Actress Dalila Bela was as 'shocked' as anyone with the cancellation of 'Anne With An E' after three seasons
After spending four years playing Diana Barry, Anne Shirley's "bosom friend" on 'Anne with an E', Dalila Bela has a pretty good grasp on her character's motivations. In an exclusive interview with MEA Worldwide (MEAWW), she talked about the character's narrative arc across the three seasons and yes, the heart-breaking news that Season 3 would be the last one for the series.
"While we were filming the season, I wasn't aware that it was going to be canceled. I actually don't know much about why it was canceled. But the fan's reaction has been incredibly sweet. All their efforts and all the billboards they have set up in Toronto and New York to try and get 'Anne [with an E]' renewed. It's really beautiful. I guess I was a little shocked when the news was released. On the one hand, it was four years of my life I had spent on this show and I was not going to do another season but also I am excited by the new prospects on the horizon. So it's bittersweet."
In the final season, we saw Diana take her first concrete steps towards her own dreams and ambitions that did not necessarily conform to the life of married bliss with someone rich that her parents want for her. But it has been a slow evolution. "At the start of season 1, she has one path set in front of her by her parents. To be a good mother and a good wife. Then Anne comes into her life and opens up this new way of thinking - of imagination and adventure. But she still sees this set path [for herself] and the imagination [that Anne encourages] is sort of a pastime.
"Then in Season 2, when she goes to Aunt Josephine's summer soiree, she is presented with this life that she could have; this life with a career, of not needing to be a wife if she doesn't want to be, not be a mother if she doesn't want to be -- a life of her own. She doesn't have to follow the life of her parents. That is what Aunt Josephine presents to her. At first, Diana is shocked and a little afraid because her whole worldview is being challenged.
"In Season 3, it's been two years after those events. So she has been stewing with this idea that has been presented for two years now. And she decides she is going to try to be her own person. [But] Diana feels kind of hopeless that no matter what she does, she has no choice, ultimately. And again, Aunt Josephine pushes in her face and she's like 'No, you can absolutely if you want to'. Aunt Josephine is like the catalyst for Diana's arc in becoming her own person and figuring out what she wants, not just what her parents want for her."
Another daring story arc for Diana has been her class-defying romance with Jerry, the Cuthbert's impoverished farmhand (played by Aymeric Jett Montaz). The impossible romance that defies societal barriers of class and wealth, sees Jerry wooing Diana who is also attracted to him but is not sure if it is love.
Bela filled us in on what was going on in Diana's mind when she encourages Jerry and then breaks up with him.
"For one I was very happy to work with AJ [Aymeric Jett] who is my co-worker and a great friend of mine and a very talented young actor. It was great. It [the relationship] is both very complicated and very simple because throughout her life Diana has been very restricted and she hasn't had much chance for freedom. Jerry represented that. Jerry was able to give her that freedom. She could laugh as loud as she wanted, she could dance with wild abandon, she could chew with her mouth open. She didn't have to be this proper, prim princess that her parents were grooming her to be.
"But unfortunately, due to something that was very big at the time, which I personally do not agree with, but seen through Diana's eyes, you have to acknowledge that back then the class thing was really big. So Diana coming from her position in society and Jerry coming from his, the chasm that was created due to that was something that neither one really knew how to cross. Diana [also] realized that she was more attracted to the way Jerry made her feel, the freedom that he gave her rather than actually him [as a person]. While she liked him well enough, it wasn't love. She was in love with the freedom that he gave her. So their relationship came to a rather painful end."
Seasons one to three of 'Anne With An E' are available for streaming on Netflix.