WRECKED’s Ally Maki on Season 2: Jess, Todd, and The Barracuda

Ally Maki, photographed by Ryan West

I’ve said it once; I’ll say it a million times – over the last year or so, TBS came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, premiering 5 of the funniest comedies on TV in shows like ANGIE TRIBECA, THE DETOUR, SEARCH PARTY, PEOPLE OF EARTH, and WRECKED, which returns tonight with all new episodes (10/9c with back to back eps for S2).

Ally Maki plays Jess Kato, a survivor of a plane crash that stranded a wildly diverse group of strangers on an unnamed island.  The end of Season 1 found the group hoping for rescue but coming up short when a pair of pirates took them hostage. Season 2 picks up where the show left off, with the fall-out of their arrival.  To celebrate the return of this hilarious show, I spent some time talking with Maki about joining WRECKED, shooting in Fiji, and the Todd of it all; we also made time to talk a bit about working on DEAR WHITE PEOPLE.

Congrats on the success of the series. I’m so excited for it to come back.
Thank you. I’m so excited too, I feel like it’s been so long. We need it back.

It’s one of those shows where we get these screeners and they say watch and review. I was going to sit down and watch one episode and like seven episodes later, I looked up from my computer because I was so drawn in. Have you felt that reaction from people, is that what you are hearing about the show?
That’s it … It’s like a binge-y show? Yeah. Absolutely, because I almost feel like it’s constructed as almost one giant action movie, an action comedy movie. Even when I watched the first season, I sat and watched the whole 10 episodes in a row like as a giant movie. I definitely think it’s super binge-y.

Talk about getting involved with the show, why you wanted to be part of this show?
Yeah. Absolutely. When I first read this script, I was absolutely blown away. First of all by the hilarity of it and the action. I feel like we’re the only show that blends action, comedy, horror, adventure. It really has something for everyone to enjoy. Not only that, it had all of these very hilarious characters, but none of them had any sort of ethnicity attached to them, which I always find incredible. I bow down to the writers that do that, because I think it’s so important to be completely open minded when you’re writing your characters. The Shipley brothers just created all these incredible characters.

I’m pretty open about the fact that I almost didn’t go into the audition because in my head, I just felt like we weren’t there yet in terms of the industry and diverse casting, which is bad on me. That’s my own thing of years and years of being told “They’re not going Asian” or, “You’re not right for this” or, “You’re too Asian or blah, blah, blah.” I just felt like “I don’t know. It probably wouldn’t go my way.” But our casting director is so amazing and open minded. I’ve worked with her a few times before, she’s like “please come in! It’s a very funny staff, very diverse, the network really wants to be diverse.” So I went in I got it, which is amazing and groundbreaking I feel like. I’m so, so grateful to be a part of the show.

It’s interesting that you say that. A lot of the characters weren’t written with people or looks in mind, but now that I’ve seen it, it’s like, I can’t imagine anybody but Brooke playing that role or you playing your role. It’s like, you guys fit them so seamlessly. Was writing changed to fit your personalities then or did it just happen to click that way?
I think it was a mixture of both. I think at the end of the day what the Shipley brothers were looking for, they were just looking for those people, which is amazing because some of the times I don’t even feel like I’m acting. Our real life is blending so much with our characters that now I think that maybe I am Jess. [laughs] It’s really cool, and you can bet on the casting directors to find these people that really are these people, because I think it at the so much more real and then you can write so much more tailored to that person. Season two, I think it only get better in terms of our characters becoming even more defined and even more tailored to us and what we would say, and what we find funny, and all that good stuff. I’m really excited to be part of season two.

If season one was kind of about them realizing that okay we’re really stuck on this island. What would you say is maybe the theme or the idea that we’ll see in season two?
Season two is, gosh, there’s so many spoilers, but season two I think is us coming together against a hostile takeover, which is incredible. We have this new character called The Barracuda coming in, played by Ebonee Noel, she is fantastic. It really brings this new energy, it’s fun, especially for my character the Jess and Todd three way. You get to see us as two peas in a pod this year. We get into some really weird and fun shenanigans, we kind of fight against the pirates. I’m not sure what else I could say but it’s really, really fun. I love it because our core cast really got to come together to fight against this hostile takeover.

I think the way the cast is set up everybody works off of each other in such a different way, and it’s like all combinations are. I think that that’s just … You never know what you’re going to get, but you always know it’s going to make you laugh, which I think is important.
Absolutely. It’s so fun because in real life the cast is so obsessed with each other. [laughs] We were living in Fiji all literally stranded in our hotel together for three months. So you can only imagine just how it mirrored with the show. We were literally stranded in Fiji, which is not a bad place to be stranded in. We had some really fun times.

You couldn’t recreate what you guys were doing on some beach in Malibu. It’s so important that it was on location. What was that like being isolated and filming on location like that?
I have to say it was one of the most challenging experiences of my life, but also hands down the best experience of my life. I feel like I learned so much, I grew so much as a person, emotionally, physically, and everything. When you’re dealing with the elements it can be somewhat challenging. The first day it was so hot and we were doing 16 hour days in literally direct sunlight with no breaks.

We were doing huge group scenes on the beach and there was this giant heat wave, we’re getting heat stroke. One of our casting crew I turned around, he was vomiting in the bushes. We made comms to the medic. We were like, we didn’t have any … For some reason that day they couldn’t transport ice to the set, so there was no cold water, people were dropping like flies.

Then that day they couldn’t figure out a way to get the porta-potties to set, so the guys were peeing in the bushes and the girls didn’t have toilets, so we had to be transported ten minutes away to go pee. I was like, try not to drink water, but then try not to get dehydrated. It was just this whole thing [laughs]. Sometimes when you’re on location you have all these challenges that arise and you’re kind of just like “Well, I guess it’s a newer method of acting now, which is great.”

Ally Maki, photographed by Ryan West

You talked a little bit about Jess and Todd, obviously there’s something there that kind of kept these guys together even though on the surface maybe he’s kind of a total D-bag. Do we get to explore their relationship? You said two peas in a pod, but what will we see kind of relationship-wise for them?
Oh yes, definitely. I felt like last season was kind of them working out the kinks in their relationship, they’re always going through working out the kinks in their relationship, because I think that’s just part of them. Definitely this year it was so fun because, from day one Will Greenberg, the actor who plays Todd and I just instantly had this weird chemistry of like, had this exhumed hate almost like weirdly, brotherly/sisterly, where I could literally punch him and then tell him I love him in the next sentence.

We just had this great kind of rapport with each other. Working with him has just been a dream. This year we really got to, like I said, go more in that wavelength of two peas in a pod because, we’re trying to escape from these pirates. You get to see the weird ways that we then … The weird tactics and ways that we take down these pirates, we are very, I don’t know what to say. We are very, we have interesting plans is what I would say, not the brightest I guess.

Will we see more references to other shows, like LOST this season?
I think so. The problem is that I’ve never really saw LOST, so sometimes I don’t even know all of the inside little Easter eggs. This season is just so action packed, there’s just so much happening, and I just feel like I wouldn’t be able to describe it in one word because it is so awesome, so jam packed. Even like, we had stunt doubles this year. There’s just so much amazing stuff going on. We have some great guest stars too, like Rory Scovel and like I said Ebonne Noel the Barracuda, There are just so many great appearances that we have so it’s really cool.

I think that TBS for a long time, you know TBS very funny, they had kind of gotten away from the original shows. Then bam five in the past year. Everything’s hit with me and I think they’re really doing some great work. Do you get a chance to watch other stuff on your network? Are there shows like SEARCH PARTY and things like that, that you’re also watching?
For sure. I’m excited to see CLAWS, which is actually on TNT, but I feel like with Niecy Nash coming back; the trailer looks amazing. PEOPLE OF EARTH is just awesome. These guys, they finally found their niche of what they’re doing. Everything on there has such a direct point of view and it’s kind of tailor-made for this new generation. It really is real. I love it. It’s so great. I am so proud to be a part of the TBS family and I love what they’re doing in terms of diverse storytelling. Samantha Bee is killing it. She’s one of my idols now and I’m just so glad that she’s around to take down the men shall we say. I just love what they’re doing. It’s so great.

What else besides WRECKED have you had a chance to work on recently, or what do you have coming up?
I also was part of DEAR WHITE PEOPLE on Netflix, which is another just … I am just so proudly a part of two shows that are really changing the game. That was another cast where we so closely bonded in such a short amount of time. The actors in that show are just killing it. I am so proud of them. That show I think is so important for everyone to watch. It’s also another really binge-y show. I watched that whole season in one or two days as well.

It’s so good. And it’s not what I think anyone thought it was going to be. It got so much negative feedback from the trailer when it dropped, but once you see it you realize they’re diving into all different kinds of people’s lives, and you get a really, it’s such a great character study, because you get to see the backstory on each person. It’s such an amazing creative way of storytelling. Justin Simien created this incredible world and I think it changed the way we story tell, it’s amazing what he did. I’m so proud to be a part of that. Hopefully we’ll be back to dive in more to my character in Season 2.

WRECKED airs on TBS Tuesday nights @ 10/9c.
DEAR WHITE PEOPLE is currently available for streaming on NETFLIX.
Ally can be found on Twitter!