Timeless’ Claudia Doumit talks strong women, ship names and Jiya

Timeless is not the show we thought we were getting when we first heard about it. It’s certainly not the show anticipated. It’s not even the show we thought we wanted. In a way, though, it might be the show we needed and didn’t realize.

It’s, after all, a diverse, female-led sci-fi show that highlights smart women in positions typically reserved for white men.

Oh, and did we mention it’s well written, surprising, thought-provoking and just plain fun? Because there’s that.

We had a chance to speak with Claudia Doumit, who plays Jiya, a still-mysterious and decidedly brilliant woman who is part of the team that built the time-machine Rufus, Lucy and Wyatt travel around in. Oh, and the one Garcia Flynn took. Of course.

You can’t have one without the other.

Doumit, who’s fairly new to the world of acting but, who admits she always knew she wanted to be one, sees Jiya as a role model, because just by being where she is it means that she’s “someone who has excelled and yet has continued to push to be great.” Someone who’s never settled.

The actress admits that faced with a character like that, someone with so much driving them, she just wants to get inside their head and figure out “what’s behind that drive,” and that’s what attracted her to the role in the first place, the idea that this character – and honestly, most of the characters on this show, sort of define stereotypes.

Which is why, she shares, she’s “so grateful to Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke,” because when “This kind of a character is put into a show it’s very encouraging and refreshing and nice to see, especially as a young woman, especially as a little girl watching TV.”

Because TV is, after all, our escape. Our place to look for the heroes that we sometimes have trouble finding in real life.

Doumit certainly understands this. “Growing up I watched so much TV, and I was influenced so much by the shows I watched,” she explains, and that’s why she’s so grateful to be part of a show that shows smart, driven woman as a common thing, not the exception to rule.

TIMELESS -- "Pilot" -- Pictured: (l-r) Claudia Doumit as Jiya, Sakina Jaffrey as Agent Christopher, Paterson Joseph as Connor Mason -- (Photo by: Joe Lederer/NBC)

There’s, after all, not only Jiya, and Lucy, but also Agent Denise Christopher and Lucy’s mother Carolyn, four completely different women doing completely different things and showing that there’s more than one way to excel, more than one way of being strong.

And, if Doumit is to be believed, we’re in for way more female power. TV, has, after all, changed a lot from the days where women on TV were merely decorative pieces. Now we have nuanced characters that can be many things – be it good, or bad, and who relate to each other in ways that feel real to us, the viewers.

Which is why, when asked about Jiya’s connection with Lucy, Doumit went a little in depth into Jiya’s “struggle of remaining professional and not getting too invested.” She is, after all, someone who understands better than most the dangers of getting on that time machine. But Jiya’s not just a scientist, she’s a person, and when she “sees Lucy struggling with losing her sister she immediately wants to help in any way that she can. And the way she knows how is her job, to do her research and try to figure out what happened to Lucy’s sister.”

“It’s such a beautiful moment between her and Lucy where, not a lot is said, but there’s an unspoken understanding.” Doumit tells of us the scene where Jiya and Lucy get to talk about why Amy, Lucy’s sister, has disappeared from the timeline. “It’s basically Jiya saying… I’m here, and it’s nice to know that there is that solidarity,” Doumit shares, and we’re pretty sure we’re not alone in hoping that we get to see a lot more of these two bonding.

But, of course, when it comes to Jiya and bonding, there’s also the budding romance between her and Rufus. We know Rufus has a crush on her, we’ve know that since the beginning, and though when asked what she could tease about what’s coming up for these two Doumit could only share that “the dynamic is going to change,” she did advise me to keep an eye out for tonight’s episode.

(Didn’t think it was possible to be more excited for Timeless. Turns out it is)

She also shared her favorite ship name for Rufus/Jiya: Riya, and after thinking long and hard, seemed to favorite Lyatt over Wucy, when it comes to Lucy/Wyatt ship names.

As for us – we’re here whatever you want to call the ships, as long as they, you know ….happen.

Not that Doumit was ready to tease anything about that. She did share some interesting tidbits about life on set, though, like the fact that “Matt Lanter is the most laid-back person you’ll ever see.” (We have no problem imagining this). “Malcolm Barrett has the loudest laugh I – and probably you, have ever heard.” (We also have no problem imagining this). And the fact that the cast has such a good time together, “we’re usually laughing right up until they start rolling, which probably isn’t great, but it’s a lot of fun.” (We’re really, really happy to hear this).

Finally, we had to ask about what exactly Jiya, Agent Richards and Connor Mason do while the time-ship is gone. They are seen wearing the same clothes, so they can’t leave the lab, right? “There’s probably a room with a bed,” Doumit laughs. “They have to be on high alert all the time, but they also need rest!” And food. Let’s just hope there’s a kitchen too. Top-secret location probably means no takeout.

Or ice cream. Which is how we closed this interview. Talking ice-cream. She’s a cookies and cream girl. I’m partial to coffee. But hey, we as long as we get ice-cream, and more episodes of Timeless, both of us will be happy.

I’m pretty sure a lot of you will agree.

Timeless airs Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.

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