- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
The 2018 film starred Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal as best friends in the Bay Area and tackled issues of race, police violence and the justice system; the show now picks up six months after the film as Ashley (Cephas Jones) is forced to suddenly navigate single motherhood when her boyfriend Miles (Casal) is arrested, causing her and her young son to move in with Miles’ mother and sister.
“We really didn’t want to do a series because we assumed that would mean Collin (Diggs) and Miles in a new chapter, we were like ‘How are we going to top that? That was an exciting few days for them,'” Casal said of their initial resistance to revisiting the material. “The Bay Area has thousands and thousands of stories that haven’t been told, so we were just like what’s the quickest way we can get into a few more stories that we really want to see and show, and Ashley just felt like the way in.”
Shooting the series in a pandemic, Casal, who serves as showrunner and executive producer as well as co-star, says the precautions mandated they keep the cast small with only so many people allowed in a room, and hopes to have multiple seasons to “introduce more and more kinds of characters, both in front of the camera and how we involve the community on the other side of the lens and really make it a Bay story told by Bay folks.”
Cephas Jones, who had a small part in the original film, now takes center stage, on Sunday capping off a whirlwind week of Blindspotting events while her fiancé Anthony Ramos also had the biggest few days of his career with the release of In The Heights. “It’s been insane, to be honest I haven’t really even been able to take in anything yet,” she told THR on the COVID-safe red carpet. “I think when this is all over I’ll be able to sit back and be like, ‘Wow, we just did that.'”
While the movie took a masculine view, “This is more about how the prison system affects the families outside — not just the prisoner inside but the family outside, and specifically through the women’s eyes,” Cephas Jones said, and in revisiting these problems within the justice and police system specifically for people of color, “hopefully people can have some compassion and understanding of what we’re talking about. We’ve been talking about this stuff for years, this is not new — Stevie Wonder’s been talking about it in all his albums, Spike Lee in Do The Right Thing. We’re always talking about it in our art and will continue to do it until we see some type of change.”
Executive producer Jess Wu Calder added that the series also allowed them to explore raising a Black son in America while his dad is incarcerated, “and we just wanted to do whatever we could to remove that stigma because it’s such a common occurrence, and it’s a systematic issue within this country.”
The premiere event, which included costars Helen Hunt, Jaylen Barron, Candace Nicholas-Lippman and Benjamin Earl Turner, as well as some fatherly support from Ron Cephas Jones, took over Hollywood Forever Cemetery with food trucks and socially distanced guest pods. A performance from show choreographers Lil Buck and Jon Boogz kicked off the screening, followed by a video message from Diggs, who has been working in Canada and was unable to leave amid pandemic restrictions.
“I’m devastated, I worked really hard to try to be there for the premiere of what I believe is the best thing I’ve ever worked on,” he said in a recording, adding, “I hope you laugh a lot, I hope you think a little, I hope you maybe see some characters you’ve never seen on TV before but that you know exist in real life and they deserve to be on TV, that’d be cool. Mostly I hope you fuck with it.”
Blindspotting is airing now on Starz.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day