Blending loyalty, fearlessness, and a welcome sense of humor, Nabila (played by Nadine Marissa) is one of the most memorable characters from The Kingdom on AMC's The Walking Dead, and with the eighth season now in the rearview mirror and the new beginning of season 9 on the horizon, we had the chance to catch up with Marissa to discuss her scenes with King Ezekiel (Khary Payton), filming the battle in the open hills during the season 8 finale, and what she enjoys the most about playing Nabila.
Thanks for taking the time to answer questions for us, Nadine! It’s been wonderful to watch your character Nabila on AMC’s The Walking Dead. What was the audition process like for Nabila?
Nadine Marissa: I was excited, nervous, and come on, it’s The Walking Dead. When I received the audition, it was a little different from the character. As you know, the show is very hush-hush and the audition process is very different.
What do you enjoy the most about playing Nabila?
Nadine Marissa: I enjoyed being able to portray a character that can represent someone no other community in The Walking Dead has had before. And hearing little girls say, “You look like me, I wear a hijab.” I also enjoyed her protective nature and courage to fight back.
You’ve instilled Nabila with a strong personality and viewers definitely get a sense of how caring and loyal she is, and we still don’t even know everything about her past. Did you come up with your own backstory for Nabila?
Nadine Marissa: I didn’t want to become married to a backstory in my mind, just in case the writers have something different, but I did go back about six months in my mind. I created a life for her once in The Kingdom and what I feel she would be doing and feeling. Things such as, “Does she love and why? Who are these people to her, and why does she care so much for them?”
Nabila has some really great interactions with King Ezekiel. What do you enjoy the most about your scenes with Khary Payton, who brings so much passion into his role as the leader of The Kingdom?
Nadine Marissa: Khary is a respectful person in real life and it shows through the camera. He has always carried himself on set with respect for fellow actors and the work and that radiates to the other cast members. He is hilarious and everyone laughs at him a lot. It is always a fun day on set with Khary.
What was it like shooting the final battle scene of season 8? It was great to see Nabila on the frontlines and there were so many people involved with that fight scene in the open hills.
Nadine Marissa: I was so excited! She got the chance to go out and fight with her people! I was so proud of her and excited she got that moment. First, girl power to the 1000%! And that view was breathtaking. There we all were together, going to face the evilest group of people we know, and we are doing it together.
The Walking Dead has such an amazing and eclectic cast. What have you learned from working with such a stellar ensemble?
Nadine Marissa: Yes, of course. I have learned so much. I learn a lot from watching and listening to the veterans. Every day I was learning and loving the connection each character brings to the show. These characters give people hope in a world that has lost everything, much like the moments in life when we may feel like we are losing it all.
Looking back at your time on set over the last couple of years, do you have any favorite or funny moments that stand out?
Nadine Marissa: I always have a good time with Macsen Lintz, who plays Henry on set. That kid is a beast at the “Heads Up” game. And during the midseason finale, I was running after Carol to talk to her and ran right out of my shoe. I just kept running, one shoe and all.
Can viewers look forward to seeing Nabila in season 9 of The Walking Dead? What are you excited for fans to experience as the series moves into its next season, which recently started filming?
Nadine Marissa: Now, you know I can’t tell if she is back in season 9 or not. I will say if she is or isn’t, the season finale of 8 has all of us on the edge of our seats. I, too, want to know what happens.
In addition to The Walking Dead, do you have any other projects coming up that you can talk about? Also, where can our readers go online to keep up to date on your work?
Nadine Marissa: I have some projects in the works, but I seem to always get projects that come with NDAs, so you will just have to wait and see. Fans can check out all social media accounts:
Photo Credit: Above photo by Bryan Chatlien.