Discussing “Snowfall” with Actress Angela Lewis
FX Network premiered season five of their hit show “Snowfall” on February 23rd, 2022. A drug-drama set in Los Angeles in the 1980s, the fifth season takes its audience to 1986 for the return of Franklin Saint’s and his families crack cocaine embassy.
Behind every strong Black man is a strong Black woman, and this is something heavily proved through the show’s dynamic relationship between Franklin Saints and his Aunt Louie, played by actress Angela Lewis.
The “wife” of Franklin’s biological uncle, Aunt Louie, originally came into the show during the first season as the first person that opens the door of his first sell. After introducing Saints to Claudia, a nightclub owner with enough financial stability to fund the cocaine, Aunt Louie joins the family business first as the “crack cooker” and then climbs her way up throughout the show’s various seasons.
In the show, family dynamics change as each character evolves, and this is something Lewis portrays heavily while playing the role of Aunt Louie. A woman who worked her way to the top of Saint’s business, Aunt Louie is a loyal family member and employee who actually gets shot and almost killed at the end of the fourth season.
“That kind of allowed her to shift her focus, and allowed her to come to decisions on what’s really important to her,” Angela Lewis told the Los Angeles Sentinel. “Before Jerome [her “husband”], she didn’t have people in her life who really loved and supported her, but now she’s realized she has a ‘ride-or-die’. This is the mentality she goes into during the start of season five.”
Lewis did not get the role of Aunt Louie when she first auditioned, but after a year, she was called to do it again and got the part. It was during this time, when she realized the connection she had to this character.
“When I got the callback for ‘Snowfall’ I had to ask myself ‘Can I play this character?’ We don’t have similar lives, but I did a deep dive of who she might be and how she got to the place she was in in season one. After deeply meditating on it, I really loved her, and knew that if I said no she’d go into the hands of someone that couldn’t love her and protect her and bring out her humanity the way I could.”
Aunt Louie is a woman who could easily get lost in the background of her family’s business. Lewis made this her mission for it not to happen.
“Even to this day my job is to protect her and love her. I want to bring her humanity to the screen.”
A character who also suffers from drug addiction herself, Lewis admitted that Aunt Louie is not always an easy character to portray.
“We are talking about drugs, and dealing drugs in our own community, and that’s complex. But when we talk about how black people are seen in the media, we usually get a few shades. Black people are often seen as criminals, and that’s sometimes hard for me. I never would have expected my first breakout show to be something like this, but I felt like Louie was too important to not be done with integrity and love.”
As for the fun parts of playing Louie, Lewis mentioned that her “fun and big personality allows for me to step into my own personal power. I love the freedom in which she expresses herself, and I love the intelligence in which she navigates her world.”
Lewis is a Detroit-native, and when asked how she was able to pull the authenticity of a Black Los Angeles women so well, she explained the history of her family. Aunt Louie is originally from the South, while Angela Lewis’ family migrated from the South to Detroit before her birth. She said she was able to pull this connection in order to create her character.
“There’s a lot of similarities between black people everywhere, especially when you go back in time. I didn’t need to do much to my speech but felt like I could use my experience and my DNA and my familial landmarks to lean into her character and how she moved because all black people come from common experience. However, we also had Dub C [Damson Idris] to help us make things more ‘L.A. specific’,” said Lewis. “I kind of lucked out that the shoe wasn’t that hard to fit.
While Lewis makes acting the part of her character look effortless in the show, the actress mentioned that the two have many differences in personality.
“Aunt Louie leads from a different space energetically, and fundamentally I’ve been more loved and supported so I don’t need as hard of a shell. I’ve had many opportunities to explore different things and opportunities, but I think when you first meet Louie she’s in a space of desperation that makes her do certain things. Louie comes from a very certain place of survival.”
With this, Lewis says that both her and Louie do come from a similar place of pushing to be seen and to be their best selves. They also both strongly value family, leaning on people who want to protect them in various ways. The two also share a “big heart”.
Lewis strives that in this season people recognize Aunt Louie’ intelligence.
“She has been the see-er and the reasoning behind a lot of Franklin’s moves. It gets lost that Louie has had a lot, if not most, of the good ideas. If Franklin takes her advice or not is always up to be seen throughout the show. I hope that people see, in the dynamic between them, that she ain’t wrong.”
You can catch Angela Lewis on “Snowfall” on FX Network every Wednesday at 10 pm ET. New episodes are also available on Hulu for streaming.