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'Reasonable Doubt' creators Raamla Mohamed and Larry Wilmore on Hulu legal drama and supporting black creativity

Raamla Mohamed and Larry Wilmore create TV moments that audiences will feel. Mohammed as a writer makes viewers nervous as they watch Olivia Pope’s next move Scandal . Wilmore, as a producer, evoked a reaction to the problems Issa and Lawrence had on Unsafe . Now, the two have come together for their latest project, reasonable doubt.

Reasonable Doubt is Hulu and the Onyx Collective’s first original series. Starring Emayatzy Corinealdi, Michael Ealy and Christopher Cassarino, the series follows a Los Angeles defense attorney named Jax Stuart (Corinealdi) who uses questionable ethics Norms to win cases while balancing relationships and friendships. The series, which premiered this fall, is one of the most-watched shows of the season, and there will be a chance for a wider sampling when ABC airs its premiere episode this Thursday, followed by the finale on Hulu later this month. Reasonable Doubt Created by Muhammad and executive produced by Wilmore.

The two sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss the show, including Jay-Z’s influence (all of which episodes are named after his songs), and support black creativity and adventure for unheard voices. Mohammad said: “I hope the show is successful so other networks and producers can see writers of color who can create depth and different characters. I hope they capture the vision of writers of color , because a lot of amazing voices need to be heard.”

What is Reasonable Doubt ?

Raamla Mohamed: Reasonable Doubt is an interesting twist on a sexy, spicy legal drama. Jax Stewart is the protagonist trying to balance her marriage, work, friends, and all of those things that many women try to balance. It’s based on this woman named Sean Hawley, a defense attorney in Los Angeles who’s kind of like this badass attorney. She has represented Kim Kardashian, Mike Tyson and Tupac and joined the OJ [Simpson] legal defense team as a young lawyer. Larry Wilmore and [Executive Producer] Kerry Washington met with her and liked the idea of ​​making a show based on her. They met me and brought me in, and I started developing the show based on Sean’s brilliant legal mind.

Larry Wilmore: It has all these great elements, There are also many mysteries in it. This show has a lot to offer to many different audiences. Who committed the murder is a mystery; you know who tied Jax, it’s a mystery; Jax’s past and future are a mystery. I like the fact that there is an element of soap and an element of horror. The core of this dynamic is authenticity and fun, especially when you see her with what we call Ms. Ladaire, her best friend. Raamala was tasked with presenting a fully three-dimensional black woman on screen, where you could see her friends, not just her work. This is one of my favorite parts of the show.

All episodes are named after Jay-Z songs. What influence did Jay-Z have on the collection?

Mohamed: One of my favorite albums is Jay Z’s Reasonable Doubt . I was still coming out of high school at the time, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything like this. I’ve been a Jay-Z fan ever since. Music has influenced me as much as TV and movies. She’s a defense attorney, so obviously reasonable doubt is all she deals and talks about. Each episode title is a different Jay-Z song. Every song I choose for the episode title fits the theme. He has proven his influence and influence on all aspects of pop culture, hip hop and society. I just love his idea of ​​representing black excellence. It’s easy to get the titles of these episodes inspired by him.

Wilmore: OJ’s story was not long ago, it It worked well in one of our third episodes. Even if you can look back on Jay-Z, he can still comment on what’s going on.

This is Onyx Collective debut. How does it try to get it off the ground?

Wilmore: Onyx thought it was the perfect show they should have done. The show was originally developed for ABC. That’s a very different version. Looking back, we’re glad we didn’t do that version. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it would be a different character. Raama made a version of the Jax character that we couldn’t make on the web. I think Onyx saw this and thought: This is the perfect fit that we want to launch out there.

Mohamed: Onyx start and try to figure out their cards . ABC Signature wanted the show to be available for streaming, and I have to thank John Davis and Tracy Underwood for seeing the show’s potential. They thought it was still a good idea and tried again. They gave the producers and myself the freedom to do the show we wanted.

Raamla, what did Larry bring to handle for you?

Mohamed: I don’t have to have the best idea in the room; my goal, my North Star, is to make the best show possible. It’s very helpful for me to have people who also want to make a really good show and bring different talents. Larry brought in a genius because he was a former show host and a genius. When I get the notes, he can say, “Okay, that’s what they’re really trying to say.” That helps me.

If you look at Larry’s career over the years, he has supported many black creators. I mean, even 1235253164 Quinta Brunson called him out during her Emmy speech. I appreciate it because being a showrunner and creator, especially your first show, is a lot of work. As someone who hasn’t done it before, it’s nice to have someone who has done a lot and is a master storyteller. He understands the story I’m trying to tell, and it’s hard to have a strong producer to help you do that.

Kerry Washington directed the pilot. How about putting her in the director’s chair?

Muhammad: great. What I appreciate about Kerry is that she is very thoughtful. Even on Scandal she was ready, did her homework and brought it to the project. When I talked to her about directing, it took her a long time to agree because she knew she wasn’t going to just call this. She’s going to give it her all, I think she just wants to make sure she has the time and space to do that. For some of our larger scenes in the pilot episode, she rehearsed longer, like a drama. Kerry would talk to the actors and get them ready to do their best work. It’s her idea of ​​getting what she wants out of those performances. I think you saw it on the show.

Wilmore: The difference between directing or producing a pilot An episode is your decision in the pilot is show-defining. It’s very difficult to direct on a TV pilot because there are so many options that dictate the show. A lot of discussions aren’t necessarily “Does this scene work?” but “Does this show work?” You have to have a “I don’t know if this thing works” discussions. You must know why there is a discussion and be able to come up with a solution. As a TV director, you usually listen to what other people have to say. Fortunately, we don’t have many such discussions, but sometimes they’re close.

Larry, you’ve produced some of the best shows in television history. How do you choose the projects you commit to?

Wilmore : is the sound. People will be interested in words, but have no voice. If you have something to say, it starts with yourself and your observations of the world, but can expand from there. I do a lot of work with different people, but I love supporting us. This has special meaning to me because when I come up, that voice that I keep seeing is probably the most muffled in the writer’s room.

Reasonable Doubt Called “The Age of Streaming The scandal ”. What do you think of this comparison?

Mohamed: I know there will definitely be comparisons. It’s an amazing show to compare to. Scandal was my first writing job and I learned a lot from Shonda [Rhimes, creator] and all the other writers. I had to do training for a radio show with so many episodes that it felt like the Marines. I learned a lot from Shonda about the importance of character and storytelling from character. Shonda’s notes were able to troubleshoot problems in the script and find solutions when we were doing table reading. Do it for 10 and some episodes, I mean, you’ll learn something.

Larry, you have mentored important black women over the years; Abbott Elementary creator Quinta Brunson yells at the Emmys. What does this mean to you? Why do you think these relationships work?

Wilmore: I love supporting us. I grew up with a single mom. I think part of me has a soft spot for supporting black women in the marketplace because I don’t feel the door is as open as I thought it was when I took office. I think the more opportunity we have to say something, the more opportunity we have to say something. Quinta was on The Nightly Show and I immediately realized she was a force to be reckoned with. We kept in touch and I did something with her and I just wanted to see her voice. I don’t care if it works for me. It’s nice of her to say that, but I like to support her because I feel like people should hear the voices of people like that.

Reasonable Doubt on Hulu with a special airing of its premiere episode on Thursday airs this afternoon on ABC. 1235253164



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