In season 1 of Peacock’s One of Us Is Lying, the lives of four Bayview High students unravel when five of them walk into detention one day, but only four leave alive— each of whom had motives for murder. When the true killer is revealed in the finale, the quartet and their newfound friends’ lives are upended even more. Season 2 returns with Addy (Annalisa Chochrane), Cooper (Chibuikem Uche), Bronwyn (Marianly Tejada), Nate (Cooper van Grootel), Janae (Jessica McLeod) and Maeve (Melissa Collazo) all trying to get on with their lives, but once again are under threat of someone revealing the truth about their now real involvement in another murder.
You’ve said dance was your first passion. Was there anything you learned during your eight years of ballet that you still implement today as an actor?
I think discipline of a craft stays with you, especially when you start off so young. I was six when I first enrolled in ballet and did it until I was 14. So I think the structure of that stays with you. And also, performing for an audience is where I got my first exposure to that. So I think that when I started doing theater years later and I fell in love with the theater, it was no surprise to me because I was like, “Oh, this is very similar,” to have a live crowd that you're performing for because ballet is very much telling a story. When you have a recital, you choose this story that you get to tell. I would say it's like part acting, part dancing.
You have four siblings. Did being the youngest kid have any affect on you eventually becoming a performer?
Maybe because my siblings would not give me the time of the day, I was seeking that attention and maybe that was a way of getting not only my parents attention, but everyone in my house because I would perform for them. Although, I was a little bit shy, so I think it could have been influenced by that. But also, because no one was a performing artist in my immediate family or even my extended family, I didn't know that that's a thing you could do. So it took us all by surprise, to be honest.
Were you still shy when you first started getting into performing?
I think I had developed some social skills that helped me navigate crowded environments at that point. But I do still prefer a more intimate setting to this day. I think I don't get so anxious as I used to before when I'm around a lot of people, but I definitely do get really nervous, especially before I go out on stage to do a play or any sort of live performance. But then it goes away when you start playing.
I'm an introvert to this day. I just think I developed a way to navigate these social settings where I find enjoyment and I think it's always good to know new people and get to network, for the lack of a better word. It does fascinate me to meet people in the same industry and find people that you could potentially collaborate with one day, so that's how I keep my brain going into social settings.
What are you excited about for Bronwyn in season 2 of One of Us Is Lying?
I love that Bronwyn really broke out of her shell this season. Because they're facing this really, really traumatic event, yet again—although this one they are guilty of— it changes the chemistry of each character, I think. And for her, what it means is she's way less focused on her academics just because I think she has the priority of figuring out this new situation to save her life and save her friends and protect her sister. And so in the little moments that they can have some freedom, they really just have fun this season. That's my favorite thing to see her do is just having fun and being a teenager.
Manipulation and murder aside, what can audiences learn from the show?
I think that the friendships in this show between the characters are very beautiful. And also knowing that when you unite and you seek help and not not try and figure everything out by yourself, the outcome is usually better.
To rely on one another and instead of doing it your way by yourself, it always plays out better to do things with other people. And also to know that life is always gonna throw curveballs at you and that if the plan you had didn’t work out, that life is still good and things are gonna work out and you just take it one day at a time. I think that's something you learn when you're a little bit older— that life just doesn't happen exactly the way that you want it to happen. But that's okay. And I think as long as you stay focused on what your goals are there is going to be a way to them. It just might be slightly different than what you had in your head to begin with.
What was it like being on set in New Zealand?
I think it's important to give credit, in regards to this project, to the amazing crew and everyone that we don't get to see so often, especially in times of COVID, which we were dealing with COVID in New Zealand this time around and getting tested like three times a week and being super cautious of not getting sick while filming. I think it just puts into perspective how much work it takes and it really just takes a village to do an eight-episode show. I just want to mention the hard work of everyone involved that was behind cameras for this project because it is truly, truly a team effort. And this crew was amazing. We got to work with them season one, but we couldn't properly celebrate season one because of COVID and this time it was just so special to get to wrap with them and celebrate the accomplishment of two seasons.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photography by: JJ Geiger