Wynonna Earp has been a fan favorite for LGBTQ+ fans since it premiered on the SyFy channel in 2016. Standing beside the strong female title character Wynonna Earp (Melanie Scrofano) is her younger sister Waverly Earp (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) and the new sheriff in town Nicole Haught (Katherine Barrell). With their chemistry obvious from the start, it wasn’t long before shipper dreams were realised, and Waverly Earp and Nicole Haught became Wayhaught…
At the first LOVE Fan Fest convention in Barcelona this June, members of the LGBT Fans Deserve Better team got to sit down with the stars of Wynonna Earp to discuss positive representation and how their characters being embraced by the LGBTQ+ community has impacted their worldview.
The following questions have been lightly edited for clarity.
LGBTFDB: Can you remember the first character or the first time that you felt represented, or the most impactful character you can recall for your own lives?
Kat: I can. Mine’s like so quick. Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I know that sounds cheesy, but she was like super instrumental in my development, a) because that movie made me wanna be an actor, which I know, like, sounds ridiculous. b) Because she was so strong and she liked to read and she was the first Disney princess that I saw who did her own kind of thing and did what she wanted and stood up for herself. I think that really, as a very little girl, I think I was like four maybe, even though it was a Disney movie and still a Disney princess, I think that character shifted something for me as a child. Because it was such an instrumental time in my life, you know? When you’re so impressionable.
Dom: I really don’t know, which is really bad, I should really think about that. I also didn’t really watch very much TV growing up. Family members, definitely, I think that my biggest inspiration was like my granny, who was the most amazing, strong female who has taught me to be unapologetically myself. She stands for the most amazing things and seeing that as a role model definitely was the thing I looked up to and made me who I am.
Mel: I have never been asked about this before. Ok, I’m just going to talk out loud because I don’t have an answer, but it’s funny because I always grew up in Canada, it’s mostly Anglophone, but there is some Francophone. Half of my family is French Canadian and the other half are immigrants. I’m first generation from Italy so I had this like, I don’t know, I didn’t quite feel Canadian and I didn’t feel Italian, so I had this weird not-knowing-where-I-lived sort of thing.
I think the image that comes to mind is Buffy because she was an outlier in her world and she didn’t quite fit in. I don’t know, I just remember really connecting with that character and wanting to be like her and I don’t know if that’s all related, but yeah I felt represented, more from a place of she is an outsider too and I really look up to her, so maybe it’s OK.
LGBTFDB: Now you’ve seen conventions like this (Love Fan Fest), and just in general on social media, the sort of impact the roles had on the community, does it affect the type of roles that you look for or take going forwards?
Dom: Absolutely. I actually had a conversation with my agent after this break. It’s had such a profound impact on realising the responsibility you have as an actor to tell the stories that you care about. After last year, doing Carmilla as well and seeing that impact, I really realised that I want to be doing things that are in line with my belief system and my morals, so I had a really great conversation with my agent and manager and said “I know it’s going to cut down a lot of the jobs I go up for, but I really want you to send things that you think will speak to me” and they’ve really listened, and it’s like the most… I feel like I can breathe. It’s so exciting, the things that are coming my way, because they are like “I think this story will speak to Dom” and I’m reading them and then I’m getting excited and passionate again about the projects. Rather than, there’s like so much noise out there, so much content and now with the internet and the fact that literally anyone can make anything and get it out there, I think that it’s so important to filter through the noise of what is actually an important thing to make, and what is perhaps something that I don’t necessarily believe should be spending X amount of money to put into this world.
“It’s had such a profound impact on realising the responsibility you have as an actor to tell the stories that you care about.” – Dominique Provost-Chalkley
Kat: See, man, I don’t know if I’m there, I don’t know if I’m brave enough to do that. I’m just still afraid I’ll never work again! Every time we wrap something, I’m afraid no one will ever hire me again. I’m still there.
Dom: Me too, but… I think you’ll be just fine.
Kat: I don’t know if I’ll ever get rid of that, but I think it’s wonderful that you feel like you can do that. That’s fantastic.
Dom: You can see how excited I get talking about it. It’s so empowering. But also, you can go up for everything and be lucky like us and land it and maybe had you not been going for everything, for some reason, your manager might not have thought Wynonna Earp would have been this. So you find things, so that’s also another way in, but just personally, because I have been really searching for things that feel positive, I want to go and travel and do those things and learn about myself and put time into that, so if I am going to be going up for auditions, I can’t churn out ten auditions a week if there’s like one of them I want to do.
Kat: Actually no, I have had a couple of auditions where I’ve just been like “I’m not passionate” or “I don’t want to do that”, for sure, yeah. But not as thorough of a conversation as you did, I think it’s great that you did that.
Mel: I don’t think I would ever do something with negative representation. I hope! Unless I completely just somehow didn’t see it. I’ve never been in the position where I’ve had to think about other people. I’m hungry, I’m going to take this role until Wynonna ends, so I’ve never had to think about it. I would never take something I thought was disrespectful to anyone.
” I don’t think I would ever do something with negative representation.”
LGBTFDB: Mel, we’re assuming you are learning about the impact on the LGBT community through working on Wynonna Earp, how has that felt like kind of watching that whole thing evolve and the impact that the show is having?
Mel: I grew up with some of my friends being openly gay at a young age, but having been friends with them and stuff, I never heard the story from the outside in the sense that we just knew each other for so long. So now, coming here [to Love Fan Fest] I get to hear those stories. Emily [Andras], I think it was season 1, when the Bury Your Gays thing [got public attention], I didn’t know anything about it, and she just really educated us. She didn’t just write LGBT content, she is very much interested in how awful that whole narrative was. Like I didn’t know that Hayes code was a rule or at least, I think I’ve heard of it but in my head I was like “that can’t be a real thing” you know what I mean? It’s just opened my eyes in a way that I would’ve never known the real pulse. You know if you think of a uterus pulsing inside the woman, like that’s the image of like there’s a whole inner life.
LGBTFDB: LGBT fans are notoriously loyal, and people are going to follow you everywhere you go, everything you touch is going to get watched, that’s just how our fan base works! I guess talk about how you feel about know that?
Kat: Oh, that I definitely feel, support for sure. Will a producer ever hire me again? But I have no doubt there will be people there to watch it! It’s definitely a huge comfort knowing that, I mean as an actor to have people that are like actually following you and care about your career and want to support you no matter what is huge, even when you think that things maybe aren’t great and they’re still like “we love it!” That’s great, so it’s amazing.
Mel: I don’t know because I’ve never pictured life beyond Wynonna. Will I even have a career? I don’t know, that made my heart swell, that makes me very happy to think there would be these people following you.