WTF IS FYC?
STARDUST BY PROXY
A SERIES LEADING TO EMMY
We begin by watching a film we later learn is a piece directed by Kimberly Pierce. It's a testimonial with survivors of school shootings and LGBT victims of bullying that was interspersed in her direction of Episode 8 of the series. She is a director and writer, known for Boys Don't Cry (1999), Carrie (2013) and Stop-Loss (2008).
It’s a powerful introduction to the evening ahead.
THE story & CAST
A hot young guy filled with complex emotions and desires attends a privileged school team party where another young man either interprets or misinterprets signals leading to a sexual encounter. The series deals with complicated issues of sexuality vs. homosexuality, assault vs. consensual sex, bullying vs. elitist culling, revenge vs. murder, justice vs. injustice, race vs. class, and how all of this affects victims, attackers, conspirators, friends, and families. The narrative strives to simply show us the skin of it all, but it's how the actors, under the leadership of a gifted writer/showrunner, treat the material that opens the vein and spills what's beneath its surface.
The format of American Crime has been likened to repertory theatre, where many actors return each season playing different roles. For actors familiar with stage work or this kind of training, this choice must be a familiar process. For the audience, it's compelling to watch who the actors will be playing in the new season.
We are witnessing a highly collaborative team that respects the work, the process, and one another. The subject matter is too important not to behave any other way. It is a show worth seeing and talking about.
Stacy Wilson Hunt, the L.A. Based Hollywood Editor for New York Magazine is our moderator tonight. She introduces the cast and begins the discussion. I've elected to format this post differently, so here are some captured responses and video clips from tonight's panel ...
MODERATOR: TALK ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER OR WHAT'S NEW TO YOUR CHARACTER THIS SEASON?
Connor Jessup: This (character) helps match what people are really feeling. He got letters. It's less of me and more of what John (Ridley) and Michael (McDonald) were trying to do ... gratifying.
- Follow this actor. Incredible talent and depth!
Lili Taylor: Empathy for parents ... thankful that someone was talking about parenting and how it changes. People are appreciative.
- She's very well liked by our audience. Natural and relatable performance.
Felicity Huffman: I didn't really identify with the black hair. What was new to her? We have an accepted social milieu: he is such a politician, but we never say he's such a doctor, or a teacher ... a newfound respect for politicians ... taking the long road that it's for the good for everyone … why is that a bad thing in terms of her character?
- Respected for her unconventional acting choices and talent. Down to earth person.
Regina King (last year's Emmy winner): Class is a big part of the show and to be able to portray a black elitist ... everything she built up .... she realizes you can't control life.
- Versatile and surprising. Brings research and thoughtfulness to her role.
Trevor Jackson: (plays her son, seconds her answer) … being able to play a black kid who's not incarcerated ... not a stereotype.
- Multi-talented young actor-singer. A heartfelt commitment to his character.
Joey Pollari: Eric's character: to swim in the great arena of a TV show with teenagers being gay in sports in a class system astounded me.
- Intelligent young actor with drive. Educated perspective and nuanced character choices.
Angelique Rivera: I went to a school similar to Marshall. I didn't fit in. I didn't speak Spanish and blacks didn't like me and there were lot of racial altercations. My mom was a teacher. It hit home for me. This is my first gig of this kind. I was working at Disney as a princess at the time. Her account of her school experience reminded me a bit of my own ... see Underground.
- Competent and driven young actress. Palpable and embodied performance.
John Ridley: One thing we try to do when we can, we cast real people … we cast a real sexual assault nurse and we asked what would you do and then we rolled the camera. In that instant, there was no other way to play the scene. Her tone was ironic … walking him to a place he needs to go. You don't see her, just the actor’s face. The (camera) coverage convention came on in ‘80s where you get everything. He trusts actors and shoots. It starts with writers and is less about words, but how to frame emotion, and then find a crew who can shoot. But with the actors, what ever happens happens, and we go with it.
- Prolific and insightful writer, show runner, and human being.
Richard Cabral: (see video)
- Real deal from the streets. Talented and learning his craft by doing.
Elvis Nolasco: Everything surprises him. The documentary we saw ... he’d forgotten how powerful and emotionally driving the piece is.
- Powerful actor. Disappears in the role.
MODERATOR: What did you learn from John (Ridley)?
Elvis Nolasco: His character. How he's mapped everything out.
Lili Taylor: He's gonna go down as one of the best showrunners. Ask him anything and he has an answer. He gathered whole crew and said, "I'm gonna do my best. I hope you will, too."
Joey Pollari: As a newer cast member … a generosity of spirit. Such trust.
Conner Jessup: Just nice. He hired masseuse for crew. Serious and exacting, but the more you get to know him those are superficial traits.
Michael MacDonald: He’s always on time and on budget. He respects everyone's time. It's a rare thing.
- Executive Producer along with Ridley. They share purpose and humility.
Regina King: On Halloween, the cast and crew dressed as John ... all wearing grey.
- Apparently, he’s always wearing grey.
Felicity Huffman: As an as actor, I'm used to the routine of coverage. They (John’s set/crew) shoot in one. One take. But what if I'm bad?
John Ridley: Don't be bad.
Connor Jessup: On this show, you have no idea when you're on camera. It’s both bone shaking and freeing.
WRAPPING IT UP
John Ridley: Nobody thought the show would get picked up. There’s been such peer recognition. We wanted to put as much conversation into everything, to talk about race, class, gender, sex abuse, etc.
Season 3 has been picked up along with several of the actors from previous seasons. It's been reported that the series will be "set in North Carolina and will tackle labor issues, economic disparity, and individual rights." (tvguide.com)
This reception was more about meeting and talking to the cast than descending upon the catering. Several actors remained and were completely approachable and engaging.
I had a nice moment with Felicity Huffman who remembered me from our encounter at the studio where I take class. She told me that I was a very good dancer! A down to earth woman as I stated earlier. I've been told we could be sisters ... so very sweet.
And it's always nice to see friends at the FYC events. Love these people!