Few shows on television feature woman leads that are also people of color — and even fewer in the action drama genre. Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union, and the showrunners behind Charter’s Spectrum Originals maiden program “L.A.’s Finest” wanted that to change.
The new series is a spinoff of the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence franchise “Bad Boys.” This time around, the two “bad boys” are now women of color.
Union, who first signed onto the project, wanted Alba to co-star. “She’s boss as f—k. She’s badass as f—k,” Union told Variety at the premiere afterparty in Los Angeles.
Aside from her admiration of Alba’s “badassery,” Union thought it “means the world” to share lead roles with another WOC. She asked rhetorically, “If we’re only covering or reflecting a very, very small slice of life, who is it for?”
Alba told Variety that an action series led by two non-white women is “unprecedented.” She said, “Usually we’re the token something — girlfriend, bad girl, side piece. And women in the action genre are usually pretty one note.” But L.A.’s Finest is different, according to the actress. “They wrote us like real people,” she said.
Union said the show flips the genre’s traditional gender roles. “We’re not saved by anybody. We’re the ones saving people. We got to be the action heroes, comedians, and a little sexy on occasion,” she said.
Being cast on the show reminded Alba of her experience getting her breakthrough role in Fox’s “Dark Angel.” Alba reminisced, “James Cameron was like, ‘I’m going to hire a 17-year-old Mexican white girl to be the star of my one hour sci-fi action drama.’ That was unprecedented too.”
Co-showrunner Brandon Margolis discussed with Variety how groundbreaking it was growing up to see two black cops in the original 1995 movie. He said of the spinoff, “It’s not the same universe to me if they are not actors of color. That’s the DNA of what made those movies special.”
Co-showrunner Brandon Sonnier told Variety that the “two kickass female diverse leads” is what makes the show special. Sonnier said from day one on set Union and Alba’s chemistry “harkened back to the ‘Bad Boy’ films. The films we love.”
The actresses have been friends for years. Union has fond memories with Alba coming up in the industry. “We were always those girls at the bar at Hollywood events cracking jokes. So I knew we were cut from the same clothes,” said Union.
“L.A.’s Finest” will premiere May 13 on Charter’s Spectrum.