Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Exclusive Insights from the Cast of NBC’s ‘Found’ on the Show’s Appeal and Renewal

Shanola Hampton as Gabi Mosely (Photo courtsey of NBC)

NBC has made a significant stride towards increased diversity in its fall line-up, and among its noteworthy series are Quantum Leap, The Irrational and the intense new drama, Found. Taji Mag had the exclusive opportunity to connect with the cast of this hit show, exploring the elements that make it likable, ultimately earning it a renewal from the network. Lead actress Shanola Hampton, portraying the fearless and persistent Gabi, shared insights into her role preparation and discussed the compelling aspects that contribute to the show’s undeniable appeal.

Dapper Dr Feel (DDF): Ms. Nola, how are you? 

Shanola Hampton (SH):  (Singing) I’m amazing. How are you? 

DDF: I get a serenade? Oh, my goodness. I appreciate this. 

SH: It’s Felipé! 

DDF: Alright! Well my name is actually pronounced Philippe, but I’ll let it pass because it’s a serenade. 

SH: Felipe? Oh, just Felipe. Oh, oh, sorry. Yes, I like Philippe. 

Shanola Hampton as Gabi Mosely, Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Sir — (Photo by: Matt Miller/NBC)

DDF: Shanola, you can mispronounce my name anytime you want to. 

So, you star in the new hit show Found as  Gabi, how did you prepare for this role, and what aspects of the character resonated with you most?  

SH: In preparation for this role, I focused on the fact that this was an easier role to prepare for because I’ve been engaged in ongoing conversations about underserved communities and the heartbreaking issue of individuals going missing without receiving the attention and passion needed to find them. This storyline resonated deeply with the real-life passion I feel about finding missing individuals, especially our [people of color] missing children. Ohio, for example, mirrors that same kind of passion. So, telling this story was something I not only felt compelled to do but knew I had to tell. Now, adding the juicy layer of her going through her own process while having a man in the basement.

DDF: Speaking of which, Gabi undergoes a lot of character development throughout the series. How do you navigate such growth as an actress, and what can the viewers expect from her journey? 

SH: Viewers can anticipate a journey filled with layers—hurt, healing, maintaining a childlike essence, yet being strong and committed. It adds an enjoyable complexity to the role because Gabby always has something going on in her head.

As an actor, having these layers to play with makes the experience more fulfilling. Even when you’re not explicitly showing it, there’s always something brewing beneath the surface, conveyed through the eyes. So, taking an honest approach to portraying Gabi’s multifaceted journey is key. And, oh, the second part of your question, there was a second part, right?

DDF: What can the viewers expect from Gabi’s journey?  

SH: It’s getting a lot crazier, completely unhinged at this point. We’re already in episode 10, deep into the season, and now things are just exploding. Viewers can anticipate more and more explosions—pop, pop, pop, everywhere you go.

DDF: And she’s just, like, fearless. Where do you think that comes from? 

SH: I believe she feels she has nothing to lose after enduring the challenges life has thrown at her and still managing to survive. She saved herself. When you reflect on young Gabi, you can witness that same fierceness, that same “I don’t care, I’m going to fight, I can manipulate” energy, and that continues into her adult life. It’s rooted in where she comes from. 

DDF: Are there any specific scenes between you and Gosselaar (who plays Sir in the series), that were emotionally challenging and that stand out to you? 

SH: There are many standout moments that occur in the basement, and those are my favorite scenes to play as an actor because it allows you to delve into the depth of the character. It’s like a tennis match or being in a sandbox – you want to explore the juiciness of it. One of the emotionally challenging scenes was in the last episode when he demands, “Tell me you love me”, but she’s caught in a dilemma. She doesn’t want Lacey [played by Gabrielle Walsh] to hear him downstairs, and he’s threatening to expose her. The challenge lies in conveying the conflict between not wanting to be exposed and the complex emotions tied to their 20-year connection.

The most difficult part was navigating the conflicting emotions during that moment. Gabi doesn’t want to love him, but the deep, inexplicable connection they share after two decades adds layers to their relationship. It’s challenging to define it as conventional love, especially considering the Stockholm syndrome dynamic. Despite knowing it’s wrong, there’s an undeniable connection that keeps her tethered to him.

I wanted to convey the complexity of this conflicted moment, as human beings can find themselves entangled in situations that are objectively bad but are still drawn by some underlying force. The connection between them is something that goes beyond the norm, and it’s not purely sexual, which adds to the complexity and intrigue. It’s indeed strange, and the mystery of their connection is something I find fascinating as an actor.

DDF: Can you compare and contrast Found and Shameless

SH: Certainly, I believe it’s quite evident. Shameless, during its time, presented a portrayal of struggle on television that was unprecedented. While TV typically glamorizes scenarios, Shameless stood out by depicting the raw and gritty reality of people grappling with life. Now, it seems like this approach has become a trend in television, but I think Shameless paved the way for it.

We showcased the harsh reality of greedy and downtrodden individuals striving to make ends meet while still holding onto love and loyalty. Despite the struggles depicted in Shameless, there was a significant amount of levity, laughter, and joy in the show. However, Found delves into deeper and more challenging territory, addressing real issues with a gravity that demands a serious approach.

Shameless touched on genuine issues, but Found elevates the gravity by addressing the relevance of cases involving missing people in underserved communities. This has been a longstanding issue in our society, and the show recognizes the need to approach it with the seriousness it deserves. Consequently, Found is an all-around heavier show.

In terms of humor, Found has very few laughs compared to the abundance of laughter in Shameless. The tonal shift is evident, and this new series aims to tackle serious issues with the gravity they deserve, making it a departure from the more lighthearted moments of Shameless.

DDF:  If your character, Veronica, from Shameless were to join Gabi’s team, what would be her contribution or skill set?  

SH: Veronica possesses a remarkable ability to adapt, making her well-suited for undercover work. Her capacity to undergo significant transformations would likely make her highly effective in utilizing her allure to gain control over others. In this regard, I believe she and Gabi would form a strong connection. Initially, Gabi might be taken aback by Veronica’s energy, but I think she would quickly recognize Veronica’s cool demeanor and see the potential value of having her on the team.

DDF: Can you describe your reaction to the renewal of the show using a few words? 

SH: Alright!!!!

The other castmates, Gabrielle Walsh (who plays Lacey), Brett Dalton (who plays Mark), and Kendall Williams (who plays Margaret), echoed the excitement of a second season and shared what resonated with them.

DDF: What aspects of a character’s storyline do you find most compelling?

Gabrielle Walsh (GW): What I love about Lacey is that she tries to keep on a bright and positive face. She’s deeply invested in doing what’s right, uncovering the truth, and exposing hidden shadows. Despite everything in her and Gabi’s relationship, there’s a profound love that exists, caring for a friend. To me, their relationship is the most compelling, with the complexities it brings to my character.

Kelly Williams (KW): Margaret is the only character with children, as far as we know at this point. Two of my children showed up, and I was like, “I have more children, I guess”. If not, none of us have mentioned it yet. She’s very private, doesn’t disclose things. The through line for Margaret is the missing child and being a mother. There’s a maternal line woven through, evident in her attention to detail and maternal vision. She’s singularly focused on finding truth to the detriment of her own happiness. She lives in deep grief, reflecting the struggle families face when dealing with loss.

Brett Dalton (BD): I hope so. I welcome that. I think it would be really interesting. I think it would explain a few things as well. We get a little sprinkle of Trent’s family history within the force. It’s like the sound effects, and I’m looking forward to figuring out how much he’s invested in this.

DDF: The showrunner mentioned that your characters are so active that it distracts them from their traumas. How do you think your characters would be different if they actually got help and dealt with their issues instead of working with Gabi on different cases?

KW: I would hope that if our characters had a healing journey, they would still have a deep compassion. Margaret might have blind spots due to her trauma, but healing might make us more effective in our work. Drama arises from the complications and decisions made, adding to the show’s richness.

GW: Healing isn’t linear; even with therapy, things can still come up. Maybe Lacey wouldn’t have 15 locks on her front door or taken Sir into the basement. Therapy can bring awareness and lead to a healthier life, but healing is a long, lifelong road.

BD: Life continues, and these characters use their experiences positively. They don’t sit still, showing a passion to move forward. They may not fully heal themselves, but they use their struggles to heal others. It becomes their therapy.

Kendall Williams as Margaret, Shanola Hampton as Gabi, Gabrielle Walsh as Lacey, and Karan Oberoi as Dhan Rana (photo courtesy of NBC)

DDF: Gabrielle, does Lacey know Sir is in the basement? She has to know but doesn’t want to admit it.

GW: Does she know?

BD: She doesn’t want to admit it to herself.

Found has not only become a standout hit on NBC, but has also emerged as one of the most successful streaming series on Peacock. Fueled by its diverse cast and led by the visionary showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll, the show stands as a testament to entertainment television that boldly looks into the issues surrounding forgotten communities and the stories of lost or abducted individuals. The recently aired finale on Monday, December 12th, marked a significant chapter in the series. And for those eager to  watch the compelling show, the entire series awaits your viewing pleasure on Peacock.

Dapper Dr Feel

Felipe Patterson aka Dapper Dr. Feel, #BlackLoveConvo & Entertainment | @fdapperdr Dapper Dr. Feel is a Entertainment journalist and member of the Critics Choice Association and African American Film Association.

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