Getting to chat with Ainsley Seiger for a tease about Jet Slootmaekers’ involvement in the upcoming Law & Order: Organized Crime double-header was always going to be a blast. After all, Jet entirely breaks the mold of the whole “quirky tech girl” trope and is actually…Well. I’d be lying if I said she wasn’t recognizable, especially in the misguided image certain folks may have about your local neighborhood reviewer…
But it’s that phrase, “local neighborhood,” that turned out to make our chat particularly exciting: Ainsley is from the area where I’ve lived for the past 11ish years, so naturally I had to start the conversation with that and find out how the transition was working out so far. After all, not only is NYC, where the Law & Order franchise has its home, extremely different from the suburbs of Raleigh…But being on set for a spinoff in such a legendary television universe also had to be different from the local theatre scene.
Ainsley admitted that “making the transition to New York has been very interesting and very unique,” and it’s actually been “harder than [she] thought it would be.” With New York’s “go, go go” feeling, she can sometimes miss home, where “the air itself is lazy” and her thoughts can be quieter. But with the change has come the opportunity to “find different avenues of exploring, ‘ok. Well, how can I get that feeling of inner peace back without having to go all the way to North Carolina,’” and it’s kind of a dream come true: “I also love it a lot, and I always wanted to live here. So, I feel really, really grateful and lucky to be where I am.”
Having a very different place to occasionally go home to also helps Seiger with what we’re going to dub here the fandom/professional balance. As someone who is constantly toeing the line between Serious TV Reviewer Shana and Rabid Fangirl Nonsense Shana, I wondered if, as someone who’d been in fandom before and is quickly becoming someone the Twitter fandom adored, Ainsley had any thoughts on what toeing that line was like as an actor. And yes, there were thoughts.
When she goes home, she avoids social media because she knows she’s “not in the headspace” for even accidentally stumbling upon something negative. But as the infamous Chris Meloni earrings stunt—which took Zaddycakes (yeah, I’ve coined that term…so what?) over 30 minutes to even notice, no less—shows, Ainsley Seiger just gets it.
“I think the reason why I’m able to balance it a little bit better is because I understand where the fans come from. I understand that mentality, of loving something so much and making it your whole life—or it being your source of comfort in a world that can be really confusing and weird, and strange. And a lot of my experience with it was growing up and figuring out who I was as a person and using media to, kind of, light the way for myself. But I think that’s what makes the balance a little bit easier to achieve for me, personally.”
What we’re saying here is there’s a reason so many of us decided to stan.
And speaking of the fandom: Y’all are probably here for some actual Law & Order: Organized Crime scoop. When I quietly asked some friends to ask around to see if anyone had any questions for Ainsley Seiger, figuring we should wait to scare folks away with the personal stan Twitter account until after the fact, the overwhelming majority of folks just wanted to know what, if anything, we could learn about who Jet Slootmaekers is as a person. Why is she like that? Is she intentionally coded as neurodivergent or just someone viewers can see themselves in, purely by chance?
If you’ve ever wanted to see someone give a thoughtful, meaningful answer to a question like this, with all the bullshit taken out and with actual care put into every word? You’ve come to the right place.
“It’s a nuanced answer for me because I do feel that a lot of what I am portraying, and a lot of what is written, this aversion to being touched, this very obvious aversion to even making eye contact—something as simple as that, which can be very intimate—is often used to code characters as neurodivergent. And I’m walking a fine line of…I am not neurodivergent, but I do have a lot of these characteristics of Jet. I am often terrified to make eye contact. Even looking into my webcam, I feel a little bit threatened. My hands are shaking a little bit, and I do have ADHD so I am familiar with some of those same symptoms of…you know, that moment when you start to get over-stimulated, and—and your hoodie is touching you in the wrong way, and it just feels bad. But I also want to be very careful that, in the way that I am portraying Jet—which I do think that she is neurodivergent. Where on the spectrum she falls? Not 100 percent sure. All I can say for myself is what I am playing.
And I also think that, with Jet, it’s…I have come up against the question, personally, of I don’t know if she’s ever truly been diagnosed. I wonder if this is just what she knows. This is just how she works. I don’t even know if she has a label for it in her mind, but seeing as I am not neurodivergent, I always want to be careful and super respectful in the way that it’s—that she—is portrayed and the way that she walks through the world.
And something that I think is really beautiful about people seeing themselves in her is that she’s just a…She’s a person who’s just good at her job. She’s good at her job, and she doesn’t take any crap from anyone. And she kicks ass. And I think that’s incredible representation to get to see.”
No, really. We said we’ve decided to stan. Are you on board yet? Why not? And for the record, it’s not just Jet that really does kick ass…which, based on the tease we’re able to give you here and now, is something viewers will get to see more of from Jet Slootmaekers and Ainsley Seiger this season on Organized Crime, particularly in episode 2×03.
“What I can tease ahead of time is, first of all, how excited I am for it. I got the script and read through it…and was just…could hardly contain the sheer joy that I felt. And then, getting to shoot it was a whole other kind of joy.” But the excitement and joy aren’t coming from that one clip that’s floating around—or at least, if it is, it’s not only coming from there. Ainsley teased, instead, “such a unique side of Jet to get to see come out and to get to play.”
Seiger was able to watch one of the scenes that’s coming up in “The Outlaw Eddie Wagner,” and she “was just really taken aback by how similar [Jet and Malachi, a character you’ll meet in the episode] are as characters, even for all of their separate quirks. And the way that they see hacking as a job, or as a hobby, or as a way to get justice. They both see it as a way to achieve justice in very different ways, which was exciting to work with someone who is the same as her—but very, very different.”
So, yeah. Stan Ainsley Seiger. Stan Jet. And, as always, make sure to tune in to Law & Order: Organized Crime Thursdays (at a special 9/8c time for September 30, then in its regular time of 10/9c) on NBC.