INTERVIEW: Actor, Tristan D. Lalla, Helps Brings the Complexity of Nurses on TV

Nurses is a new original medical drama airing on Global TV with actor, Tristan D. Lalla who plays the head nurse in the series. Tristan has been a part of several projects including Quantico (ABC), The Art of More (Sony) and he voiced Adéwalé, the first black lead in Assassin’s Creed. Learn more about his new series below!

Hi Tristan, congratulations on the premiere of your new show! Can you tell us about NURSES, and the character you play, Damien Sanders? What role does he play in the series?

Nurses takes us into the hectic life at St. Mary’s Hospital. It follows five rookie nurses who are thrown into the realities of what it takes to be an effective team player under high stakes situations. It’s an ensemble piece, put together by a highly acclaimed team of writers, directors, producers, and editors. I’m really proud to be a part of this one. I play Damien Sanders, head charge nurse at St. Mary’s. He’s a bit of a hard ass (having been a Master Corporal and chief field medic in the military) but he definitely has a soft side. Maybe two soft sides. 

How did you get into a nurse “mindset” and did you do any kind of research? What did you learn about being a nurse in the real world and how did you channel that into your character?

I have many family members who work at hospitals. Not only did I call on the memories that I’ve accumulated over my life of visiting various hospitals for different reasons, but I actually spent hours hanging around a few hospitals in Montreal and Toronto to get a true sense of the everyday life of an active charge nurse. I also spoke to several friends who are nurses about their experiences, and the complexities of what goes into them doing their jobs effectively and empathetically. Also, our writer’s room is filled with some of the best writers in the biz. Adam Pettle is such an amazingly collaborative showrunner. 

What do you admire about your character, Damien? What do you think his biggest challenge is in the show?

In the world Damien comes from, if people don’t do their jobs and do them efficiently, then lives are lost. The rough Gordon Ramsey-type exterior helps him stay focused, and allows him to run a smooth ship. In season one, Damien and Wolf (played by Donald MacLean Jr.) have a kind of Morpheus and Neo thing going on, and Damien’s eagerness to mentor Wolf plays a factor in some serious things going down. 

How do you hope viewers of the show will respond to NURSES?

Obviously the hope is that millions of viewers love it, and that we go on to do 12 seasons and a movie. 

Tell us about yourself and your journey into acting. What inspired you to pursue a creative life?

I come from a family of talented musicians and performers, so intrinsically I caught the bug. When I was six, I saw a production of A Christmas Carol and one of the leads was a young black actor. I recognized myself in him and knew right then and there that this is what I wanted to do. After high school I went to Dawson College’s Professional Theatre Program for three years and upon graduating (with honors) I landed my first set of gigs. 

Can you tell us about some memorable moments in your career so far?

Taking a private yacht in Colombia with Seth Rogen… Making Charlize Theron cry… Chatting with Andy Serkis while he googled my IMDB page… There have been quite a few! (And these were just on one project – the movie “Long Shot”) Oh, one time I had a water fight with Bjork on a rooftop pool in Toronto. True story. 

What can you tell us about your upcoming movie, The United States vs. Billie Holiday?

It’s a feature film directed by Lee Daniels (Precious, Empire, The Butler), and starring the stunningly beautiful and talented Andra Day. I believe (hope) the film will be huge to audiences, and particularly to lovers of Lady Day. I play a reporter named Mr. Green who challenges Billie Holiday on her views of what it means to be a role model for young black people at the time. 

Thank you so much for answering our questions! For our final question: if you could have one super power, which would it be and why?

Definitely something a-la-Jean Grey. Read minds, fly, telepathic abilities… something in there.

Follow Tristan on Twitter and Instagram.

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