Atlanta-based actress Lesa Wilson chatted to Courageous Nerd about her recurring role as “Bobbie Burman” on Stargirl. The DC Comics-based series premiered on DC Universe and The CW in May 2020.
Welcome, and thank you for taking the time to do this.
Lesa Wilson (LW): Of course, thank you for having me on.
How did you find your passion for acting, and what made you decide to pursue it professionally?
LW: You know, I found acting on the road of doing a multitude of other things. I started out doing radio and television broadcasting. I worked as a radio DJ for a little while, very early on in my career. I found the news just wasn’t for me and moved into Entertainment. I did modelling and hosting work and it was this kind of evolution.
Ultimately, once I moved to Atlanta, I found my way into acting as the industry started building up here. It’s just been a very natural, organic process for me but I didn’t necessarily know right out of the gate that I wanted to be an actor.
Prior to playing “Bobbie Burman” on DC’s Stargirl, how much did you know about DC Comics and its history?
LW: I knew a decent amount, because I had already done another DC Universe show – I was on Doom Patrol prior to Stargirl. It was my second experience with DC and I love them. They’re fantastic, great to work and have exceptional shows. It’s wonderful to be part of the DC family.
For anyone who is unfamiliar with Bobbie or the show, could you explain who you play and what DC’s Stargirl is about?
LW: Stargirl follows a character by the name of Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger) and her superhero name is Stargirl. She is a part of the JSA, or the Justice Society of America. They are these high school kids who have essentially come up… they start to form their merry band of superheroes again. They are working to thwart all of the evil attempts that the ISA – which is the Injustice Society of America – who have mind control, destroy and kill people.
It’s a typical good-against-evil type of superhero show where the main players are high school kids and a couple of parents, here and there. I play Bobbie Burman, who is the stepmother to Cindy Burman (Meg DeLacy), she is Shiv, one of the supervillains in the Injustice Society, but the high school version. My character is basically the tortured “Stepford Wife” of the Dragon King (Nelson Lee) and I’m always in fear for my life. So, it’s a scared character with the desire to rebel but is always in fear for her life.
Stargirl is filmed in Atlanta, where you are based. What did you most enjoy about having this job be so close to home?
LW: Getting to be at home every night and not have to live out of a hotel or out of an Airbnb, that’s wonderful. My family’s based in Georgia and it’s nice to be able to go home, be around them and still have work in my city. It’s wonderful for Atlanta period because we have so many shows that are coming up here and the ability to work in them. There’s a plethora of work available and we really don’t have to go anywhere. I recently purchased a home here, so I’m here to stay.
I’ve previously spoken to your castmates, Eric Goins and Mark Ashworth, who are also Atlanta-based actors. Did you know either of them or anyone else before shooting the show?
LW: Yeah, Eric and I have been friends for many years. I’m familiar with Mark, he and I really didn’t know each other that well before the show. Eric and I go way back, I’m actually good friends with his wife.
Do any specific memories or moments stand out from your first day on the set of Stargirl?
LW: I would say the creation of Bobbie Burman was one of the really fun things about my first day on set, because she’s a Stepford Wife. It was this 1950s-style look was always being created. That was really fun to go through that process and come out on the other side of it. Like: “Hey, I definitely have the look of a Stepford Wife.”
My first introduction to Stargirl was actually at our first table read for episode 2 of Season 1. My favourite moment from that was meeting Meg DeLacy, who plays Cindy, my stepdaughter. We immediately bonded and became great friends right out of the gate. So, for me, that’s been one of my most favourite takeaways.
One of your main scene partners on the show is Meg DeLacy, who plays Cindy Burman. How much discussion, if any, did you two have about the characters’ relationship?
LW: Very little, because there was very little information that was provided about Bobbie and how she existed in the universe. So, really truly, I had to create it. Meg and I would sit in our trailers and have conversations about where we could see the characters going, how we would like to see them engage with one another. She hated that she always had to be so sassy and mean towards me [Laughs] onscreen but it was obviously just acting.
That’s kind of the gist of it. We took it where our imaginations saw it to go because there was such limited information to prepare for that particular relationship. It was really created between Meg and I.
In one episode, Bobbie also shares a scene with Pat Dugan, played by Luke Wilson. Considering these are two very different characters, what was exploring their dynamic like?
LW: Luke is a joy to work with. He’s a generous actor, very kind and down-to-earth. Being in a scene with him is just as easy as having a conversation with an old friend. I felt very comfortable working with him. The dynamic between him and really any character he shares a scene with is very… he approaches the work in a very natural way. It’s like second nature. I enjoyed being able to work with him and have that experience. I can’t say enough good things about my experiences working with him.
The same goes for Meg. It’s an interesting dynamic between the approaches in how I would be with living in the Burman space where I’m engaging with Meg, or how I’d react with Luke. Even with Anjelika [Washington], in the scenes that I had with the three of us.
Being able to be more of a happy-go-lucky person which is a throwback to the character foundation, the “pre-Bobbie Burman” is what I would call her, who she was before she became Bobbie Burman. The reality of her as Bobbie Burman, Stepford Wife, living in the clutches of Dragon King and Shiv, it’s a fearful life. So, this balance between happiness, sadness and being able to bounce back and forth between the two places was really fun to play.
From an acting perspective; would you prefer to know everything about your character/the storyline ahead of time, or find out gradually?
LW: The stories evolve over time and so, not all the episodes are written whenever we start a season. I know for Season 2, they were sending out scripts for two episodes at a time. I think they were only writing them two episodes at a time. It’s really a discovery. The whole cast finds out everything as the scripts are sent out. That’s really true for any series, unless the writers are working in advance. Anything can happen.
There are dynamics with the characters onscreen that can make the writers want to spend more time with a character. That can always shift the direction of a show. It would be nice sometimes to really have an idea of where it’s going to go. You typically have a general sense of what’s going to happen.
As you’re going through and reading the scripts, you can see where the story is going, so you can project. Sometimes, there are really good curveballs and you’re like: “Uh, I don’t know.” I feel like if I knew too far in advance, it might take away some of the excitement of finding out on the fly. I’m sticking to the way it is, where it’s just a couple of episodes at a time.
Of everything you’ve done, do you have a favourite acting job?
LW: That’s so hard, because I’ve played so many different types of characters. I enjoy bringing them all to life. I’ve absolutely loved Bobbie Burman. I mean, I really wish there was an opportunity for her to be more of a fun and exciting character. Even a character that has more of a backbone. That would be really great to see for her.
I guess as far as shows go… Stargirl has been my favourite, but as far as characters go, I’d have to think about that. I don’t really have an absolute favourite. I did play this really cool character on Amazing Stories for that season when they came out – this episode called “Signs of Life.” I played an alien that was inhabiting a human body. I wore a prison jumpsuit the whole time and this makeup that made me look like I had been beaten within an inch of my life. So, that was a really good opportunity to do something completely different.
That’s the kind of stuff I really like to do – it challenges me, forces me to get outside the comfort zone of just being the person I am on screen. It forces me to fall into a character and that can be really enjoyable.
If people wanted to find out more about your work or you personally, where could they look?
LW: I put a lot of my stuff on Instagram, so people can follow me @hellolesa. I have a website that’s a demo reel page. So, it’s demoreel.com/Lesa and that’s where I keep all of my reels and resumes. Pretty much everything that’s going on with my work. You can find my voiceover demos there. That is everything I keep out there. I do have a Twitter page, but it kind of mirrors my Instagram, same handle @hellolesa.
Lastly, what are you most looking forward to in 2021?
LW: I am looking forward to… continuing to work on new projects. You know, with Stargirl, I’m not a series regular. I’m a guest actor that pops in for a few episodes here and there. I’m looking forward to continuing to audition for more shows and hopefully book something that’s really cool. I do have some projects that will be coming out – a Lifetime film where I was the lead, that one should be out in early 2021. Obviously, when Stargirl hits again.
I played a character on a show called Dwight in Shining Armor named The Queen, a medieval Queen and it was spectacular. We actually just wrapped the series on that. So, I guess that was two weeks ago when we wrapped. I’m looking forward to all of this coming out. There’s some great things on the horizon for the coming year and given how 2020 has been and we’re not out of the heavy side of the coronavirus yet, I’m cautiously optimistic for what will happen. Very hopeful that industries won’t be shut down, the way that they were.
Recently, I know that California deemed Entertainment workers as essential workers so I think that if there’s another shutdown, this is just my assumption, but I think that we will probably continue making television shows and films. That’s my hope, I know we have very strict protocols in place that make everybody safe on set. So, it’s been very challenging to keep up with all the necessities to make sure we’re still producing content. It keeps us working, so, we’re happy about it.
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