Amidst preparation for Wednesday evening’s red carpet premiere of the much-anticipated Netflix original, The Get Down, we were able to catch up with actress, writer and director Yolonda Ross by phone on what to expect for tomorrow’s debut.
While waiting for hair and make-up to arrive, Ross talks about the significance of her recurring role in the series.
“I play Ms. Green who is the English teacher of Ezekiel [played by Justice Smith] who becomes ‘Books,’ the lyricist of the group of kids,” Ross tells ESSENCE. “Ms. Green’s importance in the series is two fold – with Ezekiel, she is the teacher that gives tough love, and cares for him, and cares for his situation, and sees potential in him, and goes above and beyond by talking to the family and trying to keep him in the school.”
“She very much represents the single woman in the ’70s, which was really an important time for women – women’s liberation and women’s rights – as far as a woman taking charge of her own life,” explains Ross reminding us that the setting of the series – the 1970’s in the South Bronx – influences the characters and their circumstances.
“A lot was going on outside of school that could really keep a kid from learning and keep someone from doing everything they could to move forward in life,” says Ross. “Not only does Ms. Green see Ezekiel’s potential, but she gets him to also realize his own potential.”
She recalls the influence her own English teachers have had on her and shaping her career.
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“There have definitely been teachers that have touched me and highlighted things that I did and really pushed for them, especially in writing,” she shares with ESSENCE. “Several of my English teachers were really instrumental to me early on, working on my own writing and celebrating it. Looking back on it, now that I’m writing film and TV scripts, I can see where it started.”
Ross shares a bit of advice for the audience before tuning into the series, “Be ready for the music!”
The Get Down debuts Friday, August 12th on Netflix.