'Legacies' Star Kaylee Bryant Details Her Character's Struggles and Relationship With Hope (Exclusive)
By Liz Calvario
For Kaylee Bryant being a part of The Originals spinoff, Legacies, is a dream come true.
The actress stars in the new CW series as Josie Saltzman, twin to Lizzie (Jenny Boyd) and daughter of Alaric (Matthew Davis) and his deceased wife Josette (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe), with Caroline Forbes (Candice King) as the twins’ surrogate mother.
For those familiar with the Saltzman twins’ backstory -- which began in The Vampire Diaries -- Legacies dives into the teen witches’ lives at The Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted, as well as tribrid (witch, vampire and werewolf) Hope Mikaelson’s (Danielle Rose Russell) tragic tale after the death of her parents, Original hybrid Klaus Mikaelson (Joseph Morgan) and werewolf Hayley Marshall (Phoebe Tonkin).
The coming of age supernatural drama has been described as X-Men meets Hogwarts, with witches, vampires and werewolves "taught to be their best selves and overcome their villainous impulses." Before the series premiere, ET chatted with Bryant about her powerful and exciting new role, Josie’s relationship with her parents, what fans can expect from the thrilling spinoff and so much more.
ET: Were you familiar or a fan of The Vampire Diaries or The Originals before you were cast for the role of Josie Saltzman?
I was actually too familiar with it. Basically, I could’ve been one of those people that are very excited and tweeting about it now. I started watching [The Vampire Diaries] when I was 15 with my mom through Netflix and we binge-watched season one through five, and then we actually got into watching it weekly. We would get together with a bowl of popcorn and we made a point to watch it every single week. I was, like, a superfan. We started with The Vampire Diaries and worked our way to The Originals. It’s a very addicting story.
What is Josie’s role in the Salvatore school?
Josie was introduced in The Vampire Diaries as a baby, along with her twin Lizzie. Legacies follows Hope Mikaelson and the twins, because the school was basically created because of Josie and Lizzie. Alaric Saltzman is the headmaster of the school, he started it for his daughters. Josie and Lizzie are kind of, in a way, running the school because there is a certain understanding that if you’re the headmaster’s daughters a lot of people look to you. That being said, Lizzie definitely embodies the [title] of headmaster’s daughter and loves the attention and isn’t the “mean girl” of the school, but enjoys the attention. Whereas Josie takes that power and makes sure that everyone stays in line and is constantly being the perfect embodiment of what following the rules is and is making sure that everyone else is. Josie is definitely the goodie two shoes of the bunch.
How do we see Josie's relationship evolve with her sister, Lizzie, and with Hope?
You’ll see them change a lot. What’s really great about having a show that’s based in a boarding school is that there's a lot more intimate relationships that are being created. Josie can’t completely ignore Hope, just as much as Lizzie can’t. Josie is going on her own journey throughout the first season and trying to create her own opinions on things outside of her sister. Hope and Josie’s relationship is something that the fans have something to look forward to. As much as it is a push-and-pull, it’s never ‘this is what it is.’ It’s a Julie Plec show, nothing is ever going to be perfect. That being said, they live down the hall from each other. Hope has kind of formed a father-daughter relationship with Alaric, who is Lizzie and Josie’s father. So there is a push and pull there of who gets the most attention, and there is a lot of jealousy. But Josie is a much more forgiving person than her sister is. That is definitely something that the fans will see grow and it’ll go back and forth, for sure.
How was it immersing yourself as Josie?
It’s really exciting because The Originals was really great because they introduced those character as the villains and they followed the story of the villains and dove into that. We’re really starting from scratch. Danielle had a lot to work with from the last season of The Originals and Jenny and I kind of had things to work with with the 4-year-old versions of us, but we really did get to start from scratch in a lot of ways that The Originals didn’t. So I’m excited to see how fans react to it.
How do you describe Josie's relationship with her father, Alaric? Do they butt heads, are they more in tune with each other than Lizzie?
Josie and Alaric’s relationship is really interesting. Lizzie’s way of getting Alaric’s attention is by acting out and by doing all she can to get his attention, whereas Josie’s way of getting Alaric’s attention is by not getting his attention because by getting his attention she’s in trouble. The relationship between them is interesting because they are such similar people in that they are constantly looking out for others. The only time you see them butting heads is later down the road and it’s something that grows into something very interesting that I can’t talk too much about. But they have a very good understanding of each other just because they are bred from the same codependency line.
What is Josie’s relationship with her mom, Caroline?
We do address the Caroline situation a lot throughout the show. It definitely morphed the girls into who they are today. Like I said, Lizzie is more open about the things that affect her and Josie is constantly trying to prove that she is OK and prove that she is keeping the fort down. There is also something to be said about the fact that Lizzie identifies a lot with Caroline and I think Josie has grown up her entire life feeling a little bit lost in that she loves Caroline so much and definitely identifies Caroline as her mother. That being said, she didn’t take on a lot of Caroline’s characteristics. She has a lot of Josette’s characteristics, who she hasn’t grown up with and doesn’t know her personally. She relates to Alaric a lot. That is something that we talk about throughout the entire show. Lizzie’s feeling a lot more lost by having Caroline not there than Josie does, just because Josie has constantly always felt lost in that circumstance since birth, sadly.
You posted on your Instagram Story about how a couple CW characters’ sexualities are now a description note, not a defining characteristic. Tells us what this means for your character?
I’m so excited. Josie is introduced as she’s getting out of a relationship with another female character, and then she’s kind of finding interest in a boy. I think that it’s a really beautiful story that isn’t told so often. We’ve heard the coming out story, I love hearing the coming out story because it’s still very much a problem. That being said, Josie is growing up in a very loving environment where her father is fighting actual demons, her father knows what evil is and he knows that his daughter having a girlfriend is not something to demonize. I think that’s a really exciting story to tell and I’m excited for another 15-year-old girl out there who has a crush on a girl one week and has a crush on a boy the next week can watch this show and say, ‘Hey, that’s not a bad thing and I should be able to love who I love and not have to apologize for that.’
It’s difficult to tow the line because in a lot of places it is not normal. It’s still something that a lot of people still very much struggle with. That being said, Josie’s story isn’t that because of the environment that she’s grown up in. So that is the story we are telling. But I don’t think that by any means we are saying, ‘This is how it is now and this is normal.’ It just so happens that Josie is really lucky to be in the family and the community that she is.
As far as action scenes, will we see Josie get into any fights?
It’s actually funny because Josie is really cool in that, they kind of discuss it in The Vampire Diaries. We have math class and then we have vampire fighting classes and Josie definitely shows a bit of a backbone throughout the series and we see her get into some action. I can’t go into detail as to when or why, but you’ll see some really cool moments out of her.
Someone on Twitter mentioned that you made a diary and a playlist for Josie, is that true?
Yes, I did. I started writing a diary for Josie and it ended up turning into a [series of ] letter[s]. Basically, every single episode I write a letter to whatever character is interacting with Josie the most. Josie doesn’t exactly communicate everything that she feels all the time when she feels it, and as Kaylee, it became very frustrating and kind of engulfed my life at a certain point. And I was like, ‘If I’m upset with my father right now, let me start writing a letter to him about what I would say to him as Josie. I won’t send it to him, I won’t give it to him, maybe I’ll crumble it up and throw it in a fire, whatever, and I can just cleanse this frustration out of Kaylee that I kind of took on from it. It turned into something that I really ended up loving for Josie. So I ended up doing it, I still do it, every single episode. I have letters to Hope, I have letters to my dad, I have letters to Lizzie, the list goes on. And I have a playlist as well. It kind of helps me get into her mind space.
It really is a dream come true. I never would have thought that -- I was the kind of person where three years ago, five years ago, I was watching videos from The Vampire Diaries Comic-Con panel and I was watching videos of Julie Plec talking about watching all the actors audition. It was something that I genuinely spent my spare time enjoying watching and diving into the backstory of it all. Actually going to Comic-Con last week and sitting next to Julie Plec and explaining my character, and trying to explain to the fans that I would be sitting in their spot right now if I didn’t have the opportunity [to be part of the show]. It feels very strange. I feel like I need to prove to them like, ‘Guys, I made it on the inside. It’s possible.’
Lastly, Legacies was just given additional scripts. How are you preparing to be The CW's next big thing/cast?
Oh wow, I don't know. I haven't thought much about it in that way. It’s funny how I can understand the hype and the fandom end of it, but then the idea of people commenting, ‘She’s a queen, she’s such a this and such’ aimed at me, I don’t how to react to it. During Comic-Con when somebody was like, ‘Let me take a picture with you’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, Ok. Why? [laughs] Are you going to send it to my mom? What are you going to do with this photo?’ Because I really don’t feel like l am someone to idolize and hype. It’s exciting! I get where they are coming from and I am just excited to be a part of it!