The Girlmances and Science of 'Marvel's Cloak & Dagger' According to Ally Maki
The Freeform star sheds light on Mina Hess and her connection to Tandy Bowen.
[Warning: Mild spoilers ahead!]
In the latest episode of "Marvel's Cloak & Dagger," titled "Funhouse Mirrors," which aired last week, Tandy flexes her strongest powers—lying. Her latest mark is Mina Hess (played by Ally Maki), the daughter of Ivan Hess, a Roxxon engineer who worked alongside Tandy's father, Nathan Bowen. As she continues her investigation into Roxxon, Tandy pretends to be a Roxxon intern to glean as much as she can from Mina. However, as Tandy and Mina continue to connect, Tandy gets a glimpse of what her life could have been like if her father was still alive.
Mina's life changed permanently as well following the Roxxon oil rig explosion eight years ago. The night Nathan Bowen died, Mina lost her father as well. While he physically survived the collapse of the rig, he has remained in a catatonic state since the accident. In the episode "Princeton Offense," Tandy learned Roxxon took care of Mina following her father's accident and put her through to school so she can continue her father's work. While Mina may work for Tandy's enemy, as an environmental engineer, Mina believes she can find an energy source that's good for the world. Marvel.com previously chatted with Ally Maki, but we're back for Round 2 for an in-depth look at who Mina Hess really is, how she views her connection to Tandy Bowen, and her thoughts on the corporation that series showrunner Joe Pokaski refers to as 'amoral.'
Marvel.com: "Funhouse Mirrors" gives an incredible glimpse of Mina Hess and the layers to her. Who is Mina to you?
Ally Maki: Mina is a brilliant environmental engineer and someone who becomes a true friend to Tandy. That’s something that Tandy has not been able to find, especially in a female counterpart right now. Beyond that, she’s an incredibly complicated and emotional, vulnerable girl who has got all sorts of interests. Everything she cares about, she passionately cares about—the most being the environment and climate change.
She wants to save the world through science. She deeply and passionate cares about that. Although she works at Roxxon, she works through the ranks there to save the world, in a sense. She’s a beautifully complex, wonderful character. And beyond that, to have an Asian-American woman to play this character that is so well-rounded. You start with the fact that she’s a brilliant scientist and that’s wonderful, but then you take all the other layers around her, the complexity of who she is. It’s an important character, and to have an Asian-American woman playing her right now, I’m so excited!
Marvel.com: Not only is Mina a great baker, she knows how to recalibrate her oven, and she also stands up for herself. In the scene with Mina's Roxxon colleague Stan, she doesn't take any guff from him. You're holding others accountable, a Suit no less. You don't allow Roxxon to cut corners, which is noble after witnessing what your own family endured eight years ago like Tandy and her family.
Ally Maki: That scene with Stan is one of my favorite scenes because you see this guy trying to mansplain to her how to do her job and she stands right up to him. Her brain and her balls are enough to take him down and be like “no, I know exactly what I’m talking about. You don’t. Let me do my job.” It’s a really cool thing to see, and then you see Tandy following up with having her back. She takes the dagger out to slash his tires. It’s such a badass, cool female moment of friendship and taking down the man.
Marvel.com: Tandy reveals to Mina at the end of the episode that all she knows is how to lie. However, there were a couple instances where she could have used her powers to manipulate Mina but doesn't.
Ally Maki: You just see the level of respect that they have for one another and it’s almost like they’re looking in a mirror back at one another. Tandy sees how different her life could have been. She sees so much of herself in Mina, and what her life could have been if her dad didn’t die in the accident. We’ve seen bromance after bromance on-screen, and it’s finally time for the girlmances. The audience will see what a truly beautiful thing a female friendship can be, and to show that more on-screen is vitally important to the next generation of young women who already are coming together to support each other. Who have each other’s backs and who know how much more powerful we are when we truly hold each other up and say, “Whatever your strengths are, we come from different backgrounds, but we can all come together to do what we need to do.” It’s incredibly powerful.
Marvel.com: There was this comment that your character said in the episode that really stuck out to me. When you were talking about the bees and how the bees are the New Orleans of the insect world—one natural disaster after another, you always come back. How did it feel filming in New Orleans and being there, especially given that the show doesn’t shy away with the hardships that New Orleans endured such as Katrina and everything?
Ally Maki: When I flew out, I literally flew the day of Hurricane Harvey, another natural disaster that was hitting there. The second I touched down, you can feel the heart and soul of the city. It’s truly incredible. You feel the resiliency all around you through the people, and I made a point to talk to as many people as I could about their experiences. Most of our crew were locals. I made friends with this girl, one of our drivers, who is a single, black mother of three boys. She’d gone through Katrina, lost everything but yet here she still is, raising these three young sons in New Orleans. It’s a beautiful thing and you feel those stories of hope and resilience all around you. The Uber drivers I talk to just trying to make a living who love their city, and I think because of all of those people and the heart and passion of the whole crew and everyone working on the show, it shines through in the episodes. It’s deeply passionate. You can feel the city and spirit of New Orleans.
It’s something—the idea of resiliency is so incredibly relatable to everyone, but personally for me, I'm a fourth-generation Japanese-American. My grandparents were in internment camps. My grandmother was in an internment camp as a teenage girl and she carried that through until the day she died. It’s something that still sticks with me and the idea of discrimination and racial tension. Where we’re at as a country and what we need to be talking about and what’s important and how with disasters the people and their hopes and resiliency shines through. That’s what’s so beautiful about the relationship with Mina and Tandy is Mina cares about the environment. One of my favorite quotes she says is “the moment you stop looking for something, that’s when it disappears.” It’s true. It forces us to—we can’t be complacent with the environment, what we’re searching for, what we care about. We have to continue to look for answers and keep caring about how we’re treating the environment and the people. It’s really hard hitting, emotional stuff.
Marvel.com: The show really touches upon everything that’s happening in the country across a variety of different topics. Was that part of the reason why you wanted to sign on to this project?
Ally Maki: I feel so incredibly lucky because when I auditioned for this show, I had no idea that it was going to be what it was. It was not only a Marvel show, or an original female character. Beyond that, this is a show that talks about these subjects like privilege and discrimination and all of these things that need to be talked about right now. We need to be humanizing these issues. We’re showing the side of being a young black boy in America, being a woman in America, a woman of color in America. It’s incredible. It’s so wonderful to see; I think it’s going to change a lot of people’s lives in a sense.
Marvel.com: Going back to that comment you said with that quote about losing sight of something, what do you think Mina’s character is looking for? She lost her father in a way eight years ago in the same oil rig explosion. She still works for Roxxon. In this last episode, Tandy has this vision of Peter Scarborough where he’s just profiting off of the lives he destroyed. How does Mina fit into this, especially for a company that doesn't’ care about the environment the way that she deeply cares about it?
Ally Maki: She’s following in her father’s footsteps. Because of his ties with Roxxon, this is her way in. She’s working internally to figure things out within the ranks of Roxxon; she has an emotional connection because of the work that her father did. She's a one-woman team of going; she passionately believes that she can change the world and work within the company to do some good. You see the challenges that are set forth for her, but that’s Mina and that’s what makes her so awesome. She’s down to take on that challenge.
Marvel.com: In the episode as Mina and Tandy are bonding, you reveal a lot of things about Tandy’s father such as how Mina sees herself as more of a Nathan Bowen than her own father. Was Mina’s character already aware that she was talking to Tandy and that she was trying to make a connection and mentor her? Your character also called out that she’s smart enough to do this and I think Tandy’s character really doesn’t feel like there’s a place for her in this world, that she has to just scrape by. Now she has not only Ty but also Mina saying “You’re actually smart. You’re really brilliant. You can go after these things.”
Ally Maki: When you first see them, she first tests Mina when they talk about the colony collapse disorder. That’s the first time you see that she’s on to her. They’re both these brilliant girls; they’re both one upping each other in terms of knowing what’s going on. Which is so cool and very subtly done. It’s very incredible writing by Jenny Klein and J. Holtham. That’s the first time you see this going “okay, well maybe she knows what’s up.” She does want to mentor Tandy and help her out. She sees a lot of herself in Tandy and knows that she and her father had this deep past together. And she sees another formidable woman that may be able to help her and they can be a great team in taking down who they need to take down.
Marvel.com: Can you tease what we can see from Mina the remainder of the season?
Ally Maki: Mina will have a major change at some point. I don’t know if that’s too big of a thing to say, but she will have a big change at some point in this season.
Brand new episodes of “Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger” air exclusively on Freeform Thursdays at 8p/7c! Stay tuned to Marvel.com for the latest on “Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger” and Marvel Television! Be sure to follow @CloakandDagger on Twitter and like the official “Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger” Facebook page!
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