Just one decade into her acting career, Luvia Petersen has already been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for her kickass bisexual character on the sci-fi TV drama Continuum, soon entering its third season on Showcase.
Petersen garnered a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Program or Series for her role as Jasmine Garza.
Somewhat reminiscent of Sigourney Weaver’s strong character in Aliens, Garza has proven to be a huge fan favourite.
Petersen humbly attributes her character’s success to the scripts she’s given. “There was a great response to Garza’s character, as well as some other characters,” she says. “Everyone on the show is so well received and so interesting because [executive producer] Simon Barry is such an amazing writer and show creator.”
Barry quickly passes the credit back to Petersen. “When she came in to read for us, it seemed like when she walked into the room she had already written the character beyond what we’d even talked about. Whenever an actor does that, you immediately recognize that they are bringing you more information, more history than you even had time to put in.
“There’s an immediate ownership of Garza that Luvia brought, and we all looked at each other and knew. We didn’t even have to talk after her audition, we didn’t have to make a sound, we just looked at each other. She didn’t have a ton of experience,” he says, “but it didn’t matter.”
Barry says fans’ enthusiastic response to Garza has helped shape the show’s scripts.
Asked if Petersen’s increased screen time and occasional plot focus was planned or inspired, Barry doesn’t hesitate. “She totally inspired it! There were moments in Luvia’s performances in Season 1 — and even lines that she said — that were ad-libs on the day sometimes. It opens the paths for us as writers to build a back-story.
“It’s not only her enthusiasm for the part, but her enthusiasm for work and the joy she brought to the set every day, her willingness to really want to stretch as an actor and go anywhere.”
Petersen takes the praise in stride, with self-sassing good humour. “It’s my first acting nomination. I’m so new to the industry that I haven’t slept with enough people to win an award. Not yet. Give me another six months,” she says with a laugh.
Barry is more effusive. “I’ve been a huge Luvia fan for a long time, and I love it that now so many others are,” he says. “It is great to share her gift, her ability and to get her name out there, get the word out there because she is very special. I couldn’t be prouder of her.”
Watch the Canadian Screen Awards live on CBC television, Sunday, March 9 at 8pm (EST).