The sci-fi tween series Endlings has returned for its second season, along with an Emmy-winning Ancaster teenager as one of its stars.
Michela Luci, 14, says the second season of the futuristic show — a CBC Kids Original, produced by Sinking Ship Entertainment in partnership with Hulu — has higher stakes as characters grapple with tough pasts and futures.
“Endlings showcases things like empathy, inclusion, and the meaning of family — and that family can really be whatever you want it to be,” Luci said. “It also shows the importance of conservation and preservation.”
The show takes place 20 years in the future, where four foster teenagers help an extraterrestrial friend save fantastical endlings — creatures who are the last of their kind.
The 12-episode second season premiered earlier this month on Jan. 15 and can be streamed on CBC Gem.
Luci said she was drawn into the unique story, created by J. J. Johnson, by the complex character of Tabby.
She described the foster teen as an intelligent and intuitive girl with a love for inventing and creativity, and who holds heavy emotional pain and learns to welcome change.
“What’s special about Tabby is that it gives young kids, specifically young girls, a role model to look up to when watching Endlings,” she said. “They can see this non-stereotypical role of a girl taking on [and] exploring the world of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).”
Earning the role of Tabby ahead of season one left the actor “overjoyed.”
Luci first learned she’d be taking on the role while on set for TVOKids’s Dino Dana. She won the 2019 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in a Children’s, Family Viewing or Special Class Program for her starring role as Dana.
Though Endlings was able to wrap filming a month before the pandemic’s onset, the series’s post-production still saw creators working from home. Luci recorded automatic dialogue replacement for the show from a makeshift recording studio from her parents’ closet.
But while on set, she developed a “true friendship” with her cast and dove into the “learning experience” of taking on the layered emotions of Tabby.
Luci spoke about a scene in season one, in which Tabby meets with her biological mother in a diner. Despite her nerves, Luci said the moment allowed her to come out of her shell as a performer.
“To be able to put myself in Tabby’s shoes and really understand how she was feeling, it broke my heart,” she said. “It was almost as if I was crying for Tabby.”
The actor says she’s held a life-long passion for the art of performance, including acting, singing and dancing.
The teen has been nominated twice for a Canadian Screen Award, and is the title voice of True in the Netflix animated series True and the Rainbow Kingdom. Luci is also a member of the Toronto based indie girl group GFORCE that performed on Season 14 of America’s Got Talent.
The plot of Endlings, Luci said, is something she’s never quite seen before, which captivated her as an actor.
The show gives perspective to the reality of the environment’s future, she said, but leaves audiences with the idea that humans are capable of making change and should stand up for what they believe in.
“Endlings really shows that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can make a change in even the smallest way,” she said.
The adventurous foster teens include Tabby, Julia (Kamaia Fairburn), Johnny (Edison Grant), and Finn (Cale Thomas Ferrin.)
With the help of their foster father Mr. Leopold (Neil Crone) and animal activist Dr. Abiona Maina (Oyin Oladejo), they hope to save their alien friend Ling, other near-extinct species, and outlast a daunting Infinitum CEO Tresa Hewes (Lisa Ryder).