Tonight, Ultimate Tag will make its debut on FOX, bringing a delightfully unconventional sports competition to viewers' television screens. The series offers a high-octane take on the iconic childhood game, which is taken to a colorful, action-packed, and truly delightful level. Competitors must vault, dodge, tumble, and dive their way through several different three-dimensional courses, all while being chased by resident Professional Taggers. The ensemble of Pro Taggers comes from quite a few different industries and sports fields, including actress and stuntwoman Carrie Bernans.
Bernans might be recognizable to those who love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as she portrayed a member of the Dora Milaje in Black Panther and Avengers: Endgame, as well as Styler in a Season 2 episode of Luke Cage. In addition, Bernans' filmography Includes roles in Ballers, S.W.A.T., and the upcoming HBO series Lovecraft Country. On Ultimate Tag, Bernans steps into an alter-ego of Pro Tagger Banshee -- and she just might become a fan-favorite in the process.
Ahead of Ultimate Tag's debut, we got to chat with Bernans about the journey of joining the series, and tapping into her wild side as Banshee. In the process, we spoke about her work within the MCU, which superhero or supervillain she'd love to play, and how she's staying busy during the current COVID-19 quarantine.
Joining Ultimate Tag
ComicBook.com: So, how did you get involved with the show? Because it seems like such a unique project in the best possible way.
Carrie Bernans: As you may know, I'm an actress and I'm also a stuntwoman. Corey DeMyers had reached out to me and he's like, "Hey, Carrie. There's this new show that's supposed to come out. I think you'd be great on it. Didn't you run track in college? We're looking for former D1 athletes or pro athletes that would be interested in portraying a character or themselves on the show. And it's basically like the game of tag." I was like, "There's a show about the game of tag? Like, what? Okay, what do I need to do?"
So I talked to the producers, and because I'd done Black Panther and Avengers, I think at the time, they were like, "Oh, wow. You're so exciting. Maybe you could be our warrior girl or something." I was still very new to the whole idea of everything. But they said, "Would you like to come out tomorrow to test out one of the courses we built, so you can understand what this game is about? Because, basically, it's like tag on steroids."
I had some level of skill at parkour and stuff before, but then once I literally saw the course, I was like, "My God. This is very interesting and so exciting. It's so great." The course is like a Ninja Warrior-style course, plus an endurance test. Someone told me "Somebody's going to start chasing after you after three seconds." I was like, "They're going to chase me?" Like, "What?" I admit, I just ran as fast as I could to get through the entire course, jumped over everything I could, and I had a really good time.
Then they said "Yeah, this is the fastest time for any of the girls and blah, blah, blah. Do you want to chase up to some people?" So I chased after some people. And before you know it, they were like, "Well, we really like you. Do you want to come out and play with it one more time to make sure you like this?" And I was like, "Yeah, sure, I'll come out, play it, play one more time."
And before you know it, they asked me if I wanted to join the team. I talked with my team, wanted to make sure it wasn't a conflict of interest of actual other things I do with the scripted world of Avengers and Black Panther and stuff like that. And they said, "No, this would be a great avenue to create new fans, and to build a new audience, and have some fun."
What was the process like of crafting your alter ego?
To play the Banshee was absolutely crazy, because it's the total opposite of who I am! My character is like, "I lure people in and I show them up. I lure people in and I tear their souls out, basically."
I have to admit, playing a character like that freaks me the f-ck out. It was freaking incredible, to be honest. It was great to play something that's totally opposite of who I am because I was mean. I was vicious. I was competitive -- that was easy, because I'm already competitive in real life. But to put on a mean persona, and to really play with this animal-like qualities. I literally was brandishing my arms like they were wings, and there were moments in my mind where I felt like I could fly. I was all the way there. When people used to say they were afraid of me, I didn't understand, until I saw the trailer with my alter-ego. I was like, "Oh my God, I'm afraid of me too a little bit."
What surprised you the most while filming Ultimate Tag?
When I'm filming movies like Black Panther and Avengers, there's obviously like a lot of people on set. We have anywhere between 50 to 100 people that help make the actual show come to life, between the sound, lighting, director, background crew, et cetera. Well, when we filmed the Ultimate Tag, we had a 600-people studio audience every day we filmed the show. I have been in front of large audiences and talked in front of people. But to actually go and perform in front of a live audience, and for them to see every single part, the pressure's really on.
I guess what surprised me is that it kind of took me back to my track life. when I was running track at the University of Memphis or when I was running track in high school. All the races I competed in, we had fans in the stadium that would cheer us on and scream our names and have us go. It kind of took me back to this retrospect. I've been preparing for this moment my entire life, even when I was competing as an athlete. Little did I know I would be competing on the stages of the Ultimate Tag, and people will be screaming "Banshee! Banshee!"
Another part is some of the competitors that we were chasing after and going against were extremely skilled. They were some of the best in the world. They won gold medals in the Olympics, or they were a big parkour athlete. And some of them had their own personalities. You'll see later on, closer to the end of the season, there are definitely a couple of those contestants. They are really nice people in real life, but when they put on the game and they compete against a person like the Banshee, they give some Banshee attitude as well. So, that was interesting.
Ultimate Tag is coming out at a time when there are basically no other live sports or any sports on TV, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What do you hope people get out of the show, especially in those circumstances?
It's sad that we're going through these times right now, and my hearts and thoughts are with everyone, because we're all in this together. What I hope this show does is bring people together. It brings families together to cheer on for someone, and to have that missing sports link and allow them to be able to get excited, and have their adrenaline pumping and flowing, and get them motivated to go outside in their backyard or to start working out inside of their house and playing.
The whole thing about the game of tag is don't get caught, and the fun part of it as playing with your friends and the family. Ultimately, although the show is very entertaining and fun, and very adrenaline-pumping, I hope that it creates the action that gets everybody out to just play and bring laughter and happiness to the scene again. It can connect families to all have some camaraderie.
Given your work on Black Panther and Avengers: Endgame, I have to ask -- what is it like to be in those massive movies, and to have them have the massive response that they've gotten?
It's freaking awesome. Being in Black Panther and Avengers was obviously like a dream come true. And to see Black Panther do the numbers it's done, it just shows proof that diversity is in and can make money. I think the industry was so scared for so long that if they put diverse characters on screen, they wouldn't be as profitable as opposed to just doing it the way that they were used to doing it. To me, it was the proof in the pudding that people have always said, but it just needed to be done. For Black Panther to break a billion dollars in sales shows that a mostly-black film can lead and make money in the box office, so we can do the same. Like what is the movie that won the Oscar?
Parasite, yes! Parasite was another proof. Parasite was such an incredible film. To have it win an Oscar showed there's proof in storytelling from other people's perspectives. To me, movies like Black Panther showed that.
Movies like Avengers, Black Panther, and the whole Marvel franchise show other things though. It shows that superheroes are made out of ordinary people doing ordinary things and then deciding to have courage, to stand up for something. Right now, we have so many people that are ordinary people being superheroes to us, from the nurses in the hospitals, to the doctors, to essential workers, to the mailmen that are going out there to deliver mail that's been touched by millions of hands to get it to our front steps. To me, that all brings us all together and makes the world a kinder place. I think movies like Black Panther, Avengers, everything else you can name Marvel, really just shows the power of teamwork.
Is there a comic book character or a superhero that's your favorite, whose franchise you would love to be in?
I love Marvel, but I'm not going to lie, I kind of want to go play in the DC lane for a little bit. My goal is to lead and to be a character in the universe, period. I have to admit that I am an X-men and Wolverine fan. If I can be a black girl Wolverine, and Wolverine had a half mixed baby or something, and then somehow she came out a little black like me, then that would be me.
I have some comic books, actually, on my shelf right now. I was trying to find them. I love so many different characters. I don't even know which one is my favorite. It's so hard. Just for the sake of people messaging me a hundred DMs of, "Why did you choose Marvel?" or "Why did you choose DC?"... I'm going to say that I love all of them. If I had to choose my favorite, it would be like you asking me, if I'm sitting at a table with all my aunts and uncles, which one's my favorite. I would say, "All of you are my favorite," because I wouldn't want one of them being mad at me.
I will say this, I do want to play a villain. After playing a villain for Ultimate Tag, I want to play a villain for somebody in DC or Marvel. Just hire me today.
Time in Quarantine
How are you staying busy during quarantine?
It's actually wild, but I moved last week during the quarantine, so the busyness this last week has been moving and unpacking new boxes. Moving during quarantine is definitely a very unique move, although I do have a lot more time to actually put stuff away, versus when I'm working. I've also done a lot of home workouts via live and Zoom with a lot of friends, and I've also been creating different stuff. I've been designing different things, some new merchandise I have coming, as well as writing and producing. I have a web series coming out - actually, it's going to be released on the same day of the show - called Figuring It Out, and we are doing a crowdfunding campaign around it. I'm excited about that. I just have been doing everything -- writing, producing, singing, dancing, making sure I don't go insane, and unpacking boxes.
In addition to the web series you just mentioned, do you have any other projects coming up that you'd like my readers to know about?
Absolutely! For sure. I'm a voiceover artist, and I have a voiceover project coming. They haven't even told us the name yet, because it's like a whole NDA. I did an episode on Lovecraft Country, which is coming out soon, so I'm super hyped about that. I worked on The Tomorrow War with Chris Pratt and his entire team, which is coming out later this year. I'm also on Reno 911 on Quibi. Anybody can watch that today. It came out like two weeks ago.
I'm also doing a literacy camp for youth that are in poverty in Memphis, Tennessee, through my nonprofit called CB Seed, which is coming out this summer. It's not like a show, but I would like to plug that.0comments
Ultimate Tag premieres Wednesday, May 20th, at 9/8c on FOX.