Calling all Shondaland fans!
I’ve got an AWESOME new show for you that you’re going to love!
Say hello to… (drum roll!) For The People!
It premieres tonight (3/13/18) on ABC at 10PM (ET) and it’s a show that you don’t want to miss! I had the pleasure of screening the premiere episode of For The People while in LA for the A Wrinkle in Time press event and I was hooked immediately! The show is set in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and follows six young lawyers working on opposite sides of the law and handling the most high-profile and high-stakes federal cases in the country. These young lawyers will be put to the test both personally and professionally as their lives intersect in and out of America’s most prestigious trial court.
I’m a lover of a good legal show, so this (for me) was solid gold to watch! Not to mention, you’re brought into these characters right off the bat. You really get a good understanding (quickly) of who they are and what they’re all about, which was something I wasn’t expecting on the 1st episode. You really are left wanting more, which I loved.
We had the chance after screening the 1st episode to get Q&A time with actors Jasmin Savoy Brown (“Allison Adams”), Susannah Flood (“Kate Littlejohn”), Regé-Jean Page (“Leonard Knox”) & Wesam Keesh (“Jay Simmons”) and Creator & Executive Producer Paul William Davies and Executive Producer Tom Verica. I’ve been a big fan of Tom Verica for a long time, so it was really wonderful getting the opportunity to meet him and hear him speak about For The People.
Paul kicked off our interview sharing how the show came to be, which was interesting to hear about after we just finished the screening.
“I brought this idea to Shonda and I had been kind of playing around with two ideas for a while. One of them was a a show set in the Southern District of New York the Mother Court, which in legal circles is kind of the highest profile, most prestigious trial court in the United States. And I thought a show set in that court with the kinds of cases that come out of that court and the lawyers that work in that court could be really interesting. I also wanted to do something that showed the perspective of both sides. And not like in a formulaic way but just kind of in a way that you got a richer sense of how the law works and how justice is made in America. And so I thought having that dual perspective could be an interesting new way to approach a legal show. And so I brought those ideas to Shonda and we talked them through and ended up combining those two ideas into what has become this show. So that’s how it got started.”
I have to say, seeing the 2 different sides showcased was a completely different spin. You usually just see one side and really hone into that specific side. In For The People, you see yourself understanding both sides and how the cases need to be fought to win. It was really a cool way to approach a legal show.
Photo Credit: Louise Manning Bishop / MomStart.com
I really cool “fun fact” was learning that Paul Williams Davies was (and still is) a lawyer. “I was a practicing lawyer for years. I worked for a large law firm, I didn’t do the kind of noble work that these people do. I do have a background in the law and some of my friends that I went to law school with are actually consultants on the show. And so I’ve been able to draw off both from my own experience and then people that I’ve worked with and went to law school with.”
Since the show really dives into he law and the legal system, we wanted to know how the actors and actresses prepared for their roles. There was definitely a lot of legal language, so it couldn’t have been easy to jump right into these roles.
Wesam shared, “I actually did shadow a public defender at the L.A. courthouse and that was an amazing experience, just what the public defenders have to deal with within a few hours, from like a bicycle theft case to a sexual assault case to somebody showing up for their prison sentence, to a juvenile trying to not get jail time. So they have to deal with a lot and yeah it was very eye opening, there’s a lot of dark humor behind the scenes which, you know, plays into it.”
Jasmin shared, “But like Wesam, I also have a public defender that I Skype with who’s in New York and that’s invaluable. Even just while we’re Skyping she got like five calls in half an hour and just understanding the nature of what that actually looks like and her critiquing the show, just from the trailer!”
Photo Credit: Louise Manning Bishop / MomStart.com
And then Regé-Jean shared, “I went to court in Compton, which is in experience. And I didn’t know before I started working this that everyone has the right to go and just watch justice be done, like you can turn up and watch a case with very-very few exceptions which is incredible because it is so important for justice not just to be done but to be seen to be done. And just kind of being in that environment, in a courthouse environment and feeling people work at an incredibly high level, with people’s lives in their hands every single day is an extraordinary thing and something you kind of need to feel palpably before you can kind of take it on. Just the fact they walk into this courtroom every day, real people’s lives incredibly intricate complicated stories. And you have to boil that down and deliver it to jury with all the technicalities involved and essentially either save lives or not and with ten other cases on your back and five calls coming in every ten minutes. And just kind of seeing people work in that kind of rhythm is both inspiring and a responsibility because you then have to represent that in its best light.”
I have to admit, I loved hearing them answer this question because you really got to see the amount of work and preparation that went into these roles. These actors and actresses just didn’t show up to read a script, they dug deep and really wanted to understand why and how and when. It was very inspiring to see them all so committed to their roles. It actually really made me LIKE the show that much more!
Truly within the 1st episode you do a get a taste of each character, you don’t (obviously) get a ton because it’s the premiere episode, but you get a great taste about everyone. Each character is different and you can see that each has their strengths and weaknesses. We wanted to hear what they felt was a redeeming quality about their character on the show.
Rege-Jean answered beautifully for everyone, “I think that there’s an absolute determination to do their jobs right and defend people, whether they’re prosecuting or defending.”
And you can see that off the bat! Everyone is so different, but this is the one truth about them all.
This is a show you don’t want to miss! Make sure you tune in tonight! As the episodes go forward, you’re going to get more and more connected to the characters and the show.
As Tom shared with us towards the end of our interview, “You want to leap in and know who this character is, so we set up what the forum is and then slowly bit by bit you find out a little bit about these characters. And since we have a little bit of hindsight having done ten episodes, we delve into each of these characters’ personal stories and it’s quite revealing and surprising. And Paul and the writing team have done a really phenomenal job with peeling back those layers, so that you’re able to say well this one is the jock. But you do sort of see what makes each of them tick, and I think you’re dealing with the jumping in point is these guys are on their first day on the job and they are wearing their armor and they are wearing, they have their protective coats on. And as they sort of get into it and you sort of see a little or a lot of the gray area about what makes them tick, why. You know, completely different sides of a public defender and a prosecutor, they come at it from a completely different way. It’s really great to see the human element and their interaction with one another, which dramatically hopefully we pull that off.”
And in my opinion, it seems like they are doing an awesome job!
Can’t wait to watch it tonight with my husband!
Learn more about the show and cast here.
Disclosure: This was a Disney/ABC trip. All travel was covered.