Spoilers ahead for season two of “I Am Frankie”.
On the day of Teenplicity’s interview, the sun outside is as bright and pronounced as Nicole Alyse Nelson’s enthusiasm when she speaks of “I Am Frankie”.
The actress of Nickelodeon’s comedic, science-fiction drama continually enthuses over how season two raises the bar higher than before.
Describing this season to be both intense and amazing, Nicole excitedly says, “Everything is amped up and hyped up. [It has] even more characters and more sets. In my opinion, it’s so much better. I really loved working on it.”
Season one left fans with the major cliffhanger of Eliza, an android created by Sigourney Gaines prior to Frankie that turned evil, taking over Frankie’s place at home. Picking up where the previous one left off, season two follows Frankie’s mission to return home, save her family from Eliza, and find a way to break Andrew LaPierre out of WARPA’s facilities. More problems reveal themselves once Frankie and friends are able to return to normal life. They quickly discover that a spy is in their midst and that not everyone has positive feelings towards androids, all while navigating high school.
“She’s definitely learning how to be more confident around guys,” Nicole says of her character Dayton Reyes, who struggled through meeting one of the new kids at school and, in an effort to impress him, made up the school’s drama club. “I think having Frankie as a friend is really helping with that because, you know, she’s literal; she always says what’s on her mind. Dayton’s go-to is to kind of just wiggle her way out of a subject by laughing or cracking a joke and she’s learning how to not lie about things as an easy way to get out of a scenario but how to really come to terms with it and how to own what she’s doing.”
She really likes that within him.
She reveals that fans will witness Dayton go through a “bit of an arc” by the end of the season. One can hear the grin as Nicole says, “I can’t really tease where it goes but it definitely goes somewhere.”
Dayton’s crush that kickstarts this journey is Zane Markosian, a new student who thrives on theater and happily tells Dayton that he’d love for the school drama club to perform his play. Nicole previously said she hoped for a love interest in season two for her character.
“It’s so great that this new guy comes into school and it’s more than just a little crush because she really learns to like things about him. The more she gets to know him, the more she realizes she likes him.”
The actress continues, exploring why Zane is such a good match for Dayton and why her crush is so strong. “He’s so passionate and creative,” she says. “In her group of friends, she’s the creative one. She’s never been around somebody who has bigger ideas than her. So she kind of starts to like him for all the crazy ideas he comes up [with. He] starts talking about this play and he’s writing it and he’s so passionate. She’s like, ‘Wow, that’s usually my role. I’m the one that’s always ranting about something and people will look at me like I’m crazy!’ She really likes that within him.”
Another new character is Simone, an android brought in to Andrew while he was still captured in WARPA. Much is still unknown about her, though one thing is clear and that is her fondness for Dayton’s brother, and Frankie’s crush, Cole Reyes.
“Having Simone there also just mixes all sorts of things up, as if romance wasn’t complicated enough with the love triangle going on there with Frankie and the two guys.” Nicole laughs as she goes on, “[Simone] kind of is another option now.” She continues to say that it makes things a little more confusing.
Speaking of Simone’s relationship with Cole, she says, “It’s a total fascination with him.”
“Interesting thing, in the beginning anyways, Frankie doesn’t even notice at all,” Nicole says of the brewing mess. “She doesn’t pick up on cues. She wouldn’t know unless [Dayton] told her and so it’s one of those things where later on, it kind of gets exposed and blown up in a way of, ‘Okay guys, what’s really going on?’”
The talented actress explains that most of the relationships this season is just watching in anticipation.
Things do get hyped up in terms of loyalty and who we can trust. Everybody starts pointing fingers at everybody.
“What is Simone going to do? What is Cole going to do? How are they going to feel about this?” she thinks of the subject. “Because it isn’t really addressed – it’s just there; it’s this tension.”
Perfect examples of this is when Andrew and Simone were still hiding out at Dayton and Cole’s place. One in particular is when Dayton walks in to find Simone just sitting on the couch, smiling at Cole. “The only one who really noticed was [Dayton]. Cole’s just acting like a completely oblivious guy.” Nicole steps into the mind frame of her character. “I walk in and I hit [Cole] with a pillow like, ‘Hey!’” She breaks for a moment to laugh. “‘Come on! Get out of here!’”
It’s hard for Dayton, explains the actress, as she doesn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings or make a problem out of nothing. “Dayton just kind of backs off when she has to.”
Season two also introduced Cynthia, an old college friend of Sigourney’s. With some fans, Teenplicity included, having reservations and concerns about the new character, Nicole gives nothing away when asked about it.
“Cynthia is just an all-around great character.” Speaking of both the character and the actress behind her, she continues, “Great to act with, so much fun.” Addressing the questions some have about Cynthia, Nicole teases, “Things do get hyped up in terms of loyalty and who we can trust. Everybody starts pointing fingers at everybody.” This aspect can be seen in the promos for this week’s new episodes as Simone’s loyalty is questioned as well.
“I can see how you’re suspicious,” Nicole says. “But I mean… you know – we never know!” she exclaims with a small laugh when asked if Cynthia is trustworthy. “There could be some other people in here…”
With all of these new characters inviting different dynamics amongst those fans already adore, Nicole cites this as being the most surprising aspect of the season. “Even when we first heard the names and the genders, we were like, ‘Okay, but we still don’t know where they’re going with this.’” She mentions Simone and Rachel, a super-gamer who is first to publicly come to Andrew’s defense when it is revealed he’s an android, and how at the first glance of their breakdowns, the cast didn’t know who would be an android and what was going to happen. “Watching that unfold and seeing them cast these people who are so perfect for their characters and bringing their unique qualities to life – all of that has been surprising.”
Nicole excitedly adds that one of the coolest aspects of season two for her was getting the new set of Kingston’s, Dayton and Cole’s dad, apartment.
It’s like, ‘We gotta get you safe and that’s all that matters!’
The smile in her voice is palpable as she enthuses, “That is my faaaaaavorite set to be on!” Her voice drops slightly as she says, “It’s sad to think last year it didn’t even exist.” Her bright demeanor returns and she recalls the set happily. “It’s so wide and there’s so much room for activity. There’s the closet and there’s the couch and there’s so many places that we can go with it. You can sit so many people in the home and a lot of my favorite scenes were shot in that house. So that was a really nice addition.”
Adding that they can roll the camera, Nicole joyously explains, “You can just walk and the camera just walks with you.” She laughs as she says, “I’m like, ‘Wow, there’s a lot of space here.’ It’s like it just never ends!”
Having Dayton and Cole live with their father offers a completely different vibe, according to the actress. “They’re taking the home setting and making it into something they’ve never experienced before.” Explaining that their parents are divorced, Nicole reasons that they probably never just lived with their dad before. “After him being exposed and thinking he’s the bad guy and not trusting him, there’s a lot of – in the beginning – tension and eye rolling. Like, ‘Okay, whatever you say, Dad.’ Like, ‘I gotta do this; I gotta live here; I gotta put up with you.’ But it kind of shifts in a way and we get to see more of that really loving father vibe that you never thought Kingston would ever have, like at all from last season.”
Fans got their first glimpse of this with Cole inviting Kingston to his tennis match. Though he does become overbearing and too involved as Cole’s coach, the support is evident throughout.
“It was kind of cool to have some scenes where we’re all sitting in the house and it’s like, ‘Wow… we have a father!’” laughs the actress. “This is different! They’re usually just running around on their own. At least in this moment in time, he really does care and he’s totally different this season from last.”
Having the Reyes siblings living at their father’s apartment has offered up fun scenes and a creative playground for the actors to explore. From turning a couch on its side to fitting four people into a cramped closet, audiences are already loving the new space as much as the cast.
Laughing, Nicole points out that closet scene where Dayton and Cole hid Andrew and Simone as one of her favorites. “That was so much fun. The whole scene, we didn’t move and it was just all of us shoved into a closet and – oh my goodness, it was so funny! I remember it being so funny to do. And the guys didn’t want to touch and yet they were back-to-back. There was so much tension in this little corner and that was a lot of fun.”
Nicole even reveals the tips and tricks of filming in a not-so-tiny space and making it seem closed in.
“I also learned in that scene…” she begins. “Well, I talk with my hands a lot,” says Nicole as she places full blame on her Italian family, “and in this tiny closet… we had to make it look cramped with our positioning and the camera.”
Humor fills Nicole’s voice as she explains, “But there was enough space to do more than what we did and I kept talking with my hands which showed that we had a lot of space. Every time I watched it back, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness! I’m about to lock my hands behind my back!’”
She confesses, “That’s actually what I had to do.”
Shifting focus to the friendship between Dayton and Frankie, audiences have witnessed what the girls will do for each other. From Dayton figuring out a way to connect Frankie’s wiring to a high-powered hand dryer to Frankie creating sets and backdrops for Dayton’s drama club, there is no question of the loyalty the two have to each other.
Every single day, people are learning more.
“There’s an upcoming episode that we haven’t seen that is kind of similar to [Frankie] not being able to walk and talk last year where something goes wrong, she’s not functioning correctly,” Nicole says at the time of the interview, referring to the episode “I Am… A Creature” when talking about her favorite moments of the two’s friendship this season.
“The whole episode, I have to step in and basically mother her and cover her – because of course we’re in public, why would we not be?” she laughs. “Those are some of my favorite things – when I get to take her hand and be like, ‘Okay, follow me. You’re gonna do whatever I say,’ because you really see how far Dayton would go with the lie and the physicality. It’s like, ‘We gotta get you safe and that’s all that matters!’”
While there aren’t any fan theories concerning a sour turn for Frankie and Dayton’s relationship, there are quite a few that explore other threads in the show.
“There has been a really, really good theory that… I don’t know, we read it and just like – mind blown!” Nicole continues, excitement and a twinge of awe in her voice, “Some people are saying that they think Simone is Eliza with a face change!”
Following a gasp from Teenplicity, the actress laughs in amazement. “Isn’t that massively crazy?! That’s a good one,” she says. “The timing would really work out!”
Though she gave no indication as to whether or not the theory had touched on any truths, Nicole isn’t shutting the door yet on an appearance from Eliza in the future.
“There is…” she pauses when asked about Eliza’s return, “a chance. I will say at this moment in time, that whole storyline isn’t completely resolved. There are a lot of ways it can go and lots of opportunities for her to keep popping up.” The actress explains, “She’s alive and well – existing in the world. We don’t know what that’s gonna cause, who she’s gonna team up with, and we also just don’t know how she has been alive all this time.”
Nicole can’t help but tease, “There has to be somebody – maybe somebody else, maybe somebody we already know – who is in cahoots and that’s still a big question.”
Fan theories and questions are just a part of Nicole’s favorite kind of fan reactions. Gushing over how positive everyone has been, she reveals, “I really love getting videos of people like talking to us and being like, ‘Oh my goodness! Tonight’s episode was great!’ or seeing people post a picture of their living room with their feet up and pizza and our show’s on the TV. That just makes me so happy.”
Describing the show as airing “fast and furious” due to its daily scheduling, she says that every day there’s a new reaction.
“Every single day, people are learning more.”
Nicole points out that some of the funniest to watch are those from people who binge the episodes. “They don’t watch it for two weeks and then they watch ten episodes at once and they’re like, ‘Oh my goodness! I didn’t know it’d go this far this quickly!’” she reenacts with a fondness to her tone. “Then you’re like, ‘Oh man, you just caught up today, didn’t you?’” laughs the actress. “‘It’s quite obvious.’ But yeah, it’s just been all really, really great.”
“I’m super excited!” she says excitedly when thinking about all the remaining episodes to air that fans are eagerly anticipating. As Nicole waits for new episode reactions to roll in for this week, she teases the rest of season two with just three words.
“Intense. Action-packed. Adventurous.”
“I Am Frankie” airs nightly at 8PM on Nickelodeon.
***ABOVE PHOTO CREDIT TO BRETT ERICKSON