Snowfall’s Amin Joseph talks Jerome’s revenge, John Singleton, and growing up during the crack epidemic
"Knowing people that were addicted to this awful drug, knowing people that were incarcerated by it—all of those things have affected me personally," the actor says
Amin Joseph may not agree with his character’s desire for revenge, but he understands it.
The Snowfall star, 40, told theGrio exclusively on Monday that he has empathy for Jerome, Franklin’s streetwise uncle who is now caught up in the drug game. During episode 8, Jerome is faced with the heartbreaking reality of the crack epidemic when his longtime love, Louie (Angela Lewis), is shot at a funeral.
Overcome with grief, Jerome decides to hunt down the people responsible and take them out by any means necessary.
“Personally, I feel like cooler heads usually are best to prevail, but I can understand that,” Joseph reveals. “I think there’s a few things that hit the primal level in any man or woman, when it comes to their family. When it comes to the things that is most important to them.”
“Although I would like to think, sitting on the outside, that I may not respond like that. I do know that it’s your nature to want to seek revenge, or to avenge what has happened to your loved one.”
Joseph credits his close friendship with co-star Lewis for his emotionally charged scenes at the hospital, where Louie underwent surgery following the shooting. The actor describes Lewis as a “sister” and “one of the most gracious scene partners that I’ve ever worked with.”
“I’ve been working with Angela for about five years now. What’s beautiful about that is that when you first approach working with an actor, you’re using a lot of things from your own personal life, you’re using a lot of imagination,” the FX star explains. “After working for five years with Angela—the spirit that she is, the woman that she is—I really feel like she is one of the most gracious scene partners that I’ve ever worked with.”
He continues, “So I could use a lot of what really means something to me about her personally. If you could think about losing someone like that, it brings a lot of emotion about it. It brings a realism. So it was kind of a surreal scene, because putting her there [in the hospital] and the love that I have for her as a fellow actor and as a sister.”
Joseph has channeled his own upbringing into his standout performance on Snowfall. The actor says he vividly remembers the effects the crack epidemic had on his neighborhood in Harlem, including the imprisonment of his peers, the emergence of crack vials scattered on the sidewalk and his neighbors becoming overcome with addiction.
“Growing up and seeing crack vials. Growing up and knowing people that were addicted to this awful drug, knowing people that sold it, knowing people that were incarcerated by it. Looking at my school zone, and seeing how different monies were put in [and] different social programs were implemented to offset [the effects],” he shares.
“Draconian laws used to put people away, all of those things have affected me personally, in my neighborhood. To me, in a way, Snowfall is a reminder. It’s a stark reminder of the past, and we’re still dealing with the residual of a lot of these things today. This is still something that’s going on easily 20, 30 years removed.”
Joseph credits Snowfall‘s creator, John Singleton, for much of the brilliance behind the show. The New York native believes that Singleton, who died in April 2019 after suffering a stroke, left a legacy for his cast and crew to emulate. According to the actor, Singleton is “a big brother and an ancestor looking over us, who showed us a blueprint toward getting the story done.”
“We lost John in about episode seven of season three, and we haven’t had him since. Then we also went through this pandemic, so it was an added pressure. I think it’s a circle of truth around our head to get it right. To continue to keep the content unapologetic, speak truth to power for each artist and each person behind the camera,” Joseph says.
“John Singleton, as a filmmaker, he was one of our pioneers. He’s still with us. Snowfall is one of his last testaments. I would just implore the audience to let other people know about this particular project and go back into his filmography. Take a look at what he really was trying to say about his community; how he made Black people larger than life. John…put our neighborhood, our culture, center frame. He made movie stars and television stars off of putting a close up on our humanity.”
Snowfall airs on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX. Fans can watch theGrio‘s full interview with Joseph above.
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