Science fiction has always been an appealing genre to males in particular, due to special effects and action sequences. But actress Traci Dinwiddie grew up fascinated by the realm of the genre and the entertainment industry as a whole, which subsequently led to her aspirations of breaking into television, films and theater.
Dinwiddie is most recognized for her award-winning performance as Peyton Lombard in the independent movie Elena Undone. However, she quickly garnered widespread fame when she joined the cast of the hit CW sci-fi show Supernatural in a recurring role. Dinwiddie portrayed skilled and edgy psychic Pamela Barnes between 2008 and 2010, but would enthusiastically return to the series if asked back.
Recently, Dinwiddie generously took the time to talk to us over the phone. She discussed her experiences of guest starring on Supernatural, as well as the teen sports drama Make It or Break It. The actress also spoke about writing, producing and starring in her upcoming web series, which chronicles the struggles women face as they get older.
Check it out below.
We Got This Covered: You have made a name for yourself in recurring roles on such television series as Supernatural and Make It or Break It. What is it about television acting that you enjoy so much?
Traci Dinwiddie: I love the fly by the seat of your pants kind of pace it requires. I come from a really strong theater background, and it’s different in preparation. Sometimes we get the script the night before, or the day of, and revisions. It makes me work on the fly, and trust my creative instincts in a very strong way. (laughs)
WGTC: On Supernatural, you portrayed psychic Pamela Barnes on four episodes between 2008 and 2010. What was it about the character that convinced you to take on the role? Were you a fan of the show before you accepted the job?
TD: Well, first of all, I’m a big sci-fi fan. I wasn’t as familiar with Supernatural from watching the show as I was with watching the bloopers. (laughs) I’m rather addicted to blooper reels on YouTube. I came across their blooper reels from their previous seasons. I thought, those guys look like a bunch of fun to play with.
Sure enough, not too long after that, I got a call to audition for the role of Pamela Barnes. Working on Supernatural, especially playing this character, was extra fun for me. Just being able to play such an unapologetic flirt (laughs) is a delight for me, Traci, the person.
WGTC: If there’s a way of bringing the character back, would you be interested in reprising your role?
TD: Absolutely! I’ve heard some variations on the Supernatural fans’ wishes for Pamela to return. I’d be so curious what they’d do if they did me back. I would go back and work with Supernatural as long as they’d have me.
Pamela Barnes is a rocking character. The Supernatural fans are incomparable, and the cast and crew are as fun as they get.
WGTC: What was your working relationship with Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles while you were filming your episodes? Did you have fun while you were working with them?
TD: Absolutely! Those guys, sure, are stunningly good looking, (laughs) easy on the eyes. But even putting that aside, these guys are so easy to hang with, they’re super fun. They’re little pranksters, and it’s like hanging with two fun brothers who are animal lovers. So there’s always dogs around on the set. It’s a very light, easy, laughter-filled set as we work throughout the day.
WGTC: Have you stayed in touch with them, and continued to watch the show, since you filmed your episodes?
TD: I have watched the show, usually in the daytime. (laughs) I’m a wimp! Yes, I’m lucky enough to catch them and hang out at conventions. We have these amazing conventions, pretty much all over the world. Any time we get a chance, we’ll grab a bite, and catch up in the green room. We have some camaraderie there.
WGTC: Besides Supernatural, you portrayed Katerina Paynich on two episodes of Make It or Break It last year. Why did you decide to take on the role?
TD: Well, right now, taking on roles in television is across the board, unless it’s absolutely demoralizing. I’m eager to work. I want to take on as many roles as I can. I want to continue to hone my craft and my skills.
Make It or Break It was cast by a couple of terrific casting directors. I felt excited to play someone who was intelligent and enthusiastic. It seemed like a perfect fit at the time.
WGTC: What was the transition process like between preparing for Supernatural and Make It or Break It? Did you take a different approach to rehearsing for each show?
TD: Every time I prepare for a role, there are slight variations. Generally, I have a dancer’s heart, so most of my work is informed through my body. I really love coming into a character, trying on their walk and their mannerisms.
Of course, I read the script, as if it’s my little Christmas present or birthday present. Each time, I scour it for bits of information about relationships between my character and the series reg characters. I see how I can just honor the script and the storyline. So those things don’t change.
But other things, like Make It or Break It is based in Los Angeles, so there’s a lot less pressure to get everything together in time, it’s here. However, Supernatural shoots in Vancouver, so I better have my stuff together.
I usually like to add a little something special, like a trinket, to Pamela in each episode. I bring things to put in my pockets, especially playing a psychic. So I usually have little things in my pocket that I’ll hold onto, for her. So it’s a little bit of packing, a little bit of coaching, before I fly to Vancouver. That kind of thing.
WGTC: You also portrayed country music icon Patsy Cline in the live production, Always…Patsy Cline. What motivated you to take on the role of Patsy? Have you always enjoyed singing and performing live?
TD: I love singing, and I love live theater. It’s our first form, it’s where film and television come from. It comes from sitting around the fire, and telling stories. You can feel the old soul of that kind of theatrical practice.
With Always…Patsy Cline, it terrified me and intrigued me to take on a legendary country singer, such as her. I’ve done it twice so far, on the East Coast. Each time, I felt like I was pregnant with Patsy Cline, because you read every book on her. My room became decorated with photographs, and stacks of old tapes of Patsy Cline, and photographs.
It was a huge preparation. I was singing her everyday. I’m so grateful that I took it on. Actually, Linda Lavin convinced me to take it on. (laughs) She was on the East Coast at the time, and had worked with me on another theater production. She not only mentioned, but encouraged me to take on this role.
So I did, and it made me a better singer. I certainly have the utmost respect for how hard that woman worked in such a short amount of time, to accomplish what she did.
WGTC: You also just finished wrapping a pilot for the upcoming television series, Brandt Point. What is the premise of the show, and what character do you play on the series?
TD: Ah, Brandt Point, it is a very sweet show. We’ll see, it’s still being shopped around. You know what it reminds me most of, is Dawson’s Creek. It’s sort of a coming-of-age, with a young group of kids. I play the mother of one of these little gals.
I’m a single, divorced mother, in a community of more well-to-do kids. So we’re considered to be on the outskirts of this group. I play Theresa. There’s little off-shoots of stories for the adults. But really, it reminds me of Dawson’s Creek.
WGTC: You appeared on Dawson’s Creek as well. Is that one of the reasons why you wanted to appear on Brandt Point, because you related it to Dawson’s Creek?
TD: I did. For the call-backs with the producers, I just thought, this team is terrific. You know how sometimes you just feel the energy of a group of people, and you know you just would like to work with them?
I was also shocked that I’d be playing the mother of a perceived 16-year-old. What a wake-up call that was. At the same time, I was intrigued, because it’s a beautiful transition. I wanted to bring the complexity to the mom, and not just be the doting mom, but one who struggled with her own life. At the same time, she tries to balance the typical, heartbreaking drama of a teenage girl. So it was more than welcomed to be invited, and to play this character.
WGTC: You’re also creating a new web-series in which you’re writing, producing and starring in. The comedy is about a nostalgic woman born in the early 1970’s, reminiscing her youth while welcoming her new stages in life. Where did you get the inspiration for the series?
TD: I got the inspiration, I was really, for a long time, have been moved by the process of aging. I looked up one afternoon the life expectancy of a woman born in the 1970s. I think it was something like 88.8. I was thinking about where I was with my age, and being in the last three years of the first half of my life, based on this life expectancy.
While I was looking this up, I also noticed a couple of my friends checking out the possibilities of changing their bodies through plastic surgery. The topic is everywhere, just in your face. Whether it’s Photoshopping your face to change photos to growing old gracefully in commercials, and what have you.
I said, what is this process of aging, and what does it really mean to grow old gracefully? Does it mean erasing our age? Or literally changing the look and form of our body through the us of plastic surgery? Or does it mean accepting our wrinkles and embracing them?
So I wanted to write something that wasn’t so morbidly reflecting on it. I wanted it to be more like a wacky, comedic homage to the aging woman, and what it would look like in the fight and surrender. I’m still in the process of writing. I love it, but it’s definitely a challenge. (laughs)
WGTC: As a writer and actress, do you find working on the script is helpful in your acting once you begin shooting?
TD: Absolutely. I think doing anything industry-related will help you respect your colleagues, and help you more deeply understand the inner workings of storytelling. It’s really important as an actress to know my role in the whole picture of a film or a television show, or even a theater production. I need to know if I’m there to support, or if I’m there just to salt and pepper it, or if I’m there to drive it. Also, there’s a million different nuisances within that I need to understand, and how I can best serve the production.
WGTC: Besides television and web series an plays, you’ve also appeared in several films, including The Notebook and Mr. Brooks. Do you have any upcoming movies lined up that you can discuss?
TD: Yes, I just wrapped a film called Awakened. It’s a sci-fi thriller, where I play Lula Baker, this stoner of a gal who joins this sleep study group of insomniacs. They all the same recurring dream of demons sitting on their chests. They awaken one night to find that they’re not necessarily dreaming. So the story unravels from there.
But it was really fun to take on a bit of a goofball, a wacky kind of a gal. (laugh) I’m usually cast as the bad-a**. So it’s a refreshing change to be such a zany gal.
Anhedonia is coming out. It’s a short film, but it’s a modern day fairy-tale. It’s based on the story of the eldest daughter of a CEO who loses her will to live. It all centers itself on how the CEO manifests a contest amongst the townspeople to win a million dollars if they inspire her to live again.
That concludes our interview, but we’d like to thank Traci Dinwiddie for taking the time to talk to us. Be sure to check back for updates on her upcoming television, film and theater projects.