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“Whether she’s flirting with the boys or conjuring spirits, she works it unapologetically, with the bold fierceness of a total rocker chick!”
That was Traci Dinwiddie’s response to my question about what drew her to playing the role of psychic Pamela Barnes in the Supernatural season 4 opener ‘Lazarus Rising’ which will be airing on the CW Network Thursday September 18th at 9PM EST.
Supernatural, the hit Warner Bros/ CW Network series now entering its fourth season, stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as Sam and Dean Winchester – two brothers who have spent their lives being trained by their father to save people by hunting down and killing all manner of supernatural entities and creatures while at the same time tracking down the Yellow-Eyed demon that killed their mother when Sam was baby and Dean was four: a demon with plans for Sam, who seems to be endowed with mystical powers of his own, to become the leader of an army of demons released from hell.
The climatic ending of season two left the Yellow-Eyed demon dead and Dean bound in deal in which he would trade his soul into hell in one year’s time for having his brother Sam, who had also been killed, brought back to life. The chilling finale of season 3 saw Sam facing down a new demonic threat named Lilith and Dean having to make good on his deal and have his soul plunged into an abyss of torture as a heartbroken Sam could do nothing but cradled Dean’s lifeless hellhound ravaged body.
Season 4 of Supernatural picks up four months later with Dean climbing out of his grave having been taken out of hell and put back into his fully restored human body with no clue how it happened. After hooking back up with his brother Sam and their friend and fellow ‘hunter’, Bobby Singer (played by Jim Beaver who enters his 3rd season in the role of this highly popular recurring character) they head off to find some answers.
Enter, Pamela Barnes whom Bobby Singer describes as ‘the best damn psychic in the state.’
Eclipse Magazine caught up with Traci Dinwiddie, the vivacious and very talented thirty-four year old brunette actress who has taken on the role of psychic, Pamela Barnes.
The first thing that Dinwiddie reveals to us is that she knew about Supernatural because she had heard of it and seen some funny Youtube blooper vids and loved them. She has since moved on into being a true fan of the series. “I am now the proud owner of the box set of the first 2 seasons,” she tells us and then, her voice lowering conspiratorially, she makes a huge confession about how she has to watch them. “I had to watch them during the day. I’m better at doing the spooking than being spooked!”
To illustrate her point, Traci Dinwiddie draws on a personal story from her teenage years that had me thinking ‘now this is my idea of someone who would have been way cool to hang out with’ and could immediately see why Dinwiddie felt right at home in the setting of Supernatural.
“You might or might not find this funny but, as a teenager, I used to scare the crap out of my cheerleading squad during camp and late night storytelling as I would pretend to channel evil spirits. I even got sent home from sleep-overs, TWICE, for freaking out the birthday girls with my wild stories and portrayals of demons. At last, I have found my home in Supernatural.”
Dinwiddie’s character of Pamela Barnes is, as described, a psychic and we asked if this posed any challenge to her and what kind of research she did for the role to prepare for taking on the task of playing someone who talks to spirits. “Usually, I go with the writers’ intent,” she explains in regards to the question about research. “It’s a respect thing, in TV.” However Dinwiddie does have personal knowledge of tools employed by psychics and tells us that she uses Tarot cards regularly for meditation purposes, which she says helped to give her something of a personal nature to add to the character of Pamela Barnes. “I am also familiar with stories of the Fox Sisters. Evidently, they put on a grand show! You know of them?”
Even with her feeling at home in the world of Supernatural, I asked Traci Dinwiddie what was the most challenging aspect for her in playing the role of psychic Pamela Barnes in Lazarus Rising. Her answer was very enlightening.
“If I told you, Eric Kripke would have me hunted down and hanged from my toenails!”
I think that pretty much tells us that Supernatural fans and viewers have something really exciting and big to look forward to in the upcoming season 4 series premiere, so moving right along now to what Dinwiddie could tell us about her experiences working on Supernatural she said that the thing that was the biggest surprise for her was finding out where the hit series was filmed at.
“I actually did not know that Supernatural was filmed in Vancouver, so it was a pleasant surprise to finally get to check out “Van” as the locals call it.”
The Tricks and Treats of Working on Supernatural
It would appear that Supernatural stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, who play Sam and Dean Winchester, are fast becoming an ‘urban legend’ all on their own for what seems to be a growing notoriety concerning their penchant for playing pranks on guest stars.
Dinwiddie tells us that she was forewarned that Jared and Jensen are quite the pranksters. “I stayed on alert for any of their mischief,” she says with a smile then relates to us a funny story of how she came to realized she might have become a bit too paranoid about waiting on the two known pranksters to spring one of their tricks on her.
“One night when I returned to my hotel room to find the radio blasting some static and the bathroom trash can placed on top of the toilet with water running in the sink. I thought no they couldn’t have gotten into my room, could they? I called the front desk and found out that it was just that the maid had not turned down my room properly. What a trip!” Traci tells us with a laugh over how the boys managed to ‘get one over on her’ without even having to do a thing.
Of course now that we’ve possibly given Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki new ideas on how to pull pranks on guest stars just by psyching them out, I asked Traci what her experiences were like actually working with the two lead pranksters…err I mean lead actors of Supernatural.
This question elicited a wicked smile from the beautiful Dinwiddie as she told me with instructions to ‘insert wild Jane of the Jungle roar here’: “Let’s just say I would happily indulge in a Supernatural Sandwich consisting of equal parts Jared and Jensen.”
After advising Traci Dinwiddie that she could actually get a decidedly G-Rated one of those by participating in a Creation Salute to Supernatural Convention this coming November, we moved on to talking more seriously about working with what she described as two very talented and dedicated young actors and working with the equally talented and dedicated Jim Beaver.
“All jokes aside, Jared and Jensen are terrific fellas, just great guys all around but let’s not forget Mr. Jim Beaver. He was actually my favorite buddy on the set,” Traci says with fondness very evident in her voice over this newly made friendship. “He even took the time to have a nice dinner with me on our day off.”
Yet, so far for Traci Dinwiddie the biggest ‘treat’ of all has been the feed back she has gotten from the fans of Supernatural since it was announced that she was going to be guest starring in the role of psychic Pamela Barnes.
“The Supernatural fans have rocked my world,” Dinwiddie tells us with appreciation in her voice. “I’ve received some nice fan mail here and there over the years, but nothing like this. By the second day of shooting, my mailbox was full of messages through my website and myspace from Supernatural fans. I was blown away!”
Dinwiddie says that what really has surprised her the most was the overwhelming and kind responses to her being a woman in her 30’s and also a stage actress. “I even had two drummers write to me that found out I play djembe and asked if I would be drumming in the show. I told them to write to Eric about that!”
Traci Dinwiddie says that this, so far, positive feedback and acceptance of her into the role and the show has come as another pleasant surprise. She told me that, as far as the discernment factor among Supernatural fans, that yes she has heard that the fans could be quite opinionated concerning female cast coming into the show.
“Honestly, I don’t blame them for wanting their favorite show to feature fine acting and not just a pretty face,” Dinwiddie offers in understanding of where the fans are coming from. “I think it is very encouraging to see so many people digging the idea of having a strong chick in her EARLY 30’s sharing the plot with their boys.” Dinwiddie goes on to temper this a bit with what is also a very pragmatic outlook about how quickly the acceptance could change. “All of that being said the true test will be on September 18th when the episode airs and fans see my work in it, eh?”
So what next for the lovely Traci Dinwiddie now that Lazarus Rising is set to air?
“Well…dare I say- I’ll be tied up most of October, shooting a recurring on your very own ‘Supernatural’. Also, audiences may see an entirely different expression of me as I play Catherine, a fresh-faced midwestern mama, in the feature film “The 27 Club” with Joe Anderson.”
Traci Dinwiddie is also currently looking into co-producing a feature film and tells us that she’s already got one mysteriously magical film in the works with her dear friend and fabulous Stop Motion Animator, Michael Granberry. She and her manager are reading scripts day and night but that audiences can see her in various completed projects as well. “I’m playing the lead in several films that are heavy hitters on the film festival circuit right now, so we’ve become utterly inspired while attending several screenings.”
Dinwiddie promises that more will be revealed about her upcoming projects, and that Eclipse readers will be one of the first to know about them and about new updates on her recurring role in Supernatural season 4.
Meanwhile Supernatural viewers and fans can take a look at Traci Dinwiddie as Pamela Barnes in a sneak peek teaser for Lazarus Rising and can watch the full episode as Supernatural season 4 premieres Thursday, September 18th at 9PM EST on the CW Network.