Trailblazing “Master of None” Emmy winner Lena Waithe created the Showtime ensemble drama “The Chi,” which examines life on the South Side of Chicago — like “The Wire” for the Midwest. Gold Derby recently spoke with the show’s stars Jason Mitchell, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, and Yolonda Ross about their work in the freshman series. Scroll down and click on their names below to be taken to their full interviews.
“We really wanted to put faces to some of these tragedies,” reveals Mitchell. He plays Brandon Johnson, an aspiring chef whose younger brother is killed in retaliation for a murder he didn’t commit. “So many people are losing family members. We really wanted to show how not only does it strip a family of something, but it also strips a neighborhood of something.” Mitchell is a two-time SAG Award nominee as a member of the ensemble casts of “Straight Outta Compton” (2015) and “Mudbound” (2017), and now he’s an Emmy contender for Best Drama Actor.
Chicago native Ross was excited to participate in “The Chi” because it presented her city “in a positive way.” Though crime happens everywhere, “Chicago really has gotten a bad rap,” so Ross was compelled by the way that Waithe made the “characters and situations personal, so that people could get how some of these things can actually happen.” Ross plays Jada Washington, a single mother working as a nurse to raise her son, Emmett (Jacob Latimore). She’s a two-time Independent Spirit Award nominee: Best Debut Performance for “Stranger Inside” (2001) and Best Supporting Actress for “Go for Sisters” (2013). And for “The Chi” she’ll be considered for Best Drama Supporting Actress at the Emmys.
Mwine, on the other hand, was initially “terrified” to participate in the show because “it wasn’t a world I was familiar with, so I wasn’t sure that I could actually portray it.” The son of immigrants, Mwine knew nothing about the South Side of Chicago. “We have issues of authenticity,” he explains, “which has been a big debate about who has the right to tell what story.” In playing Ronnie Davis, an unemployed man who kills Brandon’s brother to avenge the death of his surrogate son, Mwine considers this “the first time I actually feel like I was trying acting. Usually, for most other work I’ve done, I’ve felt like I am the role, but with Ronnie, “a lot of him is still a mystery.” This performance could earn Mwine an Emmy nom for Best Drama Supporting Actor.
Click on any name below to be taken to their full interview:
Jason Mitchell, who plays Brandon Johnson
Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, who plays Ronnie Davis
Yolonda Ross, who plays Jada Washington
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