After a long journey, the survivors of Syfy’s “Z Nation” are finally about to end their trek to California in the Season 2 finale. With the show hitting its stride throughout its 2015 run, having already been picked up for Season 3, one of the series’ stars is eagerly awaiting her return and for fans to see how it all comes to a close this year.
Kellita Smith plays Warren, the former National Guard soldier who now leads a ragtag group of survivors on the most important mission in the world. However, fans may remember her better as Wanda on the hit Fox comedy “The Bernie Mac Show.” While some actresses may have had difficulty transitioning from the world of sitcoms to the action-packed world of “Z Nation,” Smith says she’s just grateful for the chance to flex her talents.
“I would have to say that it all kind of coincides together. Even though on ‘The Bernie Mac Show’ I wasn’t the funny one, I was the one that was supporting. I would say that, as an actor, you want to be able to play both of them, the drama and the comedy,” she told International Business Times in a phone interview. “The wonderful thing about this show is that it has all the ingredients. It’s dramatic, it’s funny and there’s action.”
Fortunately, the actress was able to rely on her acting ability to help her through the early days of the series, since she openly confesses that she was about as unfamiliar as it gets with the zombie genre prior to getting cast as Warren. In fact, she wasn’t even aware that the only way to kill a zombie was to pike or shoot it in the head. Although she plays one of the most hardened zombie-killers on TV right now, the actress says she’d never have survived the first 10 minutes of the outbreak since she didn’t even know the full logistics of how zombies work.
“It’s really challenging to have to live moment to moment in danger. My heart goes out to our troops actually. For me, these characters have to live in a place that kind of likens to being almost what it would be like to be in a war. It’s bizarre,” she said. “On television, I get to play in this world, but if this was the truth… My God.”
Although she’s a novice to the zombie game, the impact of her role and “Z Nation’s” place in the genre isn’t lost on her -- especially after attending her first Comic Con with the cast. As she puts it, the fact that so many people would be let down by a bad performance on her part is what inspires her to push for a better performance on screen.
“The fans challenge me to be accurate in my execution of the script. All of us, we care because it’s a great product we’re putting out. But, at the same time, learning that there’s a real culture here was incredible. I went to my first Comic Con and there were just so many people. It was like a concert, I felt like the Beatles,” she said with a laugh. “It was so wonderful because they’re devoted. I mean, I’m a football fan, the Raiders are my team. I’d like to say that the fans in Oakland are great, but Comic Con fans -- there’s no comparison. I absolutely feel like I have to rise to the occasion of executing the accuracy of it all.”
As anyone who has been watching “Z Nation” will attest, Warren has done her fair share of zombie killing throughout the year. However, she’s also had a bit of a running story arc going with Murphy (Keith Allan), as he continues to confide his fears about going to the CDC in her. When asked why the naturally gruff loner chose her to share his feelings with, the actress said she believes it’s because Warren is the smartest choice.
“Warren is a natural-born leader. I say all the time that I’m rising to the occasion of Warren,“ she said. ”The onus of leadership falls on the person with military training. I think, over the course of Season 2, we developed a camaraderie in the apocalypse. So, it’s like we’re all sisters and brothers. I’d imagine if this would ever be the truth, you’d want to lean on somebody because, moment to moment, it wears you out. I think Murphy sees that.”
As previously mentioned, the Syfy cult hit has already been green lit for a third season, meaning whatever happens in the big Dec. 18 finale, at least most of the gang will return next year. Unfortunately, it’s far too early in production of Season 3 for Smith to know for sure what will happen, although she did tease that making sure Murphy does the right thing with his zombie antibodies will likely still be part of the mission. However, her lack of knowledge on the new run didn’t stop her from expressing what she’d like to see more of.
“It’s been such a wonderful ride and a lovely surprise. I trust [creator] Karl Schaefer and the writers implicitly. I think what the writers and viewers are intrigued by in the show is watching it grow and remain clever, interesting and involving all the elements of what society would brave,” she said, before drawing the easiest comparison to the show there is. “Unlike, say, ‘The Walking Dead,’ which stays central to where the characters are -- we’re a road trip. So we get to show different people’s existence in different states. I don’t know what they have in store for me in Season 3, but I hope it’s just more bada--.”
The “Z Nation” Season 2 finale airs Friday, Dec. 18 at 10 p.m. EST on Syfy.