There’s just something about Ruby on Fantasy Island. After originally coming to the island as a guest, Ruby has extended her stay and become Roarke’s right-hand woman. With her calm disposition and sweet Southern accent, Ruby is the definition of comfort. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Kiara Barnes about the origins of Ruby’s accent and how her grandmother influenced the character.
“I didn’t even really consciously do it [the accent]. I was connecting with my Nana, who lives in Mississippi. I have a lot of family in the South as well. I grew up everywhere: Missouri, California, and Utah… I spent time in Mississippi. I’ve just been all over since I was a kid. But I have a lot of family in the South. The character Ruby is so deeply connected to my Nana, my grandmother. I guess I just naturally was channeling Gloria and just her energy. She has such a poise in the way that she talks and she makes you feel you want to be with her and present. It’s very intentional.”
She continued, “I really wasn’t even planning it or doing any conscious thinking of this is how I want to go about this. It just naturally kind of came that way. This is the cool thing about the idea of not chasing after roles or not trying to find roles but letting roles find you. That’s exactly what it felt like. It wasn’t forced. It naturally came to me, and I fall into Ruby. I just fall into that character and Kiara just goes somewhere else for the filming, and then I come home and I’m back. It’s been very therapeutic to be quite honest. Just because I feel like I have her with me on set. I even got to have her last season, my Nana, come and watch. It was a huge and special moment to be able to have her there.”
Ruby, inspired by the character Tattoo in the original series, initially comes to the island as a 75-year-old woman with her husband after her cancer diagnosis. After they’re transformed back to their younger selves, Ruby decides to get a tattoo on the island. Ruby ends up staying on the island for good and leaving her other life behind. HollywoodLife asked Kiara whether or not she thinks Ruby can live a full life on the island.
“I think she’s figuring it out. She’s discovering it. This is all so new,” Kiara said. “This is like her second year as an employee on the island, so she’s still very much sorting out, well, if Helene can leave, can I leave? Is there any kind of loophole? She’s still trying to wrap your head around the ins and outs of the island because it has its own secret agreements and things that even I think Roarke is figuring out as well with certain things.”
The actress added, “I think she’s getting more and more comfortable with it, but I think it’s really sweet that Roarke is willing to find ways to help Ruby feel more comfortable. Because she left literally her entire life — kids, family, grandkids — to be on this island. I think she just has a hard time thinking: did I make the right choice?”
Ruby and Roarke’s close friendship is central to the show. Kiara admitted that she was “so nervous” meeting co-star Roselyn Sanchez for the first time. But she had nothing to worry about.
“Immediately, she comes in cracking jokes and wanting to get to know me and my life. She just has this genuine nature about her work. She’s very intrigued by people and just conversations. Any anxiety I had went right out the window,” Kiara told HollywoodLife.
The FOX series has had a number of notable guest stars, including Teri Hatcher, Bellamy Young, and the late Leslie Jordan. Kiara revealed that she thinks Jeff Goldblum would fit “personality-wise” as a guest star. “He would totally just be there and enjoy the experience,” she said. “He’s such a bright energy that I feel like we could write something so fun and cool for him. He’s good at drama and good at funny and balancing. So I feel like we could show that he could do that. That’d be awesome.” Fantasy Island season 2 airs Mondays on FOX.