Ahead of the premiere of Nickelodeon’s brand new show Warped!, TEENPLICITY spoke with the cast to get to know their characters, what audiences can expect from the series, and so much more! Check out what Ariana Molkara has to say about her character Darby below!
When audiences first meet Darby, she is strolling into the local comic book shop, Warped!, and testing her friend Milo on his comic knowledge. Decked out in her latest cosplay creation of an alien from the fictional film Planet X and with jewels adorning her face and hair, she looks perfectly fit for a comic convention. According to her friend Hurley, however, this is a regular occurrence. “I don’t even think she owns normal clothes,” he says in the first episode.
“My character, Darby, has an encyclopedic knowledge of comic books. She is also a huge fashion enthusiast and designs her own clothes. The combination of her vast knowledge of comics and her talent for fashion design makes her an extraordinary cosplayer,” says Ariana Molkara, the actress behind the creatively fashionable character.
She continues her description of Darby by saying, “She is super intelligent but gets stuck in her own world sometimes. She’s probably more comfortable communicating when she is cosplaying than when she’s being herself, so seeing her develop throughout the course of the season is going to be really exciting. She tends to say and do things without thinking which makes her super funny to watch. There’s never a dull moment when she’s around.”
It isn’t much of a stretch for Ariana to step into Darby’s shoes. She says with a laugh, “Darby and I are both total dorks who embrace the nerdom 100%.” While they both have a passion for fashion, she admits their styles are a bit different. “There are definitely certain things that I would love to borrow from her closet though,” she adds. “We are both super quirky and lively. She is more forward and blunt than I am.”
Ariana also says that she is a member of the comic book and superhero fandom but, despite her love for it, “Darby would beat me at a game of comic book trivia.”
Her character puts that knowledge to use with every cosplay outfit she creates.
Cosplaying is when a person dresses like a character from a piece of media. Many fans are like Darby, creating their own outfits so they can look like their favorite characters. In real life, Star Wars fans are widely known for their cosplays, with some legions of fans that recreate Stormtrooper armor even being called upon as extras in the franchise’s television shows due to their likeness.
Each character is so unique and funny in their own way – they all have something different to offer.
Though Ariana was familiar with the concept prior to the show, depicting Darby provided her with much more knowledge about cosplaying.
“You know, one of the reasons I love acting so much is that through portraying different types of roles, I sometimes get to discover new passions and interests.” The actress continues, “I’ve never cosplayed at conventions or anything before, but I’ve always taken any opportunity to dress up as a character, whether it be for a show or a fun event. I never had much exposure to the world of cosplaying growing up. It wasn’t until I started working on this show that I learned more about it and discovered just how awesome it is.”
In fact, Darby’s cosplays even inspired Ariana to come up with fun ideas for when conventions are back at large. “I told my castmates on the show that we need to all cosplay and go to Comic Con together when it’s safe. That would be so fun!”
Though it’s a tough ask at first, the actress is able to come up with a cosplay she’d pick for the occasion.
“Probably Wonder Woman,” she decides. “Wonder Woman is one of my favorite superheroes. Before she officially takes on the title of being a superhero, people underestimate her. She is seen by many as only a symbol of beauty and not someone who can fight, but she proves that women are strong and can do anything. Girls don’t need to sit down, waiting to be saved. They can be their own heroes. I find that to be really inspiring.”
With an entire season’s worth of cosplays to look forward to, there is still so much in store for audiences when they tune into Warped!. The series starts with Darby, Milo, and Hurley as close friends already, with Ruby a newcomer to their group once she gets hired to the comic shop. Speaking of the original trio, Ariana says their friendship goes way back. “Darby, Milo, and Hurley are like the three musketeers.”
“Darby found a sort of safe space with Milo and Hurley. They’ve always been there for her and accepted her the way she is when others might not have,” the actress says. “Darby and Hurley are like two peas in a pod. Their energies bounce off of each other really well. When Ruby joins forces with Milo to create their comic book franchise, Darby and Hurley grow even closer as they support each other in their own endeavors.”
The addition of Ruby to the group is a welcome one. Ariana laments that now Darby has another girl she can bond with over comics. “You’ll get to see the two putting their heads together and using their amazing girl power throughout the season to overcome different challenges.” She adds, “I think it’s sometimes hard for Darby to put herself out there and find new social groups so when another person like Ruby shows up who lives in the same sort of world that she does, it’s super exciting for her. They’re both pretty high-spirited and can be impulsive in their own ways so when they’re paired together, excitement and laughs are guaranteed. I’m excited for everyone to see their friendship grow on the show.”
Audiences won’t have to worry about the new friendship pushing Darby’s old friendships out of the way. Discussing Darby’s dynamics with the boys, she says, “Darby and Hurley each have their own unique quirks that make them a hilarious, dynamic duo. Milo and Darby understand each other really well. They’re usually on the same wavelength and it’s often the two of them that have to keep Ruby and Hurley in check. Each character is so different, yet all of the characters come together so well. Their relationships to each other are like a machine that produces lots of comedy.”
Getting all four characters together will bring audiences on a ride they won’t want to get off of. Citing the action, adventure, craziness, and humor of the season, Ariana also can’t wait for audiences to finally be able to tune in and see it for themselves. “It’s a great show for the whole family. I think it’s a show that people of all ages will enjoy,” she says. “You’ll get to see some really cool costumes and a breathtaking set – with lots of Nickelodeon easter eggs too. The show is so aesthetically pleasing. If you love comics, sci-fi, and superheroes, this is the show for you.”
Don’t worry if that isn’t your thing. “What’s great is that there’s something for everyone even if you’re not part of the comic book fandom. Each character is so unique and funny in their own way – they all have something different to offer.”
I love playing characters that are multidimensional and go on a journey.
With the premiere still days away, there’s not much that Ariana can say about her favorite moments in the show. She does tease that she’s super excited for audiences to see the episode titled ‘Creeped’.
“I think you can imagine what that episode might be like just by the name,” she says. “Things might get a little creepy in the funniest way!!” More so, Ariana is excited for audiences to watch Darby’s journey as she breaks out of her shell and explores things outside of her comfort zone. Still, she doesn’t share what that might be, only saying, “You’ll have to tune in on Thursdays to find out what it is.”
Tuning in every Thursday is sure to guarantee a lot of laughter and a lot of amazement, especially at Darby’s cosplays. Given that the show takes place in a comic book shop, TEENPLICITY couldn’t help but ask what her favorite comic book or comic book movie is.
“Growing up, I really liked Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” she says of the Archie comic series which spawned multiple shows and novels. “As for films, the Guardians of the Galaxy movies are among my favorites.”
That only further appeals to the curiosity – which comic book character would she love to portray?
“I think it’d be cool to be Wanda,” the actress says, referencing Wanda Maximoff aka the Scarlet Witch in the Marvel comics and cinematic universe. “She has such an interesting and complex character arc. She starts off as a villain and originally has conflict with the Avengers but she ends up joining them.”
Wanda’s arc in the MCU speaks to everything Ariana loves about her craft. “I love playing characters that are multidimensional and go on a journey. Portraying a character like Wanda who goes through this sort of awakening would be so challenging yet super cool! WandaVision is one of my favorite shows. I love period pieces [so] getting to portray so many different decades within the same body of work sounds so fun. Also, the face that she falls in love with a humanoid, Vision, is such a beautiful but strange concept to explore.”
One fun concept to explore on Warped! would be an appearance by a special guest star and figuring out what their character would be like. Ariana picks someone she shares a name with and a connection to through Nickelodeon. “I love Ariana Grande and she’s a huge Nickelodeon alumni so I think it’d be super cool to have her guest star on the show. I have no idea who she would play but I’m sure our amazing creators and team of writers could figure something out for her,” she says with a laugh. She does offer, however, “Maybe she could play herself and act like she’s coming in to shop at Warped!”
Not only do her and Ariana Grande share a name and a network, but they also both have incredible vocal talent. Ariana [Kolmara] has sung at numerous national competitions, winning multiple awards over the years as well, including first place in the American Protégé Vocal Competition in 2018. During her promotions for the show, she even showed off her talents when performing the Nickelodeon theme song. TEENPLICITY couldn’t help but ask if she’d love to see her character demonstrate some of her singing talents.
“Would I love for audiences to see Darby doing a little singing? YES, YES AND YES!” Through her excitement, she still teases with a laugh, “Is it going to happen? I don’t know… maybe, maybe not. I guess you’re going to have to watch and find out!”
If the tables were turned and Ariana were watching Darby every week, but on a competition show, TEENPLICITY poses the question of which show her character would go on and if she thinks Darby would win.
“She would probably use her talent for fashion design on Project Runway,” the actress starts. “I think she’d have a strong chance of winning the competition! Darby’s got some serious skill! I can’t wait for everyone to see her fun outfits on Warped!.”
Warped! premieres on Nickelodeon on Thursday, January 20th at 7:30pm! Tune in to Nickelodeon on Sunday, January 16th at 7:30pm for a special sneak peek of the series!