After ditching the moderator’s question during the virtual “Perry Mason” ATX TV panel, Chris Chalk explained why the upcoming HBO series is so important to him.
“I grew up watching re-runs of ‘Perry Mason’ and a lot of old black and white stuff and I liked it, but I didn’t love it and I didn’t love it because I wasn’t in it,” the 33-year-old actor said in a pre-recorded interview on Friday. “I wasn’t represented in any way, shape or form. Nor was my mother, my friend, my cousin, anyone at all. So no matter how good these classics are, I don’t care. I just [don’t] care, because they don’t care about me.”
Chalk went on to explain that when he got the script he saw that viewers got to go home with his character, an investigator named Paul Drake.
“I don’t know if you know, you don’t go home to a lot of black people’s houses on TV,” Chalk said. “You don’t go to their home, they don’t exist, they are props …
“I think that is what, for me, makes the show super special because it doesn’t just stop at Perry’s story, it moves on and says, ‘but this is what this black male is dealing with in the ’30s too,’ which makes this show powerful, which makes this show more than entertaining, it makes the show important because now my mom can watch the show and give a s–t. It’s nice to give a s–t about good TV and not just be a watcher of good TV, but to be a collaborator in it.”
The moderator then asked Chalk if his scenes in which he had to sit back and take things because of the time period of the show was challenging for him to play.
“Man, this is such a bummer of an answer, but no it’s not challenging,” he said. “I grew up in the South, in North Carolina. No, it’s life, it’s life in California today to some extent.”
He added, “There’s always a veil that I think people of color and even women wear to survive in certain industries and entertainment is one of them. It’s exciting to be part of a show thats not interested in the veil, they’re interested in the core of it all, so they allow me to have conversations that seem awfully deep and awfully dangerous, but on this set they’re not dangerous, they’re welcomed and they’re incorporated … It was exciting to know that the care that has gone into the way I experience life, is how the writers and creators have created this, with the same amount of care and that makes me feel very good.”
“Perry Mason” premieres on HBO on June 21.