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Performers Of The Month - January Winner: Outstanding Actress - Floriana Lima



January’s Actress of the Month is Supergirl’s Floriana Lima who portrays the new Season Two addition Detective Maggie Sawyer. This win is primarily for her work in the episode Supergirl Lives (2x9) which saw Maggie question Alex’s commitment to their relationship. Overall her time on screen was limited, but it is what she did with those precious minutes that made her performance standout amongst a crowd of exceptional performers. When Lima was cast on Supergirl she joined a very close cast that already had firmly established bonds. It is never easy for a performer to walk onto a set with such an established cast. Not every cast is open and welcoming to newcomers, however, the Supergirl cast isn’t just any other cast. Even though it seems like Maggie has always been a part of the show it has in fact only been eleven episodes since viewers were first introduced to her. That is a huge testament to the writers, the other cast, and Lima. Her introduction was smooth and well executed.

Half a season in and the show is doing what it does so well, taking its time to let Maggie grow as a character. Lima brings a depth to Maggie at times that strongly hints at some underlying pain in Maggie’s past that she is just barely able to keep hidden away. For someone so strong-willed and independent there is a vulnerability to her that seeps through, especially when it comes to Alex. The show is still scraping away at the surface of who Maggie is, and things are in place for some grand revelations to come for the character. When the show does start pulling back more layers on Maggie’s past viewers can rest assured that the story will be well executed in Lima’s talented hands.

Maggie disarmed Alex’s emotional defenses in a way that no one else ever had. Alex managed to work her way through Maggie’s own well-guarded armor. As different as they are the two women are very much alike in one aspect, putting up hard protective shells to protect their tender hearts from pain and rejection. As the first half of the season drew to a close, and after several declarations of friendship, a rift, and a near death experience Maggie finally gave into her own feelings and gallantly fought to be with the woman she was attracted to. She made a grand declaration of love and finally kissed the girl she wanted to kiss-Alex.

When the show returned from winter break in January with Supergirl Lives the characters were happy together and trying to find a rhythm for their newly developing relationship. This episode also served to prove that while the characters share a deep and passionate love their journey together won’t always be smooth sailing. The episode took Alex and Maggie from this beautiful place of love to a heartbreaking fear induced breakup to fighting to save their newfound relationship. This episode was a rollercoaster ride for Maggie, therefore, giving Lima a lot of amazing moments to play.

As the scene opens, when Alex declared her excitement over the fact that Maggie clearly slept over there was this interesting energy to Maggie. Lima made deliberate acting choices here that gave the scene an extra element that might not have entirely been scripted but worked so well for the overall story. Lima portrayed Maggie as a bit insecure and almost timid early on. Maggie was clearly confident in Alex’s apartment, but their relationship is still in its infancy and when Alex came out noting the fact that Maggie was wearing her shirt suddenly her defenses tried to kick back in. All of the insecurities she had to overcome threatened to come racing back as was evident by these little bursts of anxious looks that flashed over her face. Then spurred by Alex’s giddy excitement Maggie immediately relaxed into the moment. She even shows some insight into her partner, by encouraging Alex to embrace the happiness. But it was that brief moment of uncertainty in the otherwise usually calm, cool, and collected Detective that gave the scene a little extra layer to it and hinted at an as of yet undiscovered back story.

This is the point where Maggie really got to start to shine as a character. With this scene, it’s clear that the show was ready to start to ramp things up for the character. They were smart in casting Lima to play this big-hearted complicated character because she brilliantly handles all the different aspects to Maggie. Those little flashes of something boiling deep within Maggie are what have served to prove that there are still many undiscovered layers to this complex character. Maggie Sawyer is a complex woman who is tough as nails but has one major weakness, and her name is Alex Danvers. When Alex smiled a big matching smile spread across Maggie’s face. She was relieved that Alex wasn’t running scared and had chosen to embrace the happiness.

Lima and Leigh have a very organic chemistry and when they are in character and looking at each other the knowledge that they are in love is evident. They don’t have to kiss, touch, or even speak for that to be apparent. Their locked eyes and nervous energy around each other says it all. Together they have forged a romantic onscreen chemistry that few television pairings can compare to and future pairings should aspire to. They both deserve equal praise for the way this couple simply just works together.

When Chyler Leigh clearly improvised the “black lung” line it was evident that Lima’s surprised and chuckling response was ad-libbed as well. Performers only ad-lib when they have complete and absolute faith that their scene partner will be able to rise to the challenge. They both somehow made the moment translate so that it perfectly worked for their characters in that moment of giddy enjoyment. Their ability to smile and laugh with each other with so much truthful sincerity only happens when performers share an amazing bond.

While it’s hard to talk about Lima without mentioning Leigh it’s important to note that each actress is a powerhouse performer in their own right. Most of the stuff Lima has done has been opposite of Leigh, but she still has made a mark for her character as an individual outside of their relationship. Her scene with Kara (Melissa Benoist) in the bar is a nice example of this.

She’s a delight to watch when Maggie is happy and things are going right, but she truly shines when things get tough. It was heartbreaking watching Maggie’s reaction in the moments where Alex lost her cool and broke up with her. This is a scene that had so much emotion attached to it that it could have easily been overacted, but as expected Lima made precisely the right acting choices. Maggie’s pain was expertly played by Lima. As Alex made her impulsive declaration that they weren’t going to work, Lima didn’t tense up or react with an overtly over emotional response. Instead, she allowed her facial expressions to show what was going on inside Maggie’s head, her dejection, her confusion, and her frustration clearly evident as she walked away. She didn’t lash out at Alex or get overly defensive, but she did visibly throw up her emotional barriers. She bid Alex adieu in a very similar tone as to when they had first met and were on unsteady ground. Gone from her voice was any semblance of love or friendly banter.

Back in the November episode, The Darkest Place (2x7), there was a similar scene which played as the characters having lost that special connection that made them work from the start. It was a testament to Chyler Leigh then that she was able to cut off that connection. It is a testament to Floriana Lima in Supergirl Lives that she was able to do the same thing. It may seem like an easy task to pull back from a scene partner, but it’s not because it is engrained in performers to always be there for their scene partners. Having that connection to play off of is so important. Still, in both these examples, the performers were forced by the script to disconnect with their partner.

This scene was slightly different in that the characters started off in-tune, even if it was a shaky connection, and each actress had to pick precisely the right moment to revoke that connection. Lima picked the exact right moment to shut down. When Maggie looked at the ground in order to regain her footing after having the proverbial rug pulled out from under her she looked back up with a coldness in her eyes. It was actually quite a stunning shift mid-scene.

That lack of connection would again play out in the final scene of the episode when Maggie showed up at Alex’s apartment. As she entered Alex’s apartment to a clearly contrite Alex, there was absolutely no connection between the characters or the actresses. Her greeting at the door was cold as ice with Maggie refusing Alex the luxury of even basic eye contact as she brushed past her into the apartment.

As the scene played on Maggie took her leads from Alex, but with few words, and even less emotion, she managed to get Alex to open up. This just shows how well Maggie is in tune with Alex and her needs. Maggie knew that something was churning inside Alex and until Alex let it out there wasn't a path forward for them. This is the point where Lima brilliantly started to slowly let down Maggie’s guard. If Lima had allowed Maggie to connect with Alex too soon the scene would have fallen flat, but if she waited too long it would have felt very forced.

Her performance was still guarded, but she showed Maggie’s inability to resist Alex when she was clearly in a vulnerable place. It was evident that Maggie was struggling against her own desire to try and comfort the woman she loves. Longing glances and tiny smiles peaked out at times but were quickly pulled back as Lima kept Maggie firmly in check. Reactionary acting is almost harder than line delivery because rarely are those little things scripted. Performers have to make strategic choices on how their character would react to a certain situation. Each point where Maggie needed to have a reaction Lima nailed the timing.

Still, in the name of protecting her own heart, and in a way Alex’s, she had to let things play out. She needed to make sure that when they emerged from this turbulent ordeal that they were on sturdy ground. Her line delivery was precise and exactly what it needed to be, but her technical acting was incredible. She didn’t miss a single mark or moment of connectivity between the characters. As soon as she was able to tune her performance back into full connectivity with Leigh the scene became magical. This came when she told Alex she knew about Kara being Supergirl because Kara was the only person who could make Alex so torn up. This was the point of reconnection, illustrating one of Maggie’s strengths. She has come to know Alex and her needs better than any other character, perhaps even Kara. Her decision to hold back her performance and allow the scene to ebb and flow in a natural way was one of many reasons why Floriana Lima is a prize performer whose talent always surprises and impresses by showing just how truly gifted she is.

The big point of the whole journey in this episode led to the point where Maggie and Alex were once again back together. As Alex opened up her heart and soul to Maggie it was impossible for Maggie to be able to resist her. Alex is in many ways Maggie’s Kryptonite. No matter how hard Maggie tries to resist the pull and influence of Alex, she still always crumbles to the sway that Alex has over her. Credit to Maggie, though, because she fought, but in the end was no match for the doe eyes of Alex Danvers begging for forgiveness. Still, before giving in she did make sure that Alex understood that there are no more second chances revealing more of Maggie’s past with pain and rejection. This isn’t the first time she’s been hurt like this but wants it to be the last. Lima delivered this part of the dialogue with a firm tone that carried deep emotional undertones as Maggie fought to keep her voice steady.

Then the moment came when Maggie was finally able to embrace Alex again. Lima wrapped her arms around Leigh and held her close as Maggie finally let all of her guards down again and held Alex close. As they embraced Lima exhaled and noticeably relaxed against Leigh allowing Maggie to not appear defeated from their back and forth, but content, though she did appear a bit worn out by the emotional ups and downs of their almost breakup. Perhaps for the first time since their morning together Maggie was finally at peace again. Alex and Maggie both balance each other and calm some boiling energy that lies deep within them both. Something that is beautifully portrayed every single time Lima and Leigh share the screen.

Lima was absolutely flawless in this episode and every episode that has come before and after this one. January, in particular, gave her some great material to work with including her fun banter with Leigh in We Can Be Heroes (2x10). Many great things lie ahead for Maggie on her journey as both a Detective and a girlfriend. In Lima’s skilled hands there is no limit as to where the writers can go with Maggie. She is Alex’s girlfriend, but she is also a Detective, a daughter, and those are only the parts of her that have been revealed so far. What exists under all those other layers is sure to challenge Lima, but she’ll not only rise to the challenge, but she’ll make everyone watch in awe. Maggie Sawyer’s journey is just beginning, but Floriana Lima has already left an impression that has the audience eager to see what comes next.

All of her performances in January were prime examples of how gifted she is, but she’s more than just a gifted actress, she isn't just Maggie Sawyer. She is an incredible woman who cares about her audience and her work. Despite a busy schedule, she takes the time to interact with her fans through live chats and social media because she understands the importance of the story she is involved in. Whatever comes next fans can be confident that she’ll give it her all to do justice to the amazing storyline she’s been gifted with.

This article couldn’t cover every single performance she gave in January, so please feel free to use the comments to talk about those other performances.

PLEASE READ: Please keep comments on topic and just discussing the performances of the winners.

Special thanks to Donna Cromeans, freelance editor/proofreader (@DJRiter on Twitter) for editing this article.


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