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Interview: Jasmin Savoy Brown

Set in the highly stressful and unpredictable Southern District of New York Federal Court, the hit ABC series For The People follows a talented, young group of lawyers who work for both the prosecution and the defense.

If that wasn’t stressful enough, the lawyers also have to balance not only their work lives but their personal lives as well, which isn’t easy. Heading into its second season, one of the reasons for the series success is the work of actor Jasmin Savoy Brown.

Already forging her own path in her career, she’s made appearances in series such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Stitchers, Grey’s Anatomy, Will and Love. Many may remember her from her breakout performance as Evangeline Murphy on the critically acclaimed HBO series The Leftovers.

Not only is she making a name for herself in Hollywood, but she is using that platform to be an advocate for women’s rights and the LGBTQ community.

We sat down with Jasmin to talk about her character’s journey in Season 1, the status of the relationship between Seth and Allison and what fans can look forward to with the second season of For The People.

Pop Culture Principle – Looking back at the first season of For The People, how would you describe Allison’s journey?

Jasmin Savoy Brown – I think the biggest change for Allison in Season 1 was really facing her identity and where she came from. I think she was somewhat in denial about her privilege when we first saw her. She knew she was privileged, but didn’t know how far removed from her clients. Especially with Arturo Marquez from Episode 6, she was really forced to look in the mirror and examine herself and have to deal with that and I think that was the biggest change for her.

Pop Culture Principle – We got to see the tense relationship between Allison and her brother in Season 1. Will we explore that relationship more in Season 2 and can you talk a bit about that particular episode?

Jasmin Savoy Brown – Maybe. 😊 As an actor, that was really fun to shoot. On a television show, we only know about our characters what you know while you are watching. We find out things about our characters as we re

ad the script, just like the audience finds out watching the episode for the first time.

So, working on that episode revealed a lot to me about her and let me dive in more to the character. Prior to that, I don’t think it was even mentioned that she had a brother. So, that was really fun to explore that dynamic and it gave her more layers. This could just be me being biased, but I think it also gave the audience more heart for her and understood more about where she came from and the challenges that she dealt with and that her life, although easier than some, wasn’t as easy as it looked.

Pop Culture Principle – Allison and Sandra have a really strong friendship and bond. Can you talk a little about the importance of that friendship and what it’s like to work with Britt Robertson?

Jasmin Savoy Brown – I’ll just start with why that friendship is important to me. I feel like on cable television and even recently on streaming shows, when you see female friendships, it’s not an actual depiction. You see this cattiness and backstabbing and weird sexual tension that isn’t real among female friendships. I would never stab my best friend in the back and Allison wouldn’t have a threesome with her. Sometimes, it can be so offensive seeing those friendships on television.

So, when I saw their friendship, I really wanted to be on the show. I think it’s so important to Allision because Sandra is someone who is opposite from her, but also exactly like her. Sandra is someone she can trust to give her an honest opinion and an honest perspective about her life while also knowing that this person will never leave and that she’s a true friend and someone that will laugh with her and cry with her. It’s the same way that I feel about my friendships.

Working with Britt has been wonderful. I knew of her a bit before we started shooting, but I hadn’t seen a lot of her work. She’s just one of the most giving, lovely and kind souls that you could meet. She’s just always making me laugh and always surprising you with some sort of gift. She’s a true friend and someone I can actually call my friend.

Pop Culture Principle – In the season finale, Seth tells Allison that he loves her, yet she shows up at the door of Toby and asks him not to say that he loves her. Can you talk about why she made that decision and what that may mean for Seth and Allison in Season 2?

Jasmin Savoy Brown - I think Allison needed a change. I think that there is part of her that still loves Seth for sure and will always love Seth, but I think at that moment, she knew her life has been looking a certain way and heading in a certain direction and maybe she needed something different and doesn’t have it all figured out. She decides to take this risk and try something new, fun and perhaps reckless and whatever happens, is fine because it’s something that she needs to experience. I think she needed a bit of a shake-up. Allison and Seth’s relationship is up in the air and you’ll just have to tune in to Season 2 to find out what happens.

Pop Culture Principle – With an ensemble cast, sometimes it’s hard for writers to give everyone their time to shine, but the writers for For The People do a great job spotlighting all the characters. Would you agree with that?

Jasmin Savoy Brown – One hundred percent. I think that they are excellent at it. I think it was a bit of a worry going into it for all of us, but the writers spread it out really well and they do a great job of incorporating everyone more on one episode and less on another and we are all very happy.

Pop Culture Principle – Are there any characters on the show you’d like to have more scenes with and more interaction?

Jasmin Savoy Brown – I want to work more with Susannah Flood. I think she is absolutely brilliant. I actually saw her on Broadway a few years before the show started. She’s the number one for me that I would love to have more scenes with.

Pop Culture Principle – We read that many of the props, such as court and legal documents are actually filled out with details about cases. How does that help you with your acting process?

Jasmin Savoy Brown – Oh, it’s huge, especially on a television show and especially a show like this that dare I say is somewhat procedural, we don’t have a lot of time to prepare. Often times we receive the script the night before and we are preparing all these scenes, so the time that I have, I’m doing research for the cases that I am dealing with and have the words sink into my body and my spirit and memorizing and making it real.

I don’t have a lot of time to think about the details of what these documents say and having all these things filled out just gives so much history, weight and so much good stuff for me to use as an actor. If I’m reading a document in a scene and I’m reading the details of what they say my client allegedly committed in their crime, that just gives me so much more to feed off of to use in the scene that I otherwise wouldn’t have. The work they do is truly magic and helps me so much as an actor.

Pop Culture Principle – One of the great things about For The People is the show’s ability to have some great courtroom and personal drama, but to balance that out with some great comedy. Would you agree?

Jasmin Savoy Brown – Again, one hundred percent. I think everyone is great comedically, but specifically, Wesam Keesh who plays Jay and Ben Rappaport who plays Seth, I think they are two comedic geniuses and the lines that they give them combined with their talent, they make me laugh out loud too. Even on set, Wesam and I are always pranking each other and trying to get each other to break character in scenes. He gets me almost every time and it’s great to have that levity as you said and I think everyone is just so good.

Pop Culture Principle – Has playing a public defender given you an entirely new perspective of what they do for a living and a new perspective about the law?

Jasmin Savoy Brown – Definitely and especially in this political climate. Prior to this show, I was over our political justice system. I was thinking that it doesn’t work, look at our President, look at where we are and look at all these laws that are being passed and all this crap. It’s true, our system is broken, but the people that are fighting the nitty gritty, those are our lawyers, those are our public defenders and our prosecutors and they get such a bad rap on both sides. These people are working day in and day out and giving their blood, sweat and tears and all of their time to defend justice and to keep our democracy a democracy and to keep our country the beautiful country that it was supposed to be.

I’ve gotten to know a couple of public defenders in New York City personally and they are exhausted, but they keep going because we need them. They are like our silent, unseen warriors. The respect I now have for lawyers and our political justice system, at least in regards to the people working in it is just undeniable.

Pop Culture Principle – If you could choose to be a public defender or a prosecutor in real-life, which would you choose and why?

Jasmin Savoy Brown – This is a tough question. It depends on the day. Most days I would be a public defender because I come from a low-income community and I’ve seen the way the law can abuse and mistreat underprivileged people, specifically people of color and poor people of color and obviously as we know, immigrants. I’ve seen the way that people get taken advantage of just because they don’t have money.

But then there are other days where we see all this insanity happening in Washington and with all these big companies, like for example a pharmaceutical company. I would love to prosecute them and I would love to throw them all in prison. So, it depends on my mood, but I think today I would be a public defender.

Pop Culture Principle – What can fans look forward to with the second season of For The People?

Jasmin Savoy Brown – Fans can look forward to even more intense cases and watching all of these people that we are growing to know and love face even more challenges and getting to know each other better. I think the biggest thing is the cases. The cases this season are even more rich, exciting and detailed and I think the fans will really enjoy that this season.

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A huge thank you to Jasmin Savoy Brown for taking time from her schedule to talk with us. For The People returns for its second season on Thursday, March 7th at 10/9c!

**For The People photos courtesy of ABC/Byron Cohen**

**All other photos courtesy of Arturo Benavides**
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