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How Damson Idris' London Upbringing Prepared Him For 'Snowfall'
No matter how you feel about Franklin Saint, there’s one trait that we can all respect: the young man is a go-getter. He wants to succeed and whatever he does, he aspires to be the best by any means necessary. The lead role – played by Damson Idris – isn’t your typical protagonist character that everyone roots for.
You’re conflicted while watching the Black community plagued by the crack epidemic in Los Angeles, which is facilitated by Franklin and the CIA.
There are even moments where you question his integrity but at the same time, as a Black man in America, you want him to win especially because the cards are stacked up against him.
Damson Idris before acting
Idris’ full name is Adamson Alade-Bo Idris. He’s the youngest of six children raised by his Nigerian mother Philippa, and they call him “Damson” at home.
Acting wasn’t the plan at first. His “big break” came when he studied theater, film, and television at Brunel University after his sister talked him out of doing sports science. He landed his first role in the 2012 play Pandora’s Box at the Arcola Theatre in east London where he was paid £400 ($556) for a week’s work. He purchased his first pair of Prada shoes with his check.
“It was the happiest moment of my life buying those Prada shoes,” he adds. “My mum worked at the Basil Street Hotel in Knightsbridge, and she would walk past Harrods every day and window-shop and come home and tell me about all the amazing things she saw. So, to get those shoes was a huge signifier that progress was being made, through doing what I loved. And even if it meant I was going to be broke for the next year, at least I still had my shoes.”
Idris wasn’t born anywhere near where Snowfall takes place and with the series based in 1985, he honeslty wasn’t even thought of yet. But these factors haven’t stopped him from giving the character his all.
If you ask Idris, he will tell you that life in London prepared him for the role.
“Growing up in Peckham, I’d look out my window and see a bunch of Franklins,” Damson Idris told The Guardian. “And the thing that made me connect to Franklin the most was that eagerness to do better, but being hindered by the system. And that’s what I bring to that character: that ambition. And it’s the ambition of anyone who grows up in poverty. They know they could do it, but they just don’t have the means to. And that’s what Franklin symbolizes to me. That’s how I connect to him.”
On getting his American LA accent “just right”
During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Idris revealed that he was able to perfect Franklin’s voice with the help of a dialect coach, who happens to be West Coast rapper WC.
“You can understand I was petrified all the time,” the actor joked, noting that WC showed up at his house and called him, saying that he had been tapped as his dialect coach— as reported by Shadow and Act.
You can watch more of that interview below: