Rise: Amy Forsyth on what that ending means for Gwen's relationship with her dad
Rise’s first season has been a time of constant change for Gwen, who started the season as the star of the theater department and a happy high school kid altogether. Jump ahead six episodes, and she’s lost the starring role in the school play, her parents have announced their divorce, and she’s skipping class and trespassing.
It’s a trajectory that showrunner Jason Katims laid out for Amy Forsyth, who plays Gwen, at the beginning of the season. Katims sat down with Forsyth to talk about Gwen’s journey, and Forsyth quickly found herself relating, having also been a child of divorce. Forsyth actually ended up pitching a story idea for Gwen, which will come into play in a later episode. (Let’s just say that teenage Gwen gets to do something that teenage Amy always thought about.)
But this week’s episode was a particularly important one in Gwen’s journey, because it ended with her father making a grand gesture: He gathered a bunch of guys and delivered the Stanton Steel sign to Gwen (and the theater department). It wasn’t an easy task, but that’s what makes it so significant in terms of their father-daughter relationship.
“It’s very complicated,” Forsyth says of the relationship, and that gesture specifically. “That’s not suddenly going to change everything and make everything okay. But at the same time, she sees him trying. I know that I’ve had similar experiences with my father where I think, ‘Just because you say that or just because you do that, that doesn’t mean I’m going to forget everything that happened.’ But you also realize that, yes, it’s your dad, but he’s just a human being, and so he’s feeling things too, he’s struggling too, he’s hurting too. So to see somebody try is the first step.”
Does that mean that Gwen and her father could mend their broken relationship? “I think there is a little moment where she thinks, ‘Okay, this isn’t fixing everything and I’m still really pissed and hurt, but I see the act of love and I can appreciate that,’” Forsyth says. “So I do think that it’s the first little bit of forgiveness and love.”
Rise airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.