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Jessica Harmon as Niylah | The 100

The 100 has returned for its third season on The CW and it looks like Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor) has gotten herself a new grounder girlfriend, well sort of. It’s been three months (give or take) since the Mount Weather incident and Clarke isn’t doing so well after Lexa’s (Alycia Debnam-Carey) gut-wrenching betrayal. Time may have passed for this unsung hero, but the weight of mass murder seems to be taking a toll on her. And rightfully so. Jessica Harmon, who plays Niylah, the beautiful new face in Clarke’s chaotic world, has a rather notable interaction (bow chicka wow wow) with the infamous Wanheda and boy are we on board for Niylarke right now. Wait a minute, now don’t get your stylish grounder gear and sky garb in a twist, Niylah may have tended to Clarke’s needs while she was on the run… from everyone, but the whole thing seems to be a casual encounter– for now.

One thing’s for sure, Harmon is making quite the stir in The 100 fandom, and now we know why. The season 3 premiere entitled “Wanheda – Part One” shows the grounder coming off as a bit of a fangirl of Clarke’s “work” and attributes the end of her family’s suffering to Clarke’s defeat of the mountain. That’s kind of sweet, right? From the moment Clarke walked into that trading post shack, you could cut the sexual tension with a knife– or better yet, a panther’s claw. Let’s just say, if thought you could handle this steamy hook up based off the trailers not so subtle hints, you were mistaken. It’s exactly what a girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders needed while being self-exiled. So save your hate for the Ice Nation and those smug bounty hunters looking for our notorious Wanheda, we’re Team Niylah over here! 

You might also recognize Harmon from another familiar CW show, iZombie, where she plays Detective Dale Bozzio, yep, this woman is rockin’ The CW right now. Whether she’s serving up a safe haven for our fallen hero, or unknowingly solving mysteries in the presence of zombies, Harmon brings a flare that we didn’t even know we were craving. She made an instant fan out of me, and I expect she’ll do the same with all of you! Harmon chatted with me about her work on The 100, as well as what’s coming up for her character on iZombie. We also discussed working with her brother Richard Harmon (Murphy, The 100) and the fans reaction to her arrival in this post-apocalyptic world. We even chatted (at length) about donuts and hot Cheetos. Mhmmm, our love for these two treats overtook us.

To the good stuff!

MCKENZIE MORRELL: Welcome to The 100 family! The fans quickly caught on that Niylah was going to be getting it on with Clarke when the show returned, how would you describe your character to the viewers?

JESSICA HARMON: That’s a good question. In my mind she’s always been a big– it’s funny the kind of response from the fans because Niylah herself is kind of a fangirl of Clarke. In the first episode when we meet her she’s very supportive and I think the best way I can describe her is this fangirl and it’s probably not the best word to use [laughs] but she’s really just such a fan of Clarke because of what Clarke did to redeem and get revenge for her. Losing her mother to the mountain and we all know how people feel about what was happening at the mountain and different reactions to what’s going on there and I think Niylah is such a supporter of Clarke and Clarke’s work that she just, to me is a very loyal and dedicated person. You never know, that can always change because things on The 100 always like to change, but I think at least at the beginning the best way to describe her is just a very loyal supporter of Clarke. It’s great because it comes at a time when there really isn’t anyone, at least that Clarke is aware of, that is loyal and supporting her. I think Niylah is a great character for that and I remember when I first read it back in the summer when we started shooting, that was exactly what I thought and I was excited about bringing to the character once I had seen season 1 and 2. It was nice to read that she didn’t really have anyone but she kind of had Niylah when she needed her. Niylah is just this beautiful little flower in the woods that comes out and is there when you need her kind of thing.

MM: Right, and it’s funny because you probably have gotten your fair share of hate on Twitter from the shippers, but I think the mutual agreement is that I think no matter who you’re rooting for that Clarke deserves a little bit of loving and everybody is going to be surprised at how things unfold.

JM: Yeah, I think a lot of people, and I haven’t noticed that there’s anyone who’s been really hating on me or the character yet, so far I’ve just found people to be very supportive. I’ve talked to other actors on the show and I’ve seen some of the things that they say to my brother and to other people which is part of the game, it’s what social media is, I’m 30, so for me I didn’t grow up with social media, this wasn’t something that we had, it’s more so for the next sort of generation so I’m just kind of getting used to it right now. But I just laugh when they do things like that, and of course when someone says something rude about my brother it’s infuriating, but you really can’t take it very seriously. It’s just like anybody who hates on you in real life is the more you ignore them the more they want to hate, but it ends up fueling the fire but I just always take the path of ignoring because it’s kind of the best revenge in my mind.

MM: Totally, and I mean nobody can hate on Richard because this season, oh my god, I was probably just gushing during my interview with him because the character is blowing me away this season and his work has been really great. So if anyone has anything to say about him, come at me! [Laughs]

JH: [Laughs] Thanks for having our back, no, he’s amazing in the show and I haven’t even seen the first one, I wasn’t there when they watched the first episode, the whole crew watched the first episode and I missed that so I haven’t really seen anything other than in my ADR looping sessions where I’ve watched those little scenes that we did. So I haven’t seen any of Richard’s stuff, but I remember reading the script and thinking this is so great where they’re putting his character. The arc that he’s had from season 1 to where he’s going this season is just incredible. And we were chatting, and I’m not allowed to say anything that’s happening but things going on later in the season with his character– there’s so many characters that you often don’t know what’s going on with the other ones, there’s a lot of the actors that I didn’t get to meet while I was working that I’ve met outside of work because the iZombie cast and The 100 cast are two very close friends. We all see each other quite a bit when we all party [laughs] and stuff, which is really funny. I’ve talked to Bob [Morley] and Devon [Bostick] about things that are happening with their storylines later on in, and the show just gets out of control. The show is really amazing. They go into some crazy directions and Richard was telling me about it the other day and I was like ‘No way!’ We all are such fans of the show and it’s so great to get to be a part of it. It’s such a great thing. They’re doing such a great job over there and Rick’s definitely at the head of that because he’s killing it.

MM: He is! I can’t put into words how great his scenes are. You said that you were new to Twitter and learning the ropes, after the fans see your character are you expecting good or bad fan reaction, have you guys talked about it?

JH: We haven’t spoken about it, but when I brought it up Richard had said that he saw someone say this about me on Twitter, he just laughed. He thinks it’s hilarious, he could give a fuck so he’s not really worried about any of that. I’m definitely not worried because I’m way too old to worry [laughs] what I assume are probably more so younger than older people and what they have to say about it. I totally understand it, when I was 15 I was in love with Orlando Bloom and obsessed with different, my generational things that they now have like The 100, I don’t even know what I was fangirling about when I was a kid, but I’m sure I wouldn’t have cursed anyone out on the internet. I cried over a movie star here or there proclaiming that they were supposed to be with me forever, that sort of thing.

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I do understand that mentality slightly and I feel like, I was ready for it when I saw the trailer and when people started trying to figure out if it was my back, I know that seemed to be a really big thing. It was such a big discussion that Jason [Rothenberg] had to comment on it on Twitter and said there were more tattoos than just one that we should focus on in the trailer [laughs]. People were going nuts trying to figure out, of course, who was in that love scene with Clarke, which I totally understand. I got the sense that that might be the extent of the madness that surrounds Niylah. They’ve seen her right now, so we’ll see what sort of happens later on in the show, but in the first couple episodes I can’t imagine there will be too much hate because Clarke shows up, Niylah takes care of her and ya know, they have their situation and then Clarke leaves. And goes on her way and we kind of don’t hear from Niylah for a bit, or possibly forever– who knows! [Laughs]

MM: No! That would be terrible, we don’t want that.

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JH: I know, I’m like bring me back! I told them I’m only allowed to be killed if Richard kills me. I won’t show up to set unless Richard’s doing it.

MM: Well he does want Murphy to cross paths with Niylah, so that should happen I think. I vote for it.

JH: I want to push the fans to go for that. Everyone support Murphy and Niylah coming across each other, that would be the best and the funniest and best way for things to go down in the end in my opinion. But yeah, I’m not too worried about it, she’s not a bad character, she’s not there to hurt anyone, she’s there to protect Clarke and in the end it’s kind of just a fling situation, at least for the time being, that’s what it is. So it doesn’t interfere with the Bellarke’s or the Clexa’s or whatever. I literally learned what shipping was like two or three months ago when I was on iZombie and people starting shipping my character with my love interest on the show and everyone was like what should the ship name be and I had to call the casting director and be like ‘what do they mean by they’re shipping me,’ so I’m very much still learning, I’m glad I had a little bit of that. I got Twitter just before iZombie, which is why I’m still so new to it and don’t ever really know what to say or how to deal with it yet and the shipping thing was new to me but I’m glad I had the iZombie crowd before The 100, because they’re way more [laughs] they’re a little more intense than any other show that I’ve been on so far. I mean, you tell me… do you think they’re gonna, I mean you’ve been watching the show and been dealing with the actors for a while now, do you think they’re going to hate Niylah?

MM: You know, I’m in one of those positions where I think there’s always going to be something negative to say about people coming together and fans are pretty passionate about what they want to see with the romantic entanglements, but I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t watch the shows for that particular reason, sure you can want somebody to get with another person but to kind of focus on that is doing a disservice to the actors, to the writers and everything like that. I’m hoping that since they’ve had a little time to acknowledge that there was potential for this to happen that they won’t react in a knee-jerk way, that I hope they don’t react in. I mean you guys have a ship name officially, some Niylarke fans out there for sure.

JH: [Laughs] I know, I dropped that the other day, and people just went nuts. That wasn’t mine, someone else came up with that but when I hashtagged it, which I’m new to hashtagging, they were like ‘oh my God you said Niylarke!’ Alright, calm down it’s not that big of a deal. I feel like after the first episode people might hate me and then after they see what happens in the second episode, they’ll calm down a little bit. I might have a week of haters and then it’ll subside.

MM: The thing is we want to see Clarke get some action, we don’t really care at this point, this poor girl–

JH: Exactly

MM: has been in the woods. All alone…

JH: They get each other’s back, it’s fine.

MM: Although, I think she should have had a bath before that love scene

JH: [Laughs]

MM: But it’s okay, we’ll let it go.

JH: I know, thank God for me it was just makeup, but otherwise– eeewww.

MM: Yeah no, I’m sure there will be some funny comments on the topic. Anyways, as you know, I spoke with your brother the other day and he has a question for you… you ready?

JH: Oh my God, I’m ready for it.

MM: Richard wants to know how it feels to be the Maggie to his Jake Gyllenhaal? [Laughs]

JH: [Laughs] That’s a very good question, I don’t know Maggie’s got a Golden Globe or two, doesn’t she? So, I don’t know how I’m going to answer that one– I guess, being older and wiser is always a wonderful thing. Oh, let’s say to him, what was that terrible movie that Jake Gyllenhaal did that almost tanked, oh! The Prince of Persia, yeah, I’ll take Maggie’s maturity and wisdom over his Prince of Persia any day. We’ll go with that, that’ll answer his question for him.

MM: [Laughs] I accept it, and to kind of non-gracefully switch gears, you’re also on iZombie, CW love all around!

JH: I know, it’s ridiculous! I keep telling everybody, I was never able to book like one CW show, I did a few episodes of Supernatural back in the day but other than that I don’t think I ever fit the CW mold and now that I’m 30, I never thought that I would. I mean, I thought I would be too old for the network, and then all of a sudden all the CW love and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is. It’s such a great network to work for, it really is the best!

MM: That’s amazing and what do you like most about working on iZombie?

JH: There isn’t enough good things I can say about that show and The 100 is amazing and they were so accommodating and accepting and wonderful and it was hilarious to have to show up on set my first day and have a love scene with one of our good friends and co-workers and be basically in front of this entire crew. I really hit the ground running with that one and they were wonderful about it, but iZombie I’ve been with for quite a while now and they’re just the nicest crew and the nicest cast you could ever ask for. I got an email from Rob Thomas and it’s just such a welcoming, wonderful community and they really know how to make you feel like– I’m not one of the series regulars, but I’ve been around for I think I’m shooting my 10th episode now and they just really make you feel like you’re family. There’s no animosity, there’s no like hierarchy between the cast or the crew or anything like that. It’s all love all the time, everyone’s accepted, even the smallest characters that come into play, the whole cast is just so welcoming. I owe iZombie so much right now, I owe so much of my career to them at this point that even if I had a bad word to say, I would never but I couldn’t even think of one. And other shows I could, and I couldn’t think of one for them.

MM: Obviously the CW network is fond of you, they have you shirtless in these shows, they must like something about you, you must be doing something right [laughs]

JH: [Laughs] Yeah, they seem to like that aspect of it, I thought I was too old for this sort of thing but apparently they’re keeping me young [laughs].

MM: Which is never a bad thing.

JH: No.

iZombie

Jessica Harmon as Dale Bozzio | iZombie 

MM: To talk about the character of Dale Bozzio a little bit, how do you think she’ll react when/if she finds out zombies are real? She’s coming close, hopefully she doesn’t wind up dead.

JH: Yes, no kidding. I tell them that every episode, I see them like every other week, and every time I get a script, every time we get a little bit closer I’m like ‘oh my god!’ I’m like so excited about getting to do this, or go after Blaine [David Anders], or Major [Robert Buckley] or figuring things out as we go an a lot of that hasn’t even aired yet. A lot of what we’ve shot where things start changing and the rest we’ll see towards the end of season 2, but so far I can tell you that I don’t know there are zombies yet. Dale’s not aware of that aspect yet and if she was, I kind of feel like she’d take it in stride, she’d probably be a little, ya know, easier to handle it than Clive [Malcom Goodwin]. Because Clive has been in a sense lied to for so long at this point from Liv [Rose McIver] so I think Bozzio doesn’t, because she only has ties to Clive at this point, and Clive is himself not a zombie. I think anyone would freak out and probably not believe that it’s real. But I think Bozzio has seen, that so far what they have me doing in the later episodes in terms of big information being revealed, she kind of takes everything pretty smoothly and doesn’t seem to overreact to anything. I’m sure there will be a day when she finds out and hopefully she doesn’t die on the same day, and that’s all I keep asking them, like don’t kill me! They’re like ‘we’re not killing you’ and I’m like ‘but don’t’ and they’re like ‘we’re not killing you’ and I’m just like ‘not yet, you’re not!’ [Laughs] Every time I get a script I’m like please don’t let it be the one! Because eventually, without realizing it, Bozzio is coming in pretty heavy and pretty hot on these people without really realizing a lot of them are actually good. They don’t tell us anything ahead of time, they keep that pretty close to the chest, which is totally understandable. We get the scripts right before we shoot an episode so, your guess is almost as good as mine at this point as to what is actually going to happen at the end of season 2. We are on 215 right now, so we’ve got 4 more after this, and I’m just chomping at the bit to read the script because I’m dying to know what the hell is going to happen, I shouldn’t say dying–

MM: Don’t die! We don’t want any of your characters on the CW to die, so hopefully that doesn’t happen.

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JH: No!

MM: But now if you were a zombie, which famous celebrities brains would you want to eat? haha.

JH: [Laughs] That’s great question, I don’t think I’ve been asked that yet. Oh, God, that’s a good one, I don’t know. Gotta pick someone good, I was going to say like Leo [Dicaprio] just to get a good look in the mirror, but I’d probably have to go with Gary Oldman. Because I would just want to get in there and figure him out, and if I could have his talent for a week after eating his brains, I would definitely go for him. Only if he was already dead though, I wouldn’t be the one to kill him.

MM: Oh man, come on, what kind of zombie are you! [Laughs]

JH: [Laughs] I know, see I would be the worst zombie because I would just wouldn’t want to kill anybody.

MM: You’d like like ‘no, are they dead yet, no? I guess I won’t eat today’ [laughs].

JH: Exactly!

MM: Obviously you said the iZombie people and The 100 people are pretty close, so if you could take anyone from iZombie as a character and drop them into The 100, who would it be?

JH: Oh, the character? I probably would have to Clive because I would die to see his reaction. Like Malcolm’s reactions are so dry and they’re so funny to me when we find information out, he always just has that Clive look on his face that I think I would have to say Clive because I would absolutely love to see how he would handle people like the grounders and all of the relationships. He would just kind of be like an old man about it. And just not give a shit about what was going on with those people, so I would have to pick Clive.

MM: That’s awesome.

JH: Clive’s my man! So I gotta support him.

MM: Yeah, of course, but that could prove some problems if Niylah sticks around and then you’ve got Clive and you’ve got Clarke–

JH: That’s so true! I’m cheating on him left and right.

MM: Right? Terrible human you are, and zombie apparently.

JH: Just the worst. [Laughs]

MM: All around. Now we have yet to see a donut post-apocalypse in The 100, but if you were a donut what flavor would you be?

JH: A donut? For a second, I thought that was another Twitter term.

MM: Nope. An actual donut [laughs] that you eat.

JH: A donut, what would I be, oh a cruller all the way.

MM: Mmmm, that’s a solid choice. I can appreciate that.

JH: I’m not a sweets person, I’ve always been a savory person, so for me I’d rather be like a big piece of gouda, but if I had to pick a donut, my donut choice is always cruller, always has been. Always will be.

MM: Anything donut related I will be right behind. We will accept that answer.

JH: [Laughs] Awesome.

MM: Donuts are my thing. Donut pillows, donut floats, donut pens.

JH: Really!?

MM: Yep, it’s caught on, it was a thing that me and my best friend and I got into, we had these half donut keychain things and everyone was like ‘you like donuts’ and just kept feeding me them! [Laughs]

JH: That’s hilarious, you just love donuts so much. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that’s loved donuts to that extent.

MM: Whaatttt, come on, donuts are the best.

JH: You’re in the U.S. obviously, it’s not as big of a deal in Canada, maybe. We’ve got Tim Horton’s and people love the donuts there but I don’t think I can tell you the last time I saw someone actually eating a donut.

MM: Oh my gosh, this is breaking my heart right now. I feel like I need to send you guys some donuts.

JH: [Laughs]  A care package for Canada.

MM: For another interview I actually made a weird donut which was hot cheetos, chocolate chips and sprinkles.

JH: No way.

MM: It wasn’t half bad, but it was weird at the same time.

JH: Like I said I’m all over the savory thing, and I’m really weird about hot sauce, to the point if you ask people on set or any of my friends ‘what Jess’ go to food is’ they would say hot sauce.

MM: Stop!

JH: Straight up, I feel about hot sauce the way it sounds like you feel about donuts. Hot cheetos, we don’t have them here.

MM: What, no!

JH: No we don’t. I think we started getting a little of them here and there and I remember just discovering them in the U.S. a few years ago and just hit the roof. When I’m in the states, I eat hot Cheetos until I can’t feel my mouth anymore. I’m obsessed with them. So your donut sounds delicious. I’ll start eating donuts if you start making those more frequently [laughs].

MM: Do you have Andy Capp’s Hot Fries? It’s not quite like Hot Cheetos, but they are delicious.

JH: No! Hot fries?

MM: I feel like I need to send you hot cheetos, hot fries and make you donuts.

JH: Sounds like it, an all around care package. You’re making me hungry right now, I’m really jealous of not being in the U.S.

MM: Well, I will really send you something if you want some hot Cheetos.

JH: Oh my god, I would die. I actually recently got back from Mexico and have just been hitting the ground running, it’s just been interview after interview and I’ve just signed on to do a movie that starts soon, so I’ve just been like upside down. But I saw someone in Mexico eating hot Cheetos and fucking Mexico has hot Cheetos and we don’t.

MM: [Laughs]

JH: They seem to go South, they don’t go North.

MM: Yeah, that’s no fair. I’d love to chat with you all day about Cheetos and donuts, but I know you have things to do, to wrap up can you tell us about any other projects you have coming up? I heard you recently filmed a Thriller called Strangers in the House?

JH: Oh yes, Strangers in the House is my parents movie, I can keep you updated on that, I don’t know when that comes out. It’s with Emmanuelle Vaugier and a really great actor named Matt MacCaull, I don’t know if you’ve interviewed Matt for iZombie-

MM: Yes I have!

JH: He’s so nice to look at too.

MM: Right, it doesn’t hurt [laughs].

JH: Yeah, it doesn’t and if you’ve had a chance to talk to him he’s just the nicest guy you could possibly ask for, he’s such a sweetheart. So him, and Emmanuelle, starred in that film, it should definitely be coming out this year. I’ll definitely keep you guys updated on to when that actually airs. Oh, and I’m in an episode of The Magicians, that’ll air probably in a month or two.

MM: Oooh!

JH: And that’s a really cool new show that people should definitely check out.

MM: They definitely should. You’ve got a lot of things coming up, I’m really exciting to put this out there. This has been a great chat!

JH: I love it!

The 100 -- "Wanheda: Part One" -- Image HU301b_0186 -- Pictured (L-R): Eliza Taylor as Clarke and Jessica Harmon as Niylah -- Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Eliza Taylor as Clarke and Jessica Harmon as Niylah | The 100 

MM: Thanks so much for taking the time, I’m excited, just between you and I, well not really– it’s well known that I’m a Clarke and Lexa shipper, but not a psychotic one [laughs] and I completely love your character on The 100 and I do want to see her come back and see how that unfolds. So I’m rooting for you even though I’m “one of those.”

JH: Thank you, that’s what I want to hear. Even I’m a Clarke and Lexa shipper, I’m okay with that. I love Clarke and Bellamy, I love Clarke and Lexa, I’m down for whatever at this point.

MM: Anything Clarke related.  

JH: I support it just as much, don’t hate. Just because I am Niylah doesn’t mean I can’t support her relationship with Lexa. That’s kind of Niylah’s deal at the end of the day, she’s like it’s all good!

MM: Three-way! Just kidding [laughs]

JH: Exactly, we’ll have a giant The 100 orgy, it’ll be amazing [laughs] and everyone will be happy.

MM: [Laughs] That would be amazing! I think we would probably have to air that not on The CW.

JH: We’d have to switch to cable for that one.

MM: Yep. But it’s alright, thanks for chatting!

JH: Thank you so much, thank you for the support and such a great interview.

Catch up with Jessica on Twitter @Harmon_Jess

 

McKenzie Morrell
Currently working at a Literary Publicity Firm as a tech nerd and Producer. A college grad with a B.S. in Journalism, who loves covering the Entertainment world. I recently worked at World Wrestling Entertainment as the Intern Online Content Editor, NBC Universal for both The Steve Wilkos and The Jerry Springer Show, and at Red 7 Media where I created content both online and in print for the company's various publications. In my spare time, I enjoy watching and reviewing my favorite T.V. shows, as well as interviewing some of my favorite celebs in the industry. I'm sarcastic, opinionated, and thrive off of technology and social media.