Political intrigue and precious resources are top of mind in The Republic of Sarah

Imagine a modern-day town separating from the U.S. to become its own country. Then, imagine a 20-something schoolteacher as its leader.

Welcome to The Republic of Sarah, which is currently a few episodes into its freshman season. Stella Baker—daughter of The Mentalist’s Simon Baker—stars as a New Hampshire high school teacher determined to prevent a mining company from ravaging her hometown of Greylock, which sits atop a newly discovered, highly valuable mineral. She encourages fellow residents to vote for Greylock’s independence, made possible by a bizarre loophole whereby the U.S. never officially claimed this town as part of its Union. The move also means opposing Sarah’s estranged brother (Blindspot alum Luke Mitchell), who is pivotal to the mining firm’s plans. Canadian icon Megan Follows (late of The CW’s Reign) plays their ex-senator mother.

The Republic of SarahCity“I hadn’t read anything like it,” Baker says. “There’s something sort of outlandish about the concept, but the idea of creating a show where you can ground that in reality, I really liked. It’s about building a country, but at its core, it’s about the people and the connections they have to each other.”

Baker notes that she entered the project (redeveloped from an earlier version that was to star Grey’s Anatomy alum Sarah Drew) wanting to create, “in the context of a network that has a lot of superhero shows, a flawed protagonist who can make mistakes. That was something the showrunner, Jeff King, and I really fought for... to give her dimension and depth and edges.”

The Republic of SarahCityIn doing research for The Republic of Sarah, Baker says she found plenty of proof that “corporations just have more power than people in America. And the idea of telling, on a grassroots level, that people can figure out a way around that—there’s a lot of hope in that.”

Production on the drama was, like so many other shows, delayed by COVID. But despite that little hiccup, filming in Canada was a highlight for the actress. “We were shooting in Montreal,” Baker reports, “then we would go to a little town north of there for the exterior shots, and it was absolutely beautiful.”

The Republic of SarahCityAlso starring in the recently released Amazon series Tell Me Your Secrets, Yale Drama School graduate Baker is relatively new to the acting game. A screenwriter as well, she admits it “took a while for me to come around the idea of doing what my parents did.” (Her mother is actress Rebecca Rigg.)

“Once I was working on this, I called my father often,” Baker says. “This is really the first time for me, so if I questioned something, I’d ask him, ‘Is this something I should fight for, or something I should let go of?’ My dad’s M.O. is always pretty much, ‘Trust your instincts, and learn from your mistakes.’ It was so wonderful to be able to talk with someone who has that experience.”

The Republic of Sarah airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on The CW and 10 p.m. on City TV