things, and as an actor you want to be believable playing this girl who grew up on the streets. There are so many aspects of her that I have found challenging, but that has really fueled my fire. I’m not happy unless I’m challenged, and I’ve had to help build this character from the ground up. When I was first ‘introduced’ to Kenzi I thought, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t do this,’ which is why I knew I should do it.”
While Solo’s audition process for Lost Girl was more or less your basic one, it did have its twists and turns.
“It’s kind of a funny story because I ended up sending through five or six [audition] tapes,” she says, “the reason being that the producers and writers wanted to see different things with the character, which was interesting. So I started off with red hair and pigtails, after that I was a blonde, and then I had blue hair. We were just trying different looks as well as rhythms and colors with the character. I eventually came to Toronto for a screen-test with Anna Silk [Bo]. The two of us hit it off right away and I guess like they say the rest is history.”
In Lost Girl’s first season opener, It’s a Fae, Fae, Fae, Fae World, Kenzi gets on the wrong side of a man who she tries to scam and ends up cornered by him in an elevator. Lucky for her, Bo intervenes and in doing so reveals that she is a succubus, a being who sustains herself by feeding off the sexual energy of others. Leaving the dead body behind, Bo takes Kenzi back to her place to recover. What sticks out most in Solo’s mind about shooting this episode and stepping into Kenzi’s shoes?
“To be honest with you, how absolutely freezing it was,” notes the actress. “We’re not very lucky on this show in terms of the weather. It always seems to go against us, and it was the dead of winter and we were all kind of completely frozen. At one point I had to lay on the ground in a miniskirt, and I’m a pretty petite girl, so I don’t have much to keep me warm,” she jokes. “Despite the cold, we were, of course, all really excited. The first day of work on any new show is nerve-wracking and you’re trying to figure out who your character is, what the show is all about, and who everyone else around you is. It’s like going to your first day of school.
“As for Kenzi, one of the things I love most about the character is its comedic aspect. Prior to Lost Girl I had done a great deal of drama in my career, and it was fun to be now playing the comic relief in a project. Having never really done anything like that before, it’s definitely something that stands out for me when I first began working on the series. I was experiencing this whole new world creatively, and I won’t lie to you, it was very intimidating at first.”
Although Bo tries her best to convince Kenzi that she hallucinated what happened with the dead man, she finally has to come clean about her unique abilities. Instead of being scared off, Kenzi sees it as a unique business opportunity for her and Bo to start their own detective agency. Their plans are interrupted, however, when two police detectives, Dyson (Kris Holden-Ried) and Hale (K.C. Collins), investigate the corpse that Bo left behind. In fact, they are not unlike Bo in that they are part of the Fae, a supernatural species living amongst humans. The Fae attempt to “persuade” Bo to pick a side, the Light Fae or Dark Fae, but she chooses instead to take her own path, with Kenzi coming along for the ride and Dyson keeping an eye on both of them.
“Bo and Kenzi are in their own right two powerhouse women who meet in kind of a fortuitous set of circumstances,” says Solo. “Bo arrives in the nick of time to save Kenzi’s life, and my character is forever indebted to her. They have this bond, and to say that it’s like a sisterhood bond I don’t even think fully describes it. It goes much deeper. These two people would die for each other without even a second thought, and friendships like that really don’t come along that often, if ever at all.
“My grandma used to say that if you have one amazing friend then you can die happy because that’s really all you need. I believe that’s so true, just to have one person like that in your life, and Bo or Kenzi hadn’t had anyone in their lives like that before. So they really do become an instant family and, like I said, would do anything for one another.
“As far as Kenzi and Dyson, that’s a really interesting relationship because they also have a special bond, even though Dyson is however many hundreds of years old and this serious lone star wolf. I don’t think he’s ever met anyone like Kenzi, and Dyson tends to get on her nerves quite a bit because of how he treats Bo and the turmoil that he and Bo go through. However, Kenzi really loves Dyson and, again, she really loves Bo, too, and just like her bond with Bo can’t be broken, I feel that’s also true of her and Dyson, despite their unlikely relationship/friendship.”
While there may be plenty of dramatic and in some cases sexual tension between Bo, Dyson, Kenzi and the rest of the show’s characters, the Lost Girl cast enjoys a far less complicated rapport. “We’re all very lucky in that everyone gets along great,” says Solo. “We spend many hours together, so you really have to click in every possible way, including creatively and just as people, otherwise the job becomes extremely difficult.
“Anna and I actually met, not in the audition room but in the girls’ bathroom right before my screen-test. I always say that I looked at her under those terrible bathroom fluorescent lights and it was ‘love’ at first sight. Sometimes things just click and there’s a chemistry, and the two of us really felt that from the minute we started acting opposite one another in the screen-test. Anna is an amazing person, and many people don’t know this about her, but she’s absolutely hysterical. So that always makes things fun. We definitely laugh quite a bit on-set.
“With Kris, I look up to him so much. He’s such a fantastic actor. I’m always going up to him after scenes and asking, “Dude, how do you do it?’ There’s something so special about him, and he lifts us all up. Kris’ talent is so great and he’s also very young at heart, so even though I’m the youngest person on-set, I would have to say that he’s kind of like the big kid there, so he and I just get along swimmingly.”
Since they began hiring themselves out as private detectives, much to Bo’s reluctance, she and Kenzi have become involved in cases ranging from a missing college student abducted by a Fae (Oh, Kappa, My Kappa), to a Fury (an extremely dangerous member of the Fae community) looking to kill her human husband (Faetal Attraction) and even an extraordinarily lucky Dark Fae eager to find out how a human managed to win a bet with him (Dead Lucky). One of Solo’s favorite first season Lost Girl episodes is ArachnoFaebia, in which one of Kenzi’s scams comes back to bite her, literally, in the form of a Djieiene, a giant spider-like Fae.
“That episode was a challenge for all of us, but at the same time there was something so wonderful and outside the box with it and the fact that Anna, K.C. and I got to play totally psychotic, paranoid and angry versions of our characters,” she explains. “Like I said, I appreciate a challenge, so when this script came along I was quite happy. Not only did I get to shoot a gun at Anna, which was pretty cool, but I was just fascinated by the fact that this spider was responsible all these killings. I’ll be the first to admit, though, that I’m absolutely terrified of spiders. Even if it’s like two millimeters long, I’ll be screaming my head off while running down the block. Thank God for special effects because we only had to kill a fake one in the episode, otherwise I would have had a much harder time during shooting.”
Fans in the United States are a bit behind other countries when it comes to Lost Girl, having only seen a little over half of the show’s first year. In the second season opener, Something Wicked This Fae Comes, the Light Fae elders are trying to recover from a devastating attack and the Dark Fae hope to take advantage of their opposition’s weakened state. Meanwhile, Kenzi helps Bo, Dyson and Hale stop another group of Fae from also capitalizing on the situation. Solo had no problem picking up where she left off when filming began on season two.
“As time goes on, everyone really grows with a show and their character, so coming back to season two felt natural,” says the actress. “Nothing stands out in my mind as being weird or hard. The flow of things was kind of easier, even though we’d had a bit of a break. It was nice to be back and, yes, we were back in the cold, so that was something we had to deal with once again,” she says with a laugh.
“There’s been one really neat thing for me in season two – we’ve gotten to explore a different side of Kenzi because someone comes into her life and sweeps her off her feet. That’s unusual for her because she’d rather have a sexy pair of boots than a man,” jokes Solo.
Aaron Ashmore (Smallville, Warehouse 13) plays Nate, the man to whom Kenzi loses her heart. “I don’t want to give too much away insofar as story details, but in terms of Aaron Ashmore, I feel like a really lucky girl,” says Solo. “He’s such a wonderful, sensitive actor, and it was important for me to have a great guy for Kenzi. This is such an important relationship for her, and I was thrilled with the fact that this isn’t someone who just appears out of nowhere. She and Nate have a history, so the relationship is much deeper than if it was Kenzi just meeting someone out of the blue.
“Again, Aaron Ashmore is fantastic and the two of us hit it off right away, which is always terrific. When you have someone who you have to portray a very deep, caring relationship with, you want someone who you mesh well with creatively. I think fans are going to be pleasantly surprised. It’s quite a touching story and I’m really excited about it. What’s cool, too, is that Aaron got to sing and play the guitar. He does both, although he’d probably say that he’s not very good at it, but we couldn’t get his voice out of our heads. He was amazing. I thought, ‘Oh, my God, we should record this on iTunes because I know it would sell like hotcakes.’ I got the chance to play the drums as well, so there’s a good love story, but we also had a lot of fun because we got to rock out as well.”
When asked if she has a favorite season two episode from Lost Girl, Solo is able to answer without divulging any spoilers. “It’s towards the end of the season and sort of the climax of everything, so unfortunately I can’t say much, but it does involve – Mr. Aaron Ashmore,” she reveals. “This was an episode that really pulled at my heartstrings. It was very emotional and showed yet another very different side of Kenzi. She’s incredibly heartbroken at one point and has to make a decision that could further alter her life. She has to choose between two different worlds, and it’s unbelievably difficult for her because of many reasons, which I wish I could tell you about but I can’t. When you see it, though, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.”
From the time she was a little girl, Solo was surrounded by family members who were in the entertainment industry, so it is no wonder that she eventually chose to follow in their footsteps.
I remember going to school and all my friends were worried about what college they were going to go to and what they were going to study,” recalls the actress. “The general feeling was that people felt very lost. You had to make a decision because you had to go somewhere after high school and begin your [adult] life and career. For me, it was almost like I never had to make that decision and I think it’s because I grew up in a family that was onstage, from my mother, to my aunt, to my grandmother. So I sort of grew up in the wings trying to copy my mom and my aunt, and I always hear stories of how they’d be rehearsing onstage and hear me singing in the background.
“I have a dance background and I always dreamt of becoming a professional dancer,” she continues, “but when I was 14 I unfortunately developed some back issues, so that kind of halted my [dance] career. However, from the time I was very young I was onstage, and at the age of 10 I was cast in an episode of I Was a Sixth Grade Alien [The Bride of Pleskit!]. I got to play an alien who comes to Earth and gets married. I wore all this crazy make-up and hair, and for me, being 10 and being in this adult world I couldn’t have felt more at home. I was happiest when I was on-set. When I went to school I’d dream of being on-set. So when I got older I guess I just decided in my mind as well as heart that this [acting] is the only thing I could do. I just know that I’m on this Earth to be an actor.”
Earth: Final Conflict, Adventure, Inc., Cold Case, Moonlight and The Cleaner are among the other TV show the actress has guest-starred in. She also had a regular role in the Canadian teen drama series Renagadepress.com as well as appeared in a number of made-for-TV movies. The actress’ feature film credits include The Republic of Love, The Factory and Black Swan.
“Playing an extremely self-assured and even bitchy dancer in Black Swan was especially challenging because it’s so completely not who I am,” says Solo. “Then, of course, there was acting opposite Natalie Portman. In my head I was so happy and felt so honored to be working with her, but my character is supposed to be cool, mean, confidant and the one who was there to scare her. So that was definitely an interesting role to take on.
“Doing work that I really care about is so important to me, and, again, I can’t say this enough because it comes from the depths of my soul, I need to be challenged as an actor. If I’m not challenged, I’m not creatively inspired. A role really needs to scare me in order to inspire me, so I look for projects that I have to reach for. I just want to reach for the cream of the crop in terms of roles and tell compelling, heartfelt stories that get to me and under my skin.”
With production on season three of Lost Girl scheduled to begin in a couple of months, what are Solo’s hopes not only for her character of Kenzi but also the show as a whole going into its third year?
“My hope is that we continue to grow and get better, that we continue to have strong storylines, that our characters really shine in the best way possible, and that we continue to make a kick-ass TV show that people love to watch and are entertained by,” says the actress. “You never want to stay stagnant, especially me as an actor. I don’t want to play the same note all the time. I want to explore different sides of Kenzi, and I hope she experiences more awesome adventures. I love doing the action and the fight scenes. Falling in love isn’t so bad, either. I know Kenzi’s heart is a little sensitive after season two, but it’s always neat to introduce someone who can sweep her off her feet. So I just hope the fun continues,” she enthuses.
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