Jaimie Alexander has played a badass in movies (Lady Sif in Thor) and on television (in Blindspot, for which the fall finale airs Friday). But kicking butt isn’t new for the actress. In fact, she’s pretty much always been awesome. Case in point: In high school, Alexander started a female wrestling team so that she and her classmates could learn self-defense. And while her reputation definitely helped her book jobs, it also might have saved her from becoming a victim of the sexual misconduct epidemic in Hollywood.
“I’ve had plenty of meetings with studio executives in an enclosed space, where it’s just me and one other person or two people, and I’ve not had anybody ever make a pass at me,” Alexander tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I don’t know if it’s my size? I don’t know if it’s something I give off? Or they know I have a fight background? I really don’t know honestly. Because I’ve been in situations where it could have turned very bad very quickly, but I think from the get-go, as soon as I shake the person’s hand, I make them know that if you f*** with me, I’m going to f***you up. I’m not saying that’s a great behavior to have, but there’s something I put out there.”
One particular run-in seemingly cemented her as someone not to mess with. “I’ve had one situation where somebody tried to untie my top and I turned around and my elbow went into their face — on accident,” Alexander, 33, recalls. “I’m not kidding — it was an accident. I busted their eye and they had to get stitches. When that happened, I think a lot of people in the industry found out about it and that’s maybe why?”
While the Texan is clearly tough, she’s not saying that the many women who have been targeted in Hollywood weren’t. She’s 100 percent clear on that.
“It’s so hard to say this because I’m positive that every woman who was in that unfortunate situation wanted to get out of it and would do whatever they could to get out of it,” Alexander says. “I’m very lucky that I have not been in that situation.”
She continues, “I’m really not sure what has made me not a target and those other women targets — that’s what I’m not sure about. I wish that I could be there for those women in person — and all the young women going into these meetings nowadays — to be like their protector somehow because it’s horrifying and disgusting and incredibly inappropriate and not okay. It’s devastating to hear these things.”
While it’s devastating, it’s not surprising, says Alexander, who has been acting since she was a teenager. That’s perhaps the worst thing about it.
“The more I hear about it, the more I’m not surprised unfortunately — and I know a lot of people in the industry are saying, ‘I’m not surprised,’ and that’s horrible because it’s become a normal thing,” she says. “To make that a normalcy is absolutely ridiculous.” However, “these painful instances that occurred are going to change the way we progress forward for the rest of our lives, so I think in a way there’s a light at the end of the tunnel because they’re bringing an awareness to something that really should have been made public eons ago.”
Friday’s Blindspot is the fall finale and sees Alexander’s Jane working with the team to take down a foe. Her tattooed character, who was found unclothed inside a duffel bag in Times Square by the FBI in Season 1, is no damsel either. So how has Alexander avoided taking roles in which she’s playing the stereotype of a submissive woman?
“I feel like I’m not convincing as a damsel in distress,” she says. “I may not be able to play that very well, which is why I’m not presented with those roles. I like to think I can play anything, but that’s bollocks [laughs]. It’s not true.”
She continues, “I also think cinematically a lot of times the damsel in distress is small. Their size is small. Her voice is higher. Her features are softer. It’s all about her look as well. So I don’t fit the bill on that. I’m taller than a lot of my male counterparts. I have a toughness about me that I’ve learned I can’t turn off. It’s within me.”
Listen to Jaimie talk about her biggest fears in a recent Build NYC Series interview:
While she’s often playing someone with grit, like her, she does get to show off their softer sides too.
“With that said, I play a lot of incredibly vulnerable characters and that’s a strength in a way,” she says. “To show you can feel things and break and cry — and everything we attach with vulnerability. To put that on screen is actually quite difficult, but it’s needed. So I’ve never really played the damsel in distress, but I have played women who are down and out and find who they are and come back stronger. I’m happy I can do that because that’s kind of who I am in my real life.”
Blindspot airs Friday at 8 pm on NBC. Check out more of our interview with Alexander on Yahoo Entertainment, where she explains why Lady Sif was MIA in Thor: Ragnarok.
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