"Louie has always had big dreams but has always been told NO" says 'Snowfall' star Angela Lewis on her character's motivation
As Aunt Saint in FX's series 'Snowfall', Angela Lewis has portrayed the character in her truest form emphasizing on her struggle to be accepted.
Rising star and Detroit born-and-raised Angela Lewis has garnered starring roles in some of the most illustrious theatrical stage productions and stars in the FX crime drama 'Snowfall' created by Academy Award-nominated writer and director John Singleton.
The series is set against the infancy of the 1980's crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles and how it affected the city as well as its culture. The series follows numerous characters who deal with the war zone that the epidemic that ensues in this era in Los Angeles. Her role as 'Aunt Louie Saint,' a hardened and tough-as-nails drug-addict with ambitious dreams to escape the world of South Central LA, is set to showcase her dramatic acting chops.
In a conversation with Meaww, Lewis spoke about her character Aunt Louie Saint and how the character has grown to be a compassionate one in spite of the dire circumstances.
1. Could you explain how ‘Aunt Louie’ sees ‘Franklin’ as her second chance to fulfill her own ambitious motives?
I think Louie sees Franklin as her LAST chance to fulfill her ambition. I think Louie has always had big dreams but has always been told NO. It is the (now unconscious and numbed) heartbreak of every “no” over the course of her life that has brought her to where she is now. Seeing no other escape route from her life of poverty and the mundane, she settled for a life of watching her stories, smoking sherm, and sex. Seeing this opportunity in Franklin offers Louie a final spark of hope to be who she's always wanted to be, to have the means to do something with herself, to go out into the world and have it open up for her, and to experience herself in her full power.
2. What is that dream-deferred state that ‘Aunt Louie’ has been for so long? What was your experience of acting out the part?
You and I have had dreams - big dreams. We have been told “no” many times, but we have been told “yes” enough times to arrive where we are today. Someone outside of ourselves believed in us the way we did, otherwise, we wouldn't be here. It takes a village. The “no's” Louie has experienced far outweigh the “yeses,” and that's an extremely depressing space to be in. My experience of imagining where I would be if I didn't have the amazing village of support that I've always had led me to a place of deep love, and compassion for Louie. It made me want to protect her. It made me want to infuse every choice and every action with humanity so that no one could ever disregard her (or anyone like her) again. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a dream.
3. Will ‘Aunt Louie’ get the club and Claudia in Season 2?
I, personally, would love that. We'll have to watch and see!
4. So far, the impression of most women in 'Snowfall' has been strong and bold, where do you see Louie in this regard? Would you say your character stands out to a certain extent?
I think Louie stands out in as much as she is the one who acts on her impulses the most when she's threatened or feeling backed into a corner. Impulses express themselves very loudly and very physical but compared to the men, she's the most level-headed. Louie's got layers, man!
5. Characters on the show are grey, sometimes they are hard to empathize with. Do you think ‘Aunt Louie’ fits into that spectrum?
I think Louie is only hard to empathize with if you are not allowing yourself to be compassionate or understand the circumstances in which she lives. We all want the best for ourselves and our loved ones. That's all Louie wants.
6. How similar do you think you are to ‘Aunt Louie’? Do you find any parallels with your on-screen portrayal?
Louie has very little tolerance for the B.S. I think my patience stretches quite a bit farther, but I have noticed that when people are rude or want to dismiss me, rush me, or pretend I'm invisible, Louie will start to creep in. I think that reaction comes to protect, prevent, or mask a sadness that occurs when people try to marginalize me (and they try regularly). I am enough. I deserve to be here. I deserve to live my life to its fullest. It has taken many years to know these things with certainty, so I am better able to lead and respond with love. I think Louie may not be so certain, and she definitely is not equipped with the tools that I have garnered over time. I've been there, so I understand her.
7. How did you prepare for the role? Please walk us through your research or any challenges that you faced during the initial preparation.
For the initial auditions, my preparation was really to study and go for it. The audition scene was Louie's fight scene from the pilot. I had to be calm enough to be immersed in the stories but ramped up enough to then explode to a beat down... Of the air (I didn't have an actual fight partner until the day of the shoot). I couldn't be nervous about how I looked or didn't look. I had to just go for it. Then, I booked the job, and I had to do some research on Sherm, and what that drug does to a person (because that was Louie's drug of choice). Then, I had to go inside Louie’s head, because on the surface I didn't really relate to her at all. I had to figure out how Louie got to where she is when we meet her, and why she would choose Sherm (because Sherm isn’t a joke). It was the how and the "why" that made everything make sense and made me fall in love with her.
8. Where will we see your character in Season 2?
In Season 1, Louie makes some power plays to move her life forward. In Season 2, we watch to see if these moves are bountiful or blow up in her face.
9. Tell us a little about your experience as an actor so far.
I went to the University of Michigan and got my degree in acting. Afterward, I moved to New York and worked Off-Broadway for some years. Towards the end of my time there I started booking work for film and television. Then, I met the man who would eventually be my husband and moving to Los Angeles became a part of our wedding plan. When I got to LA, I landed some guest star roles and then two years in, I booked “Snowfall,” my first series regular job. “Snowfall” keeps me pretty busy, but just after Season 1, I did a short Sci-Fi espionage film called 'Let Them Die Like Lovers' that garnered some attention. You can stream it on the Dust platform. I'm proud of it!
10. What are your plans for the future? Any shows/projects/films in the pipeline?
Well, hopefully, we'll get a season 3. I'm always auditioning, #staygrinding. A big feature film would be lovely. Right now, I've got some me time, so I'm traveling. Since we wrapped Season 2, I've been to Mexico and Costa Rica. I leave for Martha's Vineyard soon, with plans for a Paris/South of France/Spain/Morocco trip coming up. Someone once told me the cure for ignorance is travel. I'm here for that! Let's go!! I love my life!
Watch the trailer for Season 2 below: