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Designated Survivor Interview with Italia Ricci and Jessica Grasl

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If you love ABC's Designated Survivor, you will enjoy reading about our Designated Survivor Interview with Italia Ricci and Jessica Grasl.
A man wearing a suit and tie, with Designated Survivor

"In Season Two of the hit ABC drama “Designated Survivor,” Kiefer Sutherland returns as Tom Kirkman, a lower-level cabinet member who is suddenly appointed President of the United States after a catastrophic attack on the U.S. Capitol during the State of the Union.
Now, one year later, President Kirkman finds his feet as commander in chief as he closes the ring on the terrorists who destroyed the Capitol and manages the daily flow of crises inside the West Wing. He’ll take on some of the world’s most urgent and controversial matters with the help of his aides, including three new series regulars: offbeat but brilliant political director Lyor Boone; the new resident legal eagle, White House Counsel Kendra Daynes; and M1-6 operative Damian Renneett who forms an unlikely alliance with FBI agent Hannah Wells and the White House."

I love Designated Survivor! My husband I and are big Kiefer Sutherland fans and so we counting down the days before Designated Survivor season 1 started and have been watching it ever since. We love the energy, adventure and real life stories that you see in each episode. The acting and cast is perfect and I look forward to sharing my interview with you.
Natascha McElhone et al. standing in a room

We had the opportunity to interview Co-Executive Producer/writer Jessica Grasl. She was the writer of the "Two Ships" episode that aired on 11/1. Jessica Grasl has worked in television production for fourteen years and as a writer since 2008. Her credits include Leverage (TNT), Hawaii Five-0 (CBS), White Collar (USA), Proof (TNT), The Player (NBC), and Shades of Blue (NBC). She is currently writer/Co-Executive Producer on ABC's Designated Survivor. She was really fun to interview and was excited to share her experiences with us. Unfortunately the interview was really fast and we were not able to get a picture of her. We also had the opportunity to interview Italia Ricci who stars as Emily Rhodes, Secretary Tom Kirkman’s chief of staff  via video conference.Italia Ricci sitting in front of a computer screen

The process of making a show like Designated Survivor is really fast. It isn't like movies where they have several years. Often they whole process for episodes is only a matter of weeks. It starts in the story board room where they use white boards to write their ideas on which is soon transferred to index cards. An interesting thing that they do in Designated Survivor is provide each actor with a different index card color so when viewing different actors they can look at the index cards by color and see who is in each scene or who isn't and needs an upcoming scene. That way they can make sure each actor is best represented in the different episodes. They said it works like a puzzle.

In creating the "Two Ships" episode, they had to do a lot of research because they didn't understand how things worked on a ship. They wanted the episode to be accurate so they spoke with admirals so they could depict the scene accurately. It can be hard to write for scenes about topics you don't understand because you don't ever feel like an expert. The topics seen like war and family are emotional, endless and relatable!

Italia Ricci told us that sometimes it can be hard preparing for an episode because you only have about 3 days to prepare before filming and sometimes you receive changes the day of. It can be scary but you just have to hold your breath and get to work and do it. The work days are very long. They often spend 13-16 hours a day on set. She is grateful for her role as Emily because she gets to play a position of power as a woman. She wants people to see that woman are just as smart, strong, present and capable and men.

"We can do it too and wear killer heels while we do it."

If you have not had the opportunity to watch Designated Survivor, I highly recommend it. The writers do such an amazing job and the story and making it relatable to life. The acting is spot on and the story has the personal about of political and personal that makes it seem true to life.

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“Designated Survivor” airs on Wednesdays at 10|9c on ABC. Episodes are also available via streaming and on demand. Tune in tonight and watch the “Family Ties” episode.

“Family Ties” – When a Turkish activist ignites protests in the U.S., Turkey’s president demands his extradition while the first family unknowingly finds themselves in the center of a battle that could threaten Leo’s future, on ABC’s “Designated Survivor,” airing WEDNESDAY, NOV. 15 (10:00—11:00 p.m. EST).

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