Canadian actress Enuka Okuma is a 20-year TV veteran, starting her career on Nickelodeon’s drama series Fifteen in 1990, moving on to roles in shows like Madison, Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye, and 24. Now she stars in the popular police drama Rookie Blue as Traci Nash. CableTV talks to Okuma about her character’s transition from a rookie cop to a detective and what season four has in store for her.
Q: How did you get started on Rookie Blue?
Okuma: It was nothing crazy. Actor goes in, gets the audition, and nails it [laughs]. Actually, I always think this is funny and people love knowing this, I originally auditioned for the part of Gail [played by Charlotte Sullivan] and Charlotte auditioned for Traci. When we got the parts, I said, “I think I would rather play Traci” and Charlotte said, “I think I would rather play Gale.” Thankfully, the producers thought the same.
Q: Do you think, looking back now, you make a better fit for Traci?
Okuma: I think so. If it had gone the other way, I think both Charlotte and I would have made those characters our own and the show would have been totally different. So I am glad that it worked out the way that it did. I don’t know if things would have been better, but it’s different.
Q: I was shocked that Jerry (Noam Jenkins) was killed. How do you deal with that as an actor?
Okuma: I have never been on a show where such a prominent member of the cast has been offed [laughs]. So that was new. I think what made it so difficult is that we really are such a tight-knit group outside of work, so it really felt like a death in the family. It was an adjustment.
Q: Now that Traci is grieving, how do handle the heavy emotional role?
Okuma: What’s difficult about television is, if you play an emotion or the writers write an emotion too often, it gets tiring for the audience. In real life, obviously people mourn for a very long time. We don’t have the luxury in television because we have to tell stories so swiftly. So, it was important to me to make sure Traci was realistically still mourning the loss of her love, but there was still an aspect where she needed to pull up her boots and get on with it. She has to live life and pull herself together.
Q: Traci has had some of the biggest changes since season one. She started as a rookie, but is now a detective working with Sam (Ben Bass). What has that process been like?
Okuma: I would definitely agree. I think that there has been a lot of new adjustments over the four years. As an actor, that has been what’s really exciting about paying Traci. I think what has been really true to the show is that Traci has been a rookie many times over. So, we can keep the rookie aspect in different incarnations in our show. It has been really great to have some new challenges to play.
Below, listen to Okuma’s experience working with Ben Bass and her thoughts on what might happen to Traci in season four:
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