Gregg Daniel is a seasoned actor with credits in shows like HBO’s "True Blood" and Marvel’s "Spider Man 3". In his latest role, he stars in 50 Cent’s new show ‘For Life’ which tells the true story of Aaron Wallace -- a black man who was wrongly convicted and ultimately exonerated of drug trafficking charges back in the late 1900s. Daniel plays an inmate named Easley Barton, who Wallace meets along his journey behind bars.
We met up with him to talk about filming and the criminal justice system.
The Daily Fern: Hi Gregg, such a pleasure to talk to you today! Can you tell us a little bit more about your role?
Gregg Daniel: Yes, Aaron is serving a life sentence without parole. He’s in prison wrestling other inmates got out and became a lawyer this person character easley also been unjustly incarcerated 22 years gets to him he wants to reopen my case and in some ways it might help his case so he comes up while he's in prison and he says no he's beaten down and just let me serve my time quietly and he relents and he lets aaron wallace represent in my freedom another unjustly convicted manas a way to help himself and a way to help me and unjustly incarcerated.
The Daily Fern: What was it like to put yourself in his shoes?
Gregg Daniel: It's amazing once you step in a prison you really get what life is like. The empty prison being in the cell to walk the incarceration no joke its unjust just imagining where he's lots freedom and address freedom for yourself and the imagination and creativity starts to inspire you you would get beaten down and defeated psychology and physical so many african americans and people of color have been incarcerated finding inmates you feel have been a little just inspiring to be on location and be in the physical place what a number a to be in a cell and bed and a bunk and year you get the price of freedom
The series is really well written. The show's creator and director Hank Steinberg really brings out the wonderful character that is Aaron every step along the way. Scene by Scene, audience members get to share that bond of being incarcerated unjustly and trying to back your freedom.
The Daily Fern: Was It an Active Prison?
Gregg Daniel: Partially yes. The area we were filming was closed off but the larger prison was still active. So security would have to take you back to set and spend all day there. You wouldn’t get back until you finished for the day, every now and then an inmate would have to go past and you couldn't help but see. The crew stayed on certain floors though which officials tried their best to keep quiet. We were shooting for seven or eight days there. So, all you had to do is look around and see what it's like to be incarcerated -- it got real serious real fast.
The Daily Fern: Have you gotten any takeaways from the show?
Gregg Daniel: Become an activist I’d say. So many times people of color don't get the same deal, it’s important we get involved in the process. Vote for people who you know will question the justice system and are sensitive to these issues. Advocate for prison reform-minded officials.
Make sure to watch out for All Life on ABC and see Daniel in Netflix’s I’m Not Okay with This, plus HBO’s Insecure!
This article was written by Salina Arredondo