Last week, I told you about Jaimie Alexander’s rise from teen clone to tattooed mystery woman for NBC’s new pilot, “Blindspot.” This time I wanted to share more about why this is a good thing for women in the arts. With her work ethic, enthusiasm, and love of powerful female characters, Alexander is a kickass heroine on and off the screen.
Alexander has never been afraid of achieving her goals, no matter what it takes. In pursuit of a scholarship, she joined her high school wrestling team, even though there wasn’t a separate girls team. She practiced with the guys, then usually wrestled girls in competition. Though her brothers and some coaches were supportive, the female wrestlers did face opposition.
“We did have a coach who really despised us,” she said in a 2007 interview. “And when we started winning tournaments and placing first, he started getting nicer.”
The actress took that experience with her to the boys club in the “Thor” franchise, where she was the only woman training with the men for the action sequences. “It was the six of us, upstairs in this warehouse that nobody knew about,” Alexander said about the first film. “Each one of us had a really good strength. I could run really fast, Chris [Hemsworth] could bench press an entire community, and Tom [Hiddleston] was very flexible. … So, we each helped each other learn each other’s strengths.”
Alexander took any teasing about being a girl in stride, and the group became close friends on the “Thor” set. No one could fault her commitment to the project. She kept up with the diet, exercise, and training routine and lost 20 pounds from the effort. Rarely do you hear a complaint from her about big challenges. She counts everything as a positive learning experience and considers scaling real and metaphorical mountains “fun.”
Corporate executives often look for people who are “engaged” with their work. Alexander certainly fits the bill. She doesn’t just show up and read lines, she gets invested in and excited about the characters she plays. When she landed a great kickass female role in “Thor,” the actress wanted it to be perfect. She collaborated on her character’s look and costuming, striving for the balance of femininity and strength. She also successfully lobbied for some romantic tension that was true to the original comics.
“I want to make sure that I’m playing the character first and the physicality is second,” she said while promoting “Thor: The Dark World.”
Alexander was pleased Sif was presented as a balanced person. She isn’t just an emotionless warrior, or a silly jealous woman vying for Thor’s affections. “Sif is a great character because she’s extremely selfless. Even though she does have strong feelings for Thor, her first duty and first priority is to protect her fellow Asgardians. Rather than look at Jane as a threat to her personally, she looks at Jane as a threat to her people. … She’s very good at keeping business and personal separate.”
Alexander doesn’t mind sharing the wealth, either. She’s been pleased to work with other strong female characters on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” also considering it “fun” to not be the only kickass woman on set.
“The women hold their own against the men and vice versa and everybody’s got a great sense of humor and everybody’s a team and everybody’s an equal,” she said about her guest appearances on the show.
She considers her fellow actresses to be “quite strong people, inside and out. So these characters they play, they really do them justice.”
It’s easy to see why Alexander has been sought after for a variety of roles, considering her enthusiasm and fearlessness. Her positive attitude is inspiring. She sees every new situation as an opportunity, rather than a burden. When moving her Sif character from the big screen to the small screen, for example, she didn’t lament the time constraints or lack of budget. She relished the chance to do more intense fight scenes, as well as the freedom to develop her character more.
Alexander also shares her positive outlook with young people when volunteering at the Dream Center in Los Angeles.
“I often talk about healthy eating, diets, body image and building confidence,” she said in an interview promoting her film work. “It inspires me to be better. When you listen to what other girls have gone through, it makes you realize how important it is to be a good role model.”
The actress definitely leads by example. Many stars in big franchise movies eventually resent the roles and possible future type-casting. Some even wonder if they can do anything more dramatically challenging. Alexander instead embraces her role in “Thor,” while pursuing a variety of other acting gigs. Next season she could be potentially be seen in both an intriguing NBC drama and an HBO comedy with Jack Black and Tim Robbins, while still continuing her film work. No one could criticize her for lack of confidence or ambition.
“I don’t want to idolize other people in my profession; I want to respect them,” Alexander once said about her colleagues.
Considering her popularity among networks during the pilot season, it seems she’s earning that respect for herself as well. I don’t think it’s wrong if we fans idolize her just a little bit, though. The more we celebrate kickass women like Alexander, hopefully the more the studios will allow them to flourish.
Photo Credit: Jaimie Alexander