Interview with Actor Daniela Ruah: „My family is the permanent scene in my life”


Daniela Ruah – alias agent Kenzi in NCIS: Los Angeles – is a mother of two – a strong working mom. She believes in the power of family, but her second family is the team of NSIC: Los Angeles. When we met in LA, she was talking about her nine years work experience as a leading actress of the world’s biggest tv-show. We also talked about grief – the lost of her beloved colleague – and also about breech birth and the effects of social media. The next season of the NCIS: Los Angeles just got aired in the United States.

The NCIS: Los Angeles is the world’s biggest tv show, I guess you became a family during those nine years working together…

Oh my Gosh! Yeah. A big family! A lot of us got married on the show, we had children on the show, we bought our first houses on the show… You know, life happened on the show: divorces, marriges, births, deaths… I mean, nine years! Think about what you were doing in the last nine years?! (Lauging) I turned 25 on this show and now I am 34… It’s a whole other level of maternity and responsbility.

They just started to air wordwide the first episode of the 9th season. How did the dynamic of the show change?

We are missing a few charachters and we are adding some new charachters to the new season. So there is a definite shift in the dynamic and energy of the whole crew. Obviously, as Miguel passed away last year, Granger is gone… Also Nate is missing. So we have two new characthers and minus two, whom the audience will know and love. I think this is in balance right now. It is very interesting for the audience to watch and find the way to adopt this new situation.

How was it going back to the scene after Miguel passed away?

Ah… It was… strange. Because every time we started a new episode we had a table read. Miguel wasn’t there every day, but later, so sometimes I felt that ’Oh, Miguel is just not working today’. And then you remember that ’No way, he ’s gone, gone…’ You know, during those table reads we were all sitting a the same place for nine years. We were all there, around the table and the guest actors were outside of the semi-circle. And to see Miguel’s place empty… that’s … white mail. That was the hardest part. Oh, man… (At this point Daniela started tearing.)

A day we all received a co-casting email from producer Scott Gemmill… I can’t remember what he was writing exactly in that email, but he told us that something is coming up. And we’re all responded to putting Miguel… it was three or two o’clock in the morning and he wrote us: ’I will go where ever you guide me.’ And we all woke up the next norning and found out that he died. So just before he died, he emailed to all of us… I am sorry, I still couldn’t talk about it yet without tearing up.

I am sorry to brought up the topic…

No, no, its fine. We all loved him a lot.

And how do you remember him?

He was an amazing man. Not only just he was working permanent on this show with us, but his memorial also took place in the Paramount Theatre. I mean that guy was born and raised in Hollywood. He’s Hollywood as it gets, but also the least Hollywood person I’ve ever met. Like he grew up as Gershwin’s coming into their house for dinner! But he was incredibly humble, he hated attention. We had like group interviews and he was like pushing his chair back and he gave very short answers if something came his way. You know we all know each other’s family after nine years working together, and Miguel was an unbelieveble father.

Let’s talk about a bit of your character, Kensi. What do you really want to explore in her in the next season? What will happen with her?

Well, the first episode gonna be aired in the US tomorrow… Kensi goes trough a very likely suicide mission… But she is not… Because – as you see – I am still here, on this interview… it says a lot about the next season! So it wouldn’t be very realistic if I told you that she might die. (Laughing.) She will pull out! So she goes on this mission, basically there is a group of military people who take over this nuclear missile laungh controll center. Two people to put in the codes in order to watch these missiles and they have enough people in these control centers to make that happen. Ten years ago Kensi dated one of the guys, so they called her in, very secretly and say we needed to talk to him. And she is like: „I don’t know him anymore. Ten years ago we dated for a few months. It’s nothing to do with this person anymore.” So really is nothing to with NCIS:, it has to do with Kensi personally. And its comes from the point when she has to phisically do something and actually go into herself to try and take them all out. She’s the only one that fixed it. It’s an 18 inch tunel where I had to crawl through to get to these guys, because they blew up something else. Kenzie makes this phone call to Deeks, basically to say good bye, because she knows that she’s not going to come out alive. And he is begging her, not to go through this, somebody else will. And she says, no I have to do it. I am here, no one else is to fit in the hole, I am trained and I can save people. And that phone call… I don’t know… If you saw the promo video, it’s some point a little bit out there. It’s heavy. That scene is really heartbreaking.

Do you think the show gets more realistic and the writers are going deeper into the charachters now, due to they react now on what is going on in the US? I mean there was the mass attack tragedy in Las Vegas last year, then a horrible church shooting in Texas and now the school mass shooting in Florida…

Well, I can tell you, that there have been a couple of times in the last few years when an episode was supposed to air with a shooter. And those episodes were actually hold on, and replaced that week, beacuse it was too close to something that happened in real life. They just got aired a little bit later. And you know, we don’t want to mess up people’s sensitivities… You want to be as repectful as it possible. So yes, we have been in the situation when the network had to be sensitive with those things, and just air it a little bit later. Yes, you know, in these shows ’the good guys always win.’ But it does not necesseraly happens in the real life. And I think people feel  good to watch a show like this, because it gives a break from the bad stuff: bad things happens, but you know, those good guys are coming and solve it.

What you think, how would you react if you were involved in a real situation? You are on this show for such a long time, maybe you learnt something… some survival technics, anything…

That’s a really tough question. I don’t know if there is any right answer for that. What I can tell you, to be on this show, I think my sense of protection has come much more… since I have kids. Because I am so much more aware of my surrondings. Not because I learnt something as a fake agent, but because I have kids. They are not aware, they are 16 months and 3 years old. You know, even he knows he has to look on the streets he is focusing on his ball… So, I think, I couldn’t tell you how I would react. I think I tend to be quite calm in the situation. In real situations I don’t panic. I think I would try to observe where it is coming from, I would run, I would lay down, I don’t know… it would depend on the situation.

How is your relationship with the social media? As I see you are pretty active on these platforms…

I think social media as we’ve seen could be used for a lot of damage in many situations. But I think if you use it well, it can actually work to your advantage. I mean, for example, if you want to do something charitiable you have this huge platform of people who’ve guaranteed to see what you’ve trying to show them. I try to use my social media for positive experiences. Fortunatelly I’ve never had a situation like photos have been taking off my computer… I must be also very careful not to take those types of photos… I mean, I am not criticizing people who do… you know… That’s their privacy… Also,  I don’t show my childrens faces. I have a husband, I have two kids. That’s the permanent scene in my life. They are my boat.  All the other jobs, other stuff it’s a constant moving, flow of water. So I don’t mind showing a little bit of the boat. It brings some humanity.

You shared a lot about your maternity experiences, starting with your pregnancy…

Oh, yes! Absolutely. Also about breech birth! My daughter was breech, but I chose to deliver her naturally anyway. I didn’t use drugs, I didn’t have a cesarian. You know, here, they are trying to essentialy abolish the possibility of a woman to deliver her baby who is breech. You have to do cesarian. I understand those risks… but those risk have both ways. And you know, I putting it out, and I’ve done that, it’s kind of a showing people that ’maybe we should give them a choice. You know, it’s her body, it’s her baby… Let’s give her the choice.’ I don’t like that they try to take away the choices. So yes I’m posting about maternity, and yes, social media can be used for very good things!

How could you comply the motherhood with shooting?

I am very lucky, because my son came to work with me until he was 2,5. Then he started pre-school. Then my daughter come to work with me, so I ’ve seen them a lot. I had lunch with them, I have time between scences… and we were lucky with this show, because we got back home for dinner pretty much for every night and we don’t work at the weekends – the kids are able to have a normal family life.

Interview and text: Virág Vida