Actress Maria Russell on role in truTV’s ‘Tacoma FD’

ATM: Express the emotional level of your character, Lt. Salazar.

MR: My character is a police officer and a bossy bully, but in a fun way. She is happiest when bullying her ex-boyfriend and by making his life miserable. She gets the most joy of this, but she also enjoys going to the movies, eating popcorn with gummy worms and most definitely donuts.

ATM: Naturalist Charles Darwin has an Evolutionary Theory of Emotions. In this theory, he felt that understanding the emotions of the people around us plays a crucial control in how we have safety and how we survive. Your character seems to fit in this theory in how she expresses herself in her line of work.  

MR: Any woman in law enforcement is a little fish amongst the big fish. There are too many women in law enforcement that encounter this. My character on Tacoma FD has to prove herself and give up the protector armor to be able to co-exist with all the males that surround her. She works in a male-dominated police department, but her philosophy is: “I am one of the guys.” She plays a good game with them.

ATM: In relation to this series and Darwin’s theory, describe a scene where your character had to understand the emotions of another character to portray her role.

MR: There was a scene where she has to go through all of this. She has an exchange of words with her ex-boyfriend who is a member of the fire department and explains to him why and how he hurt her back in high school. She wanted to go after him and comes back at him, but he wants to make the situation worse. Her way of getting to him is by picking on him and calling him Pikachu.

ATM: To personify your character emotions, would you agree with your character’s emotions live in the past and present?

MR: Lt. Salazar’s emotions come from her past but live in the present too. She never forgets what Eugene Cordero did to her. It makes her who she is. She gets triggered every time she sees him. The emotions live in the present because she does not define how she feels about him.

ATM: So, her working continuously in her line of work is a way for her to fill the void of the trigger.

MR: Yes. She is a go-getter. She wants to do her job well, and she excels at it. There is some level of self-containment in her line of work. 

ATM: As a woman comedienne and for this comedy series, how does the comedy aspect awaken the emotions?

MR: In general, with comedy, there is such a freedom of it where you have to allow yourself to go there. This is why this makes things funny. It’s the ability to surrender. “I do not know what is about to come out of my mouth, but I am going to let it come out.” Also, being in a male-dominated profession, you have to be able to show up and show them what you can do. This is the way I have always lived. I do my thing and bring this to the table with comedy.

ATM: With your character having to work with “I am just one of the guys,” how are we getting closer to the point where a guy can say, “I am just one of the females?”

MR: Interesting question. Things are progressing quite a bit. This is something interesting to explore. We are getting closer. For example, hair dressing was considered more of a “female” occupation before, now it’s common to see males in the hair dressing profession. Before, if you would see males not only doing makeup, but also wearing makeup, it would be a little weird, but now it’s “Ooo boo, is that MAC Viva Glam you’re wearing??”