Chelan Simmons is playing closer to her own experience in her new series, but she knows some fans always will associate her with aliens and giant snakes.
The actress plays a dancer seeking her big break in “The L.A. Complex,” made largely in her native Canada and getting its U.S. premiere Tuesday, April 24, on The CW. This week, though, she’s acknowledging her fame among fantasy fans — thanks to the former ABC Family show “Kyle XY” and such Syfy movies as “Snakehead Terror” and “Chupacabra: Dark Seas” — by appearing at a convention in Australia, along with her “Complex” co-star Jewel Staite (“Firefly,” “Stargate Atlantis”).
“Though I’ve been in horror movies, I just can’t watch them,” the spirited Simmons tells Zap2it. “The first time I watched a ‘Harry Potter’ movie, I had nightmares for, like, two weeks. I’m not good with sci-fi stuff. I’ll be in it, as long as I can see what I’m dealing with and know it’s fake. As soon as I watch it on TV, though, my brain registers it as ‘Everything’s real!'”
Simmons’ history with the genre dates back to her earliest screen credit, working with such then-established stars as John Ritter, Richard Thomas and Annette O’Toole in ABC’s 1990 miniseries version of the Stephen King story “It.” She recalls, “They invited me to come do the read-through with everyone, and my mom got there with me and they were all there … and she was just losing her mind.
“I mean, the rest of my family is not in the business at all, and she was so starstruck. And they asked me if I wanted to do my lines, and I stood up and sang ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider,’ and I remember everyone clapped for me afterward. Then I told my mom, ‘OK, cool. Let’s go.’ And I dragged her away.”
That was just one part of showbiz the Vancouver-born Simmons didn’t quite understand then, she admits. “When I was little, I didn’t know you got paid for acting. My parents put the money in the bank for me, but I just thought it was this fun thing that I was so excited to do. You got to be on the set and get a little bit of makeup and be on camera.
“And after every audition I booked,” Simmons adds, “my parents would buy me a Barbie, so that was it for me: You got a Barbie, and you got to hang out with friends. And I thought it was just the best thing ever.”