Do you think reality television would be better with a few more mysteries and casualties? Well, He Geek She Geek has found your show and it is SIBERIA debuting Monday on NBC. We’ve checked out the pilot episode and got to talk to star and producer Joyce Giraud before something goes terribly wrong.
He Geek She Geek: SIBERIA is NBC’s new “pseudo-reality” show that’s been described as a cross between ‘Survivor’ and ‘Lost’. What else can you tell us about the show?
Joyce Giraud: It’s a super-interesting genre that hasn’t been explored much in television. It is a reality show, but it’s a scripted show, if you know what I mean. So it’s a scripted show that has a reality show within it. It’s about a group of contestants that go and compete in Siberia to win $500,000, and then all hell breaks loose.
My character’s name is Carolina. The reason why she’s competing is because she’s just a simple girl, she’s a bartender from Columbia, and she wants some money because her uncle who is the only family member she has left is now in need of an operation. She is in debt to everything she is, because he saved her from Colombia when her parents got killed by the cartel and she was the sole survivor.
HGSG: In the pilot episode, Carolina appears to be a bit of a peacemaker wanting everyone to get along. How would you describe your character, and what have you liked the most about the role?
Joyce: I loved playing Carolina. She’s a very complicated character as you’ll see in future episodes. I think she’s very similar to me. In real life, I like my friends to keep the peace and I play peacemaker all the time. She has a voice and doesn’t let anyone mess with her, but she wants to keep the peace, so I loved that about her. I don’t want to spoil anything but as you’ll see she’s a very complex character. It’s coming up really soon.
HGSG: Did you watch any competition shows to prepare for your role, and was there any contestant you drew inspiration for Carolina from?
Joyce: I didn’t draw inspiration from any particular other contestant, but I did watch a LOT of Survivor episodes. A lot! Even old seasons. That would be my research. Every night, I’d go to bed watching Survivor episodes. But Carolina is so complex and at the same time so easy, so it wasn’t that difficult to play her. The difficult part was making it authentic like a reality show.
HGSG: It seemed pretty successful that way. We were watching and we were falling for it. We kept engaging and talking about “This person looks like they’ve got a secret” and “What’s going on with that person?” We were really getting sucked in like it was a real show.
Joyce: As an actress, I think that was the most difficult thing, trying to make it as authentic, because you know you are playing a person in a reality show, so it has to be really authentic. I think that was the most difficult thing playing Carolina.
HGSG: To keep the reality feel, do the actors have the ability to do some improvisation, or is this a strictly scripted show?
Joyce: Well, it is a scripted show, but I’m one of the producers on the show. So in my case I knew everything that was happening from beginning to end and knew everything that was going to develop and was going to happen and knew everything in the script. For our other cast members, we would give them the scripts literally the night before or in the morning, but nobody knew how the whole plot was going to develop, so they didn’t know the season. It was kept surprise to them as well. And, yes, we were able to do a lot of ad-lib, but they had to first hit the script and then that.
HGSG: Is SIBERIA planned to be a one season program where you plan from start to finish, or is this something you hope might work into another season?
Joyce: Oh, I hope it can work into many seasons! Let’s see how the audience receives it and hopefully it does really well and we can continue!
Joyce: Oh my God, I grew up in the mountains in Puerto Rico. I didn’t grow up on the beach side. Everything thinks of Puerto Rico as this beautiful little island and that everyone grows up on the beach. I grew up in the mountain side. I was the cowgirl, I was milking cows, I had the chickens, I had the roosters. I had it all! I had a million dogs. At one point I had 14 Dobermans. So, I’m really outdoorsy, and I grew up with only one brother, so I grew up a bit of a tomboy. I’m just not the typical pageant girl. I remember my first pageant, everyone’s like “Uh, she’s wearing jeans and a wife-beater”. And I’m like “Well, that’s me!”
HGSG: So if you had the opportunity to actually be on a reality show competition like SIBERIA, do you think it would be something you’d try?
Joyce: 100%! If I needed the money and it would be something I thought I could actually be good at, then yes, of course, 100%. Especially, if I had a family member that needed the money, like Carolina, 100% I would go and not think about it.
HGSG: If SIBERIA were a real competition, which character in the pilot would you hope to see kicked off first?
Joyce: I would hope Johnny would get kicked off first, because he’s not helping anyone. He’s just into himself, and that’s not cool. I get it, because we’re all competing to win the money so I get it. But the fact that he’s just so into himself is really annoying and upsetting. So if it was a true reality show, I’d hope he got kicked off first.
HGSG: One person on the show got to the camp before everybody else and was sitting in the cabin. That wasn’t really touched on that much, it was just kind of “Oh, how did you get here?” and it went on…
Joyce: Yeah I love that character too!
HGSG: You can tell there’s a big mystery with this one. I don’t know what it is. I WANT to know…
Joyce: It’s really great because, if you liked the pilot, you will see the show really escalates. On episode 4, things happen beyond your belief, and then on episode 6, it’s like “Oh my God are you serious? Wow!” At the beginning, we wanted to make it more about character development so that everyone could get to know the characters, just like in a reality show, and people can get invested with the characters, and then it escalates. Then you fall in love with the show.
(Check out part 2 of our interview with Joyce Giraud to find out what it was like to work with Wonder Woman, discuss the rumor of Joyce becoming a Real Housewife, and learn about her international pageant for charity.)