Within the worlds of AMC’s The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead, there’s a certain sense of bleakness that has permeated throughout the long-running shows. Landscapes overtaken by zombies and the humans left behind to pick up the pieces. Some characters audiences have clung to as they tried to build a sense of community. Others we have grown to hate as you realize that the horrors and difficulties don’t just lie within the undead. It’s also the primal nature of the living that can get you, too.

Even when the world is at its end, there’s no denying the optimistic outlook of the young. AMC’s newest spinoff series, The Walking Dead: World Beyond approaches the zombie fallout from the viewpoint of four teenagers ten years from a compound in Nebraska. The audience gets to go through all the growing pains and near falls that teenagers would. Setting out on a dangerous journey in a desolate setting is different when you haven’t seen it.

Hope (Alexa Mansour), at first glance, is the rebellious flip to her adopted sister Iris (Aliyah Royale) who is an aspiring scientist. As the season goes on, audiences get to see how many layers of Hope’s character there are. Mansour’s ability to embrace the many emotional aspects of Hope’s character is a major reason her character is so relatable on the show. As the season wears on, we find out there’s a greater purpose for Hope in the grand scheme of the world itself.

I spoke to Alexa about how she looks at Hope the character and her evolution from big story points from season one. Spoilers for Season One ahead!

You auditioned for The Walking Dead previously, and you went through a rigorous process to get to The World Beyond to get to the role of Hope. It worked out because you really embody her character. How did it feel when you got the role?

Alexa: It was definitely a dream come true, as cheesy as that sounded. As you said, I auditioned for The Walking Dead multiple times, and they were for small parts. Then, to book the role of the lead of a new show was absolutely amazing. I started crying, and I’m pretty sure my mom has it on videotape.

With Hope, there’s this dynamic with her and her sister, Iris. At first, Hope is just presented as the rebel, but by the end of season one, she’s shown as the genius or the asset. With everything that happened to them, when they were young with their mother, their father being gone, and the world en masse, you can understand why Hope has her guard up. As the season goes on, everybody gets to see more sides to her. How did you like her metamorphosis? 

It was pretty crazy. When I went in for the audition for Hope, she seemed like the general depressed. angsty teen, that just couldn’t care less if she got hit by a bus. Then the time goes on, her faith builds up little by little, the more she spends time with all these other characters. She realizes, “oh my God! I have friends and I have something to live for. Just because I’m feeling down doesn’t mean that it’s going to be like this for the rest of my life. I have a purpose.”

To be honest, I was pretty shell-shocked when I found out that Hope twist. I did not see it going that way and didn’t know that in the beginning; I found out as we were shooting. So when I found out, I was like,” oh crap. I have to turn this around.” and that would be smart. Sounds like man, I don’t know if I relate to hopefully that level, but it was a big ego boost. 

One thing I like about World Beyond is it doesn’t sugarcoat the naivety of the young group. Training in a controlled environment is one thing. Killing an actual zombie out in the world is another. It’s much different from being accustomed to The Walking Dead or Fear The Walking Dead where everybody knows what they are dealing with. 

Yeah, it was amazing. The way they depicted it was so realistic in the sense of how kids would have reacted to that. When Iris was about to kill her first empty, she’s like, “I got this, I could do it.” She does it and ends up puking all over it. That’s exactly what would happen to kids if they try to do that. They did not cover it up and make it seem like all these kids know exactly what they’re doing from the second that they get out.

I felt like Huck (Annet Mahendru) was the older version of Hope, or what she could be. An older sister or the older person to who Hope can relate the most. Then, there’s the conundrum of finding out Huck is the traitor working with the Civic Republic Military. Hope doesn’t trust them at all, but in order to save her friends and dad, she has to work with Huck. It’s an interesting turn of events that will have ramifications for season two. 

Yeah, it’s a strange little light bulb moment in Hope’s head. You know, she comes out to make all these friends, and she idolizes Huck. She’s the sister Hope wishes she had. Huck relates to Hope and sees something greater inside her that she doesn’t see in herself. Obviously, there was some shock and hesitation when she found out Huck was working with the Civic Republic. 

Then she realizes, “you know what? This is more than just about my ego. Right now, this is about everyone around me, and possibly my entire life. I’m just going to put my feelings aside and go with her. If I’m this important, they aren’t going to kill me.” Hope kind of knows what she’s getting herself into, to an extent.

There’s a bond that happens between Hope and Elton that gets complicated because of what happened to his mother. Hope was obviously really young, so the intent was to just survive. But it doesn’t stop the guilt once she finds out. How did you feel when you learned about the storyline with Elton and how that developed?

As sad as Hope’s story with Elton is, I think it was necessary to show a different side of her. To show that she can be vulnerable and be open because she had told no one about what happened. I don’t even think she’s really wanted to face it herself. Then, when she finds out about Elton, she cares about him so much that she tells him the truth, knowing that could destroy a friendship. So, it’s nice seeing Hope’s walls get peeled down bit by bit as the season goes on.

So of course, we have the second of ten episodes coming out soon for The World Beyond. I know there are some things that you can’t reveal. The group is split up into different places, and they’ll have to go through their own challenges. Hope is on her own journey in relation to the Civic Republic. How do you feel about Hope’s journey and the group’s evolution?

Hope and all of her friends are so optimistic about how close they all are that I don’t think they’re worried about never seeing each other again. Or at least that’s how I look at it. You’re just going to see Hope take a turn, and she’s going to realize what she’s really capable of. Season one was just a little taste of what she could do. Season two will really show how smart she is.

Photo Credit: AMC

 The Walking Dead: World Beyond Season 1 on DVD and Blu-ray