Directors Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood are one of Hollywoods most dynamic creative couples and it shows in their most recent project, Shots Fired.
The FOX series has been a hit as fans tuned in every Wednesday to see tensions rise between police and a small town after a Black police officer kills an unarmed White student, exposing corruption in the town’s police force.
WNYC invited ESSENCE to hear the two discuss the impact of the series at The Greene Space with host Susan Fales-Hill, where they revealed the possibility of another season and how police may use the series for training.
Meant to be a limited series, fans have been vocal about wanting more. However, at the moment, the Bythewoods don’t have any plans to continue.
“We came in to do a limited series that had a beginning, middle, and end,” Prince-Bythewood told the audience, “It was exciting to us. We’re an audience also, we watch TV, we like to know that there’s an ending to it. And, for us, we honestly looked at it as a ten-hour film.”
The Love & Basketball director did hint, however, that if she and Bythewood wanted to pick things up where the show left off, it would be possible.
“It is the nature of their job that they can go to different places, Ashe and Preston, as part of the DOJ, so we know how we could continue it. As of right now, Reg and I both have films, but it’s something we feel like we may want to explore in a year, year and a half.”
The show’s look at systemic injustice and fraught racial tension comes at a crucial time and the Bythewoods have been approached by numerous people, including police, who have been impacted by the show.
The directing duo created Shots Fired University, a series that took place prior to the show’s debut that included speakers discussing issues of race and police violence, some even sharing personal experiences. They also spoke with former attorney general Eric Holder and Ray Kelly, former NYC Police Commissioner and supporter of stop-and-frisk, “We definitely don’t agree with stop-and-frisk,” the couple added, as well as Wanda Johnson, the mother of Oscar Grant.
Hearing various points of view helped the directors craft layers for the series and the show’s characters. It also inspired an officer to suggest showing the series during police training.
“We were approach by someone, a former police chief, who has worked in government and felt that Shots Fired could be used as a trianing tool for police offices,” Reggie Bythewood shared. “That was unexpected, we hope it comes together. That would be great.”
“We were idealistic,” he adds about their work on the series, “and I think that’s the hardest thing you want to find and maintain in your career, is this level of idealism. We were really like, ‘Let’s change the world!’ and we still have that at our core.”