“Hamilton” Star Michael Luwoye Talks To BOSSIP About Becoming A Series Regular On “Bluff City Law”
Last Monday the world got a first look at a great show that we’ve had the privilege of previewing early this Summer, “Bluff City Law.” In anticipation of the second episode, airing tonight at 10pm on NBC, BOSSIP’s Senior Content Director Janeé Bolden sat down with series regular Michael Luwoye.
Janeé Bolden: Your voice is really incredible and I love the accent you have on this show, even though it’s different than yours and you’re from Alabama right?
Michael Luwoye: Born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. I remember auditioning for the show I started out with a different kind of accent and the direction was to tone that down, I think that there’s a realistic accent that you can hear from certain regions, but there’s also so many specific types of things and also it can be a little distracting at times, some people will say oh that’s not authentic enough or it’s a little this or a little that so when we were talking about the show beforehand in rehearsals and building it up, we came to a place where it would be some people would have a little more of a sound than other people will, but otherwise it’s like musicality, if we could get some parts of that, so trying to shape an accent like that and even walking around the city and listening you can hear some people’s accents very strong, and other people you’re like, ‘Where are you from? You are from here? Great, great, great!’
JB: You’re filming on location in Memphis, I have to ask what’s your favorite barbecue?
ML: That’s really hard. I haven’t tried them all, YET, but they’re all so different. Rendezvous is like a dry rub jam, but where we were [in the second episode] was Blue City Cafe and I reeeeealllly like those ribs, so much so there’s I guess in acting they have like a slop bucket for scenes when you’re eating where you can take what you have and like [demonstrates tossing food] but the scene we started out in the restaurant you can’t really spit out the food because you’re in mid conversation with all the ribs so we ate a LOT of them. So our propmaster Max was like ‘You wanna know how many you had?’ I was like, ‘Seven?’ He goes, ’18.’ We just shot at Rendezvous a week or so ago and it happened again, like 17. It’s like the middle of the scene and you’re just talking so each time you finish it a lot of ribs.
JB: Have you been gaining weight?
ML: Yeah I walk and stuff. Just to make sure I get an even balance.
JB: What makes “Bluff City Law” different from all the other law shows?
ML: What I think is different about this show is I think there is a preconceived notion about what Memphis is. And in an abstract way, I think that Memphis represents to some people kind of what the South represents; not a lot of progression, not a lot of versatility, not a lot of dynamic aspects or whatever, and what I love is we’re bringing in cases and bringing in different things on the palate of Memphis, in a way that these are things that I don’t think you’d expect to see there. I think that an underlying theme with that is that there’s part of Memphis that you would not expect to see. So tune in for that. Tuning in for like inside of your own life. Investigate this. This is not just a place where the tragedy of Dr. King happened. It’s not just this place only with the burden of the fight for civil rights. There’s so much more. It’s not just barbecue. It’s not just music. There’d people there. What I hope we continue to do is showcase that, we’re doing civil law, which is civilian law — it’s people. This isn’t just criminal law. It’s not just something where you’re going to same type of procedural you’re seeing what’s happening with these people and what might be the effect. With the second episode you’re seeing these brothers who are fighting about barbecue and barbecue recipes but it’s like it’s not just about the recipe. You break this down, this has a large effect because places like this didn’t happen before. These type of disputes happen all the time. Here and around the city and around the world. All these type of things happen. So you’re seeing this inside of the context of Memphis. I hate to simplify it to it’s just different but I don’t see a lot of shows doing that on network tv.
JB: We get to sing this season. You do one of your mother’s favorite hymns on episode four right?
ML: I’m not going to say what it is, but yes. That’s nice. My family is always in the back of my mind with this sort of work and when we were going through it, it was originally supposed to be “Amazing Grace,” I was like okay great, a quick thing not to make the whole episode about singing and me, but just to fit it in properly but then when production was like, ‘we want to change it up and we didn’t want to just do that one,’ they had a full list of songs and I saw that was one of the options I was like I would like to sing this in this key.
JB: What does it mean to you to have your first role as a series regular on “Bluff City Law”?
ML: I posted about it last week on the day of the premiere. When I was doing “Hamilton” I was also shooting
“The Gifted” here in Atlanta and then at the same time I was doing “Hamilton”, “The Gifted” and “She’s Gotta Have It,” I was going back and forth. I feel like this is school for me. My career started in 2013 and I either haven’t had the time to do acting school or take classes or anything like that, or realistically couldn’t afford it, so whenever I’m on set I take in how people do what they do. That’s how I started out in theater and this is how I do things now. So when I was doing “She’s Gotta Have It” and “The Gifted,” I was looking around because that was my first time extensively on a tv set so I noticed how different series regulars were conducting themselves with directors, and with their lines and scripts and table reads and all this different stuff and I was like ‘I’m interested in what that role would be for me and how I would take that on.’ So I just remember we were shooting in Martha’s Vineyard for “She’s Gotta Have It”. It was our last week and I just had that thought. I want to be a series regular one day. I don’t know what that’s going to be like. I don’t know what I’m going to be saying or what the show is going to be like, but I’m the kind of person I went on my computer and made like a fake script like thing. I looked at it for a little bit, it was like this oblong and weird and I kept it on my computer for a little bit.
I did not think that I was going to get this show or anything like that. I was auditioning for shows just like anything else, for pilot season. Then it happened and for the longest time I still have a sense of not knowing what I’m doing. It still doesn’t feel completely real. We had a series premiere but it still doesn’t feel entirely real. The fact that it’s happening is really really reeeeeallly dope. Now you’re inside the experience.
One of the things that I love is — acting is something that I didn’t grow up necessarily wanting to do but you can have a specific dream about something, but the extent of your dream is to the getting of it and not the life after and what it takes to maintain it and and doing of the thing. So yeah, being a series regular is one thing. Being on Broadway is one thing. Working as an actor and having a career is one thing. You can get that job and there’s a notion and an idea that I accept in a certain capacity, but I reject it ultimately. This idea that you’ve “made it,” that implies that you’ve stopped, like you’ve made it and you’ve done that thing, but you’re in the making of it. You’re making it. And as you’re making it you probably are like ‘oh wow, I didn’t really set that up correctly, I messed up.’ It’s not like you’ve done it now and then the expectation is that you’re always going to be awesome every single time afterwards. You’re still prone to failure. You’re still prone to mistakes. You’re still small enough to learn. There’s so many different things that come with it.
Just being a series regular is an awesome thing. I don’t think this is the last job that I’m going to be doing. Whether it’s me working with a network or whatever it is or just my own work, whatever it is. For me it’s like this is a big moment because it’s a starting point to whatever it is and what I learn in this capacity I can bring to the next thing, which might be just a guest star or a smaller thing or an off broadway show or a regional show. I’m not too big to do the gamut of what it is to be an actor. Being an actor is so many things. I’m blessed to be doing a series regular job right now. Amazed at what I’m learning from it. But this is something that carries on to this. For me it’s a big thing for what it holds in the future. People that I’m meeting and so on.
Cheers to Michael Luwoye being such a gifted actor that we gotta have it, no matter what kind of production he’s doing, we’re here for it. Tune in to “Bluff City Law” tonight at 10 pm on NBC to see him do his thing!