Wednesday, December 8, 2021

How Christina Elmore’s “ strangest audition in history ” led to Condole

Christina Elmore knows that everyone has a lot of opinions about Condole and is thrilled to be joining this wild ride.

“I don’t go too deep into this because I just accidentally don’t go too deep into Instagram and Twitter,” she told Zoom in an interview ahead of the start of the fifth and final season of HBO’s Insecure. “For the most part, I laugh with everyone. Like, I think the names for Condole are just funny and so creative: “Condolences and Condolavirus”, “Air Conditioning”, “Credenza” – come on, Credenza ?! ”

Elmore joined the show at the end of season 3 when Condola was introduced as a potential mentor to Issa (played by show creator Issa Rae), who had just quit her unsatisfactory job at an educational nonprofit and dreamed of planning a block party to honor its Inglewood neighborhood and a focus on black-owned businesses. In the third season finale, Issa attends an outdoor film screening and meets Condole, who is organizing the event.

In Season 4, Condole helps Issa coordinate a block party, becoming friends in the process. But things get awkward when Issa learns that Condole is dating Lawrence (Jay Ellis), Issa’s ex. Towards the end of the season, Issa and Lawrence have reunited and possibly back together … but then Condola tells Lawrence that she is pregnant.

The drama continues into season 5. Lawrence flew back and forth between Los Angeles, where Condole and her baby are now, and San Francisco, where his new job is. In an episode that aired on Sunday, Condole and Lawrence had trouble communicating about how involved he should be in the newborn’s life, resulting in an argument that would definitely cause “unprotected” fans to take sides.

Christina Elmore at the HBO Season 5 Premiere of Insecure on October 21 in Los Angeles.

Photo by Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic for HBO

The process of getting the role of Elmore, which she thought would only last a few episodes, was quite unusual.

“It was such a welcome blessing and surprise that she turned into the character she becomes after the strangest audition I’ve ever had,” she said.

A few months after her initial audition, Elmore discovered that she had made it to the next round: reading chemistry. But the catch was that it had to be at 8pm the next day, and whoever got the role had to get to work immediately.

“I thought, ‘Uh-huh, it never happened.’ This is true? Am I going somewhere to get killed ?! “- she recalled. “One of the producers comes out and says, ‘Okay, we’re going to start.’ Just so you know, whoever booked this role must be at work tomorrow morning at 5:30 so that you know before you leave today. “

Part of Elmore’s confusion stemmed from not knowing the chemistry would be read with Ellis, because the show’s writers and producers also tried to keep the storyline under wraps. He was out of town, and his return flight was delayed, leading to the fact that the schedule was drawn up at the very last moment.

“The script said that Condole, and then said that the character’s name is Lincoln Washington,” – recalled Elmore. “And so it was until I saw [Jay] come in with his bags [that I knew]because I kept asking myself, “Why do they have a character named Lincoln?” “

She remembers well how the audition became more and more strange.

“People start to come in and read chemistry, and you go out, and some women are told to go back to the waiting room. Some are told: “You can go.” Some have been told to go to some random third room and no one knows where anyone is going. It was like “Bachelor” – like “you get a rose, you don’t get a rose,” she said. “By the end of the night there were three of us sitting in the same room, and we didn’t know if anyone else was in the other rooms and what was happening. And then slowly, one of the casting assistants said, “Okay, come out” to each of us individually. And I was the last one there, so I thought, “Is this okay? This is bad? “

To her relief, she got the role. She waited another hour for the approval of HBO executives and tried on the suit, then showed up the next morning bright and early morning, still not quite sure what to expect.

Lawrence (Jay Ellis) and Condola (Christina Elmore) in HBO Season 4 "Unreliable."
Lawrence (Jay Ellis) and Condole (Christina Elmore) in Season 4 of HBO’s Insecure.

When Elmore returned for the fourth season of the show, the writers began to tell her more about how Condole would develop, including that she would be pregnant at the end of the season. But Elmore was not quite sure how it would fit into the plot of the series – and he certainly did not expect it to be “such a big event, and people will be so angry about their feelings.”

“There were several reactions from fans in which I said, ‘Okay, you went too far,’” she said of the very strong opinion people have about Condole. “But for the most part it was so much fun to be a part of the show that people have included so much in the culture. I think this goes far beyond the normal TV show. He has his own life and I have never worked on something like this. This is similar to how Star Trek and all that sort of thing have a universe of their own. It looks like a kind of pop culture universe. “

Both as an actor and as an “unprotected fan,” Elmore said the experience was “a huge blessing.”

“I had to watch five seasons – or almost five seasons – of television on Sundays, and I loved that,” she said. “I was looking forward to meeting my community, my neighborhood – for example, my literal neighborhood – and the people I know in real life on screen every week.”

“Watching The Misadventures of the Clumsy Black Girl while I was a graduate student in theater was so exciting to me because I thought, ‘Oh, there is more than one way to get this job done that I am ready for.’ I don’t just have to wait for some gatekeeper to give me the key, ”Elmore said. “She destroys the whole system and makes her opinion on a girl who looks and feels like me. So to be able to work with Issa and tell her how I feel about it and see that she is as beautiful as I imagined and that she is as creative as I imagined her to be. but much more humble and kind than I ever thought she could be – I mean, come on. So just getting to this site was already great. ”

“There is no longer any reason a studio manager would say, ‘Well, we just don’t know if other people will like it. We just don’t know if it will sell. We just don’t know how much this is possible. How will this happen at the international level? “If you tell a good story and you are as sincere as possible, it can be so specific and so close.”

– Christina Elmore on the impact of “Insecurity” on the entertainment industry.

Elmore noted that one of Insecure’s many pioneering achievements was the number of blacks working behind the camera.

“I have not seen a set with so many blacks in every position, and never have I worked with so many blacks. [executive producers]and writers and decision makers. And it was just amazing, ”she said. “When we discussed hairstyles and makeup, we proceeded from a basic understanding. I didn’t need to explain how my hair is arranged. You come in, and the comfort is already there. We step into the hairstyle and makeup trailer and you know that you will be taken care of. It’s just these little things. I miss him already. I really do that. I think it’s a unicorn. The people who are doing this show are so damn good and so happy to be there and they are doing fine. “

Elmore also stars in the BET series “The Twenties,” which has just begun its second season. She followed some of the show’s directors and would soon like to direct her own episode. As Unsafe wraps up, she hopes that its success will continue to give way to more shows in which she can tell stories of people who look and feel just like her.

“One of the lessons I’ve learned – as well as being a fan of the show and just watching what the show has done for television in just the last five or six years – is that you can tell very specific, authentic stories. very specific groups of people, ”she said. “There is no longer any reason a studio manager would say, ‘Well, we just don’t know if other people will like it. We just don’t know if it will sell. We just don’t know how much this is possible. How will this happen internationally? »If you tell a good story and you are as sincere as possible, it can be as specific and as close. Now so many other networks are picking up this bandwagon and saying, “Oh people make want to see young blacks? Oh, it’s strange. And so I think this is a lesson for the industry as a whole, but also for my career in that, for example, I can do what I feel. “

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