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Regé-Jean Page Finds ‘Streak of Hope’ in New Shonda Rhimes Legal Pilot

Regé-Jean Page explains a primary goal of his acting career quite succinctly: being able to represent people as respectfully as possible. When he gained the opportunity to play the role of Chicken George in the limited series “Roots” last year, Page immediately knew that this was the perfect platform on which to manifest this ambition.

“I think that ‘Roots’ represents people that are historically underrepresented and misrepresented, and I was honored to be able to have a chance to contribute something very positive to the world with what I do,” Page told Variety. “It’s always nice when your job can provide something that people value. Sometimes, it’s not just entertainment — it’s not just getting on the stage smiling and dancing — you’ve got to put some nutrients out there too, and that’s hugely rewarding.”

He’s been cast in Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers’ as-yet-untitled legal drama that has been picked up by ABC. Variety previously announced that Tom Verica has been tapped to direct the pilot from “Scandal” writer Paul Davies.

Although a newcomer to the small-screen, Page’s own roots trace back to his teenage years in the London theater scene. Page was born in London, but moved back with his family in Zimbabwe as a toddler. By age 14, Page returned to London, where he discovered the British National Youth Theatre and found a group of like-minded peers that helped him realize acting was his true calling. After auditioning for two years, Page was accepted to the Drama Centre, the London-based university that has catapulted the careers of stars such as Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender and Luke Evans.

After launching his on-screen career in the United States, Page finds working in America not too different from London: “I pretend to do stuff in both countries, it’s very, very similar,” Page quips. Aside from the larger window of opportunity available in the much-larger United States, Page notes simply that “wonderful, creative, generous people exist on both sides of the ocean, and the job is largely the same.”

That window of opportunity is only opening wider: up next, Page will star as a series-regular in ABC’s untitled legal-drama pilot from Shondaland, playing Leonard, a brilliant, albeit slightly arrogant rookie prosecutor, taking on his first case at the prestigious U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

“I’m finding him very fun to play with,” Page says of the character. “He’s very complex, he’s got a lot of shadow and a lot of things withheld that I’m looking forward to exploring.”

For Page, the script of this project presents an earnestness and authenticity of which he is proud to be a part.

“This script feels like the world I actually live in, it feels like there is a streak of hope running through it,” Page says. “It’s where you find the real high stakes in the world, it’s where you find people fighting for justice in the little sense of the word. It’s really cool to see a group of young people figuring out how you do that, how you fight for justice. If you do all of that with a kind of integrity and style that Shonda Rhimes does with all of her dramas, then I think we have something quite special.”

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