At the center of the new Global drama series Nurses are five young nurses, wide-eyed and ready to start their careers in a high-stakes hospital. In the series premiere, the gang was immediately thrown into the pool and left to figure out how to swim, and things don’t get any easier on them in this week’s episode, “Undisclosed Conditions,” airing Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Ashely Collins is one of those young nurses and she’s played by Vancouver native Natasha Calis.
It was clear from the series premiere that Ashley has a pretty tough exterior. She already butted heads with Grace (Tiera Skovbye), but there may be more than meets the eye going on there. Calis recently spoke to The TV Junkies about why she was so eager to join the new drama, as well as previewed why Ashley may be putting up such a hard front.
The TV Junkies: There’s a lot of medical dramas out there. How is Nurses different and what made you want to be a part of it?
Natasha Calis: There are a lot of medical dramas out there, but I think ours is special because we’re specifically putting nurses in the spotlight. We’re giving them the long overdue credit that they deserve. All of the medical dramas that you see out there are focused on the doctors, and I think it’s about time that nurses get to tell their stories too. That was what was really attractive to me when I first heard about the project. I also loved how character driven, emotional, and real the series is. We’re basing some of our storylines off of real life events, tragedies, and accidents that you see in the news. We’re trying to shine the light on behind the scenes and what happens after those events. It’s important and relevant to tell the stories of those unsung heroes in the hospital.
TTVJ: What’s your relationship with the profession and did you do a lot of research for this role?
NC: I had no relationship to nursing prior to filming other than a good number of my friends being in nursing school right now. I’d hear them all say how hard it is and how they have so many exams. There was a minute where my parents said I should maybe get into nursing too, but then I got the call about Nurses. It seemed way too perfect. I’d joke to my friends how it took me four months to fully become a nurse and they were still in school.
I learned a lot though because we had medical training before filming. They had a real doctor come in and show us the ways. We were taught to look like we knew what we were doing, but then also actually learned the things so we knew what we were doing. It was so much fun.
TTVJ: You got to bypass all of the hard tests!
NC: Exactly! I cheated the system and just went straight into being a nurse. [laughs]
TTVJ: What can you share with us about your character, Ashley?
NC: Ashley has this edginess to her, and as cliche as it sounds, she does have a lot of layers. When you first meet her you see that she puts on a tough face, and likes to wear this hard shell, but episode by episode you see circumstances, people, and patients chip away at that. Eventually you get to see this very vulnerable, emotional, and insanely empathetic human being hiding behind this mask of her past and growing up. For me, it was really exciting, fulfilling, and challenging to play a character where there is more than meets the eye. That was really attractive to me when I first read the script and was figuring out Ashley.
TTVJ: Similar to the nurses on the show, you were thrown into this ensemble cast working with these five other actors. How was that and how did you get along with your cast?
NC: I say this in all honesty, we are all so close and love each other so much. Tiera and I are best friends and for Season 2 we’ve rented a house together. Along with Sandy [Sidhu], we’re both from Vancouver so we were hanging out together all the time on and off set. Tiera and I didn’t know each other before Nurses, but we got flown to Toronto for the chemistry read, and she contacted me beforehand. We met in a hotel room to introduce ourselves and it was an instant friendship. Then, on the first day meeting the rest of the cast, there was just this shared excitement and passion over being on such a great show.
TTVJ: From what we’ve seen on screen, it seems like Ashley and Tiera’s Grace are going to butt heads a bit, but that’s certainly different off screen.
NC: It was hilarious because we’d have to remind each other that we can’t act like best friends on screen. It was really interesting though because the characters do have a turning point and I’m excited for people to see that.
TTVJ: One person that Ashley does seem to have a bit of a soft spot for is her roommate, Wolf (Donald MacLean Jr.). What’s their relationship like?
NC: Wolf is the only person who truly knows Ashley and sees through her bullshit. He knows the most about her, what her childhood was like, and all the circumstances that make her like she is. She can truly, authentically be herself with him and not have to apologize for it. They are roommates and share this special bond with each other that they don’t with anyone else.
TTVJ: We see in some promos that it looks like Ashley may have some love interests this season. Is that true and what’s her social life look like?
NC: She does have a love interest. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s very exciting and sweet. Alexandra [Ordolis] plays the love interest and we became such good friends. It was my first on screen kiss and romance, but it was so nice and comforting having her there. I love her so much.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.