If a sci-fi Western is even remotely your thing, the charms of Wynonna Earp are impossible to resist. That’s why it was no surprise, during the show’s San Diego Comic-Con panel last month, that the cast was met with a rock star’s reception. Fans of the Syfy series — they call themselves “Earpers” — sparked a pre-panel series of ecstatic call-and-response chants, and once onstage, the cast responded by surprising the room about Earp’s season-four renewal: Cast member Shamier Anderson ran through the crowd and then hopped up on a table to lead the faithful in another chant: “When I say ‘season,’ you say ‘four!’”
The show, created by Emily Andras, is fronted by actress Melanie Scrofano as the titular Wynonna Earp. In a more traditional TV landscape, the center of the story would likely be Wynonna’s on-again, off-again love interest, Doc Holliday (Tim Rozon), but this show belongs to its leading lady and her sister, Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley), whose relationship is very much the central love story. Scrofano knows her series is a genuine unicorn in a cynical world, and she’s ready to welcome everyone into the loving big tent of Earp fandom. “I just want people to see themselves in it, and just see that whatever their perceived flaw is, that it’s actually kind of cool,” she told Vulture in San Diego. “It’s actually the thing that makes you cool, so just lean into it. If you just take a minute to get to know the person in the next bubble over, you’re going to find that you have a lot in common, and that you can have a lot of fun together because of your differences.”
Amid the madness of Comic-Con, Scrofano found a quiet place to chat about how Earpers actually make Twitter a nice place, the pressures of leading such a beloved show, how her role as Wynonna has affected her professional outlook, and even to cry a little about the triumph of sincerity.
It’s hard to talk about Wynonna Earp without talking about its fans.
We wouldn’t be here without the Earpers. They have been so vocal and so enthusiastic about this show from day one. Every time we get new ones, they continue the legacy that the OG Earpers created, which is this really inclusive, positive community of people who genuinely love our show and love what it means to them. My manager was telling me a story about an Earper he was talking to in line [at Comic-Con], and she didn’t get a ticket to the signing. It was her second time trying and her second time failing, and there was an Earper in the line who had already gone through and gave her a signed poster that she had just got. It is literally no Earper left behind — there is a button you can have as a solo Earper, so they know if you are alone and then they can come get you. It really is special.
What are the expectations that come along with that, being the face of such a precious thing?
It is hard in some ways. At the end of the day, we are storytellers. The thing that becomes tricky — and this is not exclusive to our show — is you have to balance what people would like to see and what is honest to the people who created it. That’s why I get off Twitter when we shoot because it’s like, Wow, I am being very influenced. I see my own face in the GIF and I am like, I am doing that face! I have to get off Twitter.
The community seems to provide a nice online experience, too. Could you tell the folks at home what it’s like to have a safe space on Twitter? We don’t know of what you speak!
It is a pleasure to go onto Twitter and see what people are saying because I know that it is going to be funny or thoughtful or heartfelt and full of love. In season two, I was very worried. I was just used to what you normally see online, so I thought I would get a lot of comments about “Oh, she looks fat,” because I was pregnant and we were not telling people. Nobody said anything like that. It was like they were heat-seeking missiles for positivity, and they were just finding it and projecting it.
The show is so genuine, it’s almost resistant to snark. A glib take on Wynonna Earp would be useless because its heart is on its sleeve.
Yeah, you nailed it. I think the strength of our show is that there is so much heart. A lot of times in genre, people think, Oh, this show is cheesy, so they don’t commit. We commit. We just say, “There is a demon coming. Run!” because the demon in that world is real. Patty Jenkins is like, “I hate the word cheesy, and you are not allowed to use that anymore.” The type of cheesy that I think she is talking about, which I am all for, is the complete sincerity, completely abandoning yourself to the feelings and emotions of this world. If that’s cheesy to you, well, then you are watching it wrong.
You have done a ton of TV work. How has this experience been different?
I am learning to trust that there is an audience who will get it, and an audience who won’t. Don’t play for them. You are playing for the audience who will get it, and if you play for them, your work is going to be good. In trying to please everyone, you are neither here nor there. You cannot really commit to what you’re doing. Through this I realized, “Oh my God, the people that matter to me are going to keep watching, and we are going to glom together through this shared love of what we are doing.”
What is the effect of that? I imagine there’s an element of empowerment to it, sort of like getting paid more in one movie and then the next time, you can say, I demand this much because I know it’s what I’m worth.
That is a great analogy. It also just makes you more fearless. Before I met Emily [Andras], I didn’t play these characters necessarily. A lot of the roles I didn’t get, I probably didn’t get them because I was playing them more complicated than the producers or the network wanted. The notes are always like, “It’s a bit too cable.” Meaning it’s too interesting. They just really want to play it safe and boring. I learned through Emily that the people who matter will get it. The people who I want to work for, and with, will let me explore a different side of a character and a different way to play her than what has been allowed in the past.
How was the feedback when you decided to have another baby? Did you feel like it was a safer space to do that, given the message of the show?
No, because people say a lot of things. At the time, I thought, I work with great people, but I am not in their house and their heads and their marriage. So I was just like, I’m going to lose some friends here. I am really going to take a bullet on this one. The thing that we do not talk about enough, the people there who allowed this to happen are men, which was like, “Oh, things are changing. You are the people I want to be with. You are my people.” Like, of course Emily was — although, Emily scares the shit out of me. I wasn’t sure.
I’ve heard you say that in interviews before.
I mean it with respect, and I love that about her. I don’t want a pushover for a boss, but I was scared to tell her because she was going to be honest with me. And she was. But then all these dudes at Syfy and IDW were like, “I’m all-in,” to quote Doc Holliday. It was incredibly empowering and gave me hope. It should give others hope. I have heard from a lot of other young actresses, “It is such a relief to see how things turned out for you because I was so scared.”
This honestly feels possible because you’re making the show in Canada.
I buy that. We are very lucky that we live in Toronto, which is just an easy place to be. I think we realized after the election that we live in quite a bubble. Not to get too political, but there are bubbles in the world, and in ours, women are allowed to work when they get pregnant and men are pretty supportive and cool.
I’m sorry, do you actually live in Neverland?
Yeah, the houses are made of candy. But yes, the show is a cooler visual representation of where we live.
No wonder the Earpers are so invested in keeping this world alive.
Yeah, we don’t have a bad life.
Wynonna Earp had one of Comic-Con’s must-see panels this year. What was that like, when you started as this little Syfy show with so much gumption? [Pause.] I’m sorry, I don’t mean to get overwhelmed.
You’re crying, I’m crying. I think it is just we worked so hard on something that is so special to us. [Tears up.]
I’m sorry, now you’ll have to go back to hair and makeup.
It’s just … you start to get used to “We are the underdog and that’s cool, but it would feel nice sometime for people to get it. Until that day, we have such a good thing.” So it is powerful. It clearly hasn’t clicked. It’s very cool.
It makes it feel like the bubble you live in can be bigger.
Yeah, that’s a good way of putting it.