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Interview: Mariana Klaveno

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The new freshman CBS drama Stalker has definitely resonated with its audience and that didn’t go unnoticed by the brass as CBS. The series was recently given a full season order by the network and continues to perform well in its Wednesday night timeslot.

Stalker is a psychological thriller about detectives who delve into the minds of stalkers to protect their targets from future incidents – including voyeurism, cyber harassment and romantic fixation – for the Threat Assessment Unit of the LAPD. One of the stars bringing the show to life is actress Mariana Klaveno who plays Detective Janice Lawrence.

You may know Mariana from memorable appearances on shows such as True Blood, Dexter, Devious Maids and Hawaii Five-0. Mariana sits down with us to discuss her character on Stalker, the importance of strong female characters and how being on the series has made her more aware of her surroundings.

Pop Culture Principle – What was it about the script for the pilot that made you want to be part of this project?

Mariana Klaveno – Initially it was Kevin Williamson. I’ve been a big fan of his for many years now and he’s kind of a genius when it comes to television and creating characters and worlds that resonate with audiences. When I knew it was going to be a psychological scary show, I thought it would be a blast and I wanted to be part of it.

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Pop Culture Principle – Did you do any research for your role?

Mariana Klaveno – Yeah, the head of the real unit here in Los Angeles has been a consultant for us which is nice. That’s been a really great resource to have. We’ve asked him a lot of questions and still call him with questions about protocol and what they would do in real life situations. We also like to ask basic questions that, as an actor, I find so helpful and fascinating. Basic stuff like, do you wear your badge while you are in the office? How would you go about questioning this person? How many days are you in the office? How many days are you investigating? Simple stuff like that helps you get into the nuts and bolts of how these characters would live in reality.

Pop Culture Principle – We are slowly starting to get to know your character. Will we get more of your character’s backstory as the season continues?

Mariana Klaveno – I hope so! I think maybe Kevin gave me a hint that hopefully it will happen. They’ve been really great at doing this layer by layer and peek by peek of the characters and that starts with Maggie’s and Dylan’s characters. I think it is going to expand to the other characters soon. Janice definitely has more of a growing presence on the show for sure and I am dying to know more about her backstory.

I got my educational background in the theater and there you know everything about your character and you do all this research and build up the characters in your mind. On television, you can’t do that because the writers haven’t made decisions yet and you have to stay in this fluid place. You can make some decisions, but you can’t make any permanent decisions about their past because that could be completely obliterated when the writers write the next episode. So, it’s always kind of a tricky thing to do, but it’s fun and I am really having a great time.

Pop Culture Principle – Janice and Jack hooked up early on in the series. Although they both claim it was just a one night thing, do you think this will this come back to haunt them later on in the series?

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Mariana Klaveno – Um, I don’t know. Obviously, anything is possible. I love the way that it was handled as compared to how it would normally be dealt with on television. They both were just looking to have some fun. Janice is not this desperate woman in puppy love, she’s just not. She recognizes this guy is kind of a mess and has some stuff in his past that would be messier if they kept on having a physical relationship. She realizes that they should stop the physical stuff, but knows that he needs a friend as a support system. They’ve kind of grown to be buddies, but still flirt with each other which I think is how they have fun and relate with one another. I love that the writers chose to go down that path. I like to say Janice is the perfect combination of feminine and masculine. She’s more like a guy when it comes to the relationship with Dylan’s character.

Pop Culture Principle – Stalker has very strong female characters. Was that an important aspect to your character that you wanted to come across in your performance?

Mariana Klaveno – Very important. It’s great on the show that all the female characters are strong and complex. Often on cop shows, female characters are strong, but in a stereotypical manner. You feel that they have to give up their femininity to be the tough girl. I think that is something we can move away from and it’s just not realistic. Women are complicated creatures who can be strong and still be feminine. I think that’s what they’ve written with these two characters. Even though we are different from each other, we are both very strong, formidable and very good at what we do. We don’t have to sacrifice a level of femininity because of that.

Pop Culture Principle – Although Stalker is a dark show, it does have it moments of humor. Do you think that is important to balance out the show?

Mariana Klaveno – I do! I think the audience needs that and we certainly need to have those moments of levity which is great. I think it kind of binds you to the characters more and they become more interesting and you root for them more when you get to see that humanity and humor shine through. We are developing that more and more as the show goes on. I love the fact that my character gets to be one of those characters.

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Pop Culture Principle – With a show this dark, is it hard for you to shake off your work once you are off set?

Mariana Klaveno – It is for me. I think the guest stars bear more of that burden because they are the ones getting terrorized or doing the terrorizing and we come in to investigate and clean up the mess. It’s something you have to get more familiar with the more you work and the more your career progresses. It’s probably a personal thing for every actor if they have some ritual they do or whatever. Some roles and some scripts are just too intense and can be difficult, especially for television because it’s a marathon and the days are long. So, you really do have to find a way to ground yourself in reality whether it’s making jokes or listening to music.

Pop Culture Principle – Stalking is such a major problem in today’s society. Did you or any of the cast and crew have any concerns as how the show would be received?

Mariana Klaveno – I’m sure there was concern and I know the show isn’t for everyone; not every show is. It is a really prevalent problem and I think it’s an important one to talk about. Yes, we are doing it in a very entertaining way and we want people to tune in each week. At the same time, it is a serious issue and we hope that we are educating people on some level on the dos and don’ts. The world is a different place then it was even a few years ago with social media where it is. We are so much more available to each other and I don’t think that, in particular, the younger generation doesn’t really understand or appreciate the ramifications of that. Unfortunately, dark things can lurk behind these wonderful methods that we have of connecting, so it’s nice to keep those things in mind and be aware. Being aware is always a positive thing.

Pop Culture Principle – Do you find yourself being more aware of your surroundings and watching your social media activity because of the show?

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Mariana Klaveno – It actually does. I’ve been on series before, but I have always flown under the radar. This show is very contemporary and when I am out and about, I look like Janice, so I do feel that I am much more visible and recognizable. I think that I am much more tuned in to my behavior. I tend to be a private person anyway and social media is not something that comes easy to me. It’s something I have to work on and even with that, I have to think about something before I put it out there. I think it’s a good lesson to say where you were and not where you are. You have to keep in mind that sometimes you don’t want the entire world to know everything about you.

Pop Culture Principle – Do you think there is a way the legal system and law enforcement could be more proactive than reactive?

Mariana Klaveno – Wow, I don’t know if I can answer that question. As an actor, I am not qualified enough. I am sure there is something that is in flux because of social media and due to the technological advances that keep progressing. That is seemingly something that we have to keep scrambling to try and get ahead of and predict how to prevent those things. It’s like anything, when we make these crazy technological advances, the rest of us have to catch up.

Pop Culture Principle - What can fans look forward to for the rest of the season?

Mariana Klaveno – Well…more scares, more creepiness. There will be more of a certain someone who has been very interested in Beth. He hasn’t gone away yet and that’s all I will say.

The Pop Culture Principle would like to thank Mariana for talking with us. You can catch new episodes of Stalker every Wednesday night at 10pm ET. If you would like to stay up to date with all of Mariana's latest news and projects, you can follow her on Twitter @MarianaKlaveno or you can join her Facebook page here.

**Photos courtesy of CBSPressExpress**

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