Deborah Ayorinde took her role in the new Amazon horror anthology series “Them” very seriously. In the limited series, she plays Lucky, the matriarch of a Black family living in 1950s America who move to Compton in search of a better life but are met with violent racism by their white neighbors. Lucky is especially put through the wringer throughout the season, and Ayorinde went to the extent of distancing herself from family and friends to immerse herself in the role. “I really wanted to feel what Lucky felt, that aloneness, that isolation, that even the people around you who love you may not understand what you’re feeling,” says Ayorinde in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. Watch the full interview above.
One of the most visceral scenes in “Them” comes in episode 5, where we get a flashback to the horrifying sequence of events that led to the Emory family leaving the South. The scene involves Lucky’s young son being tossed around carelessly by white people while she is raped. “I tried to prepare myself as much as I could but I really don’t feel like any level of preparation would be enough,” admits Ayorinde, of the scene. “It was far more emotional and far more heavy than I ever expected.” In this scene and others throughout the season, Ayonride describes feeling “every bit of the shock, the fight or flight, going through my body.”
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What helped Ayorinde process the intense feelings she was experiencing during filming was her faith. “I leaned into that more heavily to get through that,” she explains, adding that therapy was another aid to her. This involved “really sitting with someone and unpacking a lot of things that I didn’t even realize I had hidden with me that Lucky gave the opportunity to unpack and to address.” She reveals that the process of playing Lucky allowed her to become more confident in herself and her abilities as an actress, knowing that even the sky isn’t the limit.
“Them” is a series that not only explores the real-life horrors of our world but the supernatural, with Lucky and her family being haunted by demons. While both kinds of horror are terrifying in their own right, Ayorinde admits she’s far more affected by real horror. “The supernatural entities have nothing on the real people. The true terror are the real people and the evil that they were carrying out,” she notes. “When someone literally can’t see you as a human, that’s horrifying.”
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