Anna Diop Previews Her ‘Strong, Brave’ Character in Fox’s ‘24: Legacy’

Actress Anna Diop on Her Roles
James Elliot Bailey for Variety

Anna Diop moved from Senegal to the U.S. when she was 6 and perfected English in two months by watching “Three’s Company” with her mother. At 16, she moved to New York to pursue acting and modeling, working on campaigns for companies such as Nike and Verizon. She landed her first role in “Everybody Hates Chris” and currently appears in ABC’s “Quantico” and the OWN series “Greenleaf.” Up next: Fox’s “24: Legacy,” premiering Feb. 5, after the Super Bowl.

What drew you to “24: Legacy”?

The character and the pilot. I read the pilot and saw how Nicole was such a strong, brave woman. I also knew Corey Hawkins was attached. I had just seen “Straight Outta Compton” and was thinking, “Who is this?” So the character and the cast and the fact that it’s “24,” a staple in American television — bringing it back is really exciting.

What can you say about your character through the first season?

She’s a strong woman, but her strength is tested in so many ways — physically, mentally, emotionally. She goes through so much.

Both “Quantico” and “24: Legacy” deal with terrorism. Do you find similarities?

In “Quantico,” I played a computer tech, which is completely different from Nicole, who is a nurse. Nicole doesn’t willingly go into this kind of life; she is thrown into it, versus Mia in “Quantico,” who willingly goes into that.

Does “24: Legacy” reflects issues we are experiencing with global terrorism?

Yes. Throughout the series, you see people who don’t look or speak like terrorists; they are normal-looking people who live among us, but who are doing that. It touches on the reality of what we experience, be it in Orlando with the nightclub or wherever else. But we don’t use those instances specifically.

Does “24: Legacy” bring a different perspective than the original? 

The original is Jack Bauer, who became America’s hero in a lot of ways. But “Legacy” has a completely new hero. He’s a young black man, with a black wife, and deals with being a black man in America — it’s an interesting aspect of the series.

What’s it like to have the series be the lead-out for the Super Bowl? 

I’m so excited, it’s insane. I don’t think I will believe it until it happens. We couldn’t have asked for a better time slot — and the game is in my hometown of Houston.