Exclusive: Karina Ortiz on her Journey Through The Walking Dead: Dead City

***The following contains spoilers for 1.05***

Karina OrtizTonight, AMC aired the penultimate episode of season one of The Walking Dead: Dead City. Karina Ortiz plays the character of Amaia on the series. She, along with her partner Tommaso (Jonathan Higginbotham), were co-leaders of the Manhattan Tribespeople. In tonight’s episode, she discovered that Tommaso was actually the one to betray them to the Croat (Željko Ivanek), although he did it hoping to save them. The events of the episode lead to the deaths of both characters.

Recently, the actress spoke with SciFi Vision about working on the show, including how she got the part, creating her own backstory, working with Higginbotham, what it was like filming her death scene, and much more.

Read the full transcript below, and be sure to tune in to the series Sunday nights on AMC and AMC Plus.

***This interview took place prior to the start of the SAG-AFTRA strike***

SCIFI VISION:   When you first got the part, had you seen the original show before? Were you a fan of it? How familiar were you with it?

Karina OrtizKARINA ORTIZ:   Yes, I was definitely familiar with it. I was up to date with it. It was one of the shows that I was actually really into. It took me a while to get into it. I had heard about it for some time, but I kept shrugging it off, because of the zombies and horror. I was like, “I don't want to watch this kind of stuff. I don't want to put my system through it.” But I was convinced, and I sat down and watched it, and I was like, “This is really dope.” I started binging and catching up.

I assume you had to audition. How did that go?

I had gotten the audition for it, and I was pretty excited to even get the audition and grateful. Basically, you know, you get a few days to work on it. So, I did that, and I kind of let it go after. You kind of for auditions just have to let them go, like, send them into the universe, for your own peace of mind. After like, two weeks, I was still having that little hope, and then I was like, “Oh, man, I have to let this one go.” And maybe a few days after I let it go was when I got the call, and I was very, very excited. Yeah, it was a very exciting moment.

Going by what you said before about watching horror, let me ask you - I mean, obviously, you're on a set, and it's not real, but were the zombies gross to you or kind of scary, or was it just funny? I've heard different stories about that. What was that like, just in general, working with the walkers?

Yeah, yeah. It was pretty cool. They look creepy. And sometimes, in between takes, they're just kind of standing around, and you're just like, “Wow, it looks really, really good.” [laughs] I would say overall fun. And, of course, the makeup looks pretty good. It's creepy, but definitely cool, all of this fantasy world stuff…I love it.

Tommaso, he obviously betrayed Amaia, but kind of did it hoping to help her type of thing. I'm just kind of curious, having been in the mind of your character, do you think that she could have gotten over it? Do you think she would have understood it? Do you think she could have ever done anything like that? I'm just kind of curious to hear your take on it. Obviously, we only saw her sort of immediate reaction and not too much more than that, but if she had gone on?

Yeah, yeah. I don't think that she would have chosen to do that. I can understand why he did it. It's very hurtful, but who she is, she really took on this leader role with her people, and it was very important for her to maintain that kind of humanity where you wouldn't backstab the people that helped you. And obviously, he didn't know it was going to end up in that manner either. He thought maybe the riot was actually not going to do this to them. So, for [me], personally, she wouldn't have done that. It's not in her character.

Do you think she could have forgiven him eventually? Would she have been able to get over what he did?

I think, eventually, she could have forgiven him, but she would still - you know, it's hard to trust. It would take a lot of time to get over something like that, literally. We've lost everybody. So, that's tough. It's a tough world, you know?

Yeah, definitely. Can you talk about working with Jonathan, in this. I mean, you have scenes are with Maggie too, but a lot of the pivotal ones are with him.

Yeah. Jonathan was a pleasure to work with. I had reached out to him so we [could] link up for a coffee before, because we hadn't met. He was also very generous and open to discussing some of the things. Like, obviously, we had our backstories. The one thing we wanted to make sure of was that we had the same story for like, when we met, how we met, where we were in our lives, and we sat down and discussed it. He was great to work with.

You talk about their backstory. Obviously, we didn't get a whole lot of her backstory. I mean, you got five episodes, that wasn't super short, but not a whole lot, but when you do something like this, do you have to make up some of it in your mind about her and how to play her, because you don't get a lot of that story? Do you do that, or do you just kind of go by only what you're given?

I guess each actor has their own process. My process for her was that I really wanted to have a really full experience of what she went through when she was younger. So, for me, there were times where I created some stuff. I was like, “I'm not attached to that,” or it's not strong enough of a choice. And I made sure that I gave her that backstory, and I took time to do it. I experienced the loss of the people in my life, which included my parents, my brothers, like all of that, that was really important for me. They only gave certain things about her, like, she's tough physically and emotionally, but she's dealing with a lot, but she keeps it together for everybody. And that was great. But for me, it's also what caused her to become this way, as opposed to being someone like the Croat. [The] path I had taken, I could have easily turned into something like that, too. So, I had to really justify that and have that trajectory of her becoming a leader of a tribe of people.

What was it like filming her death scene, because you had a lot of zombie guts all over you. I mean, it was probably fun, but also disgusting at the same time.

It was fun, and it was gross, because all of the stuff was all over me, in my clothes. It was fun to try all the effects makeup and stuff. Emotionally, it wasn't so fun for her. [laughs] But yeah, overall, it was really cool.

Now, a silly question I try to ask everyone. If there was a real zombie apocalypse in the world, how do you think you would do, like as Karina? And if you could take one character from any of the universe with you to help you who would you take?

I feel like I would step it up like Amaia, because I tend to have that kind of Mama Bear quality about me to begin with, which I kind of get from my mom. So, I would definitely try to figure out how to survive for as long as possible, honestly. Until the very end, I will fight for my life, and if I have to get stronger physically [I will]. Like, what is it that I have to do? Okay, let me figure that out. So, I'm not trying to go down like that. [laughs] That's a tough one in terms of who I would take. Maybe Daryl (Norman Reedus). I might say Daryl.

So, what's next for you? Do you have any other projects coming up that you can talk about?

I do have some stuff coming up, but I can't talk about it. So, I will definitely be keeping everybody posted on my social media.

Let me let me ask you this then. What's your dream role that you'd love to be able to do? If you if it were up to you and you could just take any kind of role? What are you looking for?

Something that has depth. It could I could go either way from some super woman type, to a very romantic love story situation, just something that is very three dimensional.

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