'Anne with an E' star Dalila Bela talks about Diana's inspiring journey on the Netflix show
Season 2 of 'Anne with an E' talks about consent, homophobia, racism, the importance of family, the power of friendship, and the acceptance and love.
‘Anne with an E’ came back with a spectacular season 2 recently and it just so happens to be even more poignant and powerful than its predecessor. While season 1 saw Anne (portrayed by Amybeth McNutty) finding her way around Green Gables and charming everyone that crosses her path, season 2 is about using her using her unique imagination to help the people she loves and stop those trying to hurt her loved ones – which has increased by the dozed over the course of a dozen. The one person who is by her side through it all? Her bosom friend Diana, portrayed by the talented Dalila Bela.
Even with all the amazing new storylines of ‘Anne with an E’ this season, Diana has one of the most noticeable character trajectories on the show. From being a shy, privileged girl from a well-to-do family, whose sole purpose in life is to be a lady and marry rich, Diana is thrown into situations that make her question her parents’ life choices and her own stance on various topics.
Dalila, who beautifully portrays this multi-dimensional, young lady on screen, spoke to Meaww regarding Diana’s future, the new storylines the Netflix show will run with come next season and so on. Check out the full interview of Dalia below:
Congratulations on another wonderful season of 'Anne with an E.' What were your expectations for the show in general and for Diana, in particular, going into season 2?
Thank you very much! Well, I expected Season 2 to discuss similar topics as Season 1, such as the unity of family, how being you is one of the greatest gifts in the world, the power of friendship, and how being different doesn’t mean being bad, it simply means being something that one doesn’t normally encounter. But in the second season, not only did we discuss the aforementioned topics, we also spoke of modern-day issues such as consent, homophobia, and racism.
And as for my expectations for my character, I hoped that Moira Walley-Becket, the creator of the show, would steer my character into a more assertive, confident, and perceptive direction, and I was not disappointed. In short, not only were my expectations met, they were surpassed.
This season we get to see the show digress further from the literature, introducing very distinct storylines and specific characters. How excited or disappointed were you when you learned this?
I was incredibly thrilled when I read about the direction that Moira was driving said show towards. In addition to discussing topics such as consent, homophobia, racism, the importance of family, the power of friendship, and the acceptance and love of oneself, the aforementioned creator of the show has made, in my opinion, the show more realistic by demonstrating the dark and relatively unpleasant aspects of the story, since that is how life really is.
Diana's reaction to being exposed to "the others" is very akin to that of someone who has lived a sheltered and unexposed life. How did you prepare for these scenes, especially for the nuances of the facial expressions before you explicitly tell your friends that you find your aunt's lifestyle disconcerting?
Well, for starters, I am a huge LGBTQ+ supporter, and due to this fact was rather saddened at Diana’s reaction to discovering homosexuality/same-sex attraction. So, in order to prepare, I put myself in Diana’s shoes and viewed life through her eyes. Diana did not agree, nor did she disagree with her aunt’s lifestyle, she was simply confused as to how it could be possible due to the way she was raised and the beliefs that were drilled into her. In that episode, Diana felt like the rope in a tug of war ; on one end she had the opinions and beliefs that she was taught for the past fourteen years, that it’s man and woman (Diana hadn’t even known that it was possible for there to be anything else) and on the other end, Diana had her aunt, whom she loves very much, who was happily engaging in a romantic relationship with another woman, Gertrude. And if she was happy, then how could it be wrong?
This was one of Diana’s major dilemmas in this episode. So what I did was related to my character’s confusion and uncertainty, and reminded myself that from action until cut, it is not Dalila’s beliefs, morals, thoughts, and views, it is Diana’s, and I must portray them accordingly. I also felt glad, in a way, that I was able to portray her dilemma since it displays someone who doesn’t understand homosexuality grow to accept it.
For someone who grew up assuming she will be a docile wife in the future, Diana was dealt with a whole realm of possibilities this season, how do you as an actor hope she responds to these choices?
Well, as an actor, I hope that Diana grows as a person and begins to think for herself and discover what she wants to do with her life, not just what her parents want her to be. I hope she pursues her passion for the piano and the performance arts, and maybe even become a pianist.
How do you think Diana's parents would react to opting for a career over maternal bliss? Do you think she is strong enough to stand up to her parents?
I believe that Mr and Mrs Barry will not be all too pleased with having Diana opting for a career over being a docile, stay-at-home mother, since they might think that by doing this, Diana will fall into ruin and be a social pariah. And whether or not she will be able to be strong enough and hold her ground against the possible rebuke of her parents is unknown, but I feel it is apparent that ever since Diana met Anne, she has started to become more sure of herself and has begun to fight for what she believes in. But would she really argue against her parents' wishes, especially taking into account the time period? Only time and Moira’s writing will tell.
On the show, your character is bosom buddies with Anne. How is your relationship with Amybeth McNulty in comparison?
Amybeth and I have a blast on set and any time we are together in general! She’s a ball of energy and is incredibly fun to be around! Sadly, because of a large time zone difference, it is a little difficult to remain in contact, but we’ve managed so far and have texted each other every once in a while.
What is the best aspect about playing Diana? Do you have anything in common with her?
I adore everything about playing Diana! She’s kind, caring, benevolent, understanding, perceptive, intelligent, protective, and an amazing friend to Anne. Diana and I are very similar, especially when it comes to the passion and strength we display regarding caring and defending our loved ones.
Could you tell us a funny incident that happened on the set that tickle you still?
Well, I believe the entirety of the filming of the raspberry cordial scene in Season 1 was incredibly amusing! Amybeth and I could not stop laughing and enjoying ourselves! Even off set it felt as if our smiles would never subside! That memory is one I shall always remember and be tickled by.
What inspired you to choose this profession? What is the best advice you have received from a fellow actor?
Ever since I was five years of age, I would memorize the lines of the characters on screen and re-enact the scenes from movies and tv shows, constantly telling my parents that I, and I quote, “want to do what the people on tv are doing”. My parents asked me if I really wanted to pursue the acting profession, and when I answered in the affirmative, we embarked on this amazing, and at times crazy, adventure. One of the best advice that I was given was actually from Kim Coates when I worked with him on a movie entitled “The Adventure Club”. He taught me how to create a backstory for my character. To ask questions regarding how they are feeling in the scene. “Why did they say this?”, “How were they feeling before the scene started?”, “What is your character’s relationship with the other characters in the scene?”, “Why does your character react like that?”, and many more. He aided me into pushing myself further as a person and as an actress.
What are some of your career bucket lists? Some of the actors/directors you would like to work with or any behind-the-scenes aspects of filmmaking that appeals to you?
In all honesty, playing the villain is a career bucket list of mine, since one of the reasons I adore the acting profession so much is because I am able to put myself into various different characters’ shoes and view life through their eyes, and I feel that it would be very interesting and exciting to view life through the villains perspective. I want to work with Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, Robert Downer Jr, Julia Roberts, Helena Bonham Carter, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, George Clooney, and many more. But if I had to pick one, I would adore working with Meryl Streep. I live for the film-making business and actually want to not only be an actress but a director and writer as well.