Amazon’s The Wilds Stars Erana James And Mia Healey On How Toni And Shelby’s Chemistry Came Naturally

Erana James and Mia Headley as Toni and Shelby in The Wilds
(Image credit: (Amazon))
(Image credit: (Amazon))

Spoilers are ahead for the first season of The Wilds streaming on Amazon Prime**.**

Hey, you did it and survived The Wilds. Other than feeling a rare sense of relief to be sitting on your couch instead of a deserted island, part of the exit survey is assessing where the first season left its characters by its cliffhanging finale. Much of the storytelling in the Amazon Prime original had its characters grappling with a number of traumas, but one piece of bliss did happen for Erana James and Mia Healey’s Toni and Shelby by the end of the season.

Although the characters were at odds for most of the season due to Shelby’s conservative Christian values clashing with Toni being an out and proud gay woman, late in the season we found out Shelby was being aggressive toward Toni because she had feelings for her all along. By the time The Wilds' last episode unfolds, the pair are optimistic about their blooming romance. It was a cute development within the series and one CinemaBlend exclusively asked Erana James about during the series’ press day. The actress talked about how they found out about the relationship with these words:

We received the scripts once every two weeks as we were filming, so we didn’t know from the get go. We had an inkling. Mia and I are super close off screen and have a lovely connection so we sort of hoped, like maybe a little connection will spark. But yeah, I think when we read the script for episode six, we were like yep, we’re building to something here and it built and it grew.

The actress behind The Wilds’ Toni says when they signed on to the show, they had no idea their characters would lock lips until they had been on set for some time. However, the actors were both great friends already and started to sense a certain dynamic between Toni and Shelby while working together early on. When I spoke to Mia Healey, she talked about how they developed their chemistry off set:

Forming my relationship with Toni was very easy because Erana and myself are very good friends off camera, which is very lucky that we have that natural chemistry already. We lived together and the whole time we were filming Season 1 we got our own place. And I guess just having those open conversations about how we’re feeling about each other's characters and in the scenes and just playing around with it at home. We’d get back from work, tossing up ideas and making sure we were physically connected and always maintaining a physical connection as well. That sounds intense, but yeah.

It sounds like they got lucky because they got along so well before their on-screen relationship really formed and, once they knew more about their character’s arcs, they made sure they spent extra time together to keep Toni and Shelby’s relationship natural once they stepped on set. The pair sounds like they really cared about making sure the spark was there between the two of them in an effortless way, since they were easy friends already.

The coupling was a great addition to the Lost-inspired television show and continues a load of notable queer representation this year, especially in regards to same-sex female relationships. We've also been able to see this in recent movies like Happiest Season and The Prom.

If you somehow went this deep into spoilers and haven’t seen The Wilds, the new series is available to stream now on Amazon Prime. There are loads of other storylines to discover and twists to follow either way. But what did you think of the Toni and Shelby relationship? Vote in our poll below.

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Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.