Fans everywhere are gearing up for what looks to be a tantalizing fourth season of the hit CW show The 100. And actress Tasya Teles is putting on her fandom hat right along with us.
Teles, who plays the ever-mysterious Echo, is as passionate about the show as many of the fans. And with that passion comes a deep understanding of both her character and what makes The 100 such an intriguing show.
With just days to go before the season premiere, I spoke with Teles about Echo and how her arc might unfold this season:
TARA MARTINEZ: The 100 is a kind of fandom show and people are really looking forward to this coming season. How would you describe your character’s journey leading up to season four?
TASYA TELES: Well, my character Echo started in an interesting space in that she and Bellamy had a great moment together where they escaped Mount Weather. In season two, what was interesting that didn’t end up playing was that she left Mount Weather surprised that she was released and curious and suspicious as to why because the way the story was written, Bellamy was supposed to come back to the prison or the cages and then her and Bellamy were supposed to create an army from the inside and escape. But while that was happening, Clarke and Lexa had other plans and other alliances and deals going on outside Mount Weather, so we don’t see Echo again really until this season. And we see her a bit in season three when she betrays Bellamy, but we don’t really understand why, so this season kind of answers all of the mystery behind Echo’s character and what goes on. And she gets challenged a lot, so she doesn’t have an easy journey in season four, but it definitely speaks to everything that they laid out in the previous two seasons.
TM: You’ve been with this character for a little while, for a couple of seasons. Having explored her arc in season four, how do you think she’s changed or grown since she first appeared?
TT: Well, she has always been a loyalist to her clan which is the Ice Nation clan. She’s a royal guard, we learn that she’s a royal guard and she’s a spy for the Ice Nation queen who died last season. So, in this season you see her working with the king—King Roan—and Echo is just totally and completely loyal to Ice Nation. And what comes to be an issue is in this world of constant negotiation and need for people to work together, her ideas of loyalty and leadership don’t often fit with what is going on with the rest of the crew or the rest of the other clan. So, she has a really big learning curve ahead of her. She needs to learn how to work with others and she has to learn how to—when it’s best to be loyal to your people and when to make some trade-offs and negotiate. That’s kind of her journey is bumping along those decision-making processes.
TM: As you’ve navigated her challenges as an actress, is there anything about her, in particular, that you relate to or that resonates with you?
TT: Absolutely. Her resilience. She’s extremely powerful and extremely lethal and she survives, and you’ll see in season four, she survives many big problems and circumstances, from Mount Weather—the way they wrote her in the script in Mount Weather was she was one of the longest standing survivors in Mount Weather, so she just has an inner strength, you know, within her. And throughout season four, there’s a lot of different challenges that she overcomes. So, she’s definitely resilient and definitely is a fighter and I respect and I love that about her. That’s something that I definitely identify with.Photo Credit: Liz Rosa
TM: Over the last few seasons, what has been your biggest challenge in playing Echo or in relating to her?
TT: She actually was really challenging this year because she—last year as well—did things that me as a person and as an actor and artist didn’t understand why she was behaving this way or why she was making these choices. And so I had go and look at real life examples of people that don’t make decisions that maybe are—how do I put this? Because she’s so loyal to her clan, it’s difficult for her—like the greater good for Echo is for the good of her clan and so that supersedes everything else. And so, sometimes I was wondering, you know, where her humanity lied, why she was making decisions that were hurting other people. And making that real and not just playing an idea or, you know, something that might be perceived as evil or bad was a huge challenge. So, I had to find her innocence and I had to find where she lied in her growth pattern and, again, it’s her learning curve. She has so many things that she has to learn yet, so it’s not that she’s a bad person or doing bad things. It’s that she hasn’t quite understood certain things yet. So, at the beginning of season four, those are kind of the biggest challenges I faced.
TM: The 100 is an extremely popular show with a lot of hardcore fans. What do you think it is about the show that’s so appealing to so many people?
TT: Well, one thing that I came to fall in love with the show about—a couple of things—one was that when the show is working at its best, there’s not really any group of people that’s bad or the bad guy because it’s all about survival and it’s all about decision-making and leadership. And through the show they discuss how difficult that can be and that has a lot of real world ties. You know, like, there’s so many times I was studying the script and I was thinking to myself about today’s politics. Like, Who would this group be? And who would that group be? You know? Thinking about how people are working together and, I don’t know, immigration or politics. There’s a lot of stuff that it mirrors on the show, so I find that really really interesting.
And then also, how unpredictable the show is. I was always scared to get a script because I was like, Oh God, what’s gonna happen? [laughs] Like getting anxiety. And I remember one episode, in particular, I was just—I mean, actually a few—my jaw was on the ground because I was like totally floored by some of the stuff that they were pulling off and some of like, I don’t know. The show will always keep you on your toes, you know what I mean? You can think that something’s predictable or you think you understand something, then it will totally turn at a moment’s notice. That’s what’s so gripping about it.
TM: If you could describe season four in, like, three words, how would you describe it?
TT: Epic. Oh my gosh. I’m trying to think about all the things that have happened. Eventful. There’s so many things that have happened! Eventful would be one of them. And there’s a quality of redemption, I guess, or healing that takes place between some of the characters that is interesting.
TM: I want to switch gears and talk about acting more specifically. How did you get started and what drew you to this particular craft?
TT: Growing up it was always something that I wanted to do, but within my household, it wasn’t something that was championed. I come from a house of book nerds and academics, and so my parents saw my story as me obtaining a PhD and being in the world of academia somewhere. So, while I always wanted to be an actor, it wasn’t anything I allowed myself to think about, but upon getting my undergraduate degree, I was totally miserable and it was just nagging at me the whole time I was getting my degree. I was like, Oh my God. Is this the direction of my life? Am I always going to wonder what happened if I followed my dreams? And then I was like, You know what? Screw it. I am going to do that and if I fail, then at least I can say that I tried. So, that’s when I made the decision, like right in my final year of university, that I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t at least try. And so, I tried [laughs] and it was fine and it fits and it works, and you’re off to the races. There was definitely a moment where I had to sit down and be like, What do you want to do with your life? And acting was the only answer that felt good.
TM: Nice. Now, I read that you kind of focused on theater in university. In your experience, how does being on stage differ from being on camera?
TT: Being on stage, energetically everything that happens on stage is a lot more expressive. Everything on camera, you have to learn how to do—how to honor very important storylines, beats, and moments with very nuanced performances that would, on stage, otherwise be completely lost. So, it’s definitely a technique issue. Like, you have to learn to simmer all of your acting impulses down for camera. Very, very subtle gestures and looks and breaths. Whereas on stage you can be—I mean, vocally—everything is a lot bigger on stage.
TM: Aside from The 100, do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?
TT: I have a few that have been on the shelf because The 100 took precedence this past year, but nothing I can actually give a nod to at this moment. I just had Watch Dogs which is a video game I did; it was just released in November. That’s doing well. That was a great project to be a part of. And Prison Break is coming up soon, so that will be airing shortly and that’s exciting. But otherwise, The 100 is being released on my birthday on February 1st.
The 100 premieres February 1st on The CW. To learn more about Tasya, be sure to check her out on Twitter at @tasyateles.
Tara Martinez is a New York-based writer with a passion for pop culture and a penchant for analysis. She frequently covers film, television, and representations of women in the media.