Premiering this summer on July 5th, FX introduces a drama that follows the life of three best friends as they navigate the ends and outs of South Central LA during the cocaine epidemic of the 80’s.
Following numerous characters as their lives are affected both directly and indirectly by cocaine, the series shows the multiple perspectives of African Americans, Hispanics, and the CIA of South Central LA during those times.
The Knockturnal recently talked to Isaiah John about his debut television appearance as Leon Simmons, a no-nonsense character who has something to prove to not only the world but himself as well.
Can you tell us more about your character in the new series Snowfall?
Leon Simmons is a hot-tempered kind of character. He is Franklin Saint’s (Damson Idris) best friend. He is a little bit of a loose canon, but he is also a fearless kind of guy. He is definitely the type of person that demands respect from everyone, even his elders.
How did you prepare yourself for such an intense role?
It’s my many years of training that definitely helped me with the role. I am from Atlanta and to play a character from South Central LA, that’s like two different worlds. It’s two different dialects. So I began to watch YouTube videos. And studying different postures and how they stood back in the day, because it was totally different. They actually introduced me to WC. And he is legendary in hip-hop culture. He helped me establish the body language and dialect that I needed to make my character as authentic as possible. He was telling me how I was a quick learner, and I just appreciated everything that he was helping me with to get to where I needed to be to introduce this character to the world. He was a huge help on how I molded this character.
How was working with the legendary director John Singleton, who directed the breakout film “Boyz N the Hood” in 1991?
Years ago, I was in this contest for monologues. Every actor who wanted to submit to this monologue slam, would be judged. And then they would be picked to perform in front of John Singleton. I was one of the top 5 of the actors to be able to perform and meet John Singleton. I wasn’t chosen out of the top 5, but apparently he saw my monologue, and that was years ago. So when I went to the first set of auditions for Snowfall, he walks up to me and he knows my name. And that blew me away. “John Singleton knows who I am.” He said I did great back in Atlanta, and it was just so crazy that he remembered me after all these years. And it just reminded me that everything comes back around full circle. It was amazing.
Now can you tell us more about the upcoming series?
Snowfall is about how crack cocaine hit California in the 80’s. It is about a lot of the technical things that happened behind the scenes. [The series] gives you an up close and personal point of view of how it affected these communities. How it really affected African American communities. It tells you how the CIA was tied into this whole thing. I am trying to figure out a way to tell you without giving too much up. There’s really three main story lines that you will be able to follow. It’s the African American side. It’s the Hispanic side. And at the same time, the CIA’s side. Its like a roller coaster ride when you watch it. There’s so many things happening at once that it really keeps your attention going. One thing I want to tell people about the show is that people may watch the show and think that we are trying to glorify drugs. I just want people to know that this show does not glorify cocaine in any kind of way. If anything, I want people to get from the show, especially our young audiences, to definitely watch the show and see what not to do and how it affects you in your everyday life. And how it can break away families and things like that. And how it can really change your life for the worst.
Checkout FX’s newest drama series, Snowfall, when it comes to television on July 5th.