‘Blindspotting’ Stars Discuss the Significance of Representation on TV

At the “Blindspotting” premiere at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Sunday, cast member Candace Nicholas-Lippman highlighted the significance of television programming about communities of color.

“I want young girls, Black and brown, biracial girls, I want them to be able to see themselves when they look at us on screen, to know that someone that looks like Janelle, you look like her, you can do this, too,” Nicholas-Lippman, who plays Janelle, told Variety.

The new series from Starz is based on the 2018 movie of the same name, written by Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal. The TV show pivots to focus on Ashley, played by Jasmine Cephas Jones, who is left to grapple with the sudden incarceration of longtime boyfriend Miles (Casal). She and their son (Atticus Woodward) move in with Miles’ free-spirited mom Rainey (Helen Hunt) and sex worker half-sister Trish (Jaylen Barron).

“When we were making the film, we felt this big void of all these other characters that shaped our lives,” Casal said. “The notion of potentially getting a show around Ashley gave us access to so many other characters that we’d be able to introduce and expand upon.”

According to the National Institute of Corrections, the parents of one in every 50 children in the U.S. are in prison, with more than half of those parents serving time for non-violent offenses. As described by Jones, “Blindspotting” expands on this experience through comedy and a “theatrical” mode of TV storytelling.

“She fights for her family,” Jones said of Ashley. “There’s a lot of women out there that are like that, that are superheroes that don’t wear capes.”

Before the screening began, the audience was treated to a dance performance by a group that included show choreographers Jon Boogz and Lil Buck. Dressed in various prison uniforms, they contorted and flexed over a steady beat with a narration that explained that the United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. “The opposite of poverty is not wealth, the opposite of poverty is justice,” the narrator said.

“Blindspotting” airs Sundays on Starz.

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