New Starz Original series Blindspotting kicked off this past weekend (June 13th, 2021), following on from the 2018 movie of the same name but shifting the perspective of the show from its leading males to its leading woman.
The incomparable Jasmine Cephas Jones (Hamilton) is the star of the new show, taking up the role of Ashley once more as we watch her character deal with the ever-shifting dynamics of the world and the shocking revelation of her partner being put behind bars for a very long time.
We got the chance to chat to Jones all about the new series, what we should expect from the show, filming in a pandemic and more…
What can you tell us about the new series Blindspotting and Ashley, as well as how the show ties in with the 2018 movie of the same name?
The movie really focused on the true perspectives of best friends and, they were males - Colin and Miles - and how they navigate through the world, especially with a different skin colour. I play Ashley in the movie, Miles’ partner, and the TV show continues six months after the movie. The perspective changes and it’s now from Ashley’s perspective and how she navigates through the world and deals with situations when her partner has gone to prison. She finds out that he’s going to be in jail for a while and so, she moves back in with his mom and his sister and, she has a lot of tension with them! She kind of feels a little bit alone, because she’s always used to making a lot of big decisions with her partner that she’s known for so long and now, she has to do it herself.
You worked with the likes of Helen Hunt and Atticus Woodward on the show; what was the chemistry like on set?
Helen has a very loving presence. She was so passionate about the movie and you could tell she wanted to bring her all for this TV show. She’s a legend and she’s not just an actor, she’s a producer, writer, director; she’s worn many hats in her career and you can just tell. It’s such a learning experience to be with her and to share the screen with her.
Atticus is very new to this but he’s such a natural who just brought so much light and energy to the show, and I think he plays his role very, very well. And he’s one of the cutest human beings I have ever met!
The world’s in a very strange place right now, so can you tell us a little bit about what it was like filming the show in the midst of a pandemic? How different was it to the usual sets you’ve been on?
You know, usually when you do a project you throw a big party and people get to meet each other and understand each other and all of that. We didn’t get any of that and that was kind of taken away from us because of the pandemic.
The production was very, very strict and rightly so. We got tested every day and we had to wear masks and shields in-between shots and we were mostly six-feet away from each other when we weren’t shooting. So, in that world, we did miss out on really getting to vibe and know each other as people and I think, really it wasn’t until the end of the show where we really got to know each other but, it just goes to show you how talented this cast is and how everybody brought their A-game.
We were just so happy and grateful that we even had a job and were able to work and do what we loved in the middle of a pandemic and, everybody was very aware of that and wanted to be safe so, we really just showed up and hopefully we made it pretty believable that we’ve all known each other for a very long time. We really wanted that to show on screen and under the circumstances I think we did pretty well.
The show’s a comedy-drama, or a dramedy, so what was it like balancing those two dramas?
I think the hardest thing, especially with my character was because she’s the one I think going through it the most. Just showing her, I’d even say depression; she’s having a very, very hard time and I just didn’t wanna make her one-note. I wanted people to see the different sides of her even though in the first episode, her whole life changes in front of her eyes. I wanted people to see that Ashley is funny and has this dry humour to her, and her angry sides and happy sides; I wanted to make that known.
So, having this grounded character that’s going through something with a lot of heightened characters around her that helped bring that out of her, that helped me a lot. If it was just Ashley by herself it would just be such a different show so, I think all of these heightened characters that deal with their trauma in their own way - and a lot of them deal with it through comedy - that helps bring the comedy out of Ashley. It was a very supportive cast and one that is also very, very funny.
Blindspotting’s set to debut at Tribeca, are you going to be able to head out to the premiere?
Yes I am! I feel like it’s the first premiere I’ve been to in a very long time that’s in person and outside and, some sort of feeling of normalcy and getting to celebrate with people.
What are you hoping audiences get from this show?
I just hope it starts a conversation. I hope that if anyone has a blindspot to any of these issues or situations in the show that, their perspective can open and see other sides and, hopefully can inspire and share the many different sides to these issues. I think if people want to change something or hopefully get inspired to change; that spark has to happen inside them first and so, if they do have that spark, that first spark is the conversation that they have to have. I hope they set out the dinner table and start to have it if they’ve never had it before.
How have you personally been coping with this new world of lockdown? Have you picked up any new hobbies or talents whilst indoors?
I’ve really gotten into vintage photography. I have a Pentax - an old vintage camera and I think it’s really cool to be able to take pictures and not see them immediately, so you really have to learn the craft and understand the camera in that way. That’s been really fun and interesting.
Finally, what should we expect from you throughout the rest of 2021?
I don’t know! We’ll see… I’ve been working on a lot of my own creative projects. I’ve been able to have a bit of time that’s opened up for me to really focus on a lot of projects that I’ve created including my album, so I hope I get to finish these deadlines that I have for myself and really, just to walk in some nature after all of this work and all of these amazing premieres and really celebrate the work that I’ve done on the show.
Blindspotting is available to watch now on STARZPLAY, with new episodes coming every Sunday.
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