Read our exclusive interview with Afghan-American actress Azita Ghanizada, who is set to portray Rachel, a lab tech with hyperactive senses, in SyFy’s upcoming series ‘Alphas.’ The show follows a covert government agency that hires superheroes who have mental/psychic abilities to hunt down their enemies. Besides rising to fame in America as a television actress, Ghanizada also works with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to help refugees in her native Afghanistan. Ghanizada discusses with us, among other things, how she prepared for the role of Rachel, and why she wants to help the UNHCR.
Written by: Karen Benardello
Shockya (SY): You are next set to play Rachel Myer, a lab tech with hyperactive standard senses, on the upcoming Syfy series ‘Alphas.’ While you have also guest-starred on an episode of ‘Ghost Whisperer,’ your portrayal of Rachel in ‘Alphas’ is your first starring role in a sci-fi series. What type of research did you do to prepare before you began filming?
Azita Ghanizada (AG): Rachel’s last name is to TBD - when I got cast in the role, the writers shifted things around to fit in better with me. To be honest, I didn’t have a ton of time to prepare, in television you get cast so quickly in things, that you have to just be really available to understanding the character as a part of you - I rearranged bits of myself and found the qualities that Rachel & I shared and brought them to life. I also watched as many of Zak Penn’s films as I could, and did some research on Echolocation and telescopic sight .. trying to find human ways to give Rachel an IN into her hyper senses.
SY: Since you don’t have much experience in the sci-fi genre, what ultimately convinced you to take the role of Rachel?
AG: Ultimately it was something that the agents and managers were fighting for me to get seen in ~ Rachel is a bit conservative and shy ~ casting really knew me as more of an outgoing person, but there is a sensitivity to her that I related to, the need to fit in, the need to have her voice be heard, but to struggle with that. On top of that, Jack Bender, Zak Penn & David Strathairn were all involved - it is an actors dream land of creative’s that are at the top of there game and also classy, super intelligent and generous.
SY: ‘Alphas’ follows a covert government team that hires superheroes who have mental/psychic abilities to neutralize other Alphas. Rachel is described as a lab tech with hyperactive standard senses; how are her senses different from the other Alphas’ senses?
AG: Well, we’ve got someone who can push people, a man with hyper kinesis and another with intensified fight or flight and someone with the ability to read streaming data ~ all the senses differ in a real drastic way, and the way each character uses them to solve these crimes and find these Alphas is unique. Rachel isn’t the aggressive one in the bunch - well at least not yet - she’s finding her footing in how to use these gifts that have been actually a curse for her at home and her community - this team actually applauds her gifts and for the first time she’s brave to start using them in a positive way, and its starting feelings of empowerment. Her senses are so extreme she can taste, small, see, hear things that no one else could.
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