Megalyn Echikunwoke: Up for the Challenge

CSI: MIAMI She’s got a name that’s hard to pronounce but a face that’s easy to remember. She’s Megalyn Echikunwoke and you’ve probably seen her if you’re a fan of TV.

Many people know Megalyn from her role as Isabelle Tyler, the over-night adult on The 4400. But she’s probably more infamously known as Dean Winchester’s first love on Supernatural. Megalyn played Cassie in “Route 666,” delivering the show’s first steamy on-screen sex scene.

“That was actually really cool and pleasantly surprising,” says Megalyn, taking time to chat with me on a busy Monday morning. “I wasn’t expecting the opportunity, so when they came to me and said, would you like to do this, I said, sure, sounds great! And you know, Dean is really cute . . .  so that’s no problem.”

HI, I’M MEGALYN, LET’S KISS

But jumping into a sex scene with an actor you’ve just met, even one as handsome as Jensen Ackles isn’t all that easy.

“Let’s face it, it’s super awkward. When you think about it, you’re like, ‘oh my god, this is going to be so weird, how’s it going to happen, how are we going to do it?’ But when it comes down to it, on the day, you’ve got like 50 people around, everyone’s doing their job and so you’ve just got to do your job. Most of those scenes end up being so technical that there’s no room left for the awkwardness.  You’re trying to make sure your head is in the right place and you’ve got some weird sticky things on your boobs and sticky underwear to make sure your butt cheek is covered …it’s definitely challenging.”

Not that Megalyn didn’t enjoy doing the horizontal tango with one of TV’s sexiest ghostbusters. More like the experience left her. . . speechless!

“[Jensen] and I. . .  we just [had to] laugh about it. You know, riding each other. . . and it’s kind of like . . . this is so bizarre! I definitely had fun!”

And though it was only one episode, Megalyn has come to know the power of Supernatural.

“It’s cool to come on to a big show like that, that’s got such a huge following and do one swift episode and leave an impression. Cassie and Dean — I have a lot of fans just from that.”

ALWAYS THE NEWBIE

Another one of Megalyn’s acting challenges has been that of coming into shows later in the run as she did on both That 70’s Show and The 4400.

“I feel like I do that on almost all of my jobs, where you’re coming into a very well oiled, finely-tuned machine and trying not to throw a kink in the wheel. And I guess that’s the test when you start on a show like that. They want to see, are you gonna slow it down or are you gonna help us keep our pace, what are you gonna do… so that’s always sort of challenging making sure that you fit in without messing things up too much.”

Not only did she not “mess things up” on The 4400, she became quite close to the cast and crew.

“We shot in Canada, Vancouver. We were there for like five months out of the year, for the last two years, we’re all in a foreign country together working on a show so that makes for a more tightly knit crew and cast.”

But now Megalyn has traded in the cool, crisp air of Vancouver for the sunny, warm beaches of Florida when she takes on the role of Tara Price, the new medical examiner on CSI: Miami.

TABLE FOR ONE

CSI: MIAMI Megalyn’s character will be introduced in the second episode of the series but she’s already got six plus under her belt. The challenges here include learning to spout medical jargon like a pro and pretending that the naked guy on the table in front of you is actually dead.

“Most times it’s a real person just lying there, with this gorgeous injury make-up on, trying not to breath. It’s weird for me because, you know, they’re alive and you’ve got to touch them and sort of poke at them like they’re dead; set things on top of them, so that’s kinda weird.”

Weird? What’s weird was CSI Miami’s last medical examiner (played by Khandi Alexander) who had a very disturbing way of talking to the bodies.

“I’d like to think I have something strange and interesting going on, in my mind I do, but in the minds of the writers, who knows. I hope my character won’t be too well rounded. I hope she has some edge. The way it stands now, my character’s sarcastic, but she’s really, really professional and good at what she does. But definitely… she’s got spunk.” (Does anyone else think Mary Tyler Moore when they hear that word or am I alone in that?)

Spunk seems to be a trait that Megalyn herself posses. Calling herself “extremely adventurous” she talked about a world tour that led to the one thing she’s done that she’ll never do again. . .

NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN

“When I was 21, I traveled around the world by myself. It was an amazing experience. I went all over Europe, I went to Africa, and I went to China and Japan — not for very long periods of time, which was the other crazy thing about it because I went to all these intense place and I only spent a couple days here and there.

“So basically, I did this trip alone, which was fun, but it was just so much work! It’s a lot more work traveling alone than it is traveling with someone, because you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve gotta do next, how you’re going to get yourself there, how you’re gonna do this, how you’re gonna do that; you have no one else to share the work with. I did it once and it was fantastic, but I probably won’t travel around the world by myself ever again.”

Then she adds one other important tip for travelers.

“And I will never leave my passport in Italy when I’m trying to get to the Czech Republic.”

Yes, Megalyn, that sounds like a plan. Now field a few other questions:

Something that you cannot live without.

Megalyn: Music. That’s one. I do a little bit of dancing.  I’m lucky enough have found this amazing studio really close to where I live. It was started by this Cuban ballerina and her husband and they’ve developed it into a community arts center. They put on amazing shows, world class dancers, and I get to perform [with them], so that’s very exciting, I love dancing.

Have you been doing ballet since you were a child?

Megalyn: No, not at all. I’m one of those people who just pretends. I danced a little in high school, but I’m not formally trained in any way. It’s actually that much harder, but I enjoy it so much, that I keep going, I have no intension of ever becoming a ballerina or anything like that, but you know the muscles that you build in ballet lend themselves to every other kind of dance, so it’s always good.

What is something that you have kept since you were a kid?

Megalyn: Had since I was a kid… what have I kept since I was a kid? Let’s see… I haven’t kept any dolls… oh you know, what I have kept, is a quilt that my Mom made me when I was a two-year-old, a little quilt with a clown embroidered on it and I’ve kept that, I still have it. I put it on my bed sometimes.

And our usual craziness:

Captain Kirk versus Captain Jack Sparrow?

Megalyn: Oooooh, I say, Jack Sparrow for sure. I’m sorry. I say Jack Sparrow wins and I say he does it very sexily.

Want to see more of Megalyn? Watch for an independent movie she made called “Who Do You Love,” which is playing at festivals around the country.

Then see her debut as Dr. Tara Price on CSI Miami on Monday, September 29th (the second episode of the new season) on CBS.

Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS

(Originally Posted at SFUniverse.com)

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