Ladies Are in the Driver’s Seat at Warehouse 13

There’s no shortage of girl power at Warehouse 13. You have ladies all over the production team, and onscreen, you get the inimitable CCH Pounder as secretive and in-charge Mrs. Frederic, Joanne Kelly as the spunky, smart Secret Service agent Myka Bering, Allison Scagliotti as the cooler-than-you Claudia Donovan, Genelle Williams as Girl Friday, Leena, and finally, the feminization of sci-fi icon H.G. Wells.

We had the chance to chat with Paula Garces and Tia Carrere, two of the kickass ladies in rotation as part of the Warehouse 13 farm team (which also includes Lindsay Wagner), and aside from their completely endearing mutual lovefest for one another (they’ve yet to work on an episode at the same time), we found out they have similar, extraordinarily broad careers and a deep affection for their sci-fi fans. Garces plays Dr. Kelly Hernandez, the newly-minted love interest of Myka’s partner, Pete Lattimer (series regular Eddie McClintock). Carrere plays Pete’s former love interest, FBI agent Kate Logan, who calls on Myka and Pete when things get weird in her caseload.

Both women came to the show with a healthy appreciation of sci-fi, and in the case of Garces, a pre-existing appreciation of the series as a whole. They also share the ability to successfully multi-task across the entertainment industry outside of their wide range of acting credits. Garces produces and hosts a reality show called mun2 Look that celebrates Latino culture where “street style meets the runway” on the mun2 network (which shares a parent company in NBC Universal with Syfy) and is working on a comic book called Aluna. Carrere is producing, writing, and starring in a biopic about Hawaiian surfer Rell Sunn and won a Grammy last year for ikena, her second album of Hawaiian music.

As past and present love interests for Pete, Garces and Carrere have both had the misfortune of shooting love scenes with McClintock on the heels of a meal — for Carrere, it was French toast, bacon, and eggs, and for Garces, garlic pizza at 2:00 am after an 18-hour day, so they agree that breath spray is the way to go the next time their characters find themselves in a clinch with Pete. They aren’t in the loop as to whether a love triangle is planned, but they welcome any chance to work together, even if it’s a ladies-only Jell-o fight in a kiddie pool for Pete’s affections.

Garces was offered the role of Kelly outright. Carrere auditioned for another role (she didn’t say which), and the producers liked her for the role of Kate, which they thought was a better fit. The women agree that the show is completely welcoming of its recurring cast members. “I just love the chemistry,” Carrere says. “There are only so many stories [and] story lines, and we’ve all worked many different places in the world, but it’s the group of people that you work with that makes it fun and enjoyable at two o’clock in the morning. She credits the leads on the show, the showrunners, and the producers with creating that environment. “They have such a great group of people together,” she says. “I loved working with them.”

The Toronto shooting location lends itself to a camp-like camaraderie because everybody is away from home, so they’ve become each other’s pseudo-family. Adds Garces, “Everyone from the crew, the writers, the creators, the actors on the show, they’re all very passionate about what they’re doing and the stories that they’re trying to create and how they’re trying to entertain their public.” She says the vibe on set is infectious. “I really enjoyed it and [when I finished this season, I] left wanting to work on it more.”

Carrere enjoyed the show’s tangential relationship to her syndi hit, Relic Hunter, saying, “I knew of all the different [artifacts] … the Arc of the Covenant … the Knights Templar, so I think I probably know about 66 different icons and relics.” She credits Warehouse 13 with a fresh, different approach that mixes “humor, fantastic dialogue, and really good characters on which to introduce all these fantastical magical objects.”

Both women appreciate the strength of their characters, and all the female characters, on the show. Carrere says she likes being a ballsy broad and enjoyed the Hepburn and Tracy dialogue. Garces was happy to find that underneath her character’s sass, she is also sweet and open to romance. “I feel like the dialogue that was written for me was very much taken from the way I speak,” she says. “And I really felt comfortable … like I could just be [me] and let the words take me where they would or where the moment would take me.”
Garces and Carrere are active Twitterers and enjoy the immediacy of interacting with their fans. Both were at Comic-Con in San Diego last month, where Garces launched Aluna. Carrere loved Comic-Con because the “sci-fi fans dive in head-first at the deep end of the pool and just enjoy it … for the spectacle that it is and just go out and have fun.” She sees sci-fi as much more than pure escapism. “I think these days we’re so lacking in our heroes that sometimes we have to dig into our comic book culture to find … people that we can admire,” she says. When she has overlapping projects, she gets a stronger-than-usual response from sci-fi fans and online communities “because the fans are that much more connected to it.”

Carrere credits Twitter with creating a shorthand language with fans who are interested in what she’s doing. “It’s a very direct line to people,” she says. “You can type something at your computer at home and in two seconds it’s out there in the world. And if you’re drunk or … being crazy or … angry, and you said something, it’s out there. But also, if you want to get the record straight on something, it’s out there as well. So it’s just good for us to be able to get our true story out.”

“Twitter is definitely the most direct and the most honest way [to communicate],” adds Garces. “And any actor can portray themselves to the world. I mean whether it’s their true self or something else, that’s obviously on the actor or actress. But on Twitter I just feel like I could really say what it is that I want to say at that moment and especially to my fans.” She enjoys sharing extras, insights, and sneak peeks with the sci-fi fan base through Twitter. “I think that’s why [they] go so well together,” she says. She readily admits that she’s hooked on both, and has had a positive experience, adding, “I feel and get nothing but love from sci-fi fans.”

Both ladies agree that women’s strength in sci-fi is part of a larger surge. Carrere says, “I’ve often thought that the more that women became a force economically and the more women that [got] into positions of power in the business, it would just naturally be reflected in the shows that we see on TV.” Whereas the old-school strong female characters played by Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were “evil, arch, and way too tough,” she thinks we’ve come back around to the way women are [in reality, with] “women war heroes that go out there and raise our families and earn our livings. We’re not shrinking violets because we can’t be.”

Garces was enlightened about the power of women in the TV industry by a colleague who had an insider’s view. “Now that I’m a little more aware of the business side of acting, [I’m] creating my own shows and producing and … creating opportunities for other people that I admire,” she says. “I want to make sure that they have a platform to shine. TV is paying [its] bills … through women’s advertising. I don’t think anybody should second guess that there are a lot of companies out there that are really interested in the women who are spending money. [Everything] that pays the bills on TV is what women are buying.”

Warehouse 13 wraps its second season on Syfy this month and has been renewed for a third season to begin next year. Both Carrere and Garces expect to be back. You can follow them on Twitter at @paulagarces1 and @tiacarrere

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