Laila Robins on playing the lesbian lawyer with the best lines on “Murder in the First”

On this season of TNT’s Murder in the First, we have been graced with the presence of actress Laila Robins, who plays out lesbian character, Jamie Nelson. If you haven’t seen the show, Jamie is an attorney who is trying to save a teenage boy from death row, after he was found guilty of murdering 18 people on a school bus. Throughout the season, we have also watched Jamie attempt to save her failing marriage to Holly, coming to realize that perhaps the relationship isn’t right for either of them.

As Season 2 comes to an end with tonight’s finale, we had a chance to speak to Laila about what its like for her to play a queer role (for the second time) and the input she got from lesbians on set.

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AfterEllen: First things first, I have been having a great time watching you on this show and am cheering you on every week!

Laila Robins: Aw, thank you!


AE: When you auditioned for the role as Jamie, did you know the character was a lesbian?

LR: I didn’t audition! It was just offered to me. So I read a couple of scripts and watched the previous season to see the flavor of the show and learned she was a lesbian when I read the script.


AE: This wasn’t your first time playing a lesbian on screen, though. For some who might not know, you played a lesbian in Concussion as well.

LR: Yes I played a woman in Concussion who was sort of experimenting with her sexuality. That was my only other time playing a lesbian role.


AE: And have you found it any easier or maybe more difficult playing a lesbian role than a straight role?

LR: Hm, no, I actually feel pretty relaxed about it. I don’t really see it as any different than playing a straight role.


AE: Great answer, Laila.

LR: It’s funny, there were people on the set who were asking some of the lesbians on set whether what we were doing in the scene was realistic. Some of the men were asking them, “Do lesbians show affection in that way?” and they would respond, “Uh, yeah we are just like any other person!”



AE: Oh, really? Thats cool! Do you remember a time when they would say, “No, do it this way” or “That’s not how we do it”?

LR: No, I don’t remember a time when they really corrected us on anything. It wasn’t as if there was a designated lesbian expert walking around on set! [laughs]


AE: So do you do anything specific to prepare for lesbian roles?

LR: You know, I really didn’t do much to prepare for it. I met the actress who was playing my lover, Holly, and we just kind of approached the scene like any other two people who are in love. We didn’t even really discuss the “Who’s on top” type of questions—we just had a love relationship.