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Blindspotting, the Starz TV show based on the 2018 movie, introduces new characters, including Trish, the HBIC little sister of Miles who isn’t the biggest fan of his girlfriend Ashley. Trish is wild, outspoken, and doesn’t believe in wearing pants in the house, no matter who is around. I got to talk to Jaylen Barron, who plays Trish, about the show, how she and Trish are different, and about being just a little bit dorky.
How would you describe Trish?
Trish is a Scorpio. She is a lot of different people at one time, you never know what you’re going to get from her. She’s fun, she’s loyal, she’s understanding. She tries to be unproblematic but she tries to be so unproblematic that she causes problems. She’s misunderstood.
I can get that because of her issues with Ashley. I feel like it was presented like I was supposed to be on Ashley’s side, but I could relate to Trish totally because Ashley’s coming into your house, but she’s being the judgey one, even though she’s in a precarious situation.
Right, exactly. So you’re coming into our home and you have something to say, so that is where I think Trish’s whole disbelief is with Ashley. Trish doesn’t feel like she should have to change her lifestyle for her.
Trish also seems to have an issue with the relationship that Ashley and Miles have. Maybe she feels left out or feels like her brother left her? Do you have anything to say about that?
Well, I don’t want to reveal anything, so I think that is for the audience to decide on what is the issue between Trish and Ashley.
So you said Trish was a Scorpio. Are you a Scorpio as well?
No, I’m a Virgo.
Oh, so you’re a bit more sensitive than Trish.
I’m so sensitive. You know what’s funny, I’m sensitive in such a weird way. If strangers are being rude or nasty, I don’t care. It’s like “girl I’m in my bag, you’re tripping.” But it’s only when personal people I care about or have an opinion that it really affects me. I’m such a sensitive person to people’s energy around me. I feel like I can pick up on that and then I’ll think something is wrong whenever they’re quite not being themselves. “Like what did I do? Is something happening? What’s going on?” I don’t know if that’s trauma, but it’s just how I am. And I mean, Virgos. It’s like we have so many emotions and so many feelings but once our patience has run out with somebody, it’s scary because we have none. It’s a crazy scary thing because one moment I’ll care so much about somebody and so much about what they’re doing and anything like that but if they hurt my feelings enough, and I have enough patience that I’m like “okay, I forgive them, I forgive them. It’s okay, it’s all good.” But then after a certain point, I feel like I’m more of a robot toward them. It’s scary. It’s a scary flip, Virgos. We’re just really boring Geminis.
How do you think you do relate to Trish? And how are you different from her?
I feel like I relate to Trish in the sense of how loyal she is to her people. And I can relate to her in the sense of how comfortable she is with herself and how unapologetic she is with who she is as a woman. So I can definitely understand that. But I feel like we differ in how hot-headed we are. I’m not as angry as she is. I don’t relate to her on how hot-headed she is and how she’s always ready to fight. I personally am not a fighter like that. That doesn’t mean I can’t fight. It just means, I’m a pretty girl, there’s no reason to square up. That’s probably where we differ. Other than that I feel like she’s a part of me, like a small chunk of who I already am, and I magnify that because of where I was raised and who I was raised by. It’s not far from my lifestyle, or the lifestyle that I used to know.
Can you share about your childhood since you can relate to Trish on that level?
I can relate to her being witty and clapping back because in the household in which I was raised that’s just what you did to survive. I have a huge family. I probably have over 30 cousins. And you know, Thanksgiving, Christmas, they’re coming over for the weekend. And I’m Mexican, so we’re always having a party every weekend. So just being around my family like that you’re just like “uh uh, you better chill out over there,” because they’ll tease you or come for you, and I just feel like I’m really good at comebacks. I feel like Trish is good with that too. And when I was younger there would be issues at school. And I was taught that if somebody put their hands on you, you put your hands on them. So I’m not a stranger to that. And Trish definitely isn’t a stranger to that. But I grew up in a very loving household and I really appreciate my family because they really kept me humble and they’ve really taught me how to navigate my way through life and how people should not be able to hurt your feelings.
You’re Mexican and Black. One of my favorite conversations on the show was about being Black and the Black experience and how it’s not a monolithic experience but it can vary from person to person, but it doesn’t make you any less Black. Could you relate to that conversation at all as someone who is Black and Mexican?
I have light-skin privilege so it’s hard for me to have enough of an opinion that holds that much weight because my experience as a light-skin woman isn’t the same experience as a dark-skin woman might have. The only experience I can talk about is the experience of being a Black girl in a Mexican community. I understand how people might not treat you like you are Black enough because you are half-Black, but on the other hand, I was not Mexican enough. So I grew up around many Hispanic people, went to a Hispanic school. The only thing I can say is how I felt being around a whole bunch of women who didn’t look like me and being treated like the “Black girl.” I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a dark-skin woman everywhere you go. So that’s why it’s very difficult for me to give my opinion on that because I feel like it doesn’t hold enough weight because what am I going to say? “Oh yeah, I’m light-skinned, so I struggled with this.” It’s like everywhere you went, it was fine. Know what I’m saying?
I can definitely relate to that with my skin tone and hair texture. You do get privileges. But then on the same hand, it feels awkward because you don’t feel like you have the “typical Black experience” but that is a part of the Black experience, the colorism, and the positive and negative that comes with it.
Exactly, and like I said I can only talk about being the Black girl in a Mexican community and being treated like the Black girl. So when I go outside of the Hispanic community and I’m with other Black people it’s like “oh, I’m not like you guys. Or you guys think I’m not like you.” But little do they know I can get down just like them, I’m bout it, what’s good. I feel like it’s a touchy subject. And it’s really difficult to say. But there is colorism and Candace (Janelle) was spot on with what she was saying. Trish on the other hand, I feel like there was no wrong answer. I just feel like it was a different perspective from each person. I feel like Trish had the perspective because she is light-skin, and she’s like “nah, I’m Black like how you’re Black. But guess who isn’t Black? People who lived in this area.” So I think it’s just their perspective on being Black.
How did you get into acting? You’re a bit of a chameleon [with your roles]. Every role you’ve been in you’ve looked different. Is that one of the things that attracted you to acting?
I got into acting because I did that in my local theatre. I modeled for a second. But I always wanted to act, and what attracted me to that was exactly what you said, being a chameleon. And being able to blend in with any type of crowd and opportunity. I feel like that’s what being an actor is all about: adapt to the situation and adapt to the character. Because I want to be a different character every time, every TV show. I want people to see that range, that emotion. Like she has 30 different people living inside of her and we’re all waiting to see which one is coming out right now. And I think that’s what’s really fun and what I love about acting is the fact that I can reach so many different people: Black equestrians, the mean girls in school, a sex worker. I want to be able to reach everyone. So that’s what really attracted me to acting.
Which character have you related to the most?
Honestly, I feel like there isn’t one character I’ve related to the most. I feel as though a piece of all the characters makes up the sum of who I am right now. Definitely a mixture. We have a very sweet innocent Zoe [from Free Rein], and I definitely have that aspect of my personality, where I have a very kind and gentle presence. And then we have Trish where it is like if you flip the script then we’re going up.
What was it like filming in the Bay area and during the pandemic?
It was difficult to film during the pandemic, but we had a beautiful COVID team that made us feel safe. And we all had our personal COVID person who had our masks, hand sanitizer, wipes. Anything you could possibly need to make yourself feel safe, we had it. So they really made it easy on us. The only part that was difficult was that I felt like I couldn’t connect to my cast in the normal ways that you usually do, like going to a bar or going out to dinner. That was the only difficult aspect. But luckily we found our way through that by Facetiming each other.
What was your favorite scene to film?
I really enjoyed the scene where Benjamin [Earl], Candace [Janelle], and Margo [Nancy] are all talking about colorism. I think that was my favorite one. It was a long scene to film, it took hours. But I enjoyed it because it really felt like a conversation. There was no argument, there was no ending, there was no “who’s right.” It was just what you felt was correct.
Trish has a really fun sense of style. What was your favorite outfit Trish wore?
She has so many cute outfits. But I feel like one of my favs was the green suit that she wore to get her bank loan.
For a similar green suit, check out this one from SheIn:
SheIn Women’s Lapel Collar Double Breasted Blazer and Split High Waist Mini Skirt Set at Amazon
Trish has a lot of tattoos. Do you?
I do, I have four tattoos.
What’s your favorite tattoos of yours and what’s your favorite Trish tattoo?
My favorite tattoo of mine would be my Nefertiti tattoo. I have her profile because if I’m a queen, I have to have a queen next to me. My favorite Trish tattoo? She has so many that are cool. I’m going to give you a couple. I love the Bratz doll tattoo she has on her wrist. She has a Bratz doll with an afro and she has her breasts out, I think it’s super cute. My other favorite is the 777 she has on her forearm.
How long does it take to get her tattoos? How long do they last?
They’re semipermanent, so they last about three to four days. It takes probably about 45 minutes to apply all of them. But once we got the hang of it we got it down to about 35 minutes. Because you have to memorize the placement.
I saw in a previous interview that you described yourself as a nerd. How are you a nerd?
I say that in such a loose term. But I’m definitely a bit dorky and a bit quirky. And I would say I’m that because I’m not Trish at all. You go to Trish to go to a party. You go to her when you want to be seen on the scene. And I’m definitely not that girl. I’m definitely in my house, watching a documentary, most likely a serial killer documentary. I’m just a little bit awkward I think. I think when I get a little bit nervous I get uncomfortable and I stutter a little bit, I fumble over my words, and when I take an interest in something, I dive in. I research everything. Animals, especially. I know facts about animals that people are like “what, where did you get that from?” And I’m like “I just read about it, I just looked it up.” But don’t trip though. I’m a cute nerd. I can get dressed and I put on a show when I walk outside.
What would you like to see with your character in Season 2?
I would like to see her opinions change a little bit more and for her to grow up just a smidge if she hasn’t made too much progress. And I want her to be a little bit more soft and maybe take down her mask of being hard. I want to see that mask come off and her vulnerability to come off a bit more and to be a little bit more in touch and raw with the people around her.
Update: Season 2 Interview
You can read my interview with Candace Nicholas-Lippman, who plays Janelle, here.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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