Evan Daigle plays Toby on TNT dramedy Claws, which is a look at the life and crimes of five women who work at a Florida nail salon.
Toby is the boyfriend of Uncle Daddy, a gangster who uses the salon to launder his drug money. Eventually, Toby takes over the salon as Desna (Niecy Nash) attempts to clean up her life and move away from money laundering. The series is executive produced by Rashida Jones and will premiere on June 11, 2017.
Since you didn’t find your passion for acting until your second year in college, how did you manage to get to where you are now in your career so quickly?
It’s been an extremely wild ride since I started acting three years ago. I never thought when I started that I would get an opportunity like this so soon. I studied theater in school but signed with a small local film and T.V. agent in New Orleans. I was going to school full time and auditioning full time for two years before I got the “Claws” audition. I had only done a few small indie projects prior to “Claws”.
When I decided to pursue acting, I went full force and haven’t let up since. Having the time in school to do plays and train in theater helped me get to where I’m at with my acting work and has given me the confidence as a performer to be tenacious in this crazy business. I feel as though I was ready for when a lucky opportunity came my way.
What can you tell us about Claws?
“Claws” is an hour-long dramedy about five women who work together in a nail salon in south Florida. There’s a lot more going on at the salon than manicures: Desna (Niecy Nash) launders money for Uncle Daddy (Dean Norris) to cover up his drug dealings and many criminal endeavors. There’s a lot of twists and turns. It’s a very visually stimulating show. We have an extremely diverse cast — we’ve also had majority female directors — which all comes together to create a really unique and progressive energy I hope the audience really feels in the show. At it’s core, “Claws” is about female empowerment, positive female friendships, and unique and diverse stories.
What is it like working with Niecy Nash, Rashida Jones, and Carrie Preston?
It’s been incredible working with such a mentoring and welcoming cast and crew. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some of the most talented actors in the business on my first job. Niecy Nash is so talented and absolutely hilarious! Everyone has been so great and helpful. I feel so blessed.
What was the audition process like for you?
Like I said, I had been going to school and auditioning full time for two years before I got the audition for Toby. He was originally only going to be in one scene in the pilot. This is how I was able to audition for the role because local actors almost never go up for guest star and recurring roles. After my initial audition with the casting director, I had a call back with the creator and producers. They really enjoyed what I brought to the character and decided to develop Toby further. I’ll end up being in nine out of the ten episodes!
How did you prepare to portray Toby?
I can’t give away specifics about what type of research I did to prepare to play Toby without giving away plot points, but I spent a little over a month before we went to series doing intense research on the themes of the show and of the kind of person Toby is. Toby is a unique character and, in my opinion, it required a delicate approach. I really enjoy the process of preparing a character. I do a lot of backstory, I create collages and mood boards for the character. For me, doing a lot of studying and preparation before I start shooting eliminates any fear that may arise when actually on set doing the work.
As an actor, what would be your dream role?
I have two dream roles I can’t die without playing. One is to play Konstantin Treplev from the play “The Seagull” by Anton Chekhov and the other is to play Hamlet.
You were studying at Loyola University New Orleans before you discovered your passion for acting. What did you originally intend to do once you graduated?
I was studying visual art and communications and then began studying theater in my second year. For most of my life, I thought I would be a painter. I honestly was never super confident about what I wanted to do with my life until I found acting. I’m super grateful to have found the path I feel like I’m meant to be on.
You’re a hobbyist oil painter. How did you get into that, and what do you love the most about oil painting?
I grew up making all kinds of art. I’ve always been a really creative kid. I’ve been painting and drawing since I can remember. Before I discovered my love for acting I wanted to be a visual artist. Ever since I started pursuing acting, painting has been put on the back burner because acting is so demanding and time-consuming. I love painting during my time off though.
What drew you in to support the charity Happy Hippie?
I really love The Happy Hippie Foundation because they focus specifically on non-binary gender and LGBTQ+ youth. These are groups of people who struggle greatly to gain positive visibility in society, advance in the workplace, and maintain the same legal rights as all citizens. The foundation works to provide a positive image and aid to these and other vulnerable populations.