Actress and new mom Angela Lewis is back for the fourth season of FX’s hit crime drama “Snowfall” (new episode every Wednesday at 10 pm). Created by the late Academy Award-nominated writer and director John Singleton, the drama series explores the crack cocaine epidemic in 1980s Los Angeles. The cast includes Damson Idris (Netflix’s “Black Mirror”), Emily Rios (IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK), and Isaiah John (DOWNSIZED). “Snowfall” was one of legendary filmmaker John Singleton’s last projects before passing away. In season three, Franklin Saint (Damson Idris) is out of jail and that experience changed him. He’s breaking bad, his mother is accepting of his illegal operation, he expands more into real estate and his close lieutenants are expanding their prospective operations. The show is set in the summer of 1984 as crack cocaine spreads like wildfire through South Central Los Angeles. Angela returns as ‘Aunt Louie Saint’ a hardened and tough-as-nails drug addict with ambitious dreams to escape the world of South-Central LA. In Season 4 she has taken over the trade and is ready to make her own name in the game.
Emerald Arguelles: First, I wanted to ask, how did you prepare for the role of Louie?
Angela Lewis: So, I did do two things. I had to do a little research on drugs, particularly on Sherm, because when we first meet Louie, she’s high on sherm, right. I didn’t know; you know how that worked. Then I had to understand Louie’s psychology, like what would make a person want to do that. And how does a person get to where she is when we first meet her, and when I was able to come up with some backstory for her, it gave me a lot of compassion. It helped me to understand that she was essentially a heartbroken person—a person who had been told “No” her whole life and who had been abused her entire life. What does that do to your self-esteem, what does that do to your drive, what does it do to your motivation? When you feel like you have an opportunity to get out of your current situation. You know, it just really makes your drive, on 1000, on a million. She has one chance to get out and be the person she has always known she could be. I think Louie has always known that she was a boss and that she just had one chance. She could make her way into the life that she’s always wanted to have, and I think that’s what she’s doing. So, we see Louie over the last four years, and in her within the world of the story, it’s only been like two years, and she’s completely changed her life around. So, I have to keep working at what it is to be in your power to stand in your power and to go after what it is that you want and fight like hell when you feel like you’re being backed into a corner because I think that’s the kind of person.
EA: I think that identifying your power and standing in your power is what connects the audience to her. Has the character of Louie influenced you or inspired you in your everyday life?
AL: Absolutely. I am inspired by how she goes after what she wants, how she’s brilliant about it, and how she does it. She doesn’t get intimidated by strong people or by intense situations, and that she doesn’t get too emotional about things like about most things, she’s not emotional about it. She’s just strategic, and I definitely can use a lot of that perspective in my life.
EA: I wanted to ask, what was the experience with working with John Singleton? And can you talk about continuing his vision now that he’s passed?
AL: John was many things like he was a legend, walking, you know what I mean so, but I think he knew that about himself and wanted to channel that power into an opportunity for other people. He was still level-headed; you know, I remember my first meeting with him and just being, we were at the table read. And I was just like,” Oh my god.” John said, “And now we’re not going to do that anymore; it’s just me.” That created a space or a meeting of the minds and for open creativity and collaboration. He was a fighter for truth, and that is the legacy that we’re living in that, that I am happily a part of. Just wanting to tell the truth of what happened in our community, to tell the people’s story. In our community, in the Black community, we get weary of seeing our characters on the kind of long side of the law. Still, our show endeavors and have been doing over the past four years to shift the focus and validate what I think Black people have known the whole time. Which is that we didn’t create crack; well, we may have made it. Still, we certainly didn’t get the cocaine from ourselves. We indeed were larger forces at play, i.e., the United States government, that allowed the crack epidemic to happen and allowed it to destroy our communities. I think that’s a truth that needs to be told and shouldn’t be forgotten by those who already knew. I also believe that just because the truth is sometimes ugly doesn’t mean that it doesn’t warrant being told. That’s the one thing that I learned from Louie; just because I may not agree with her choices or I may not like the way she looked, especially in the beginning, it doesn’t mean that her story didn’t deserve to be told and that she doesn’t deserve to be looked at with compassion and with humanity.
EA: They had a film, “Kill The Messenger, ” which kind of told Gary Webb’s perspective, who exposed the story, but you don’t know the stories of the people who are in it every day. This does bring a lot of compassion and understanding, not only to the Black community but hopefully to people outside of it, and they can kind of see their perspective and have a form of understanding. I want to congratulate you on motherhood, and I wanted to ask, what routines have you implemented in your daily life to balance motherhood and your career?
AL: Oh wow. Well, you know I have a meditation routine that I try to adhere to. It had to be put on the back burner. I couldn’t get to it a lot, especially in the early days, but now she’s a little bit older. She’s a little bit more patient, but I also realized that meditation is something that I want to kind of implement into her life. So I do that by practicing my meditation with her even if she’s nursing; I can still meditate even if she’s crawling all over me. Having this, she realizes or doesn’t realize, but she knows. We often do things because that’s how we grew up, and so if meditation is something that she does because that’s how she grew. How amazing is that? that will shape her, her experience through life, so that’s one way. Other things that I’ve been implementing are balancing things and forgiving myself when things don’t go right or go the way that I expected them to go, and being okay with that.
EA: I think that’s something I’m still trying to do every day, just taking it day by day, just being a lot more kind to ourselves when things don’t go to plan. So what was the best advice on motherhood that you’ve received?
AL: Probably self-care, the importance of self-care and self-care does not mean taking a shower. You got to be okay; if you’re not okay, then you know your partner’s stressed out with you, and your baby is like, “what’s going on with my mom.”
EA: Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate this, and I just caught up on the last episode of snowfall, and I’m very excited for Wednesday to see what’s going to come.
You can follow Lewis at @luvangelalewis on Twitter and Instagram at www.luvangelalewis.com.