This season on The Walking Dead, the Whisperers are more menacing than ever. When you have a former Whisperer in the midst of the more civilized survivors, it’s bound to get ugly. And the actress who plays Lydia on The Walking Dead does it with the right amount of fearlessness and vulnerability. Lydia can seem both harmless and terrifying at the same time. Maybe it has something to do with eating worms dug up straight from the dirt, but the actress deserves most of the credit for her execution.
Who plays Lydia on The Walking Dead?
Cassady McClincy was cast as Lydia after several months of audition tapes and not knowing if she had the part. But the young actress was chosen to portray the formerly feral Whisperer who comic book fans already knew well before her show debut. And even if you had never seen Cassady in movies or on TV before this, The Walking Dead isn't her first foray into show business.
Before The Walking Dead, Cassady was in the movies Love, Simon and Poor Jane. She was also in an episode of Netflix’s Ozark and had a small role in Daytime Divas. Obviously, to Walking Dead fans, Lydia is her most important role to date, but Cassady worked hard to get there.
This isn't her first time in the horror genre.
Before Cassady was introduced as Lydia, she was part of another hit horror series. She played the young Milly Strand in Castle Rock Season 1. Although her time is a little tied up with The Walking Dead at the moment, she might have found it easier to walk among the undead thanks to her previous experience with horror.
She was already a Walking Dead fan.
Shortly after appearing on The Walking Dead for the first time in Season 9, Cassady spoke to Entertainment Weekly about how she was cast and what the experience had been like coming into a show she had grown up watching. She explained that a producer gave her all of the information she needed on Lydia from the comics, but she was also instructed to use it as a guideline instead of a strict manual.
"I was a huge fan of everybody," Cassady said, of her first days on set. "But they’re so comforting and professional but also playful. So it was very nerve-racking at first, but then, once I kind of got to know everybody, we just became a family. And it was great."
Cassady is older than Lydia is on The Walking Dead, but not necessarily wiser.
Lydia is supposed to be 15 years old. She has a vulnerability that comes naturally, despite the post-apocalyptic circumstances In real life, Cassady is 19 years old, which makes her an adult compared to her fictional counterpart. Still, Cassady told AMC that "Even though Lydia is a scared and conflicted teenage girl, she also has a strong and possibly manipulative survival instinct ingrained in her from her mother."
You probably haven’t seen the last of her.
The Walking Dead has veered off course from the comic books. In the comics, Carl lives and forms a relationship with Lydia. On the show, Henry had taken Carl's place in some ways until he too was killed off. But because Lydia is still alive and well at the end of the comic series, there’s a good chance she will be a survivor on The Walking Dead, meaning Cassady is likely here to stay.
Watch The Walking Dead on Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on AMC.