Tasya Teles plays Echo in the CW’s show The 100. As Tasya explains, the show is about a post-apocalyptic world, that has little to no technology – as such, horses are quite common. Tasya has also appeared in Prison Break, Supernatural and Witches of East End.
1. Did you have any experience with horses before you began work on The 100?
My dad grew up on a farm in Brazil, and we went riding there once, but I had very little experience with horses at that point in my life and thus very little control over my horse. When my dad started galloping, my horse followed suit, despite the fact that I was slipping sideways off the saddle. I was 13 at the time, so the whole experience was quite terrifying. I remember trying to pull the reins, and slipping sideways, which eventually just became me holding on for dear life. It was a confusing ride for me and the horse, ha. It totally shattered my confidence in my ability to ride. I had to have a real chat with myself, and summon the courage to feel confident enough to ride a horse on set in front of hundreds of people. No pressure! I think it worked out okay in the end.
2. Tell us about the horse that you ride in the show.
I got to ride several different horses, depending on what we needed that day. My favourite was ‘Mr. P,’ a white Andalusian stallion. Man was he sassy! Much like my character on the show.
3. Do you have any behind-the-scenes stories you can share? (Pertaining to horses.)
We normally shoot in the mountains, quite deep and far from civilization. My horse that day was Mr. P. Our horses come from the Virtue Ranch, this beautiful iconic ranch in Mission, and they are amazing. Their horses are very well trained and quite accustomed to being on set. However, it Mr. P’s first time on set, so we knew things may get a little bumpy. That day we were shooting a battle sequence, so Mr. P had to wear a bit of set blood, which is basically this red syrup. As the time came to shoot, we’re all a bit nervous because stallions behave quite differently from the rest of the bunch, and furthermore it was his first time on camera. We bring Mr. P out for his big debut, and sure enough, right after the director called ACTION on the third take, the stallion bolted into the woods and kept running without pause. These woods are quite expansive, so in my mind he could have continued deep into the wild, where there are bears and other big scary creatures. But the wrangler tracked Mr. P in the opposite direction, towards the city. He went all the way south, to a tiny ‘Mom and Pop’ café a few miles away. Mr. P was standing outside the café, happily munching on some grass, while the patrons were completely out of sorts at the sight of this white stallion covered in blood that came running out of the woods. For the patrons it was something totally extraordinary, but for us, it’s just another crazy day on set with animals. I think we even made the six o’clock local news that night!
4. What do you enjoy most about working with horses?
The majesty of the creatures, and how sensitive and intuitive they are. Every time I get on a horse, I feel like I develop a relationship with them. I learn a little about them, they learn a little about me. I often would bring them apples from catering to try and earn some extra brownie points with them, ha. “Here’s a treat, now let’s be friends and not be difficult with each other.” It always went pretty smoothly. Horses are just so magical, it’s a real gift to be able to work with them on set.
5. For those who are unfamiliar with the show (The 100), what is it about, and how does your character fit in?
It’s a show that examines human behaviour and morality, in a post-apocalyptic world with very difficult conditions for survival. After a nuclear Armageddon destroys most of the earth, people living on 12 space stations, are forced to return to Earth due to oxygen scarcity. Upon returning to Earth after 100 years in space, they discover these clans of survivors from the nuclear war who have been living on earth for generations without technology. These ‘Grounders’ are often at war with one another, creating a very hostile environment for those returning from space. My character, Echo, is a spy who hails from the Ice Nation, which is the most lethal clan of them all. She is an amazing character to play and a challenge that is never boring.
6. Southern B.C. – where The 100 is filmed – is often called the Wet Coast (although currently it could be called the frozen coast) … what’s the worst weather you’ve ever had to work in?
Oh my gosh! You name it, I’ve worked in it. Shooting in the winter is pretty awful, because the long days in the snow eventually freezes right through to your brain. However, my wardrobe was this thick fur-lined, shearling coat, so summertime was actually the most painful for me. I remember on my first day, I was giving a speech and I just felt rivers of sweat running beneath my clothes as I spoke. No matter how much water I drank, my mouth was always dry. That wasn’t so fun, because I was worried I would get heat exhaustion and pass out on set. Eventually they pinned bags of ice to the inside of my fur coat. We’d have to change them out every hour or so, because they melted so fast. It was HOT!
7. How did you get into acting, and do you have any advice for those pursuing acting as a career?
It sounds simple, but I got into acting by following my instincts. I actually was originally studying finance, so I started acting late in life. I knew I had to fight really hard to catch up, so I studied with the best teachers and worked my butt off to try and ensure I did everything in my power to give it my best shot. Acting professionally isn’t for the faint of heart, it requires a tremendous amount of sacrifice, countless sleepless nights and hard work when you just want to give up. I would definitely suggest surrounding yourself with amazing teachers and training with them until you feel you’re at the height of your game. I also highly recommend taking an audition technique class. Mastering auditions will get you ahead so much faster.
8. What’s the most difficult thing about riding for film?
Landing on your mark and staying there without moving. Keeping the horse under control during a close up can also be very difficult. These shots are so tight on your face, that moving even two inches means you could exit the frame and ruin the take. So I was always wrestling with the reins, trying to casually keep the horse under control while shooting and make it all look effortless and natural. I eventually figured it out, but not everyone had the same success. There were some hilarious moments where, as I led the army with two other leaders by my side, we’d all come to a stop except this one dude who couldn’t control his horse, so he would just keep marching forward. Later, as we were doing this very thick, dramatic scene, we’d see him on his horse, march ahead of us and start walking around in circles. His horse would continue to walk around in circles, stomping its feet, relieving himself as we were rolling. It was super distracting, but pretty hilarious. His horse was totally uninterested in behaving. I was having a hard time keeping a straight face and frequently broke into laughing fits because it was just so funny to me.
9. What do you enjoy most about working on the set of The 100?
I love it all, but learning the fight sequences always makes me feel pretty badass. In my mind I’m nimble, elegant and fierce. Even though in real life I may look a tad clunkier and perhaps awkward at first. Shhhh!
I also love the unpredictable nature of the show. When I get a new script I read it at lightening speed! It’s so engaging and I never know what’s going to happen on the next page.
10. Do you have any current or upcoming projects that you’d like to share?
Watch Dogs 2 is a phenomenal video game that was just released recently, so look out for that! I play Sitara, who’s the head of this gang of hackers that’s trying to take down many corrupt souls in the city of San Francisco. Otherwise, The 100 premieres on my birthday, February 1st. So make sure to check out my riding skills and let me know what you think!