Agents of SHIELD: Natalia-Cordova Buckley Talks Learning About Yo-Yo’s Tragic Backstory

Fans finally got a glimpse of Agents of SHIELD's "After, Before" tonight, and learned a lot about Elena "Yo-Yo" Rodriguez. While sparring with May, Yo-Yo is faced with some of her past traumas, including getting Tess killed in the future after saving Flint and making the choice to kill Ruby. In addition to these tough moments that we saw back in season five, the episode also featured a flashback to Elena's childhood. Young Elena attempts to save an important family heirloom, which ends up resulting in her uncle's death. Recently, had the chance to chat with Natalia Cordova-Buckley about Yo-Yo's big episode and asked about Tess' death paralleling her Uncle's, and how it felt to learn such a big part of her character's past so late in the show.

"That's something I've talked about since I first came into SHIELD," Cordova-Buckley explained. "When you come from theater training, you take the character for months. You reverse it. You know the backstory. You know everything about them, right? So the moment the curtain is pulled, and it also happens in film, maybe you're lucky enough, you have all these drawers to pull from for your character because you've been building. With TV, it's the opposite. You get the role and in 12 hours, you're shooting, so you build as you go. And in that building, as you go, I think there's a lot of collaboration with the writers when they're watching you and reading into whatever you're putting out there. And I love that."

She added, "In the way our stories of characters are written, you can really see that the writers have been observing us as actors acting out our character, because I always knew that something traumatic must have happened to Yo-Yo, something profoundly personal, but I never wanted to pinpoint and have an idea in my brain. That was more in my heart. That was really defining of her because I knew that maybe the point would come up and it wouldn't be exactly the idea that I had. But I did have an idea that something traumatic must've happened to her for her to be the way she is. And when this came up, I was happy that it was so personal and that it was so similar to things that had happened to her before, where she's trying to be a hero, not maybe consciously, but tried to save someone and it having real consequences."

"And it keeps repeating itself. It happened, like you said, in her childhood, then with Flint and Tess, with a bunch of different moments in her life that this has happened. And she has to learn the lesson for it to not keep repeating itself. I love that James and Sharla [Oliver], the writers, came up with this idea that it happened at such a young age, and with people she loved, so it wasn't something that I had in mind. It was something they came up with, but it really speaks of the symbiosis that sometimes we have with the writers where we're not even aware that they're watching us and they come up with stuff already being played out, but not consciously."


Stay tuned for more from our interview with Cordova-Buckley and Ming-Na Wen about "After, Before."

Agents of SHIELD airs Wednesday nights on ABC at 10 PM EST.

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