9-1-1’s Corinne Massiah Talks May’s ‘Admirable’ Actions & Her Dream Storyline
May Grant has seen her fair share of crazy situations.
Her time in the call center was filled with daily life-or-death scenarios, and those experiences have truly shaped her into the woman she is today. 9-1-1 Season 6 Episode 8 sees her involved in a scary situation, in which her time spent at dispatch helps her immensely.
TV Fanatic jumped on a call with series star Corinne Massiah, who walked us through May’s decisions during this hour and how her real-life journey has paralleled parts of her fictional counterparts.
Corinne is a terrific young lady with a great perspective on everything May and 9-1-1. Enjoy, 9-1-1 Fanatics!
I was excited to see May back in this episode this week. She has been away at school, transitioning into this next phase of her life. How do you think she’s adjusting back into the life of being a student? Which is a lot different from working a 9 to 5.
I think May is adjusting pretty nicely. She might be a little bored at times, seeing how her mom and stepdad are always fighting crime and fighting fires. She kind of feels a little bit left out, but it was pretty refreshing for her to act her age again, be around people her age, and be in college with like-minded people.
And I think it was a good step in the right direction for May, and she’s adjusting nicely.
A lot of thought went into May choosing to take that gap year initially and work at dispatch. And equally, much thought was put into her decision to ultimately go to college. Do you feel that was the best decision for May then? And how do you feel about that journey that she took last season?
I personally do think it was the right thing for her to do, especially after Episode 16 of last season. What happened with her and Claudette was very traumatizing for her. And I think Claudette also talked some sense into her, “Is this really what you want to do for the rest of your life? You’re so young. You have so much potential.”
And May was constantly, even though she was saving lives and learning so much at such a young age, she needed to, again, act her age, I think, and experience things that were age appropriate for her, have fun in college and still learn and get her degree. So I do think it was a step in the right direction for her.
Not to say that she couldn’t get a job again as a dispatcher if she wanted to, but I think it was the right thing for her to do.
In this episode, Athena, in a conversation with Hen, talks about May’s life experiences and how she may not realize that those experiences are her superpower. How do you think May views the time she spent in dispatch and its effect on her current life?
Oh, it’s definitely affected her current life, and we see it in this episode. Even though May wasn’t in the dispatch center and she’s been in college, she could put her hero hat back on, save her boyfriend, and de-escalate this hostage situation. And I think May doesn’t really have enough confidence in herself.
And so situations like these, especially last season for Episode 16, and in this episode, May kind of surprises herself, which I think is really inspiring. Because I think we all have that voice in our head where, “Oh, we’re not good enough, we’re not good enough.”
But here, May just de-escalated a whole situation, and she’s only 20 years old. And I think it’s really inspiring.
Yeah, I think so too. She was so calm. May, to me, is a very calming character. That’s how I like to describe her.
She and I are so different in that aspect. I would be freaking out.
Oh, my goodness. Yes.
Well, she was so calm at that moment. And it felt like she had developed so much in that time that she was at dispatch to be able to think through that whole situation calmly.
Even in her conversation with Darius after she saved him, May even mentions she had some great teachers at the dispatch center. And I remember, I think it was season four, Maddie was talking to me about how she can’t be so reactive and so emotional when it comes to taking these calls.
And I think May took those words and implemented them into this situation because she knew she couldn’t let her emotions get in the way of her saving Darius.
As you said in this episode, she finds herself in this very difficult position, especially when she finds Eric’s notebook. What do you think was running through her head when she first found it?
I think May didn’t want to admit that Erik had this manifesto. I mean, we saw that she was kind of second-guessing running out of the house with this notebook because she’s like, “Okay if I leave this house with this, what am I signing up for?”
You can kind of see the wheels turning in her head, but she knew it was for a greater good. Because she even said she saw something, so she needed to say something. Which I think was also really admirable because she didn’t want to regret that decision. And then something bigger is happening.
But I think the audience can see her thought process. And she decided to take that plunge, and she knew that she could run to her mom. And she called her mom immediately because she knows her mom is kind of the voice of reason, asking her mom, “Am I crazy? Am I doing the wrong thing?”
And her mom reassured her, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Interesting you said that because that was actually my next question, which was that she saw something, so she needs to say something. This is interesting because some people wouldn’t say anything, but May does.
Do you think that’s a product of her time as a dispatcher, being Athena’s daughter, just who May inherently is? Maybe a mixture of all three?
I definitely think it’s a mixture of all three. One, being Athena’s daughter, she knows how these situations can go, and she’s seen how bad these situations can go. But I think May’s role as a dispatcher did really help this decision.
Because she knows that if she doesn’t say anything, this could be all over the news, causing mass casualties. And so, again, she just needed to nip it in the bud. And I think that was her main focus in that situation.
Darius came back during this hour, which is nice to see for May. Were you excited to see that relationship come back and blossom during this hour?
Oh my gosh, I was so excited because usually I’m just working with adults, no complaining, but it’s cool to have someone on set my age. And I’ve worked with Dante, who plays Darius, in the past. I think it was season three. He was in the Athena Begins episode. And that was the last time I saw him.
So it was cool to see that he was back on the call sheet and coming back. And it was totally fun to work with him again. And then Robbie, who plays Erik, oh my gosh, he was such a breath of fresh air. It was so nice working with him as well. This episode was awesome to film.
That’s great. And you talked about May Day earlier from last season, and you’ve gotten a chance to be in all types of scenes throughout 9-1-1. You’ve gotten to play those scenes and a lot of domestic family scenes within the Grant household. What scenes have been some of your favorites to film throughout the series?
My favorites are the most action-filled scenes. I mean, [9-1-1 Season 3 Episode 2], the tsunami, and [9-1-1 Season 5 Episode 16], with the call center fire. And this episode where we’re on location is really fun. But I feel like I can exercise my acting skills a little bit more.
Yes, it’s fun to have those more domestic scenes, but I feel like I’m part of the action when I’m filming these more action-packed episodes.
You’ve been on 9-1-1 for quite some time now. What’s something that you’ve learned in your time working on the series?
This series is very fast-paced. So if there’s an episode that’s jam-packed and emergency-filled, I’m also a student at UCLA, so it’s like, “Okay, Corinne, buckle up. You’re going to have some night shoots. There’s going to be some long days.” But it’s honestly so rewarding. I would not trade it for the world.
Have you seen parallels between May’s journey and your own?
I think the balance is very parallel because, again, I’m balancing acting and school. And May was kind of balancing whether she wanted to be a dispatcher or just go to school. But again, I’ve said this so many times, a lot of these conversations that May has had with Bobby, Michael, and Athena, I was having with my parents.
So it’s been very easy to play May because it’s so easy to connect with her, and it’s just so easy to have these conversations. Because it’s like I’m going through a lot of the same things that she is and guessing, second-guessing a lot of lifestyle decisions, career path, things like that.
How have you grown as an actress since being on the series? You’re around amazing actors, great directors, and writers.
Having Angela Bassett as a scene partner, I don’t know how anyone couldn’t grow — just seeing how she approaches a scene. I’m a sponge when I’m around her. I think when it comes to action-reaction, like her facial expressions, I’ve taken note of them. “Okay. I can use my face a lot more.”
I was nervous when I was younger when it came to playing with the scenes and playing with different ways to do it.
But I see Angela do it all the time, so I’ve become more comfortable. “Okay. Maybe I just want to switch up this line a little bit,” gaining more confidence in myself when it comes to taking control of the scene and doing what I think is best for the character and the storyline.
What is the best part for you about playing May?
The best part about playing May would have to be …I love her personality. She’s so cool, calm, and collected. She’s so opinionated, which is very like me. And she’s just a strong young woman trying to find her purpose, which I admire.
If I could describe May, I would say she’s very resilient.
She can bounce back from tough situations and not dwell on really bad things that happen. But she can also see the light in situations as well.
And she also has great style. May has great style.
That, too. Oh, my goodness. That’s a whole other interview!
If you could craft a dream storyline for May, get into the writer’s room, and you’re like, “I want me to do this,” do you have anything in mind?
Oh my gosh. A dream storyline? If May wanted to, she could go to nursing school and be a nurse. I think that would be pretty cool in my opinion.
Yeah, I could totally see that!
Still saving lives but in a hospital.
Yeah, just a different way. Well, thank you so much, Corinne.
Of course. Thank you. This was awesome.
Yes, it was very nice to talk to you.
Nice talking to you!
***This interview has been edited for length and clarity.***
You can watch 9-1-1 on Mondays at 9/8c on FOX.
Whitney Evans is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.