With Snowfall in its final season, fans knew the bloodshed would be much more heightened than the previous seasons.
But the death of Amin Joseph’s character, Jerome Saint, left fans in tears. Despite his character’s downfall, his work on the show wasn’t done. He made his directorial debut on the show helming last week’s episode, “Ballad of the Bear,” just after his character’s demise. The actor broke down the character’s rollercoaster journey, his tragic ending and his excitement to direct his first episode on the show.
Fare saddened about this season being the last season, but you guys have done such a phenomenal job. So how do you think the show's impact has been on today's culture?
I’m just like the fans waiting to close this chapter and see how we finish this out, because I think that this is the story about how crack began. So you kind of want to see how that final chapter is closed [and to] tell this sort of cautionary tale [and see] how it concludes. Only then will you be able to see how it ultimately affects the fan base and the culture.
Now, do you feel as if this was a good season to close the show out with? And obviously, we're excited about the announcement of Gail Bean’s character Wanda potentially getting a spinoff. So what are your thoughts on that?
I’m excited that we’re closing the deal of this first installment. I feel like in six seasons, we were able to tell the beginning, middle and end of this particular story. As I said, it’s the story of how crack began. So I feel like we’ve encompassed all of that, and we’re closing that out. And as far as Gail’s spinoff, whatever that installment is, that is a completely different story, but perhaps may have some characters from the mothership series that are recurring. But it is actually a different story than this one that we’ve been tracking for the last six/seven years.
The show continued after John Singleton's passing, which I'm sure was difficult for you guys in the beginning, but he had already contributed so much to American film and television, especially by pushing Black stories forward. So how do you feel as if 'Snowfall' has been a good final tribute to him?
I hope [this] is not the final tribute. I know that John was working on many things other than just Snowfall. I feel like this is one of the bound volumes of his legacy that is now closing a chapter. It’s coming to an end, but I would hope that his legacy endures well beyond Snowfall. And like you said, it was already established 20, 30 years before this show. So [he was] just a monumental man that’s given so much to TV and to the cinema.
You made your directorial debut in Episode 8, congratulations on that. Could you tell us about your transition into the directorial space and what it felt like going from being a star of the show to being behind the camera and how you went about doing that?
I feel like I’ve always, from the pilot episode, I’ve been a collaborator and very vocal about things. My castmates and I talk about the same thing with the crew, so it’s always been like that. And I think that’s something that also John Singleton wanted to see – that this be a collaboration. So I feel like it was a natural progression for me to get behind the camera and to add some [my] POV, perspective and specificity to the story. So I went to shadowing, and then I went through a couple of director workshops with some of our producers, and ultimately, I was given the opportunity and I was supported. The company, the crew, and the cast supported me in this endeavor, and I feel like we made some really great television.
It was definitely an amazing episode. And Jerome's death was shocking. And we all know that this season there would probably have been a higher body count than others, but it was still very hard to see him taken out and also heartbreaking in the way that it all happened. What were your thoughts when you found out about how your character would exit the show?
You know, I didn’t know really how I would end until maybe an episode or two before that episode was written. So maybe by episode 3, maybe while shooting 3, I realized the first draft of episode 5 coming out. So it wasn’t like I had a lot of time to ponder on exactly how it would happen, but I knew that it was going to happen from season 1 anyway, so as far as the whole ordeal, it was a little pain. And Louie and Franklin – that was something that when I read it or saw the page, it kind of like, ‘Oh, wow.’ It comes at the expense of the future and is a potentially unspeakable act happening to Louie. And I just didn’t know how that would be played out as far as the portrayal helming it. And it was something that – the script got better, and we all figured out the stakes that would be at play, and then we just signed up and went on into it. You know that the best job is to fully commit to the circumstances.
What did you make of the fans’ reaction to the rift within the Saint family this season? Did you agree with some of the sentiments of the fans’ or disagree, especially when it came to Louie?
As far as Louie being a villain and things of that nature? I would say that I can understand with the fans felt. The story, was a single narrative for Franklin – and his family was there to support him in his efforts to build an empire. And as he kind of made mistakes and had focused on real estate and things of that nature, it seems as though Louie and Jerome were handling most of the drug dealing and building out that empire for him. So when she says she wants to go her own way, I can understand how that had a lot of the viewer’s side with Franklin and say that she needs to come back into the fold because I spend so much time with the Louie character and I’m literally tethered to her. I can understand her point of view. I can understand the point of view that Franklin made a lot of mistakes, mistakes that actually almost cost her her life.
And then, from her deathbed, she was able to – they come up with a plan to get everyone working for Franklin. So from the first break, [she] took him to Claudia and was able to set him up where he might have been in grave danger if he wasn’t able to fill that first break. So she’s always been a mover and shaker in his world. And I think a lot of people were just angry and still are angry that everything seemed like it was torn apart because of her wanting to sort of operate on her own and seek her own power and her own autonomy.
For my character, for me, it’s a little simpler. From the moment he came into the house with the first brick, I knew that it came with nothing but trouble and that it would be the demise of me and my family. I had nothing, but trouble came from it. And to me, that was a foreshadowing or intel right there from the pilot episode of knowing that. And I let my nephew and my wife be very – not manipulative, but I guess they were able to convince me. And I think it was Jerome’s own greed and a sense that he would be able to live a lifestyle of riches and cars and jewelry and clothing and be able to support himself and his family in a way that he had never imagined.
And I think that I think he became intoxicated with those grapes of wrath. And the price of that is the cautionary tale that we’re telling that you can’t choose when you’re going to get out when you’ve made decisions like that. And I think his PTSD got a hold of him, and it got the better of him. And when he tried to escape, he couldn’t. He couldn’t take him all the way. So he was going to be back ingratiated with the community. He had to deal with the fallout of his family falling apart right in front of him and his friendships not meaning anything. And his paranoia and quick rash decisions led to his death.
Now you directing what many people are calling the most pivotal episode of the series, because it brings together a lot of the elements from the show that fans have been waiting for. And you spoke a little bit about how everything kind of tied together for this specific episode. So what did it mean for you to direct that episode?
I’ve been wanting to direct since the second season and I got opportunities to shadow and everything. And then here it is. The culmination of that leads to me being killed and me being able to get an opportunity to direct without me acting in the episode. And it’s a pivotal role because we’re at the end of our run. So you can’t write that. You can’t. That’s just how things go. And I’m just happy that not only is this for my first time, but it was prepared.
This is the career path for me…that I think I’m really talented and I’m really collaborative. I think the episode shows that I’m well-approved and I have a unique way of trying to tell a story and rebuild it and pace it and bring nuance and suspense and a lot of vital storytelling elements to something that’s already been great. Snowfall is already heralded as being cinematic and good cinema and great writing and amazing performers. So to be able to be given that wealth of resources, if you want to just turn in the best episode that you possibly can, you wonder…me being around this for seven years, it almost felt like a cheat code that I was able to be able to recall things and dreams deferred within the characters and within the artists and within the crew members and our company to extract some of that and put that on the screen.
Up until his death, what was your what was the biggest part of the most pivotal part for you of your character's journey?
I think the most pivotal part for Jerome was becoming aware of his PTSD. I feel like the character was very two-dimensional before perhaps sacrificing the relationship with his nephew to side with Louis in season 5. But more importantly, when he realized after – he was actually dealing with mental illness and that he needs to reevaluate his life. I feel like with the two Jeromes, as he tried to do that, he tried to marry the woman that he loves. He tried to reconnect with the community and say that he was going to open up businesses and that drug dealing with something that he would support her in doing, but he wouldn’t be a part of. And all tragedies, it just was a little too late. He got married right when he was trying to go on his honeymoon – Because of what Teddy did, Franklin came in, robbed him, killed people in front of his wife’s club, put a gun to his wife, said and forced his hand into coming back into this with a vengeance. And all that trauma just spiraled Jerome out of control. So that was the pivotal point for me, was when he became conscious.
Now there are only two episodes left in the series, and we know that you can't give us much. But what do you think fans will be the most shocked or surprised by or even the most saddened by?
I think we know this is the story of how crack began. And as that comes to an end and we see the stakes of the characters and the storylines, they converge, I think we can tell that this is not going to be a happy ending. We just don’t know how it’s going to end. And I feel like our audiences live with these characters and live with these circumstances, these heightened circumstances now for about two years at its extreme height. There’s money on the table, like the $73 million, the presence of the CIA and the KGB and the DEA. And then there are these characters that we’ve come to love even in there. Even in their flaws and even in their conflict. And I think that as this comes to a close, we’re going to have a hard time really going to be ripped out with what comes of the people that we come to love.
Now that 'Snowfall' has come to an end, what are you looking forward to delving into next? You spoke a lot about your love of directing and your being collaborative in that way. So do you foresee yourself continuing to direct in the near future, and what other projects would you like to explore?
I’ll be acting, and I’ll be directing and producing. I’ve always been doing those things, and perhaps my stars have arisen that people care or notice, but I’ll just continue doing that and kept putting my head down and doing the work that it takes to make some of the to me, what should be some of the best drama of our time. I’ll continue to do comedies as well. I’ll continue to just do the work that it takes to make great art. And that’s what you do as an actor like me. So it’s not so much about what was next, [but] what is [about] is just to stay doing the work and being ready for the next story and committing to that story.