“Six” is a unique television program. The military drama not only sheds light on Navy SEALs and the brave work they do — but it’s also enlightened by the experiences of actual veterans.
The creators are the father-son duo of William Broyles Jr. and Danny Broyles. William Broyles is a Vietnam veteran; his son was a special operations soldier before he dove into this series.
The show’s writing has a spark and authenticity not found in many military dramas. The background of the creators has inspired the cast members as well. They have trained harder than most performers and embedded themselves in the military community, making sure to help veterans beyond just telling their stories.
LifeZette spoke to “Six” actor Kyle Schmid, a native of Ontario, Canada, about the show’s upcoming second season, his work with veterans, and more.
Question: The first season of “Six” was a big hit and showed an authenticity people didn’t expect. What would you say is the biggest difference in tackling these stories from season one to season two?
Answer: Authenticity has always been the highest priority for us, and we’ve worked hard to maintain that through the second season. Physically, I was much better prepared for the second season, having experienced the first [one]. Mentally, however, there’s nothing that could have prepared me for the roller-coaster that Caulder [Schmid’s character] experiences this season. Our writers went deeper and created a story line I’m really proud of.
Q: You’ve become really involved in the military community, it seems, through this show. You ran the Tough Mudder as part of a fundraiser for the SVA. I heard you parachuted with some airborne soldiers, worked with Got Your 6, and did so much more. How has this direct line to the military changed your view, perhaps, of those who serve, and of veterans? And what has most surprised you about this experience?
A: My view of the military has changed drastically. I am now able separate the politics of the military from the individual brave men and women who have chosen the military as their path in life, something I ignorantly blurred in the past.
As a Canadian, I had very little experience with the military while growing up. I don’t like violence. However, the education that this show has provided, along with the many conversations I’ve had the privilege to have with military persons, has allowed me to gain a different perspective and see into the homes and families of these exceptional men and women. I’ve had the honor of skydiving with veterans and of fundraising alongside them, and I’ve had some incredibly memorable conversations with many in the White House.
All of these [experiences] allowed me a glimpse into their stories, their passion, [their] patriotism. It’s only because of them that we’re able to make a series like “Six.”
Q: You mentioned doing SEAL prep training and more to get ready for this role. Did you do any special training for the second season? Was anything unique needed, or had you all hit a flow and were just prepared to jump at it this time around?
A: This year we did something entirely different. Our consulting team of retired SEALs took us out to the back country and up to the top of a mountain called Black Tusk, in British Columbia. With no camera teams or producers to hold us back, we learned how to navigate. We slept in the snow, we learned how to dry off after a wet night of sleep, and [we experienced] how damn cold glacier lakes really are when you’re neck-deep in them, treading water.
It was important to find our rhythm with one another again. We’re lucky to have such a strong bond in real life, and we all keep in touch regularly, but “operation ready” is a different thing altogether. Being reminded of each other’s strengths and weaknesses allows for a stronger unit. By battling the elements as a team, we developed an ability to read and trust one another. After the mountain, we spent a few days on the range going over basics again, and in the evening the whiskey flowed and stories were shared. We really couldn’t have asked for more.
Q: There’s a cultural gap between veteran and civilian. With less than 1 percent of the country actively serving these days, many people don’t have any relationship to those in the military. Veterans issues, foreign-policy issues, and the like then take a back seat in the culture, and that’s a problem. These days, however, there are more TV programs about the military and veteran experience — “Six,” “Shooter,” “Seal Team” — and they work directly with veterans to achieve an authenticity in their scripts. Can these stories help bridge that cultural gap? Do you see that as a goal of your show?
A: There will always be a cultural gap between civilians and military. It’s unfortunate, but I hope we can change that with what we’re trying to do with this show. It’s important not to exploit the stories we share by glamorizing them, but to try and give them as much of an authentic feel as possible.
“If someone takes care of me, I want to take care of them in return. I don’t know how such a simple concept can be lost so easily.”
We feel that if we can provoke the audience emotionally with these characters, [then] they will sympathize with the real-world issues right in front of them. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s extremely important to create a better platform for veterans returning home and reintegrating with society. We need a better support system for the people who have volunteered to stand up and sacrifice so that so many others can live in a safe country. It’s so simple to me — if someone takes care of me, I want to take care of them in return. I don’t know how such a simple concept can be lost so easily.
Season two of “Six” returns to the History Channel this year.
(photo credit, homepage and article images: History Channel)