Interview with cast and crew of “Astrid and Lilly Saves the World”

TV Interview!

Syfy panel with actors and producers from "Astrid & Lilly Save the World"

Interview with actors Samantha Aucoin and Jana Morrison, and showrunners Noelle Stehman and Betsy Van Stone of “Astrid and Lilly Save the World” on Syfy by Suzanne 12/9/21

This was a fun panel with the stars and executive producers of this new Syfy show. The show seems to me like “Scooby Doo” crossed with “Supernatural.”


Astrid & Lilly Save the World

Samantha Aucoin, Talent, “Lilly Fortenberry”, Jana Morrison, Talent, “Astrid Bell”, Noelle Stehman, Executive Producer/Showrunner and Betsy Van Stone, Executive Producer/Showrunner

Virtual via Zoom December 9, 2021

© 2021 NBCUniversal, Inc.  All rights reserved.

HALLE HERMAN: Hi. I’m Halle Herman, and I’m here to introduce the panel for SYFY’s new series “Astrid and Lilly Save the World,” which will premiere Wednesday, January 26th, at 10:00 p.m., on both SYFY and USA Network before airing exclusively on SYFY.

High school is hard enough when you’re different, but when outcast BFFs Astrid and Lilly accidently crack open a portal to a terrifyingly quirky monster dimension, it gets a lot more complicated. It’s up to them to vanquish the creepy creatures and save the world, becoming the badass heroes they were meant to be; that is, if they can survive the horrors of high school.

Here’s a peek at “Astrid and Lilly Save the World.”

From left to right are executive producers Noelle Stehman and Betsy Van Stone and Samantha Aucoin and Jana Morrison. We are now ready for your questions.

MATTHEW LIFSON: Thank you, Halle, and welcome to our panelists.

(Zoom instructions.)

QUESTION: Hey, Noelle and Betsy. I love that these two lead actresses are larger than a typical leading lady. Was that body positivity something you went into creating with these particular roles or did you just stumble on these really good talents and they fit the characters?

BETSY VAN STONE: We went into it very intentionally. You know, the whole world doesn’t look the same. Not everyone is a size two, and representation matters. We are lucky to have found incredibly talented actresses who happen to look like what most American women look like. And it’s long overdue to see that represented on television.

QUESTION: Amen. Thank you, guys, so much. And Samantha and Jana, you guys are beautiful, and I love that you guys get these comedic leads to you. Talk about, for you, what it means to you to see more inclusivity as far as larger lead actresses.

JANA MORRISON: Like, where do we start? It obviously means the world because when we were young, we would have killed to see a show like this.


JANA MORRISON: To have people like us be heroes? Back then it wasn’t a thing and now I’m really stoked that we’re that for people around the world.


JANA MORRISON: Anything you want to say?

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: Yeah. No. I mean, that’s so true. I could have 100 percent used this show in high school. And I’m so proud that we get to represent these characters, these amazing characters. And I think it’s really going to make a difference in for anyone who watches the show.

QUESTION: This is for Noelle and Betsy. So much of TV is about people who are perceived of as outsiders; particularly teen shows, a lot are about that. So, I’m just wondering, in your own teen years, when you were kids, were you thought of do you think of yourself as outsiders or were you one of the cool kids or were you in the theater crowd? What were you like at the time?

BETSY VAN STONE: All of the above.

NOELLE STEHMAN: Yeah. I think I hopped through a lot of the different crowds the uncool crowd, a little bit of the theater crowd, a little bit of sometimes in with the cool kids. But, definitely, I think high school’s a time when no one quite feels comfortable no matter what crowd you’re in. And that doesn’t just stop at high school. It kind of extends throughout all of life. So, I think in that way, this is a show that is for everybody of every age, anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider in any type of way, yeah.

QUESTION: Well, let me ask the actresses that too because you’re so near to having been in high school. And like you say, that’s probably the time when you feel like you said, everyone feels like an outsider. So, what were your high school years like? Were you cool kids? Were you outsiders? What did you feel like?

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: Yeah. My high school experience, I was definitely part of the theater group and music kids. I kind of hopped from group to group; and because I hopped from group to group, I definitely felt like more of an outsider. I definitely didn’t stick with one set group. So, I can definitely relate to the characters in that way.

JANA MORRISON: For me, my high school, I was definitely theater-kid through and through. All my little group were just theater and dance people and we just all got each other because we were weird and loud. And all the other kids in school thought we were losers for, like, loving theater, which I don’t know why. Theater’s really fun. But I had maybe a couple, like, “cool kid” friends, but I don’t know if they were really my friends. So

QUESTION: Okay. Cool.

BETSY VAN STONE: Yeah. I just want to add quickly that one thing we’ve really learned in writing and making the show and talking to as many people as we have come in contact with, whether they be related to the show or not, like, at some point in your life, you felt like an outsider. That’s just universally true. And you felt like an outcast, whether that was when you were a kid or at work or in your family, and that’s why this show is for everyone. And what’s cooler than two outcasts who save the world? I mean, come on.

NOELLE STEHMAN: Absolutely. And we want to celebrate everyone’s uniqueness and weirdness in all of its glory.

QUESTION: Good point. Thanks a lot.


QUESTION: I kind of want to follow up on Mike’s question about the teen subject. Can you talk a little bit I’d like to hear from the producers and then from the talent, please, about the series and maybe what is your most important subject matter that you think will continue to keep teens interested in the show?

NOELLE STEHMAN: I mean, I guess I would say overall it’s just, again, emphasis on the feeling comfortable being yourself, whatever that means.


NOELLE STEHMAN: And I feel like that extends to all the different categories of insecurities and vulnerabilities and being different. So, yeah, I think whatever it is that scares you or makes you feel like an outsider, that is to be celebrated, and that’s what we’re trying to emphasize across the board.

I don’t know if you have anything specific to add.

BETSY VAN STONE: Well, yeah, I mean, specific to the teen experience, I think you’re sort of forced in high school into trying to be like everyone else. And when you’re not, you feel somehow like you’re cast aside or

NOELLE STEHMAN: You don’t matter as much.

BETSY VAN STONE: like you don’t matter. And we just want people to watch this show, and I think they’ll be surprised and charmed by these unlikely heroes and will connect to the fact that they are different and they matter the most in the world because they’re the only two girls who can save the world.

QUESTION: Okay. And then the talent, please.

JANA MORRISON: I think it’s going to be really important for teens to hear that whether you think you look like a hero or you act a certain way, you can still be a hero in your own way and in your own community because you don’t have to be in a certain group or look a certain way to be a hero for the people in your life.

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. I mean, appearances aren’t everything, and I think this show really shows you that it doesn’t matter what you look like. And I think people are really going to resonate with that, hopefully, and

(To Jana) I know. We’re going to cry.

no. But, yeah, this really means everything to us to be able to be those characters for people. I think people are really going to resonate with this show. And, like Betsy said, there really is something in it for everyone. So, I think that’s going to keep people watching.

QUESTION: And could the two of you or one of you talk about was there ever a time on the set where reality and fantasy may have coincided?

JANA MORRISON: It’s like that every day.


JANA MORRISON: Because we were living it was like we were living two different lives.


JANA MORRISON: Kind of, right?

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: Totally, totally.

JANA MORRISON: I feel like I know we both feel ourselves in the characters. So, every scene, it felt like it was kind of an Astrid and Jana situation.

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: Right, and a Lilly and Sam situation, totally. No, I totally agree with.

JANA MORRISON: Because I can resonate so deeply with the character, and it doesn’t it’s not often that that happens. So, reality and fantasy really hit. I mean, I don’t necessarily have monsters in my life.

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: Physically, physical monsters.

JANA MORRISON: Physical monsters.


SAMANTHA AUCOIN: That we know of.

But, no, the internal monsters have definitely been there with us, and we’ve kind of gotten to grow and, I think, really learn from the characters as they kind of conquer their internal demons. So



QUESTION: Great. Thank you very much.



QUESTION: Hi. Noelle and Betsy, can you talk a little bit about the creation and development of the show, the hows and the whys and how it all worked out and the casting of the two young women here?

BETSY VAN STONE: Yeah. Noelle and I have always written strong female women who are dynamic and colorful and likeable and also unlikeable. And it was always a dream of ours to find two characters like that in high school. And then, you know, because of some experiences we had as kids or as teens, I guess these two characters developed that are outcasts and are called losers, but they rise above that. And maybe that’s something we wanted to do in high school


BETSY VAN STONE: you know.

NOELLE STEHMAN: Absolutely. And on a personal note, I can say I came from a small town, and one of our, sort of, social activities because there wasn’t much to do was driving around and looking to see what kids were doing, driving by their houses late at night. So, again, we didn’t open any portals that I know of, but that really was one of our social activities. That was part of the patrolling aspects of it.

BETSY VAN STONE: Oh, absolutely. Same here. I mean, suburban, high school town where, yeah, we would meet in the grocery store parking lot and then drive past people’s houses because what else do you do. So, we definitely injected some of our own experiences for sure.

QUESTION: And the casting process?

NOELLE STEHMAN: Well, that was just a dream process for us. I feel like got very lucky.

BETSY VAN STONE: Yeah. I mean, you know, you create a character in your head and you sort of picture who the actors are going to be more or less. And then we met Jana first, and it was no question. The second she opened her mouth, we knew that she was our Astrid. She also embodied her. She was wearing a very Astrid shirt and had her hair in a very Astrid look. And she actually Jana the actress influenced Astrid the character, and it was just it was just her from the beginning. We just knew it.

And then, once we had our Astrid, the trick was then to find a complimentary Lilly. And we met Sam. And we saw them interact on Zoom, mind you. And the chemistry on Zoom was so incredible, and right away they both got such a kick out of each other. And it was like, ah ha, that’s what we’re looking for. And it was one of those things that you couldn’t manufacture it. It just was, and it was evident on Zoom. And then when they met in person and we all met together, it was like, oh my god. These characters are real. This is real. This is magic. And we couldn’t be happier that we found them.

QUESTION: Thank you so much.



BETSY VAN STONE: It’s all true.

QUESTION: Hi, guys. This is for Noelle and Betsy. There’s a lot of shows that have supernatural elements to it, and one of the really fun things about developing a show like that is that you make your own bible. You determine, you know, what your how far you go, what kind of things we’re going to see. So just in terms of the supernatural elements and the demon aspects and the monsters, what’s kind of the first season, either parameters or the mythology that you want to you’re going to let us learn?

BETSY VAN STONE: You want to take this one?

NOELLE STEHMAN: I mean, I will say, first of all, if you love shows with monsters, this is absolutely for you. And each episode we try to create a monster that was fully formed and very dynamic in its own way, a monster that you want to watch and follow along with. Almost that you can’t tell if you want to root for, but probably not, but they’re that interesting. And each monster has a theme about them that sort of ties into a different theme of what the high school kids are going through in that episode. So that overall is the sort of model for the season. And some of the monsters are straight up terrifying. Some of them are a little bit funny. They’re all certainly quirky. I’m very excited for you to meet all of them.

BETSY VAN STONE: And I will just add that they’re not monsters you’ve seen before.


BETSY VAN STONE: We created original, weird monsters, and they all have big personalities. And we’re super excited for y’all to get a whole picture of who they are, yeah.



QUESTION: My question is also for the creators. How much of an influence because obviously this was the big, great grandmother of “high school is hell” shows. How much of an influence was “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” on you guys? And (foreign language). How is your show explicitly different from “Buffy”?

NOELLE STEHMAN: Well, I’m a huge we’re both huge “Buffy” fans. It’s something definitely that I grew up with. And there are certainly various homage moments to “Buffy” throughout this season, which you will see. But within that, we sort of it became a, sort of, model where we combined it with, sort of, a book-smart type aspect because this is about also a very close female friendship. And that’s one way that it differs.

And, also, we put an emphasis as we had said before on this outcast story and the idea that someone who you least expect can be a hero. And that extends to the way that the powers that the girls inherit are very quirky and not something that necessarily seems particularly helpful. And their monster guide is a bit quirky. So, yeah, I would say that it takes those models but turns them on their head a little bit.

Do you have anything else?

BETSY VAN STONE: No. I think you said that well, yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.


QUESTION: Hello. Also, for the creators, with a project like this and a title like this, you’ve got to come up with that combination of names that sing, whether it’s Bill and Ted, or Jay, which I personally like, in “Silent Bob.” How many variations did you go through to arrive at Astrid and Lilly?

BETSY VAN STONE: You know, they were kind of right away, Astrid and well, there was a slight tweak on Lilly, but

NOELLE STEHMAN: Yeah. The Astrid name has been there for so long, honestly, I don’t even

BETSY VAN STONE: I think Astrid was the first name we gave her, and it’s just like who she was at her core.


BETSY VAN STONE: It just made sense.

Lilly was a little bit after that, but it also it just felt like her. Astrid is kind of a bold, unapologetic name. And Lilly is a little softer and like a little more of a sensitive

NOELLE STEHMAN: Sensitive, yeah.

BETSY VAN STONE: of a name. And, so, they just really fit the two characters well.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.


QUESTION: Hi, guys. Thanks for talking to us. This is for the two actresses. You talked about how you felt like outsiders before and how you connected to the characters. But can you talk about maybe what parts of the characters were the most difficult for you to connect to? You know, not including the monsters, because obviously

(Simultaneous speaking.)

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: Yeah, for sure. Well, for me personally, I found that Lilly, she really wears her heart on her sleeve. And one thing, something I absolutely love about her and I personally don’t because I’m much more guarded and Lilly kind of opened me up, I found. I ended up learning a lot from her. So that was definitely difficult at first to access being so vulnerable openly all the time. And that’s one of the differences between the two characters, Lilly and Astrid. And, yeah, I think that was definitely the most difficult part to access, but definitely learned a lot from getting to be able to access that side of her.

JANA MORRISON: And you did it so beautifully.


JANA MORRISON: And for me, I think something that was different from Astrid and I is that I have a hard time, like, speaking up for myself once in a while. And Astrid, if she doesn’t like something, oh, you’ll know it. And I think that’s something I can take away from Astrid. You know, as a woman who is Filipino and maybe sometimes reverts to keeping things to myself to not hurt others, I think I can do a little more speaking up and learning a little bit more from Astrid in that way.

QUESTION: Thank you so much, both of you.

QUESTION: Well, thank you for coming along. We wondered who was going to save us.

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: We’re here for you.

JANA MORRISON: We got you.

QUESTION: You know, we all ask ourselves: What would I do if I was really tested, really confronted with something difficult? So, I want to know, in your young lives, what each you has been through that tested you and what your expectation of yourself is that you could get through things?

BETSY VAN STONE: Ooh. I mean, I guess I will say for myself there is a lot of Lilly and Astrid in me, you know. High school wasn’t always super easy, and that shifts your perspective, I think, for the rest of your life. So, I think I felt a little like, you know, I had to prove myself a little more maybe than some people. And, honestly, in creating these characters, I’ve actually learned a lot from them, which is weird because I wrote them. But they’ve really shown me, you know, if two 16 year olds can battle monsters and struggle through high school and come out of it feeling great, then maybe so can I?

NOELLE STEHMAN: Yeah. And I think the only thing that comes to mind is I moved schools right before middle school, which is one of the most awkward phases of time to be a stranger, and I did feel like an outsider at that time. And, I think, just learning that you can survive the idea of being sort of a fish out of water and it’s okay to be scared and it’s okay to be brave and you can get through the unknown. Which, you know, doing this show was a big unknown and a big, exciting challenge and just to embrace that kind of unknown and feeling, you know, like, taking on challenges.

QUESTION: And for our actresses, the actresses, do you feel like you’ve been tested, and what’s your assessment of your own strength?

JANA MORRISON: I feel like I have been tested kind of within this acting industry, because for so many years, you try really hard and you put your heart out there and you put yourself out there. And you think you believe in yourself, but when it doesn’t come at the time you want, it’s easy to let that dream go away. And I think that continuing to have that fire and confidence continue on is what really helped me get here. And there could have been times where I could have been doing something else, but this is something I really wanted.


JANA MORRISON: And I think the confidence in myself really helped me get through.

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: Mm hmm. Yeah. And I would say I was definitely tested. It was a really weird transition after high school for me, and it was I had this really weird, sort of, sense of unknowing and I didn’t really know what was going to happen. I kind of didn’t have much of a plan. I wasn’t really sure what life was going to throw at me or if life was going to throw anything at me. And then, funnily enough, this show happened and it kind of saved me a little, I think, in so many ways. But it definitely gave me this sort of reassurance that the unknown isn’t scary; or that it is scary but it’s okay and it’s okay to not know what’s going to happen next. And I really thank this show and I thank everyone for that, yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you, all, and thanks for coming to save us.


QUESTION: Okay. I have a question for each of the ladies here. For Noelle and Betsy, I’d like to know if you ladies have either teen children or teen relatives. What do they think about this show? And for the actresses, I’d like to know: Would your teenage selves what would they think of Astrid and Lilly?

NOELLE STEHMAN: Well, we don’t have teenage kids. I do have a niece who’s getting toward that age and she’s very excited. And our friends who have teen kids are very excited. I think, though, we’re, in a lot of ways, big teenagers ourselves.

BETSY VAN STONE: Yeah. Well, I was going to say something similar. Like, I don’t have any teenagers, but I am friends with


BETSY VAN STONE: some teenagers, you know, friends’ kids.

And one thing I will say is they’ve all asked me why the show sounds like it was written by actual teenagers. They’re like, “It sounds like the way we talk. How did you guys do that?” And I think it’s because we’re, on a very base level, still 16.

JANA MORRISON: I think my high-school self would be a little intimidated by Astrid because of how she does whatever she wants and she doesn’t care what authority thinks. She just is, and if you don’t like it, you can go.

SAMANTHA AUCOIN: Yeah. I mean, I think my high-school self would probably really empathize with Lilly and would probably feel comfort in all of Lilly’s insecurities. And I think my high-school self would absolutely love this show and would get a lot from it. And, again, I wish I had this show when I was in high school because I feel like it would have really helped me.

JANA MORRISON: Uh, my high-school self would have loved the show.


QUESTION: Thank you, ladies.


QUESTION: Hi. I’m from the Filipino channel ABS CBN, so, of course, my question is for Jana.


QUESTION: Asian matters. Phew, you can’t see me, but I’m a little bit teary eyed at the

JANA MORRISON: I am too. We’re good together.


QUESTION: You’re one of very few Filipino Americans in lead roles who’s also playing a Filipino character. So, what does this representation mean for you?

JANA MORRISON: It means a lot for me because, of course, growing up I’m actually I’m Canadian. And growing up in Canada, watching American shows, I had not seen any sort of Filipino representation on screen. And this is something in entertainment I wanted to do my whole life and I wanted to be a Filipino in this industry. And, thankfully, I have a group of Filipino mentors in this industry that really helped back me up and lift me up to say you can still do this and you need to continue because the other Filipinos around the whole world who want to do this will see you and want to follow their dreams also. So, it’s really important. And us Filipinos, oh, my gosh. We work so hard and I think we need a little more credit.

QUESTION: Well, thank you so much, and I hope to see you in person soon. I’m rooting for you always. You know, this is amazing, just watching the episodes and seeing you and seeing the person who plays your mom, who’s obviously Filipino.

BETSY VAN STONE: Yeah, she is.

JANA MORRISON: I want to say that that was a really amazing thing for the creators to bring for me. Because, you know, my mother’s Filipino, and to have my mother on the show be Filipino also, it is really touching to see the dynamic. And I’m really excited for the world to see our relationship on screen.


QUESTION: Salamat. That’s thank you in Tagalog. And if you ever need to consult in Tagalog, hey, holler.

JANA MORRISON: Oh, I’m going to holler. I’m going to holler. Salamat.

QUESTION: Thank you. And I wish you all the best.

JANA MORRISON: Thank you so much.

BETSY VAN STONE: Thank you so much for your question.


MATTHEW LIFSON: Oh, what a perfect question to end on.

Thank you to our panelists. That concludes our session for “Astrid and Lilly Save the World.” We’re going to take one more short break, and then we’ll pick it back up for our final panel of the day, NBC’s “Grand Crew.”

ALL PANELISTS: Thanks, everyone.

BETSY VAN STONE: Watch the show.




High school is hard enough when you’re different, but when outcast BFFs Astrid (Jana Morrison) and Lilly (Samantha Aucoin) accidentally crack open a portal to a terrifyingly quirky monster dimension, it gets a lot more complicated. It’s up to them to vanquish the creepy creatures and save the world, becoming the badass heroes they were meant to be. That is, if they can survive the horrors of high school.

“Astrid & Lilly Save the World” was written by Noelle Stehman and Betsy Van Stone, who executive produce along with Lance Samuels, Daniel Iron and Samantha Levine. Blue Ice Pictures will produce.

Samantha Aucoin

Lilly Fortenberry

ASTRID AND LILLY SAVE THE WORLD -- Season:1 -- Pictured: Samantha Aucoin as Lilly -- (Photo by: Alex Stead/Blue Ice Pictures/SYFY)
Samantha Aucoin makes her television debut as Lilly in the SYFY original new series “Astrid & Lilly Save the World.”

Aucoin is a Canadian singer, songwriter and actress from Beeton, Ontario, a small town north of Toronto. She began her acting career in local plays and would go on to play the lead roles in “Fiddler on the Roof,” “James and the Giant Peach,” “Mary Poppins” and many more. With a desire to venture into the television and film world, Aucoin attended an open call with BookItTalent agency in 2016.

Aucoin’s recording debut was on the album “What Is Christmas For.” She wrote three original songs for other singers and wrote and recorded the power anthem “Hip Hop, Santa Bop.” Aucoin has been spending the last year in the studio producing more original music.




Jana Morrison

Astrid Bell

ASTRID AND LILLY SAVE THE WORLD -- Season:1 -- Pictured: Jana Morrison as Astrid -- (Photo by: Alex Stead/Blue Ice Pictures/SYFY)
Jana Morrison plays Astrid in the new SYFY original series “Astrid & Lilly Save the World.”

Morrison is a Filipino-Canadian multi-disciplinary artist hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Now based in Vancouver, she studied at the Canadian College of Performing Arts and is very passionate about performing on stage and in front the camera.

Most recently, she appeared on NBC’s “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” as well as Hallmark’s “Master of the Heart” and “Chesapeake Shores.” Morrison was recognized for her work in the British Columbia arts community and was awarded the Pro-Art Early Career Artist Award in 2020.




Noelle Stehman and Betsy Van Stone

Executive Producer

Noelle Stehman and Betsy Van Stone are the creators and executive producers of SYFY’s new original series “Astrid & Lilly Save the World.”

They began their partnership in New York writing for pop culture mecca VH1. From there they moved to Los Angeles where they started writing and developing for various outlets, including a YA genre pilot for Lionsgate as well as a feature for the team behind “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” They also created, wrote and produced the web series “Clean Freaks” for Elizabeth Banks’ comedy site WhoHaha. Currently, they are crafting a holiday feature film for Viacom.

As a writing team, they are committed to creating dynamic female characters through their collective love of comedy, horror and sci-fi.

Proofread and Edited by Brenda

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