Alisha Boe on ‘The Buccaneers’ Finale, Her First Period Piece – WWD

Estimated read time 4 min read


As luck would have it, the SAG-AFTRA strike lifted the exact day that “The Buccaneers” landed onto Apple TV+. Which is how Alisha Boe is on Zoom now, calling in from her home in Los Angeles, ready to break down her first period piece. 

“There’s been a really fun response,” Boe says of the interactions she’s had on her Instagram. “People are really enjoying it because it’s such a fun show; it’s such grand landscapes and fun storylines and good costumes, and I think it’s a bit joyous to watch because it kind of lets you escape from reality a bit. And I think we can all use that sometimes.”

Boe, 26, is best known for “13 Reasons Why,” which catapulted her to fame, and has appeared in indie movie “Yes, God, Yes” and Jesse Eisenberg’s “When You Finish Saving the World.” She learned about “The Buccaneers” when it landed in her inbox, and was instantly intrigued by the idea of a period piece, which she’d never done. 

“The aesthetics of it all — the costumes, hairpieces and makeup and the landscapes and the castles, you automatically feel like it’s such a different world from what we’re used to. And then when you distill all of that, it’s just this group of girls going through adolescence to womanhood, that we can all relate to,” Boe says. “They just get to go to balls and drink Champagne, marry dukes and whatnot.”

Alisha Boe in “The Buccaneers.”

The story, based on the unfinished Edith Wharton novel, follows a group of American friends who travel to London from New York in the 1870s to immerse themselves in the social scene. Boe plays Conchita, the first to marry, who soon learns the struggles of navigating British upper-class expectations of a wife against her own American free-spirited ambition. 

“It was a challenge for sure, because she’s so out there with her feelings. She was written in a way where she’s crying one second and then maniacally laughing the next, and she kind of exists on such a dramatic spectrum that I, as Alisha, am not,” Boe says. 

When it came time to audition, Boe was traveling internationally for an event and was fresh off a long flight, exceptionally jet-lagged, when she went to log onto Zoom. 

“I did it on no sleep, and I closed the laptop and I was like, ‘that was the worst audition I’ve ever done in my life. I’ll never hear from them again.’ I’m glad I did it, but wow, I should have probably gotten sleep,’” she recalls. 

Alisha Boe

Alisha Boe

Courtesy of Evan Brown

Costar Kristine Froseth, who was the only cast member Boe knew, was the one to break the news to her that the role of Conchita was hers, by DMing her on Instagram.

“The morning of, she was like, ‘you got it.’ But it was before the official phone call and I was like, ‘are you sure?’” Boe recalls. 

Doing a period piece had always appealed to Boe — the costumes alone — but she’d never thought it a possibility. 

“Growing up, you watch ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and all of these beautiful movies and being a Black woman, I personally never really saw myself fitting into the world because it is historically, we don’t really see Black women in those types of societies unless we’re servants or the shame of the world’s history when it comes to people of color. So I’ve always dreamed of being an 1800s girl because it’s so fun. It’s really, really lovely that I had the opportunity to, and that I’ve been a young actor in this day and age where we’re able to do a bit of colorblind casting to reflect the world in modern society, but still tell these stories,” Boe says.

During the season, which concludes on Wednesday, Conchita becomes pregnant and gives birth, which was also a new experience for Boe.

“I have a friend who’s an actor who somehow she’s done [several] projects where she’s had to be pregnant. I texted her [before the birthing scene] and was like ‘any advice you want to give me?’” Boe says. “And she goes, ‘you gotta scream from the depths of your uterus. Scream from your pelvis.’”

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