Killjoys Puts A High Priority On Diversity

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Bell Media
Bell Media

Portraying an accurate representation of the world we live in and representing unique and diverse points of view is always a goal for many series in the world of television. While there’s always room for improvement when talking about diversity, Killjoys is one show out there doing it better than most. From a lead character that is a female person of color to its supporting characters and guest stars, it’s clear diversity is at the forefront of the Killjoys team’s mind. “Diversity is our number one priority in casting,” Killjoys casting director Jason Knight, who is a partner in Buchan Knight Casting, told The TV Junkies.

According to Knight, “reflecting the world we live in back to our television audiences is of utmost importance” for Killjoys because “shows ignore that ideal at their own peril.” In fact, Killjoys, a series that follows a trio of space bounty hunters, has an even bigger responsibility when it comes to diversity. “With our show it’s maybe even more important because we’re not representing one world but an entire other solar system. So reflecting the different planets, races, class systems allows us to really blow the door wide open in this regard,” Knight explained.

The priority on diversity was evident right from the start when Hannah John-Kamen was cast as Dutch. “Finding our Dutch was a real challenge I won’t lie,” Knight recalled. “From the very outset we discussed that she not be Caucasian, and she needed to be absolutely compellingly gorgeous, but you had to believe that she could kick your butt,” he said. These restrictions meant that Knight “looked at hundreds of terrific actresses for the role, across Canada, in the States, in the UK and beyond.” However, once Knight came across John-Kamen he said he knew they had found the right woman for the role. “We knew she was going to be able to inhabit the role better than anyone could have imagined. She just owns it big time, every single facet we were looking for and more. She’s a star,” he enthused.

Ian Watson/Syfy/Killjoys II Productions Limited
Ian Watson/Syfy/Killjoys II Productions Limited

While diversity is a major component when casting, it isn’t the only factor Knight looks for. He said chemistry always plays a major key as well, especially on a show like Killjoys where it’s imperative that the three leads (John-Kamen, Aaron Ashmore, Luke Macfarlane) all work well together. “We did significant chemistry testing when we got down to our finalists,” Knight recalled of casting the show’s main trio. “When you’re assembling a sort of family like we have on our show it is key to see them together to see how well the sparks fly when they share a scene,” he explained.

The second season of Killjoys has really seen the world of the show expand and that has meant bigger roles for some of the important supporting characters that inhabit the Quad such as Alvis (Morgan Kelly), Pree (Thom Allison), Fancy (Sean Baek) and Pawter (Sarah Power). According to Knight, getting the perfect actors for those characters can be tricky because “first and foremost we needed the best actors we could find who can create believable grounded characters.” There’s also something that not only those actors possess, but also Killjoys’ outstanding lineup of guest stars this season that has included Stephanie Leonidas, Keon Alexander and Tori Anderson. “There is a quality that is a bit hard to describe, but it’s a lot of fun when we can capture it with the casting, and that’s an otherworldly quality, sometimes that comes from an actor’s delivery and sometime it’s a look,” Knight explained.

Knight also attributes much of Killjoys great casting choices to creator and showrunner Michelle Lovretta. When it comes to casting for the show he said his “best guide is when Michelle sends me a quick note describing how she sees the character.” Knight went on to say that “Michelle writes such terrifically diverse and fabulous characters that it makes my job easy. I just need to maintain the mind meld we’ve had going on since the early days and I’m good.”

 

What do you think of the diversity represented on Killjoys? Which guest stars have you enjoyed most this season? Sound off in the comments below!

Killjoys Season 2 finale airs Friday, September 2 at 9 p.m. ET on Syfy and Space Channel.

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