“1883” star LaMonica Garrett recently opened up about how his character Thomas is treated differently than other Black cowboys might’ve been in the 1880s.
Garrett sat down with Entertainment Weekly earlier this week to talk about “1883” and his role in it. Thomas, Garrett’s character, is the right-hand man to Sam Elliott’s Shea Brennan. They’re both former soldiers. But Thomas is the only Black person that we see in the show, which Garrett addressed with EW.
“When we think about this time period in history, as far as film and television go, we jump from the harshness of slavery straight to the Civil Rights era with Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. There’s a whole 100 years that we just don’t know about,” Garrett explained. “We don’t know stories of what Black people did in this country throughout that time or how they were treated.”
The “1883” star raises a valid point. While his character Thomas is seen as a leader and figure of authority, other Black cowboys at the time were likely not viewed the same.
“So in this world of ‘1883,’ maybe there is another Black soldier or Black cowboy 10 miles away who was treated harshly, who might have been called the N-bomb,” Garrett continued. “But in this story, you don’t see that. With this little section of people, Thomas didn’t go through that. He’s a great character, but not a typical character that we’ve seen in other TV westerns. He’s treated with respect and dignity, and he carries himself that way.”
Lots of “1883” stars have reflected on how life was for various people back then. Garrett’s “1883” co-star Isabel May also commented on the struggles people went through in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
‘1883’ Star Isabel May Gains ‘Newfound Perspective’
Earlier this week, May talked with The Hollywood Reporter about how her role has been “truly eye-opening.”
“You can’t not have a newfound perspective on the past and the present,” May shared. “Everything was more challenging back then. And yes, this has also been an incredibly challenging time as most people today feel lost and confused.”
She continued, “But you didn’t have to walk across the country and risk being bitten by a snake, killed by a bandit, getting some sort of terrible sickness, and drinking bad water and dying. It’s mind-boggling how many ways you could be harmed or killed.
“And you were certainly at risk to lose the vast majority of the people you loved, which I think was the hardest part of it,” the “1883” star concluded. “I can walk 2,000 steps a day and be completely fine, which is almost embarrassing. I can drive anywhere I need to go or I can order someone to get it for me. We have access to so many things and we really don’t have to do much hard labor at all.”