In The Silence of the Lambs, the powerhouse horror-thriller that swept the 1992 Oscars, the iconic screen incarnation of Clarice Starling was born. The seminal film also brought to life Ardelia Mapp, her FBI classmate and bestie.

Fast forward 30 years, and Ardelia is in the throes of a resurrection—thanks to the new CBS series, Clarice, which is set in the '90s aftermath of the storied Buffalo Bill/Hannibal Lecter serial killer case depicted in the movie—and actress Devyn Tyler is fully embracing the moment.

While the big-screen Ardelia—played by actress-turned-director Kasi Lemmons—mostly kept to the background and stood in the reflected light of star Jodie Foster’s Clarice, Ardelia 2.0 wants her own light to shine.

As a Black character, Ardelia has to reckon with both overt and covert workplace battles as she sees her job advancement in a holding pattern while Clarice, who is white—played by the actress Rebecca Breeds in the TV series—seems to be on the career fast track. “Ardelia is really smart,” says 30-year-old Tyler, who’s been acting since childhood. “In the [Thomas Harris book], there’s an instance where Clarice isn’t necessarily feeling too hot, and in order to lighten the mood you have Ardelia comparing slant rhymes in poetry between Emily Dickinson and Stevie Wonder. She’s so fun and whip smart—and very, very driven. So we see that the [show’s] writers’ room has grown her into this really wonderful force.”

Tyler, a New Orleans native, grew up on and around sets with her actress mom, Deneen Tyler, and had parts in several commercials when she was very young. After Hurricane Katrina devastated her birth city in 2005, she and her mom relocated to Houston, where Tyler attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She says she was lucky to be exposed to the profession as both she and her mother wound up “swirling around” in it, but there was no revelatory instance of clarity. “I can’t say necessarily that I said, ‘Oh, yeah, this is it,’ that I knew that I wanted to be this—I studied something totally different at college to be honest with you,” she laughs.

“I wanted to be a tenured professor at a higher research institution, so I’ve had a lot of iterations in life, I suppose,” explains the Columbia University grad of her Bachelor’s degree in French and Francophone Studies. However, the South and her craft beckoned her back, and she took on numerous roles in productions, such as The Purge, Watchmen and Underground, that were filmed in the region

“It’s interesting building a career and being from the South—I work a lot in New Orleans and places like Georgia and Texas,” says the Nawlins belle. “And because of that you have a lot of historical period pieces that come down to the South and in a lot of instances I’ve had to play roles that are slightly difficult—having to do with slavery, dealing with childbirth, dealing with loss. I’d say in general, I’ve gotten to play roles with a lot of emotional depth, which I’m grateful for,” she adds.

As Ardelia, the actress gets to plumb some emotional depths as well. Though the dedicated FBI agent wants to do good work and have it speak for itself, she finds herself put in a position where she has to advocate on behalf of other agents in order to fight systemic discrimination within the bureau. But by doing so, she may just be putting her friendship with Clarice on the line.

Tyler says that from the start, executive producer Jenny Lumet’s team discussed telling real stories with a focus on their humanity. "We get this wonderful experience of seeing Clarice rise and seeing Clarice go through things, and we’re also seeing Ardelia, who is trained in the same way. We see her in the same space—and we see the differences in the opportunities that she gets and the things she has to deal with,” says Tyler. “We get this really well-rounded story from a nuanced perspective about women in the workplace, about trauma and about friendship.”

Clarice airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. (EST) on CBS.