Snowfall's Michael Hyatt says John Singleton had a very clear vision of who Cissy Saint was and she felt no need to add to it
Actor Michael Hyatt, who we have come to know closely as Franklin Saint's (Damson Idris) mother Cissy Saint in the FX show 'Snowfall', revealed the role was initially just the next job she landed. She also revealed the character's portrayal was something she had learned about from late creator-producer of the show John Singleton in this exclusive interview with MEA WorldWide (MEAWW).
Speaking about how it all started, Hyatt said she auditioned for the part as she would for any other job and when she did land the role, it was a job for her. However, it wasn't until much later that the role became something close to her heart. She gave the example of 'The Wire', another series that she was a part of, which also had a similar effect on her. She said, "We were all young, we were all just doing our trade well, and the show grew in popularity." It was only later that each of the actors understood the magnitude of the role that each of them played.
Hyatt also said that the role itself was beautifully envisioned by Singleton. She also explained that more than her shaping the role, Cissy shaped her especially when it comes to being a mother.
She explained, "I don't think that there was anything I did to shape her. She shaped herself and I hope that I have allowed myself to fit into her shape really and I say that because John Singleton had a very clear understanding of who Cissy was. She represents people that John had known. Throughout season one, while we were shooting he wanted to share with me 'look, this is who Cissy is and this is where she is going.' You have got to understand that this whole show is something that John Singleton had lived with for ten years before it became 'Snowfall' the show."
She added, "He had a vision and even though the stories are unfolding season by season there isn't an arc that was not clear to him from the beginning." This is also the reason why she did find the need to add to Cissy that which wasn't part of Singleton's vision, as she was complete.
She further added, "John Singleton has the ability - because he's talking about people he knows - he's not making this s*** up, he's talking about people that he has known throughout his life. So he's really just representing the people in the neighborhood that he grew up and, and when you do that, you don't really have to make stuff up."
While Hyatt doesn't relate to Cissy's circumstance and realized she comes from a different place, the connection is that they are both mothers. "I have a young son. He's not yet at Franklin's age, but it's really been beautiful for me to observe because so many of these things - it feels like I am the viewer, I am an audience member watching - some of these things between Cissy and Franklin unfold."
She added, "It makes me think about my own experience with my son. I'm not there yet. My baby is a baby but I'm living in this beautiful relationship between a mother and her adult son. It is teaching me a great deal about what is necessary to raise your child, to raise your child alone, to raise your African child."
Hyatt also explained that the chemistry between her and Idris, who plays her son came about organically from when they sat together for readings and before that, at their auditions. She said, "I think we feel very connected to each other organically, so whatever it is that is going on, whatever the cameras are capturing, it is not something that was worked on. It is something that just is and I think both of us will say that."
'Snowfall' season 3 premieres on FX July 10 at 10 p.m. and we will have more about Hyatt's incredible scenes for so watch this space!