When fans cite Kentucky connections in the wildly popular zombie-plagued TV drama The Walking Dead, they name Robert Kirkman. The Central Kentucky native wrote the comic book from here until he moved to Los Angeles a few years ago after the start of the television adaptation.
So it might surprise fans to learn that Melissa McBride, who plays supporting character Carol Peletier, is a native of Lexington.
She will be among the guests at this weekend's Lexington Comic & Toy Convention, although she will appear only Friday evening for VIP ticket holders and until 2 p.m. Saturday.
McBride's character is the only woman who has managed to stay alive since the beginning of the show, now in its fourth season.
The character of Carol also has seen perhaps the greatest evolution of any in the series.
SPOILER ALERT: Stop reading now if you are not fully caught up on the show.
Introduced as a domestic-violence victim, Carol cowered in the presence of her husband, who later became zombie food.
In the second season, she suffered the death of her daughter, Sophia, leading to depression but ultimately self-reliance.
The woman who used to be more at home with laundry now is such a relentless zombie-killing machine that she trains children to handle weaponry. In fact, she became so protective of the survivors this season that she murdered two members she thought would spread a deadly flu virus. The murders ultimately led group leader Rick Grimes to banish her from the camp.
McBride, 48, took time this week to answer questions via email about her time in Lexington, comic conventions and her thoughts on Carol's growth as a character.
Question: Tell me about your time spent in Lexington.
Answer: "I took my first breath of life in Lexington. My visit to the Lexington Comic & Toy Convention this weekend will mark my first return to Lexington since I was 6 months old. That place is a part of me; a part of me that I am very anxious to breathe in again and reunite with after all this time."
Q: What do you enjoy about convention appearances, and what should fans know before they chat with you?
A: "What I enjoy most about the conventions, of course, is getting to meet the fans face to face. The opportunity to meet and have a conversation, to get to know something more about each one — it's a big deal to me. I'm grateful to them for supporting me, my work, and they should know that I'm their fan, too.
"Conventions bring a wide variety, whether it's a fan of the character I play or an aspiring actor or a collector of autographs or someone that just wants to say hi. It means a lot to me that they're interested enough to take the time to meet, and I hope to make it worth their while."
Q. How has it felt to see your character in The Walking Dead evolve so greatly since the first season into the resident badass you are now?
A: "Playing Carol Peletier has been an amazing experience. Whenever I see her take a stance, speak up or fight back, I'm very proud of her and continue to root hard for her. As have all of our characters, she's been through such compounded hardships. To see her still standing and fighting hard despite everything, it feels great."
Scott Sloan is a Lexington writer.