Parisa Fitz-Henley, a force for good on NBC’s ‘Midnight Texas’

Parisa Fitz-Henley
Parisa Fitz-Henley as Fiji (Photo by: NBC)

The denizens of the fictional town of Midnight, situated somewhere in rural Texas, fight dark forces on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Lucky for them, they are unusually equipped to do so. Almost all “midnighters,” as they call themselves, have supernatural powers. Those who don’t, possess a superhuman will to use whatever talents they do have, for good.

Based on the set of books by Charlaine Harris who is known for the popular HBO vampire series True Blood, Midnight Texas premiered on NBC this summer offering up an assortment of offbeat, intriguing characters.

There is a shapeshifter, a vampire, a fallen angel, and a psychic who come together to support each other and protect the town. At the center of this patchwork family, is Fiji. Wide-eyed and sun-kissed with a un-ubiquitous air of calm about her, Fiji is the center that holds everything together. One would be easily forgiven for not being able to guess that the beautiful eccentric is, in fact, a witch.

Fiji is played with intelligence and much warmth by former model Parisa Fitz-Henley, who has turned the character into one of the most unique and likable characters on television right now.

The Jamaican-born and partly American raised actress explains, “To be a woman of color playing a character that is not the average person for any ethnic group. To play someone who is not stereotypical in any way, where the challenges she faces deal with her womanhood and dealing with her power, that’s important to me.”

Fitz-Henley was at something of a low-point when news of the role came along. At that time living in New York, she had just lost a part and blamed herself.

She remembers, “The week before the Midnight Texas audition I had a really rough experience with another audition. Habitual nerves just got the best of me. I got on the train after that audition and I was like, ‘God, this can’t continue. Show me please, what to do to get out of my way.’”

She spent the following days in heavy reflection and doing a lot of inner work. Her prayer was answered quickly. “Within days,” she says, “I got all these amazing spiritual confirmations in conversations with people, books I read, videos I would find online.”

By the time she got the call for Fiji, she felt ready.

Fitz-Henley was extremely excited when she got the role and found out that the show was being headed by Monica Owusu-Breen, one of the few women of color showrunners in TV.

Owusu-Breen was a writer on a number of iconic series in the past including Charmed, Alias, and Lost. Most recently, she was a writer for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Unable to contain her enthusiasm, she explains she found out the writer/producer, “Had written for projects that were very important to me, like close to me, like close to my heart.”

Like Fitz-Henley, Owusu-Breen is biracial. There are a number of bi-racial relationships on Midnight Texas. The import of the lack of representation of interracial relationships is not lost on the actress who says that was something she noticed as a child.

Unintentionally hinting at a part of the multiracial experience that people don’t think much about, the pain is apparent in her voice as she recalls, “My mother is White, my father is Black. Growing up, I never saw interracial relationships. I didn’t even get to see my own parents together (they divorced when she was very young), so I was always super-excited when I saw an interracial family anywhere. So to be on a show where interracial relationships are the norm, is incredible to me.”

 

Midnight Texas airs on NBC Mondays at 10 pm. Check your local listings for show times.