Ally Walker’s most notable role to date was Samantha Waters in Profiler, a forensic psychologist with a dark past. Recently she appeared as the sociopath ATF Agent June Stahl on F/X’s critically acclaimed series Sons of Anarchy.
She is now starring in the Lifetime series, The Protector, portraying Gloria Sheppard, a divorced mother who juggles her demanding personal and professional life as a LAPD homicide detective while raising two boys, with the live-in help of her troubled young brother Davey (Chris Payne Gilbert).
Did you approach Lifetime or did they approach you about doing this series?
They approached me. I was doing June Stahl on Sons of Anarchy and I got a call from them. I knew I was being [written out of] the series, and [Lifetime] called and asked me and I said, ‘Sure.’
What was it about this role that if it’s successful you’d be happy playing her for many years?
She’s funny, she’s quirky and I thought she was odd and smart and I loved the relationships she had with all the characters. She wasn’t jaded and judgmental, which is great. I’ve done a lot of drama, and some heavy stuff, and I played a real villainess in my last job, which I loved, but I wanted to see if I could do something light and airy.
I think the challenge for an actor is always to see which parts of you you can explore and go have fun with. I just wanted to branch back into comedy again.
I think the dark genres are great, but there is just so much of it now. When I did Profiler, there were like two of us doing it, and now that’s all there is, and I’m like, ‘Maybe I should go back and try the lighter stuff now.’ So I thought it would be a good time to do that.
How important was it for you to have this character have a family, because so many procedurals if there’s a female detective, that’s all she’s about?
Well, that’s the thing. It comes from character; it didn’t come from the plot. One of the things we did on Profiler that I think was right is that we kept the character having a life and we showed her as a human being.
Can you talk about working with Tisha Campbell-Martin, who plays your partner in this?
Tisha’s a hoot. I love Tisha, I’d never met her before, she’s in a different world, the sitcom world, than I was in, but she’s a doll, she’s a joy to be around. We’re really close.
It’s so funny because when we met each other she was like, ‘I’m going to get my nails done.’ I said, ‘Do you want to run lines or anything?’ And she’s like, ‘Yeah, you want to get your nails done? You need to get your nails done.’ She so girly! So I went with her to get my nails done. We blend really well.
She makes me laugh, she’s a very good person. I just like her a lot.
You do have a great rapport on screen, was it there from the beginning?
Yeah, we just bounced off each other. I like her, there’s no drama, we’re both moms, we’ve both be doing this a long time. It’s like, ‘Let’s hit it, let’s go, I want to get home.’ She’s just really funny.
Did you and Tisha do any ride-alongs with detectives?
Yeah, I’ve done them before. We talked to the LAPD, Tisha and I went to training. I could shoot from before, I did a lot on Profiler, and the ATF people talked to me on Sons of Anarchy. [We went to a shooting range], and Tisha can’t shoot at all. Meanwhile I’m trigger happy and [in a simulation] I went in and shot everybody in the bar, all the innocent bystanders were all dead after I came in. So we’re a great team!
Can you talk about the relationship between Gloria and her mother Beverly?
Yeah, first of all it’s Patty Duke. Did you ever see The Miracle Worker with Anne Bancroft? She won an Oscar for that, she was 13-years-old, so she’s an accomplished, amazing actress. I didn’t want to say anything, so I ask her husband, ‘Is it going to freak her out if I start talking about The Miracle Worker?’ He was like, ‘No.’ (she laughs) I was like, ‘Listen, I loved The Miracle Worker.’
She’s astonishing. When you have talent you stick around for a long time, and I think she’s living proof of that.
In this, she plays a mother who is not a real sweet or loving mom, but a good mom. It’s the same thing that I liked about Gloria, that you don’t resent her; it’s just all part of the package. Is your mom perfect? Everybody has this stuff and I like that.
Have you done any scenes with Patty Duke yet?
Yeah, she’s great. I respect her and Anne Bancroft. There are all these great actresses who preceded me and the material was just mind-blowing, and she was a part of that.