Meeting LA's Finest
BY Stanislav Kimchev
Top Hollywood stars Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union held an exclusive international presentation and screening of their new action series at NEM 2019 in Dubrovnik. A spinoff from the famous Bad Boys franchise, LA’s Finest comes to change the way people look at women – as characters, as members of society and the changing Hollywood industry.
Jessica, Gabrielle, tell us a bit more about the show. Do you enjoy working on that project?
Jessica: Yeah. The show is really fun. The show is for everyone. I think it’s great to watch with friends and watch with a partner. You can binge watch. I just think that it’s one of those shows that the more you watch the more you get attached to it and you have to see what’s next. I think that our characters are very relatable as well. It’s a show about two LAPD Detectives and it’s in that Bad Boys universe so you get the action, you get the fun, you get the comedy and it is still very grounded in our friendship.

Which one is the good and the bad character?
Jessica: We’re trying to rewrite Hollywood and create a different sort of future so it’s we’re both a little good and we’re both a little bad.

Gabrielle: I did a little research and just asked a bunch of cops and detectives what is it like - how knowing that so much of the law and the understanding of the law and the enforcement of the law is really in the eye of the beholder. So, I love that we get to explore this cool untapped gray area where we don’t always do the right thing. Our hearts are in the right place. Sometimes we made mistakes, but we keep them moving and we try to improve. And I think it’s very relatable to most people’s journeys.

Jessica: More like a good driver - bad driver.

Do you think there should be more shows like this with badass and strong women?
Gabrielle: Hell yes. I think you said it best. I mean there was this idea that these types of shows are what men do best. And I think when you see it over and over again you start to assume you see a lot of it because they are just better. But the reality is they’re also the people who get to control who gets to do it. So, given the opportunity I created the show that I wanted to see, the show that I wanted to enjoy as an audience member, the show that I wanted to kick butt in as an actor. And once I got a seat at the table I was like “Oh, why would I be here by myself?” - I’m trying to hold that door open for as long as I can and bring as many people who have also been marginalized and told that maybe you’re not good at this when actually we kick ass at this. Yes, there should be a ton of LA’s Finest and a ton of Killing Eve’s because we were capable and we’re good at it and people like to see us. So, give us a shot.

Jessica: James Cameron believed in me when I was 17 and made me the star of the show around a girl who literally kicks all the ass (ed: “Dark Angel”). She’s genetically engineered, and she is up against the world and this government that was oppressing her and had made her. So, I came into my own as an adult collaborating with a visionary like James Cameron that believed that women should be depicted this way. So, I’ve only ever thought that we should have the seat at the table, that we deserve as much screen time as men and that we’re really good at it. And it took Gab a very successful career as an actress for her to get to this point. This is the third time she’s executive producer and this is a show that she wanted to create so I was happy to be part of that.

What were the main challenges for both of you in this spinoff of a franchise known for its dude humor?
Gabrielle: The things that we loved about the Jerry Bruckheimer style and the Bad Boys universe is the action sequences. We liked that you can break up an action sequence with humor, so it didn’t take itself so seriously. But the quality of the jokes is a little bit different because I think boys can get away with different types of humor. And I think women can have a little bit more a layer. It can be a little more dry, you can get it two or three seconds later. There will be the quick joke that you get right away but we can also add a little bit of like our own little fun stuff.

Jessica, if I am not mistaken this is your first role in a TV series. What is the difference and how did you manage with the transition from film to TV?
Well I started my career here and then went away from it for 20 years. Gosh. At the time I would say the time commitment is the biggest difference. And I think when you have a finite amount of time to tell a story and you have to sort of spoon feed the audience and do a lot of plot exposition and keep it moving whereas in a TV show you have more time to tell the story and you don’t always have to give the audience all the nuggets. As you go you can let them figure things out and then they can rewind and say – “Oh you’re right, they mentioned that thing in that one episode and then they put the things together.” So that’s more fun because sometimes as an actor you’re like OK now I had to do three paragraphs trying to explain the same thing over and over. But the time commitment is different. I can be in and out of a movie where this is a much longer time commitment.

LA’s Finest is available on Spectrum. How has the TV industry changed with the VOD services becoming content powerhouses?
Gabrielle: That’s a great question. What’s changed is that there’s so much more content, which means there are so much more opportunities for actors. Every project doesn’t necessarily need the 20-million dollar actor and it’s giving a lot more people an opportunity to shine, a lot more people are global and have been getting the opportunity to have a global audience. So still a long way to go but we’re off to a great start.

Where do you see your future – in producing or acting?
Gabrielle: All of it. I mean this is like once I realized I could be an executive producer and starring on it in front of the camera. Luckily, I partnered up with one of the most intelligent people on the planet. She managed by creating a billion-dollar company. So, she’s done it for herself. In between movies. But I wanted to partner up with somebody who equally has a big life and who has very ambitious dreams and who wants to figure out how you can kick ass in a different more unexpected way than what they assume for women in Hollywood with children. How we, sort of, want to just kick up our heels and then rest on our laurels and live in the past. But the reality is different. We just get better and give us more titles, give us more things to do, it’s a different day. We can multitask. That’s a beautiful thing about it. So that’s the best way to manage it, by getting more jobs.

Is it easier now for women to get jobs in Hollywood?
Jessica: I think the only way that the industry, any industry can see that you can do it differently is by being successful. I created a business in big bad corporate America and 60 percent of my leadership are women. I give a four-month maternity leave to my employees who are women. Men get paternity leave of two months and they can get up to four months if they want to. You can still nurse your baby and work and there’s a way to do that and you can also be paid equally. Being successful in corporate America, gave me the confidence that when I came to the table as an executive producer for the first time on this show that we could create with Gabby the type of Hollywood environment that we always wanted. So, in our writers room 90 percent of the people that we hired were women. We literally were blind testing who were the best writers. They just happen to be women. You see native people honors, the indigenous Americans on our set. You see Latinos on our set. You see Asians represented on our set. You see Europeans represented on our set, you see African-Americans represented on our set. That is not normal for Hollywood. And it’s so cool that we can bring that type of diversity and community to a Hollywood set. And then I was nursing my son when we did the pilot and he was two and a half months old. So, I had to take breaks sometimes.

A lot of actors have to hide their pregnancies. Frankly, when I had my first kid I experienced a lot of that prejudice and I was like - I don’t need it. I’m good. And then I went and created my company and I didn’t want to deal with it until the business was ready to give me a shot to be the full person that I am and I feel like after the Time’s Up and the MeToo movement there is an awareness that we deserve to have equality. Feminism is equality. And my husband believes he is a feminist. He believes his daughters get to have equality, that his wife can have equality. And it’s not a dirty bad word that women get to an equal part in society. I’m happy that we’re at this place now. ▪
LA’s Finest

The drama follows Sydney “Syd” Burnett (Union), who was last seen in Bad Boys II taking down a drug cartel in Miami. Having left her complicated past behind her, she is now an LAPD detective with a new partner, Nancy McKenna (Alba), a working mom with an equally complex history. Burnett is forced to examine whether her unapologetic lifestyle might be masking a greater personal secret. Taking on the most dangerous criminals in Los Angeles while skirting the rules, Syd and McKenna become a force to be reckoned with, on the streets and in each other’s lives.
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