Asante Blackk on “This Is Us,” “When They See Us” and more on
“At Home With The Creative Coalition”
Emmy Award-nominated actor Asante Blackk sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “At Home With The Creative Coalition,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Blackk opens up about his first audition for “This Is Us,” why he sometimes doesn’t read the full episode script, getting a personal phone call from Ava DuVernay to let him know he landed a role in “When They See Us,” and more. Highlights below.
“At Home With The Creative Coalition,” sponsored by the Pioneering Collective, is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, SoundCloud, and more.
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Highlights from “At Home With The Creative Coalition” featuring Asante Blackk —
On why he sometimes doesn’t read the full script while working on “This Is Us”:
“I was a fan of the show before I ever got on it so I purposefully sometimes will not read the scripts and will only read my scenes because I want to be surprised because it’s just such an amazing show. I’m just so glad I get to be a part of it.”
On what he knew about his character before his audition for “This Is Us”:
“I didn’t know much. I knew that he was a teenage father, and that’s all that I knew when I got that first audition. Being a fan of the show, I kind of made speculation and tried to, you know, make conspiracy theories as you see people do every now and then. But I didn’t know much about the character.”
On how he prepared for his “This Is Us” audition, why he prefers to self-tape, and the first time he met co-star Lyric Ross:
“The way that I prepared, I really just did it the same way that I do any of my other auditions. I give it 110 percent. I asked one of my friends to come over and help me do a self-tape. I just love self-taping a lot more than going into the room because you have more time to play with it, more time to craft it. You’re able to look at yourself and say, ‘I know that one small thing can be tweaked.’ And with that one small thing being tweaked, that could end up changing the course of the way that your audition goes and then changing the course of whether or not they bring you back in for a callback, which they did. My first callback was with Lyric Ross, who plays Deja. Automatically, I was star-struck. I’ve been watching the show. She’s an absolutely amazing actress.”
On representation and breaking stereotypes on “This Is Us”:
“There’s not many single teenage fathers [on TV]. A lot of the times we see single teenage mothers and we’re like, ‘Oh, the father’s off somewhere doing who knows what.’ And so I really wanted to make sure because obviously every stereotype comes from somewhere but a lot of stereotypes are nothing but a stereotype. There are a lot of single teenage fathers out there who can relate to Malik’s story and I wanted to be sure that I portrayed that in the correct way.”
On why he prefers episodic projects like “This Is Us”:
“‘This Is Us’ is my second official project that I’ve ever been in; ‘When They See Us’ was my first. Even though, technically, ‘When They See Us’ is a limited series, it’s not quite the same as an episodic. I feel like we shot it more like a movie. ‘This Is Us,’ however, I feel like it’s kind of like the standard way that episodics are done… With these episodics, everything isn’t always written out for you right there the same way that it was for us with ‘When They See Us’… [in which] you know everything that’s going to happen, you know their development throughout the entire story. With ‘This Is Us,’ however, we’re literally getting these scripts episode by episode. And there’s 18 episodes per season, which means that we don’t know what’s going to happen to our characters, we don’t know their development, their arc until it actually happens. I find that a lot more in the moment and a lot more natural as actors, because as actors you always want to play something as if you don’t know what’s going to happen next so not being able to know what’s going to happen next always helps.”
On getting a personal call from Ava DuVernay to let him know he landed a role in “When They See Us,” his first professional acting gig:
“I’m just sitting on my couch, having a good old dandy time — not even thinking about it at this point — and I get this random call from L.A. I’m like, ‘What is this Los Angeles number doing calling me? I don’t know anybody in L.A.’ […] So I answer and it’s Ava DuVernay herself from her cell phone, calling me to tell me that she was absolutely blown away by my tape and that she wanted me to be in ‘When They See Us.’ And the last thing that she said — right before we got off that phone call — was ‘See you in two weeks.’ And right in that moment, it all became super real to me. It was an amazing first experience.”
More about “At Home With The Creative Coalition”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “At Home With The Creative Coalition” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. “At Home With The Creative Coalition” is sponsored by the Pioneering Collective. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.
Upcoming guests include Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us,” “Dallas Buyers Club”), Willie Garson (“Hawaii Five-0,” “White Collar”), New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions,” “Takes One to Know One”), Eric McCormack (“Will & Grace,” “Travelers”), Rob Morrow (“Billions,” “The Fosters”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Alysia Reiner (“Better Things,” “Orange Is the New Black”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi,” “How to Get Away with Murder”), Reid Scott (“Why Women Kill,” “Veep”), Matt Walsh (“Veep,” “UCB Comedy Originals”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), and Constance Zimmer (“Condor,” “UnREAL”).
Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Harley Quinn,” “Saturday Night Seder”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes,” “United 93”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “My So-Called Life”), Alan Cumming (“Briarpatch,” “Instinct,” “The Good Wife”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Jim Gaffigan (“Tesla,” “The Jim Gaffigan Show”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word,” “Nightcap”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “The Avengers”), Jason Isaacs (“The OA,” “Star Trek: Discovery,” “Harry Potter”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Big Mouth,” “Gotham”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl,” “Life in Pieces,” “Pretty Little Liars”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Nip/Tuck,” “90210”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs,” “Reno 911!”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters,” “Arrow”), Kathy Najimy (“Hocus Pocus,” “Sister Act”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory,” “Young Sheldon,” “The Muppets”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl,” “Gossip Girl”), Anthony Rapp (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Rent”), and Julie Taymor (“The Lion King,” “Frida,” “The Glorias”).
More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.