The cast of Fox’s upcoming series “Shots Fired” which was created by Gina Prince-Bythewood and husband Reggie Rock Bythewood discussed the series at Urbanworld Film Festival. The series which stars Sanaa Lathan, Stephan James, Helen Hunt, DeWanda Wise, Tristan Mack Wilds, Aisha Hinds and Jill Hennessy dealing with the aftermath of a racially motivated shooting in a North Carolina town.
About bringing the series to Fox, Gina Prince Blythewood stated, “This was interesting. Reg and I were on a whole other track, we were working on features and Fox came to us said you wanna do a project in this realm and it was something as artists that we couldn’t turn this down. Reggie at the time was actually working on a project similar to this and the fact that they wanted to do that … we huddled together and talked about what kind of story we wanted to tell. It was also incredibly important, again we started working on this over a year ago. We have two boys, and just what was happening. Our son’s reaction to the Trayvon Martin trial that Travis and the Mike Brown and trying to explain to him what was going on. This was a way for us to put all that into a show that could speak to that and hopefully start giving some answers.”
“I think when we spoke with you one of the things we said is that we wanted to do a show that just felt like an autopsy of Ferguson and that was really like a jumping off point for us. The great thing about having ten hours is we didn’t feel like we had to say everything we wanted to say in ninety minutes or two hours we really were able to kind of look at it from every seat in the house and that’s what we attempted to do with this.” Gina’s husband Reggie added.
Lathan’s leading man in the series Stephan James said of his character preston Terry, “From the very first time I read Shots Fired for me the most interesting was, first of all I couldn’t believe Fox was gonna put it out for one. That blew me away. The character of Preston Terry is somebody that I have never seen on television before. I’ve never seen somebody like Preston on television a young African American prosecutor from the Department of Justice and cocky. He’s coming into this situation where there is a lot on his plate he’s very new but he’s very optimistic about the task at hand, and I think it speaks to just what we’re going through in this country right now. A lot of people feel like they can maybe be a part of the change but don’t know how to be a part of the change, what they can do to be effective these sorts of discussions. I think Preston is probably the most optimistic version of that. But he learns and goes through a lot of obstacles and journeys within this ten hour ride. He gets jaded. There are a lot of things that he thought were a certain way but they really aren’t. He had to face reality in many different situations. For me just the growth that Preston has during this ten hour series it was something I couldn’t turn down. Something I had to fight for .We all had to fight for it Gina and Reggie could speak to that. Something I really wanted to be a part of. I’m so grateful to be here amongst all these beautiful people.”
Actor turned music artist Tristan Mack Wilds spoke on being motivated back into acting saying, “It’s crazy … and I don’t think Gina or Reggie knows it was at a weird time where I was kind of trying to figure out if I wanted to do acting again or if I wanted to just do music. I remember I got the script at first it as called Indictment and I remember reading and I was like yo this isn’t just acting this can be something bigger than all of us. So I decided to jump at it and put everything that I possibly could in it. I actually went on a few ride alongs with police in New York City just to kind of see what they go through on a daily basis. I had police training sitting down with actual police officers understanding their mentality and why they do the things they do. To hear it from the horse’s mouth it’s scary but you learn a lot especially about the mindset of these officers.”
In preparing for her role as Shameeka Dewanda Wise stated, “I feel like I was inundated. I spent a good portion of my pre-production research examining and thinking about grief and loss in general. I had the honor of attending Wanda Johnson the mother of Oscar Grant throws her son a birthday party every year, and the other mothers attend and they always qualify it as a club that no one wants to belong to. So that was the center of the relationship I had with Jill’s character Alicia. Then in May the mother of Mike Brown Lezley McSpadden came out with a book Tell The Truth Shame the Devil and it was really kind of the whole life story and the way we constructed Shameeka is that she’s a young mom and there’s something very special about her relationship with her first born son and to choose to have that son then have that son taken away from you. So that was kind of the pockets of research I examined for Shameeka.”