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The Transformation Of Emily Bett Rickards From Felicity Smoak To Now

When most people hear the name Emily Bett Rickards they automatically think "Arrow," and with good reason. The young and talented actress is heavily associated with the well-known CW series, as it's the source of her breakout role as Felicity Smoak, a socially awkward genius. Originally meant to be a single episode guest role, Rickards certainly made an impression, and when the show ended in 2020, she'd been in at least 155 episodes, along with appearances in the spinoff series "The Flash," "DC's Legends of Tomorrow," and "Supergirl."

Now that "Arrow" is over, Rickards is expanding her horizons and making a name for herself outside of the superhero landscape. With new roles in dramatic films and stage plays, the Canadian actress is proving that she can hold her own in any project. But just how much has Rickards changed since "Arrow"? From taking acting classes in Vancouver to her newest project, a movie called "We Need to Talk," Rickards has come a long way.

Here's a look at her transformation from Felicity to the Rickards we know now.

Emily Bett Rickards grew up and studied in Vancouver, Canada

Even before booking her life-changing role in "Arrow," Rickards knew that acting and the arts was what she wanted to do, and she went for it. In a conversation with uinterview, Rickards discussed her early experiences with acting. She admitted that she wasn't a "prodigy" when she participated in musical theater as a kid, but she "loved it." During her childhood, Rickards was a part of productions of "Oliver," "Pippi Longstocking," "Peter Pan," and many of the classic plays you'd expect to see in a children's theater program. Despite claiming that her "school stuff was not good, no one should ever see it," Rickards clearly understood her own passion for acting and pushed to continue pursuing it. 

Rickards enrolled at the Vancouver Film School and completed the Acting Essentials program, gaining an agent soon after. It's clear that Rickards appreciates and respects her schooling, as she recently partnered with Vancouver Film School for a scholarship program in which she will pick the awarded applicants to receive up to $250,000 in tuition and other support (via VFS). Soon after getting an agent, Rickards booked her first professional job appearing in Nickelback's "Never Gonna Be Alone" music video.

Rickards made a big impression as Felicity Smoak on Arrow

In 2012, Rickards booked one of her first roles, and the one that would prove to be the most important of her career, at least so far. This role is of course playing Felicity in "Arrow." The role was initially supposed to be only a one episode appearance, but the producers and her co-star, Stephen Amell, clearly liked Rickards performance. Felicity continued appearing on the show and developed a more important role, especially in Amell's character Oliver Queen's personal life. In a PaleyFest interview with Collider in 2013, "Arrow" co-creator Marc Guggenheim spoke about Rickards' impact on the show. He stated that "the character of Felicity was really created as a one-off for Episode 3. We just needed a computer technician. But then, we were very lucky that we cast Emily Rickards, who just lit up the screen."

Felicity meets Oliver in Season 1, Episode 3, "Lone Gunman," when the superhero needs a heavily damaged computer fixed while keeping a low profile. As smart and observant as she is, Felicity quickly figures out that there's more to the rich playboy than meets the eye, and that he is really the vigilante called the Green Arrow. Despite this odd start to their relationship, Felicity and Oliver slowly fall in love, and the rest is history. Felicity is a character originally from DC Comics, first appearing in "The Fury of Firestorm" #23 in 1984, but this version looks a lot different from the Felicity fans see in "Arrow." In 2015, the "Arrowverse" version of Felicity was made canon when she was added in the DC relaunch called The New 52 (viaComicBook.com). Apparently, Rickards had such an impact with her role as Felicity that she forced DC to change the canon.

The actress left Arrow to pursue more diverse roles and travel

After six years and seven seasons on "Arrow," Rickards wanted a break. In early 2019, after the announcement that The CW's flagship superhero series would be ending after the forthcoming eighth season, it was also announced that Rickards would not be returning for the final episodes, save the series finale. Amell wrote a heartfelt note to her on his Instagram that stated that "Arrow" "wouldn't be here without you. I love you. And I cannot wait to see what you do next."

As for what exactly Rickards did after leaving "Arrow," she began to pursue more dramatic and serious roles. Rickards got a taste of this in 2015, when she played a supporting role in the Oscar-nominated film "Brooklyn," starring Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen. Set in 1950s Brooklyn, Ronan plays an Irish immigrant named Eilis who has trouble settling into the strange new landscape. Rickards plays a character named Patty who lives at the same boarding house as Eilis. After giving such a great performance in the film, Rickards wanted to explore more acting opportunities like this after leaving "Arrow." 

In the uinterview conversation referenced earlier, which occurred in 2019, Rickards also spoke about wanting to take a break from acting to travel. Her dream destinations at the moment were Israel, Alaska, and Patagonia. Considering the pandemic that broke out early in 2020, it's possible that her plans got delayed a bit.

Rickards continues to evolve with dramatic, award-winning performances

Returning to her roots on the stage, Rickards starred in the production of Zayd Dohrn's play "Reborning," in 2019, about a woman named Kelly who was the victim of a horrific crime as an infant that left her without working nerve endings in her hands. As an adult, Kelly turns to art and doll making to deal with her trauma. In The New York Times review of the production, writer Laura Collins-Hughes praised Rickards' performance, saying that "Rickards smartly dares to go almost feral — harsh, bitter and terrified of parenthood" to portray Kelly's emotional journey. 

On the big screen, Rickards starred in "Funny Story" as Kim, a young woman about to marry her girlfriend, Nic (Jana Winternitz). Nic invites her estranged father, Walter (Matthew Glave) to the wedding, and when he arrives, he discovers that he recently slept with Kim. As the big day approaches, both need to decide whether to come clean or not. Cultured Vultures called it "the performance of a lifetime" for Rickards, and "Funny Story" won many awards on the festival circuit, including the Grand Jury Prize at the Barcelona International Film Festival.

Rickards most recent project is the indie film "We Need to Talk." The film focuses on the character Great Scott (James Maslow), "a self-absorbed online video-game influencer" whose whole world is thrown for a loop when his girlfriend Aly (Christel Khalil) says "we need to talk," so he turns to his online community for support ("We Need to Talk" official website). Rickards' character Amber is one of Aly's close friends who clearly dislikes Great Scott. "We Need to Talk" won a bunch of awards at the FirstGlance Film Festival, including Best Actress for Rickards.

It's obvious that Rickards has a lot of talent and people are finally noticing. With more and more amazing performances under her belt, Rickards will likely be starring in her own big budget films soon enough.