SINCE “NIKITA,” the CW’s killer reboot, premiered last month, all eyes have been on its fierce and gorgeous leading lady, Maggie Q.
But the show’s other butt-kicking female is also seizing America’s attention. She’s Lyndsy Fonseca, a 23-year-old Oakland native, who lived in Alameda and Moraga before launching her acting career at the tender age of 13 on the soap opera “The Young and the Restless.”
Fonseca plays Alex, a troubled teen with a violent history who has been recruited by a shadowy government agency called Division. The agency is training Alex for lethal missions, but, unbeknown to its leaders, Alex is secretly serving as the eyes and ears for Nikita, a former Division operative who has vowed to destroy it.
Fonseca, who caught the showbiz bug while strutting her stuff with the West Coast Dance Theatre in Alameda, boasts a number of television credits, including recurring stints on “Desperate Housewives,” “Big Love” and “How I Met Your Mother” (as Ted Mosby’s daughter). She also has a burgeoning film career with appearances in “Hot Tub Time Machine” and “Kick Ass,” and recently wrapped production on John Carpenter’s latest thriller, “The Ward.”
Fonseca attended St. Joseph Elementary School in Alameda and Joaquin Moraga Intermediate in Moraga before relocating with her mom and younger sister to Southern California. She still occasionally gets back to the Bay Area to visit her father in San Leandro. During a recent break from shooting “Nikita” in Toronto, the actress fielded some questions via phone:
Q: So, what do you love about playing Alex?
A: I love the fact that she has so many sides to her. In flashbacks, you see the broken child living through some really dark stuff. Then, in the present, you see the determined fighter. There’s a lot of toughness to her, but also a lot of vulnerability. I’m never bored with Alex.
Q: We know you can’t divulge any big secrets, but, in general, what can you tell us about where your character is headed?
A: You’ll learn a lot more about the relationship between Nikita and Alex as the season unfolds. We’ll fill in the blanks. You’ll see why they have such a strong connection. Alex also climbs higher and higher up the Division totem pole. And we’ve got surprises packed into every episode.
Q: The show requires you to do a lot of tough, physical work. How are you handling that?
A: It can be very draining. For an episode we recently shot, I get tortured. There was a lot of running involved and electrocution stuff. “… At the end of the week, I just want to collapse into the sofa. “… On the other hand, I love the stunt work. It really gives me a feeling of empowerment. After every episode, Maggie and I compare our bumps and bruises.
Q: Maggie has had a lot of action-film experience in Hong Kong and she’s worked with Jackie Chan’s trainers. Did she offer any advice going into the series?
A: Actually, Maggie, on her own, invited me to work out with her for a month before shooting began. We spent three hours every day at the gym, doing a lot of conditioning, circuit training, tumbling. “… It was crazy. One day, after finishing, I got in my car and I could barely hold the steering wheel. I was so shaky and exhausted.
Q: Were you a fan of any action heroines of TV’s past?
A: I certainly loved Jennifer Garner in “Alias,” and there are some similarities between that show and ours, although we’re definitely different. I think it’s cool to have women on TV who are strong and kicking some (butt).
Q: Have you and Maggie been able to bond much?
A: She’s been awesome. Maggie has a confidence that’s really contagious. She’s a great leader for our show. I just wish I could work with her more (on camera). We’re usually together in only flashback scenes. At times, it feels like we’re working on totally separate shows.
Q: You started out by working for three years on “The Young and the Restless.” Do you look back fondly on your soap opera days?
A: Oh, that was so long ago. I was so young — just a baby. It really prepared me well, though. It taught me how to learn lines. There would be times when we’d do 80 (script) pages a day, compared to seven to 14 for prime time. It was like a TV boot camp.
Q: Were you the type of kid who dreamed of being an actress from an early age?
A: No, not at all. I was a dancer. From the moment I could walk, I was at that dance studio. For my first performance, I was still in diapers. It was a ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ or Shirley Temple kind of thing, I think. I never thought about being in TV or the movies. That wasn’t part of my world.
Q: There are times in “Nikita” that you have to go out on missions in which you have to get all made up and wear fancy dresses. Do you like that part of the role?
A: In real life, I’m very girlie, but I think that when I’m playing Alex, I kind of take on her personality. She doesn’t care about that stuff, so I don’t. Besides, when you’re wearing makeup and you’re in heels and a dress 16 hours (of shooting) a day, it loses its appeal.