It’s winter premiere time! Helping to kick that off is the Saniyya Sidney (Roots, Hidden Figures) and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Pitch, NYPD Blue, Saved by the Bell) led series, The Passage. The show, which is based on Justin Cronin’s book of the same name, follows the story of Project NOAH, a top-secret experiment where scientists are using a deadly and dangerous virus, believing it also has the potential to be a cure for all the diseases in the world.
When Agent Brad Wolgast (Gosselaar) is assigned to bring in Amy Bellafonte (Sidney) as a test subject for the virus, he becomes protective and vows to protect Amy from the harm he knows Project NOAH will inflict.
We got to chat with Saniyya Sidney about her character, Amy Bellafonte, what the experience has been like in her first major TV role, creating a rapport with Mark-Paul Gosselaar onscreen, and what she wants young girls to take away from her character.
The Young Folks: This is your very first leading role in a television series. What has the experience been like for you?
Saniyya Sidney: It has been a great blessing. I love playing Amy Bellafonte with every ounce of my heart. The writers and directors have created an adventurous and amazing story. The cast are amazing actors. Every moment has been a joy.
Brad and Amy end up on the run very early on. What do you think it is about Brad that makes Amy trust him?
I feel like she instantly had a connection with him. She could see her own loneliness in his eyes. He needed her just as much as she needed him.
You and Mark-Paul Gosselaar seem to have a good rapport and your characters have a father/daughter bond. How did the two of you go about creating that connection that works so well onscreen?
Our relationship grew closer through the experience of our characters. We have each other’s backs.
Amy has a breakdown nearer to the end of the first episode where she’s recalling good memories of her mother that’s really heartbreaking. How did you prepare for such an emotional scene?
I am committed to emotionally experience whatever my character is going through. I am very fortunate to have a great mom. But as Amy, I needed to allow myself to feel how devastating it would be to go through such a heartbreaking loss.
Have you read Justin Cronin’s books? How loyal is the show to the source material?
My dad read all the books and is a huge fan. I had the privilege to get to know the incredible Mr. Cronin. He gave me so much personal insight to the books and characters. The writers have done a stellar job bringing the books to life.
Amy has the power to cure the world and that’s a lot of pressure. How will she be handling that pressure throughout the show?
By staying true to her life’s purpose.
Amy Bellafonte seems like a really smart young girl and your casting is important for representation. What have you enjoyed most about playing her and what do you hope resonates with other young girls who will watch?
I love everything about playing Amy Bellafonte. She’s strong, curious, wise, loyal, smart, brave and funny. She has the kindest heart even though she has been through so much pain. I hope this character inspires every single little girl to know they are born with a powerful purpose. That THEY are the most “important girl in the world.”
Whether she admits it or not, Amy is affected by her mother’s death. Will we be revisiting her feelings about that or possibly seeing any flashbacks to her life?
Tune in and enjoy watching how it all unfolds.
There are three books in the series. What are you looking forward to most for your character and her journey?
Like in life, I most look forward to allowing each present moment unfold. I love the surprise and magic of it all.
Watch Saniyya Sidney on The Passage, which premieres January 14 at 9/8c on FOX.