“Fringe” Benefits: A Conversation with Jasika Nicole

Out actress Jasika Nicole, 28, is on the rise with her role as FBI Special
Agent Astrid Farnsworth in Fringe, Fox’s hot science-fiction series
from Lost creator J.J. Abrams.  

Extremely sweet and kinetic, even while uncaffeinated, the multitalented
Alabama native spoke to AfterEllen.com about her levitating career, her solid
love life and being an openly gay woman of color.  

AE: Have things changed noticeably in your life since the show premiered
in late August? 
Jasika Nicole:
I’m really busy and more people stare at me when I am
walking down the street, and so now I don’t know if it’s because they’re
thinking, ”Oh, her shoes are terrible,” or, “Oh, what is she wearing,” or, “Oh,
I think I recognize her.” That’s the biggest difference that I’ve noticed.

And I’ve gotten a lot more hits on my website, where I have my own
illustrations. I get a lot more people writing and commenting on the comic and
saying, “I really appreciate what you’re doing,” which is nice. I just feel
like I’m getting more written support. 

AE: What drew you to be part of Fringe?
JN
: I guess that I’ve always been completely enthralled with horror.
I was watching Freddy Krueger movies when I was 5 and 6 years old, which is
probably not a good thing, but whatever, that’s what was happening in my life
at the time. So I grew up with this tendency to be really into ghosts and
spooky things, and experiences that you couldn’t explain, and I was obsessed
with Unsolved Mysteries when I was little, and I would watch it every
Wednesday night that it came on.  

And so from that, I think there’s a really strong connection to that kind of
a background — that kind of mysterious bent on television writing — because
there isn’t a whole lot of that out there. And I think what else drew me to
this right now is because so many of the shows that are on right now aren’t
about this sort of thing.  

I think a lot of it is about escaping from the reality that we as a country
are in right now. But this show is really nice because it offers an alternative
to the escape that Sex and the City and shows like Gossip Girl
give you.  

Jasika Nicole as Junior Agent Astrid Farnsworth

Photo credit: George Holz/FOX

AE: So rather than an escape, you see Fringe as an alternative to
what’s been a dominant theme in programming?
 
JN: I think so. It’s certainly not completely realistic. The science
that we’re talking about, it’s made up. But I think the premise of it is that
this is all stuff that very well could happen, could be happening, or could
have happened already because it’s all based in science. It’s all based in
information that exists in the world that nobody else really knows about, and
what happens when that information gets put in the wrong people’s hands, and
what does that mean for us as a world, and what does that mean for us as an
individual, and as a society. It’s definitely fantastical in what’s its dealing
with, but I think there’s a lot of reality rooted into it.  

AE: Are you filming now in October?  
JN: Yes, we are starting Episode 9, I believe, this week, and of course
we got picked up for the back nine episodes. So in January, we will finish our
22-episode season. We’re not even quite halfway through yet, which is really
exciting. I can’t wait to find out what else is going to happen! 

AE: Where do you film? 
JN: We film in Long Island City in Queens, at Silvercup Studios East.
It’s very close, which is wonderful. I didn’t have to move away from New York
City.  

AE: What do you like most about Astrid, your character?

JN: I love that she is smart in all the ways that I am not smart. I
am super creative and that’s where I feel like all my talent kind of rests —
within drawing, within communicating and using words. That’s where I feel most
comfortable. And Astrid very clearly feels comfortable on the complete opposite
end. She’s really OK with being in this lab and learning all this stuff from
this relatively crazy man who’s teaching this to her, and she’s just soaking it
all up.  

From left to right: John Noble, Nicole, Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv
Photo credit: Craig Blankenhorn/FOX

I don’t know if I would have the same response if I was Astrid and thrown
into this lab where there are all these dead bodies and really, really weird
and scary things are happening. I guess I just appreciate that she’s brave in
that way and she’s smart and she understands all these really wild concepts
because I never would.  

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