By Katherine Ellis
Photography by Stephen Scott, courtesy of CBC/Temple Street Productions
Pursuing her career in the Canadian television industry, Jasper-native Erin Karpluk has appeared in shows like The L Word and Godiva. Most recently, she starred in Being Erica as Erica Strange, a down on her luck young woman who has a life-altering encounter with Dr. Tom ― a psychologist who helps her revisit or change past regrets through time travel. Over four seasons, Erica transforms herself into a savvy business woman and entrepreneur, founding a print production company (50/50 Press), getting her love life in order, learning more about herself, and growing into a confident and self-assured woman. FAJO Magazine chats with Karpluk about Erica’s evolution as a character and her fashion sense.
KATHERINE ELLIS: Being Erica can be considered one of the most beloved shows in Canada. With Erica traveling backward and forward through time, there were a lot of wardrobe changes. How does what you wear affect or help your acting?
ERIN KARPLUK: Fashion, especially for this show, really helps to tell the story to the audience, and helps the actors get into character. It’s interesting because, regardless of where I am, I am always 32 years old. If I’m at 50/50 Press, I can be wearing a nice dress and some pumps, and have my hair done. We flip back to high school and I’ll have my Doc Martins and Shannon Doherty hair from 90210.Your body kind of shifts depending on what you are wearing, and your mannerisms shift to what someone had in high school. The time travel [itself] is more of a catalyst for Erica’s growth in the show, and the tools that they use in order for Erica to learn and go through a journey, [like] having a chance to go and have a do-over. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone has regrets.
What first drew you to the role of Erica Strange?
I liked that she was just so completely flawed [with] human warts and all! Every episode takes on a different theme. There was an exposé that really dove into jealousy, it’s very taboo for us to talk about that nowadays, but we can relate to having those kinds of feelings. She also has awkward situations; for example, she captures her boyfriend masturbating and we see how that affects their sex life. As humans, we want to really laugh at it because we understand it. There is nothing blocky about the show – we don’t try to Hollywoodize anything.
Do you have a particular outfit that stands out?
When Erica goes back to when her mother was in high school [in the 60s], she wears this outfit that looks like the B52s. [I had a] red wig flipped up in the back and little kitten yellow heels. That was really fun! My other favourite look was when I got to play Madonna, circa “Like a Virgin.” We had the full white bodice with the crinoline skirt and the fishnet stockings, the pearls, the glove, the mole and the blonde wig.
Is it like playing dress-up? It sounds like you had a blast on the show.
We did! It takes a long time, and my character was in [almost] every scene, so the shooting schedule was demanding. It was hard, you just worked a 15-hour day and on top of that you have to go and do a three-hour wardrobe fitting. But really, at the end of the day, no matter how tired you are, it is like playing dress-up. We got to wear Alexander McQueen this year, it was crazy! Future Erica wears this beautiful dress that looks a little futuristic. It had some silk and a cape that came down the back. I got to wear a short wig and there was this beautiful brass clock necklace.
Did you wear a lot of name brands on the show?
We did try to do as much of Canadian as we could [but] some of the styles that worked the best for me was Rebecca Taylor, Nanette Lepore and Catherine Malandrino. During the second season, I was wearing a lot of Diane von Furstenberg. There was also a local design duo in Toronto, Greta Constantine, and I just love their fashion. I could only wear a few pieces though because they were too glamorous for my petite frame. I also wore some of the pieces from a jewelry designer I love in Toronto: Danielle Zippan (Zippan Designs).
Do you think that some pieces that can be found in Erica’s closet can also be found in yours?
Yes, I mean a lot of that stuff that Erica wears I would wear to auditions. But, in my own time, it’s a lot of jeans, boots, flip-flops, scarves, leather jackets and T-shirts. It’s not a lot of wrap dresses and heels like Erica. I do like to dress up, but I am more laid back and more edgy than Erica. Think jeans, boots, leather jackets, some funky earrings and I love bags, especially hand bags.
Do you have a favourite bag?
I do! I have a black Prada Hobo Bag that I am obsessed with.
What is the newest item in your closet?
Honestly, I got some incredible $15 slippers from Target, and they are so comfortable. I believe in mixing and matching items. You can have some vintage, hand-me-downs, consignment and middle of the road stuff, as well as some high-quality pieces that you are going to invest in. These slippers are my little unexpected buy that I will probably wear a hole in, in the next month! (laughs)
Karpluk currently resides in Los Angeles, California. Being Erica finished after its fourth season.