Kylie Fisher stars opposite Maria Doyle Kennedy in Acorn TV’s Recipes for Love and Murder. Jessie September is a journalist with little interest in working with Kennedy’s Tannie Maria, but life is full of little surprises.
This is Kylie’s first significant role in television, but you won’t know it when you see her in action.
We caught up with her to talk about this exciting opportunity, get an understanding of Jessie, and a whole lot more.
Hi, Kylie. How are you?
I’m good. How are you, Carissa?
I’m good. Thank you so much. So where were you born?
I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, but I grew up in Dubai. When we were one, my family moved that side. And then, when I was 19, I moved for university back to Cape town, and I’ve been here since.
Wow. Well, what a world traveler you are.
Yeah, I’m quite a culture kid through and through.
The reason why I asked that right away is because of your voice; you don’t have a strong accent from any one particular place.
No, no, no. I went to British schools growing up, but it was mostly international schools. So your accent just kind of amalgamates.
You almost sound American.
[laughs] Yeah, I got that growing up. I talked with somebody else a couple of weeks ago who grew up in France and is a dual French/American citizen. Her education was similar, and she sounds just like you do, with this kind of ‘I don’t know where you’re from’ vibe.
Yeah. I think it’s just how neutral your accent gets when you’re surrounded by different nationalities. It just neutralizes, and American is the one that it chooses.
Right, well, it’s American. America was supposedly the melting pot. So people from everywhere came there, and this accent came from a mixture of everything. It’s really interesting to see it on a smaller scale.
So other than that, tell me — how did you get involved with Recipes for Love and Murder?
So I studied theater and performance at UCT, the University of Cape Town. And in my final year, I joined an agency. And thankfully, I graduated on the day of the national lockdown of COVID 2020. So it was good that I joined before the whole pandemic came along.
And I got the brief from my agent, and she was like, “I feel like you’d be perfect for this role.” I read the script. I absolutely loved it. Honestly, the story jumps off the page. So I was like, “Okay, I’m just going to have fun with this. I got a friend to help me out. And then callbacks came along.
I was so nervous. And then when they called, and they said, “Yeah. You need to start stunts training to learn how to write a moped,” and I was like, “That means I got it. What?” I was like, “I got it!” So yeah, it was kind of the organic process, but I was delighted when I found out that I got it.
And other than talking about what a great name she has, how would you describe Jessie September from your point of view?
Yes. Oh, I do love her name.
Isn’t it great?
Iconic. It’s meant to be on a newspaper or a magazine.
I would describe Jessie as determined. I think she’s very headstrong. I think she knows what she wants, and I think she has to because of her family dynamic. She’s always had to have the answers because she’s the eldest.
I think I’d describe her as a macaroon. A hard exterior, and then when you get into the middle of it, she’s soft, and she cares. And she’s sweet, but she does put up this wall. And I think she’s bossy. I think she’s very bossy.
I think because of her mom being a nurse and her having to look after her siblings and just the line of work that she’s in, she has to know what she’s doing. So I think she’s bossy, but in the best way, in the best way possible. She knows what she wants.
People who are just coming into the show, which is going to be everybody since it’s just starting, might think that she’s a bit of a sidekick to Tannie Maria, but that’s not the case at all.
She has a very full story of her own. So I’m wondering what part of her story you most enjoy playing?
I loved that she was an educated character and she was empowered. I think that she’s so well written. And she’s so well-spoken and knows how to use her voice to help others who might not have a voice.
And that’s what I enjoyed. I enjoyed that it kind of comes with ease for her. She’s like, “Okay, cool. Great. I can tell someone’s story because I know how to use my voice.”
So that was the aspect I enjoyed playing the most, the fact that she’s empowered and she’s not a side character to anyone else’s story. She’s got her own. She stays in her own. She basks in her own sunlight, and she’s really just trying to find her own way out, shame.
She really is trying to be like, “Okay, cool. This is the step from this, to this, to this. And my life works A, B, and C, and D.” And I think that comes with youth and the beginning of your career.
And you’re right there, too. You would have the best understanding of what she’s going through.
And how would you describe her relationship with Tannie Maria and how they work together?
I think in the beginning, she underestimates Tannie Maria to the fullest extent. She’s like, “Oh, this woman that bakes; oh, that’s cute. I want to be a part of the New York Times, and I’m going to go study abroad.”
So she’s putting a side eye to like, “Okay, cool. I love that you know how to use measuring cups, but I’m doing with the real big juicy stories.” But as time unfolds, I think she has a deep respect for her because Tannie Maria doesn’t ask her to be anything but herself.
I think everybody else has these huge expectations of who she must be, how she must arrive, what she must say when Tannie Maria’s like, “Okay. Just arrive, Jessie. Just show up. And you showing up is already 80% of the work done.”
And I think when that switch happens, Jessie’s like, “Oh, this can be a confidant. This can be someone I can partner with and someone that doesn’t require me to be 100% all the time.’ And there’s an episode that is coming up that I really enjoy where Jessie just bursts through the doors, and she’s like, “I can’t believe this happened.”
And that shows a true friendship in that moment of, “Okay, these are two people from different generations, different walks of life, but a common ground of I have what you need, and you have what I need.”
Right. You mentioned how Jessie has this confidence about what she’s doing and she kind of thinks that Tannie Maria is just fluff. But what she does with her cooking and those measuring cups is almost magical in how she can connect with people. What does Jessie think of that?
I think it catches her so off-guard; she’s like, “Oh, people respond to recipes? I thought people responded to a long article about…” And it’s funny because Hattie says something. She’s like, “Jessie, you can’t pander to your readers.” And Jessie’s like, “Yeah, but I’m not going to dumb down. They need to get where I’m at.”
But what Tannie Maria does is she brings the heart and soul of the Gazette. That’s what she adds to it. And I think there’s a deep respect that Jessie has from that point onwards to say, “Actually, maybe, I’m doing it wrong.” And ignorance is bliss, I think, with Jessie.
But I think she has a deep respect for the fact that “Wow, you actually are getting what we need and the viewership that we need. And I can’t do anything else but respect that.”
And what was it like working with Maria, the real Maria, not Tannie?
She is a dream. I was just saying honestly, in my heart of hearts, she is such a generous performer on and off set, and learning from her and being a sponge in her presence and speaking to her, I think she has shifted my acting forevermore and being on screen with her is one of the greatest blessings I’ve taken away from this process.
And because she’s a musician, she actually listens to how beats go, and scenes go. And so I asked her one day, I was like, “What’s the best advice you could give me?” And she was like, “You’ll know when a scene is not doing well when it sounds wrong.”
And I was like, “When it sounds wrong? They never taught us that in university.” But you can actually hear when something sounds offbeat. And you can’t put your finger on it, but the moment she said that it clicked. I was like, “Yes, you do hear when something is offbeat.”
And we would keep on practicing and practicing whenever we felt that something maybe didn’t flow like we wanted it to. And you can see that her music influences her acting. And I think what’s so incredible is that those two worlds merge, and you never have to just be one thing.
You can always be multiple things at once, working to get a vision and a purpose. So it was a dream. It really was a dream.
That’s lovely. Maria told me that all the cooking was real, which floored me. It was real cooking, and you guys got to eat it. What did you love the most? What was the best dish that they made?
The best that’s part of my job. The best part of my job and any job that I’ll have from this point on in my life. [laughs]
To me, keep baking, keep cooking. Maria. We had a raspberry sorbet, and it’s in the half of a lemon. And it was with pink peppercorns and chocolate ganache. And it sounds like a wild combination on paper, but when it hits your taste buds, “Oh wow.”
And Mynhardt and his team were with the food stylists in the show. They knocked it out of the park every single time. There wasn’t a recipe; there wasn’t a cake or a pie out of place. Everything was just a chef’s kiss, pun intended. It was beautiful. And it was done so brilliantly, so brilliantly.
And it is so beautiful on the show, just the scenes of her cooking and how the food kind of pops on screen. It’s very unique to this type of show.
And I think what is so great about it is that’s kind of also how mysteries happen. These different ingredients of an investigation come together. And you only kind of really know when you get to the end of the tasting, and things just start to fall into place.
So I think what the book does and what the show does is it merges two worlds that don’t sound like they should coexist, but they coexist so well. Food and mystery, what? But it makes sense through the cinematography, just how it’s shot.
Honestly, that was one part that I was like, “Wow, this is what I know I enjoy watching in TV shows — when two things fall into place.” And everyone did a really great job on that.
And on top of the food, the location is just beautiful.
I’ve never really seen much of South Africa. I’ve known people from South Africa. But they never brought pictures with them, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Is that area indicative of small towns in South Africa?
It is. Every place in South Africa has its own flavor. It really does. And Prince Albert, the small town, the food is so fresh. The produce is so fresh because they grow it. And there’s a fig farm that we were shooting on. And they produce all the produce. And the colors of the town and the people that are there.
The community was the best part of shooting there because they were very much similar and akin to the books. Because the book is based in Lady Smith, which is only an hour, I think, out. But in South Africa, the landscape is very visually beautiful.
I think they just chose the right spot and [cinematographer Vicci [Turpin], who is just a genius at coloring. The shots just really do make that small town pop. And it already pops when you get there.
Right. Right. It’s quite beautiful. My last question for you. Now that you know how to ride a moped, do you see one in your future?
[laughs] One thousand percent. One thousand percent! I’m planning my Europe trip already. I’m excited. I now know I’m going to go down on a cute little Vespa. So yeah, I’m definitely getting one. Definitely.
You can catch Kylie today on Acorn TV’s Recipes for Love and Murder. I highly recommend the series for its story, talent, and location. Don’t miss it!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.