Shahadi Wright Joseph in Amazon Prime’s THEM

THEM from Little Marvin & Lena Waithe. Image courtesy Amazon Studios
THEM from Little Marvin & Lena Waithe. Image courtesy Amazon Studios /

Shahadi Wright Joseph in Amazon Prime series, THEM. I recently had the pleasure of speaking to Shahadi Wright Joseph in a phone interview today about her new project THEM. A full review will be published this week, but I can tell you it’s riveting and really makes you think. Not only does it provide historic facts of many important Black History events, but it is also reminiscent of one of Jordan Peele’s eye-opening pieces. And ironically, this little lady was in one of them, US with Lupita Nyong’o.

At just fifteen years of age, Shahadi is going places! She already has her own production company, and like me, has a musical theater background. You may know her the most from The Lion King live-action movie (with Beyonce Knowles as older Nala) where she reprised her Broadway role of Young Nala. Funny, gracious, and humble, she is going places!

Them takes place in the 1940s and follows a mother name Lucky Emory (Deborah Ayorinde ) and her family into an all-white suburban neighborhood. However, these neighbors are a little homicidal, and creepy.  (Shoutout to American Horror Story: Cult’s Alison Pill for playing the resilient and desperate Betty Wendell). You will get to see their stories and backstories unfold, and realities and sanity will deeply unhinge. The history is real, the storylines are gut-wrenching. Joseph portrays Lucky’s teenage daughter, Ruby.

"What inspired you to act? We actually both come from a musical theater background, represent!:SRJ: Oh my God, that’s amazing! Well, I–I, um, started acting when I was eight. Um, and I–my mother actually heard an audition for The Lion King on Broadway on the radio one day, and we decided to take a gander at auditioning for it. And, that was my first big role! Um, and after that I knew this was something that I really wanted to do, for the rest of my life. Um, so I kept on auditioning and working and , here we are today!"

Shahadi Wright Joseph
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – JULY 09: Shahadi Wright Joseph attends the World Premiere of Disney’s “THE LION KING” at the Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney) /

"How important is it for you to create more diverse roles and films out there for people of color? Especially girls! You are representing a new era of strong women.SRJ: Yeah, I am all for representation, I feel like it’s very, very important, especially in the entertainment industry. It is so vital to, uh, for growing minds. Especially for little black boys and girls, so I’m very grateful that I get to do what I do so that I can showcase myself as representation for, you know, young dark-skinned girls especially who want to get into the industry. Um, I remember when I was younger I never really used to see anybody, who you know, really looked like me. But we now are in a different time now, and things are improving so I’m really glad that I get to do what I do."

Shahadi Wright Joseph
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 23: Shahadi Wright Joseph attends the American Black Film Festival Honors Awards Ceremony at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 23, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images) /

"If you could describe Ruby in one word, what would it be?SRJ: I would–ooh. Okay, I guess one word would be witty. I feel like she is, she is very aware and very intuitive. And I really love that about her. She is such a clever girl. Um, and you know, I know that she is still, uh, a growing person going into high school. Still trying to figure herself out. And I think that can really tough and I think that is one of the ways I relate to her as well.What drew you to Ruby? Is it easy to tell her story?SRJ: Uh, I’ve got to say it is not easy to tell her story at all, you know. She is such a specific character. And she really is going through a lot. She is dealing with self-acceptance with her skin color, um, and just her being accepted into her school. As the only black girl in her entire school. She’s also dealing with problems at home with her parents, and you know, the generalational trauma that she’s experiences, and she’s also still trying to keep her, you know, uh, her little sister as innocent as possible. For as long as she can because she knows how the real world is. Um, so she does, go through a lot so it was very difficult to portray the role. But I really did try my best to get an actor’s representation of the teenager black girl’s experienceWhat do you hope this series accomplishes for the critics? Is there a specific message you want to get out there?SRJ: Um, I think that I really just want them to know that this story is a form of education as well, not just entertainment. Um, And I feel like this is the absolute perfect, you know, a project for horror because it has to do with real traumatic experiences, you know, and racism is definitely terrifying. Um, so I think that this is just a great genre to put in, um and I feel like Little Marvin in a way has created such a beautiful, you know, a beautiful project with this. So, I really am grateful."

Listen to the full interview below!

Sidenote: There is an animal death, so you’ve been warned.THEM premieres on Amazon Prime Video on April 9, 2021

From Little Marvin and Lena Waithe, Them is a limited anthology series that explores terror in America. The first season, 1950s-set Covenant, centers a Black family who moves from North Carolina to an all-white Los Angeles neighborhood during the period known as The Great Migration. The family’s idyllic home becomes ground zero where malevolent forces, next-door and otherworldly, threaten to taunt, ravage and destroy them.

Them stars Deborah Ayorinde, Melody Hurd, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Alison Pill, and Ashley Thomas.

The series is created and executive produced by Little Marvin along with executive producers Lena Waithe, Don Kurt, Miri Yoon, David Matthews, and Roy Lee of Vertigo Entertainment. Them is a co-production from Sony Pictures Television and Amazon Studios.

Follow Them:
Facebook/Instagram/Twitter: ThemOnPrime

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