Wynonna Earp’s Chantel Riley on Her Passionate and Driven Character

SYFY / Bell Media
SYFY / Bell Media

There’s a certain amount of power that can come from great passion. From the moment she arrived on the scene in Season 3 of Wynonna Earp, it’s been very clear what, or rather who, Kate (Chantel Riley) is passionate about. She’s been on the hunt, having crossed continents and throughout centuries for her husband, Doc (Tim Rozon). Now that she’s found him, it looks like the pair have the chance to be together forever since she recently turned him into a vampire like herself. While he may be regretting that decision, since Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano) is not happy at all about it, it does give an opening for Kate to maybe get him back.

While Wynonna may have some issues with Doc’s wife coming to Purgatory, from the moment she arrived fans of Wynonna Earp have been intrigued and drawn to Riley’s Kate. The character is a bit of an enigma, but Riley, who also stars on CBC’s Frankie Drake Mysteries, has brought a flair and confidence to the character that has made her a very worthy adversary for the Earp heir. She recently spoke to The TV Junkies about joining the show the season, interacting with its passionate fanbase and what it’s like to play a character steeped in history.



The TV Junkies: You worked with Melanie a bit on Frankie Drake, but how did this role on Wynonna Earp come about and why did you want to be a part of this show?

Chantel Riley: Melanie told me when they were talking about who they wanted to cast for this role that I was the first one to come up. I owe her big time for it! My agent reached out and asked how I felt about auditioning and I spoke with Emily [Andras, showrunner] as well. Emily let me know about the show and the role, and it didn’t take much convincing to get me on board after catching her vibe and talking to her. Shamier [Anderson] and I are really good friends too and I knew about the show through him so I wanted to give it a shot!

TTVJ: You didn’t care about going out to Calgary in the cold and snow?

CR: Well I wouldn’t say that I didn’t care! [laughs] Me and winter aren’t the best of friends but you gotta do what you gotta do, right?

TTVJ: At least you get some beautiful coats and scarves out of it I suppose. It really looks beautiful to viewers so your sacrifice is appreciated.

CR: It was so freezing, but it looks amazing! It was worth it. It was totally worth it, and I personally feel that they don’t give Mel enough clothes. I feel bad for her, but she handles that thing like nobody’s business. She’s so professional and amazing to work with.

TTVJ: Right from Kate’s entrance in the Season 3 premiere it seems that fans really embraced this character. Were you surprised how much she was loved out of the gate and what has it been like interacting with the fandom?

CR: I was actually really surprised. I was nervous because she creates a conflict between Wynonna and Doc and fans love that. I do too. So I was a little nervous, I’m not going to lie. Everyone was so welcoming though after they figured it all out and that I was the wife. I guess it’s like a love/hate relationship where you love to hate her and hate to love her. But the fans have been so sweet and I’m an actor so it’s not real life, guys. You can like me in real life though. I’m pretty cool! [laughs]

SYFY / Bell Media
SYFY / Bell Media

TTVJ: The show got around it in a very clever way, but you are playing a character based on a real person. What’s it like to bring a new spin to her and what do you love most about Kate?

CR: It’s always fun when writers take historical figures and make them a completely different person than what’s written in the books. I love how they did that and they made a very clever way of stating the obvious that ‘hey! Kate ain’t black in the picture!’ [laughs]

One of the best things I love about Kate is her passion. She’s so passionate and once she sticks with that passion and loves, she never lets it go. She’s so passionate about Doc and her love for him and wanting to find him after all these years. It’s been how many years now? So once she has her mind on something she goes for it and doesn’t take no for an answer. She’s so bold in that way because most people would probably just give up, move on and live life. Homegirl turned into a vampire so she could find him, right? So it’s safe to say she’s pretty passionate and determined.

TTVJ: Kate also deals in the Tarot cards. How much research did you do into Tarot for the role?

CR: You know what? I did a little dabbling, YouTube videos and read up on the cards so I had a better understanding. I didn’t want to just be flipping cards and have no idea what they mean. There’d be specific cards in episodes so I’d ask if it actually made sense and they’d explain what it all meant. I did dabble a bit, but there’s some creepy YouTube videos that scared me and I stayed away from those. There were some more light-hearted ones and I did a little research.

TTVJ: Kate and Doc had this very complicated past and clearly were very in love at one time. What has it been like building that relationship and working so closely with Tim Rozon to do that?

CR: Just reading up on Kate and seeing her life story and all the stuff they got into together — she is the epitome of ride or die. They’d be robbing people together and she lit something on fire to help Doc escape. She’s done some crazy stuff. So you can see just in the history alone how much love she has for that man. I wanted to make sure I was able to bring that out with Tim, but he makes it so easy. You fall in love with him as soon as you meet him. He’s just so sweet and a generous actor, friend and partner to work with. You see it with him and Wynonna, him and Waverly and everyone that he interacts with just how caring he is as an actor and on screen partner. Outside of that, he’s one of the sweetest and coolest people I’ve ever met. He made it very easy.


What do you think of Riley’s Kate this season? Add your thoughts below and stay tuned here for more with Riley in Part 2 of our interview.

Wynonna Earp airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on SYFY and Space Channel.