Supernatural has some great enduring female characters. Thanks to that and some fan encouragement, a number of those characters are coming together in the proposed series Wayward Sisters. The backdoor pilot recently aired as the mid-season return of Supernatural. We spoke with Briana Buckmaster, Sheriff Donna herself, about the episode and what it’s like to have a group of sisters to rely on.
Going from being a guest star to recurring character to spinoff series regular is a dream come true for any actor. Going into her first episode, “The Purge,” Buckmaster had no idea Sheriff Donna would become a familiar face on the show. She described the scene when she’s laying on the bed before the fat-sucking monster gets her, director Phil Sgriccia mentioned that it might be a good idea for Sheriff Donna and Jody to meet at a Sheriff’s convention, and the A Camera Operator said it sounded like a spinoff.
The all-female hunting team comes at an important time, when female representation in media has taken more prevalence. Buckmaster mentioned how important it was to bring together six female characters of different personalities, body types, culture, and upbringing.
“That gives the viewership an intense opportunity to feel that they’re being represented. They’re having their stories told,” Buckmaster said. “I know when I was growing up, I never felt like I saw anyone on TV that I could relate to. I mean, what a gift as an actor to do what you love but also inspire other people to be their authentic selves and do what they want to do with their lives. This may be the first time there’s ever been a television show with that many series regulars that are female. I certainly think it’s going to empower the female fandom in to believing anything is possible.”
One of those examples comes in the form of Sheriff Donna herself. Buckmaster enjoyed that her character is optimistic, good at her job and when she doesn’t know how to do something, will learn.
“She doesn’t let fear freeze her, she uses it to become more knowledgeable and to become stronger,” Buckmaster said. “I know that as Briana, often if there is something I’m forced to do, I’m sometimes terrified beyond actual movement. And I would like to take a page out of Sheriff Donna’s book and use that fear to become better.”
A note on Donna’s personality – she’s certainly different from the strong presence of Jody Mills but strong in her own way.
“She is very matter-of-fact,” Buckmaster said. “She’s Midwestern, she’s small town and she’s not overly emotional. She’s happy, but she’s not going to let things get to her when there’s business to be done.”
Along with the on-screen sisterhood, a sisterhood has formed between the women in real life. Briana Buckmaster and Kim Rhodes are best friends. Buckmaster also did her fight training for the episode with Katherine Ramdeen (Alex Jones), and met Kathryn Newton (Claire Novak) a handful of times.
Buckmaster described Clark Backo (Patience Turner) and Yadira Guevara-Prip (Kaia Nieves) as the new girls. At first there was question as to whether they would be able to fit in with the four other women who already knew each other. Those thoughts were quickly dismissed as the new girls found their niche. “They also are two incredibly unique, grounded young women. They immediately fit into the fold as if they had been there the whole time. They were the missing puzzle pieces and I literally can’t get enough of them. They’re going to be incredible inspirations to young women everywhere and they don’t even know it yet.”
They regularly text each other and send “weird videos” to each other off of set. Because of this rapport, Buckmaster says it was the easiest set she’d even worked on.
“I would say they’re more like sisters, even more so than best buddies. I feel like we really have the ability to be there for each other if we need to. And sometimes we don’t necessarily …maybe we won’t see eye to eye, and I think that’s important because that’s how friendships grow and that’s how you learn from other people. I’m looking forward to what these other women can teach me about how to be a better friend and a better sister to them.”
But, the ultimate question – what was it like working alongside Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles prior to “Wayward Sisters?”
Buckmaster had thought that maybe, after 13 years, the duo who portray the Winchester brothers would not be as into it as they used to be, but she observed that they are always “on.”
“They’re so committed. They’re such leaders,” Buckmaster said. “They show guest stars how to act on that set, they make them feel welcome and comfortable, they’re always there to offer them what they need for their process, they’re always there for the crew. All I can do in my professional life, if Wayward Sisters goes to series, is be half of what incredible humans, leaders and professionals Jared and Jensen are.”