Los Angeles native Ian Verdun has found the perfect role with Siren's Xander McClure.
Described as a "big-hearted and tough as nails" kind of guy, McClure is a fisherman in Bristol Cove who sees everything in the small village change when a mysterious girl appears.
Verdun also told ESSENCE that he's a major fan of genre television and the fantastic world of sci-fi. Below get to know the actor ahead of his debut as Xander McClure.
1. Verdun's role was originally written for a blue collar "portly Thor:" "One thing that I absolutely love is the fact that that perspective can be played by a person of color. It's one of the things that, while I was doing the show and while I'm very thankful, the role was not written for a person of color and in the script, the original pilot, he's basically like a portly Thor. He's supposed to be a blonde dude and they ended up casting me."
2. Verdun writes, directs, and produces in his downtime: "I've been doing [my own projects] well before Siren started. I have one project, Life's a Drag, currently on YouTube, which is a pilot. I was actually in the process of pitching it when I was testing for Siren. I had literally pitched to networks for my show right before I booked it."
3. A big fan of sci-fi, Verdun is working on his own series and hopes to cast women and people of color as leads: "I actually have one of my own worlds that I'm writing the pilot for right now. I've been developing it since I was about 12-years-old, so I've spent nearly 20 years creating this kind of genre world. I feel like now is the time and I'm finally ready to get it out there so that can be what I can present to the world an opening for people of color in genre television and female strong leads."
4. The actor calls being a nerd a "badge of honor:" "I think everybody's got a bit of nerd in them. Everybody loves fantasy, a little bit of escapism and mythology," he says. "To call yourself a nerd or to think you're nerding out, I kind of view it a little bit as a badge of honor...I'm a fan of inventive, creative, storytelling and pushing the boundaries of what it is to tell a story and being able to talk about the human experience in non human terms."
5. Verdun hopes to use his platform to tell stories from perspectives that are rarely shared: "I really want to see how this experience can start to open up doors where I have more opportunity to really set the narrative. I have a lot of opinions and I have a lot of aspirational things that I would love to see happen in the industry to move this conversation of diversity and equity further ahead. I think a big part of that is creating narratives with new perspectives and offering new opportunities for different artists."
Check out the special two-hour premiere of Siren on International Mermaid Day, March 29, at 8:00 p.m. ET on Freeform.