With the enthusiastic support of her parents, Emily Swallow pursued her love of the arts from a young age. After spending most of her free time during her undergraduate degree in the drama department, she finally convinced herself to give acting a real shot professionally. It’s been a whirlwind ever since. ever since. You can currently find her returning to the final season of Supernatural as Amara and on The Mandalorian as The Armorer. But those impressive credits pale in comparison to her most enviable role – full-time Instagram dog mom! Be sure to follow Emily on Instagram, twitter, and Facebook!
Cliché: Who were your biggest inspirations growing up?
Emily Swallow: My parents have always inspired me and continue to do so. I got my love of music from them, and music was my way into performing. They always encouraged my singing and acting (and piano playing, and soccer and whatever else I wanted to dabble in when I was growing up). I was pretty hooked on Star Search, The Mickey Mouse Club and Kids, Incorporated…I even sent an audition in to Star Search when I was in 5th or 6th grade…but this was no polished studio tape…I used the family rec room as my stage, sang along to “Electric Youth” on my Debbie Gibson cassette tape (WITH Debbie, mind you–it wasn’t even a karaoke track!) and tried to ignore my dog barking from the hallway. So…I guess it’s not super shocking that I never got a call from Ed McMahon…
What inspired you to become an actor?
So many things. I started performing in the kids’ choir at church and did plays in elementary school (my mom made me some pretty dope costumes, including a caterpillar that turned into a butterfly!), but I had a lot of stage fright, so it was a combination of loving it and being SOOOO nervous. But I loved it more than I feared it, so I kept at it. I continued to do plays and musicals in middle school and high school, but I was interested in a lot of other things as well, so I didn’t think of it as THE thing that I might do for a living. I also didn’t have a frame of reference for a career as an actor; I didn’t know anyone personally who had done it. In college, I majored in Middle Eastern Studies and was headed for the Foreign Service, but I wound up spending at least half my time in the drama department doing plays. I feel incredibly grateful that the UVA Drama Department was so welcoming to non-majors. Bob Chapel and Richard Warner, two of my teachers there, continued to encourage my love of acting, and Richard posed the question to my last year: “Is this something you want to do for a living?” I FINALLY said “YES!!!” and worked up about a dozen monologues for grad school auditions (seriously, I could do any one of twelve monologues at the drop of a hat). I got into NYU’s MFA program and walked through that incredible door. I haven’t looked back since, even though it has been far from easy. I feel extraordinarily blessed to do what I do.
How does it feel to be reprising your role as Amara on Supernatural?
I was thrilled when they asked me to come back for the last season. When we finished Season 11, it felt like there was more to explore in Chuck and Amara’s relationship, so I’m glad we’re getting to see the other side of their reconciliation. It’s also nice not to be smiting people left and right! Hopefully she’ll help out with this big ol’ mess…
Is it bittersweet to be working on the show’s final season?
It is! I’m glad that they decided to end the show on a high; I’m sure it could have continued another few seasons, but this way everyone can go into creating the ending with focus and intention. Of course, there is no way to craft an ending that will please everyone, but I love that we’re revisiting old characters and seeing them in a new light. It was all well and good that we got a happy ending for Chuck and Amara at the end of season 11, but could we really expect them to resolve millennia of fighting that easily? And look at Amara’s “gift” to Dean–she gave him his wish of getting his mother back, but we saw that that was not the picturesque reunion he wanted. In this season, I’m glad we’re getting to see that Chuck and Amara’s reconciliation was complicated, and that they still have a lot more room to work out.
You also in the cast of The Mandalorian! Tell us about your character, The Armorer.
The Armorer is the leader of a clan of Mandalorians who have had to go into hiding on a planet called Nevarro. The Mandalorians are warriors first and foremost, so their armor and weaponry are sacred to them. The Armorer helps Din Djarin (our main Mando) repair his armor as he brings her beskar won from his bounty hunter missions. She also acts as a spiritual leader to the Mandalorians, reminding them of their sacred creed “This is the way,” protecting the foundlings, and keeping peace within their clan so that they can present a united front when challenged by the outside world. She knows from the start that Din Djarin was a foundling, and she sees that he is capable of more than just pursuing the latest bounty. She encourages him as he works to protect The Child and, just as a formidable pack of Storm Troopers are closing in on Mando, Cara Dune, The Child and Grif Cargo, she offers herself as bait for the Empire’s henchmen and squarely defeats five Stormtroopers armed only with her hammer and tongs.
What are your thoughts about Baby Yoda?
Words cannot possibly express my feelings about the cuteness overload. I knew he was ridiculously adorable when I first saw him on set, but I don’t think anyone was prepared for the insane fervor he has created. It was a genius creation on Jon Favreau’s part, because we get to see the humanity of our masked Mando in the way he cares for The Child.
Most importantly, you run an adorable Instagram account for your adorable French bulldog, Norma Jean Meatballs. Do you have any tips for pet parents out there looking to launch an Instagram for their fur babies?
Norma Jean Meatballs IS adorable, isn’t she? She’s half French Bulldog and half Boston Terrier (a Frenchton), so she’s like a Frenchie with supermodel legs. My only advice is to have fun with what you post! My husband and I are pretty low-key about it compared to some of the accounts we follow (have you SEEN @waltergeoffreythefrenchie or @griffinfrenchie???) We just like to share the joy and laughter she brings to us with other people, and we love seeing what people share with us in return.
Are there any other projects that you’re working on that you’re excited about?
I’ve been recurring on this season of SEAL Team on CBS, and I’ve really fallen in love with that character. I play Natalie Pierce, a physiologist brought in by the NHRC to work with Team Bravo to identify how the stress of their years of combat has impacted them and how they can increase their career longevity. She grows particularly close to Jason (David Boreanaz) and, through helping him recover from hip surgery, falls for him. The show is unflinching in its exploration of how challenging it can be for SEALs to find any sort of balance in the outside world when they are repeatedly faced with the most stressful combat situations imaginable, the loss of their fellow fighters and then, when they return to their families, being forced to keep secrets about where they’ve been and what they’ve done. It hasn’t been all hearts and flowers for Natalie and Jason, and I’ve loved exploring the challenges of the relationship with David, who is a generous, passionate, curious scene partner. He cares deeply about the work and the characters. The whole cast and crew are aces!
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Emily Swallow Talks “Supernatural,” “The Mandalorian,” and Baby Yoda. Photo Credit: Diana Ragland.