Angela Bassett wears two hats when it comes to 9-1-1 as both actor and executive producer.
In an interview with Deadline, Bassett spoke about having to do double duty. Surprisingly, it does affect her acting role in dealing with both sides of the creative process.
“I think in the past, coming on as an actor, you get the script, you read it—’OK, well how can I have some fun with this character? What can I do?’ But because I came on as an EP, I was able to have a different sort of relationship this time around,” she explained.
One of her favorite aspects about working in both areas is being able to dissect her character. She makes sure that everything the writers’ pitch reigns true to the character of Athena. She questions if it would ring true for her character and would she find herself in that situation.
“I was able to do that early on, because the writers were still figuring it out themselves. I’m appreciating having that opportunity,” she concluded.
How Realistic ‘9-1-1’ Actually Is
Angela Bassett shared that she underwent vigorous training to learn the ins and outs of being a first responder. She spoke at length with a lieutenant of almost thirty years. The conversations that they had actually made her question her own preconceived notions.
“To sit with this woman and just have a meal, talk about experiences, about family… If you didn’t know she was a cop and that there was a Glock on her hip at the restaurant, you just wouldn’t imagine. She was so gentle and sweet, and you just wanted to be friends right away,” she said.
The experience of learning about her profession and personal life helped her create Athena.
“He made sure that I was able to get with a sister who came up through the ranks when there were very few women coming through the police academy, so you’re talking about those sort of experiences. Also, getting to go out with her in the streets, it was wonderful seeing the camaraderie and the respect between her and the other officers. She was a Black female and they were male, various cultures, but to see that regard that they had for her was intriguing, especially knowing that when she came through, she was one of two women coming through the academy. I was imagining what those years must have been like.”
Bassett wants to make sure that 9-1-1 can be the most realistic and accurate portrayal of the heroes. Part of the reason she signed on to the show was because she wanted to challenge herself and do something that she hasn’t done before. She said that she truly appreciates her job and it’s “a real love affair.”