Dig‘s Alison Sudol On That HUGE Reveal, Transparent, & The “Strong Woman” Stereotype

Photo: Ronen Akerman/USA Network.
If you're looking for a weekly dose of Mid East political intrigue in the lull between seasons of Homeland, you should definitely be watching Dig. USA's event series mixes archaeological mysteries of the ancient world with present-day cults and international espionage — all in a tight 10 episodes. At the center of it all is Emma Wilson (played by Alison Sudol), an American archaeologist working on a dig site under one of Jerusalem's most sacred and secret spots. By the end of the first episode, we think she's dead, and the rest of the series will be spent unlocking the mysteries — both present-day and ancient — she seems to be revealing in her journal.  As of last night's episode, however, that's not the case. Emma is very much alive, and things are only going to get even more bonkers from there. We spoke to Alison Sudol, a charming singer-turned-actress who first caught our attention as as Kaya in Transparent, about Dig's huge reveal, the significance of her role and the series, and the "strong woman" stereotype. How would you describe Dig?
"It’s like an adventure, a mystery, [and] a thriller. There’s also some pretty complex human emotion being explored. Grief, and what it can do to a person, and how it can drive you towards the brink of maybe socially acceptable behavior. The brink of madness, of genius, of fanaticism."
Photo: Ronen Akerman/USA Network.
How about Emma Wilson?
"She’s full of this incredibly vivid life force...I was also really drawn to the mystery of her because I didn't know what to make of her. She’s allowed to be mysterious in a way that our society sort of fights against. We want to know everything about everyone at all times. We want to know what you ate for breakfast and what your thoughts are on every single subject. For me, somebody that doesn’t feel the need to explain everything, who allows you to wonder about them, and who holds their space — confidently — and you have to earn their trust; that was really compelling for me as well." What was it like walking around Jerusalem with that hair color?
"It garners a lot of attention. I was alone a bit, but not very much. Emma is really alone and brave and doesn’t worry about it. I never felt threatened in the slightest, but it’s more just if you’re a woman anywhere that’s got this sort of beacon on your head that says 'notice me,' you’re going to get attention." So, she's definitely not dead.
"She is very much alive, and that moment is a crazy moment. I didn’t actually know that that was going to happen when I got the role, and so when I found out, I was like completely floored and stunned. Basically, that moment just sets off a whole new ballgame of insanity. There’s been a lot of crazy stuff that's been happening throughout the series. But, after Emma comes back, it’s just full-on bananas." Have we been seeing more characters like Emma on TV recently?
"I do think that there are some really powerful characters for women. Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Honorable Woman; she's incredible. Kerry Washington is just amazing and brave. There are more and more characters that I find are more layered, interesting, and strong. There’s a certain stereotype, too, of like a strong woman. Like, 'This is what a strong woman says and does.' What I find interesting, and what I was drawn to with Emma, is that she’s not a stereotypical strong woman. She goes through a lot of different emotions throughout the series. She is brave, and she has an amazing backbone, but it’s not just plowing ahead, being strong. There are many layers. We pivot between strength and timidity, being bold and being shy, and being great and being terrible." What was it like being part of Transparent?
"That was a pretty magical experience. It really shifted everything for me to be part of something so socially valid. It’s an absolute paradigm shift. Quite a mainstream audience for something that was not really allowed to be spoken about before, which is the transgender community. That was just an amazing thing to be a part of, and I realized how you could act and be a part of a thing that wasn’t just any old project, but that was really special and had deep meaning in it. That set the bar really high. "Then with Dig, you go to Israel to learn about this part of the world as somebody that’s actually been ingrained in it, and not just from news, and not just from hearsay, but to actually meet people and see these places that are backdrops for some of the most important religious events ever. It was incredible."  Dig airs Thursdays at 10/9c on USA.

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