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Nicole Beharie Shines At PaleyFest's 'Sleepy Hollow' Panel

Features
by KAMMs TheACE
March 20, 2014 8:13 PM
24 Comments
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The panel facilitator begins thanking the crowd, indicating the end of the panel and the veterans rush the stage with the fans who catch on quick right on their heels.

If you’ve never been to a PaleyFest panel or other fan-centered event, at this point you’re confused for a few milliseconds. You might even ask yourself what you missed – what do they know that you don’t? Then you realize everyone is clamoring for autographs, a chance at close-up time with the object of their affection. This is how you separate the vets from the noobs.

Fans lineup along the front of the stage in congested layers, arms up, waving various paraphernalia while the actors take their places at the edge of the stage in an effort to show their appreciation in the form of autographs, fleeting conversation and awkwardly posed selfies.

This part isn’t a requirement or guarantee, some stay for it and some don’t. Time constraints are assumed. Everyone participating is working as fast and furiously as humanly possible to connect with as many people as humanly possible before the clock expires and a man in a dark suit, adorned with an earpiece begins pulling people away and shutting down the process.

Nicole Beharie is the first one with pen to paper and the last one to leave the stage. Lyndie Greenwood makes her exit only moments before.

The 31st annual PaleyFest (The Paley Center for Media) played host to the cast of Fox hit Sleepy Hollow on Wednesday evening at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Among those present were series leads Nicole Beharie, Orlando Jones and Tom Mison, newly upgraded season two series regular, Lyndie Greenwood and recurring star John Cho. 

Noticeably absent was the other newly upgraded series regular, John Noble. The show’s executive producers, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Len Wiseman, Heather Kadin and Mark Goffman anchored the panel as well.

The panel kicked off with a clip of the jaw-dropping season finale followed by an introduction of panel participants. The facilitator asked the usual questions seeking any information the show runners could provide on season two, including potential new characters, Ichabod’s newly dysfunctional family and getting hoodwinked by his own son, Jones’ Frank Irving going to jail to protect his recently possessed daughter – you know, the usual stuff.

There was no way of getting through a panel with a room full of fangirls and fanboys without discussing shipping. Mison admitted that in the beginning he didn’t even know shipping was a thing. A Google search provided him with a little more than he bargained for when he ran across fan art that wasn’t exactly PG-13.

While there’s no denying the chemistry between Beharie and Mison or Abbie and Ichabod, show exec, Heather Kadin attributed the strong and apparent chemistry to the “honest and powerful friendship” between both Beharie and Mison and Abbie and Ichabod.

Beharie echoed the sentiments of Kadin, stating once again that she loves Abbie’s relationship with her newfound bestie as-is. Hesitantly, as if expecting disapproval, she stated that in regards to fans shipping the pair so fervently based on the chemistry they see: “people see what they want to see happen.”

As if on cue, the crowd voiced their disapproval in a low groan and while Beharie gave an apologetic grimace at the crowd’s reaction, she didn’t shy away from her stance on the matter. In previous interviews Mison has stated, in mild dismissal of Ichabbie, that his character is married. His facial expressions reverse-mirrored Beharie’s leading us to believe he might be here for the Ichabbie ship after all. Either that or he’s trolling the fans something terrible.

One thing Beharie and Mison did agree on was their favorite episode. When asked, the panel bounced between a handful of the same episodes from season one, with “Midnight Ride” being both Beharie and Mison’s favorite. Other favorites included the pilot episode for Cho and Jones as well as “Sin Eater” for Beharie as a second choice.

Then the questions got interesting and the answers did too. When asked whom they might cast for the other horsemen, a mention of veteran actor, Idris Elba garnered a visual exhibition of approval from Beharie and some additional verbal co-signs from the crowd. Clint Eastwood was another great name-drop from Greenwood.

The fans had several great questions as well. One fan wanted to know which show the panel would choose for a crossover episode. The answers ranged from the upcoming series Salem to Love Boat. It was Beharie’s suggestion, with a disclaimer that it was not in jest, of the HBO classic The Wire that left most of the audience a bit puzzled. A few fans voiced their approval – presumably the few members of the audience familiar with the show. 

Beharie’s answer, though perhaps unexpected wasn’t entirely surprising. Neither was the fact that she ended her very first answer by noting, “by the way it’s really great to see so many women in the audience.” Her praise of Lyndie Greenwood was no surprise either.

On working with Greenwood and the dynamic of the Mills sisters, Beharie said, “For me it’s been a huge gift.” She spoke on getting closer to the actor who plays her character’s sister, as well as building chemistry. She noted that getting close enough to an actor to give an honest portrayal of that type of dynamic requires “a lot of vulnerability – “ the kind of  “you would see in a movie where you have a ton of time.”

“So the fact that we were able to get so close and get so raw right away is a testament to who she is,” she added. Greenwood, who appeared genuinely touched by the sentiments, added that she felt welcomed by Beharie.

In an industry where most of the actors of color are competing for the same few roles it’s easy to operate in a spirit of competition. Instead, one of the things most notable about this rookie actor is the way and how often she champions for others, especially women and people of color.

If you’ve been following Beharie’s career at all then her answers, comments, infamous facial expressions, nor actions from Wednesday night’s panel could have surprised you. Her face was telling in her approval of the answer one of the series’ executives gave in response to the question of if the remarkable diversity among the cast was intentional or happenstance. (Ultimately he said it was both – they wanted a cast that was more than capable of telling the stories and tackling the issues that come as a reflection of “our changing world” and not just having diversity for the sake of having diversity.)

Among those unsurprising actions was Beharie’s decision to politely ignore the member of security who kept trying to pull her off stage while she was signing autographs and connecting with fans. Pointing to a crowd of hopeful and eager admirers she gently and firmly told the member of security that she had already promised the group she would come back to them. She stayed true to her word.

When the same security member sternly and repeatedly told fans to have their pens ready to make the process faster, she was patient, even giving fans a heads up if their sharpies were running dry. When the fans requested selfies she did her best to comply, despite the super chic pencil skirt and black patent pumps that restricted her movement. She made quick and pleasant conversation as she signed her name and smiled for pictures.

Beharie is in fine company with the über talented cast of Sleepy Hollow, her own acting chops on full display in every project on her resume. Gauging talent is subjective and open to debate – though a side-eye is deserved for anyone how dare question her talent.

Undeniable is the whole of Beharie’s artistry and her willingness to be a vocal advocate of visibility, diversity and empowerment. Signing on to smaller indie projects she believes in that don’t quite have the budget to pay her what she’s worth is Beharie putting her money where her mouth is.

The Sleepy Hollow panel at this year’s PaleyFest was just another prime exhibition of those qualities.

With the cult following of this breakout hit and critic ratings not too far off one could safely bet this remixed and flipped version of Washington Irving’s classic will be around for a while. It’s an even safer bet to say Nicole Beharie will be around, relevant, and doing much bigger things for as long as she wants to.

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24 Comments

  • Vichus | March 30, 2014 6:34 PMReply

    Just awesome. 10 years (or even 5 years) ago an actor like Beharie wouldn't be playing such an important role in a story like this. She'd be a thinly realized stereotype. In horror, black women are sidekicks. In fantasy, I can't even think of any women of color in movies or TV.

  • Griff | March 21, 2014 10:18 PMReply

    This is awesome!...felt like i was there...never been to one of these but i want to go to one now! whens the next!? looking forward to reading more from you!

  • Steebie | March 21, 2014 9:51 PMReply

    hold up you have more like this? Gimme! this was a really great read and I appreciate media attention finally focused on Nicole. She definitely deserves it. Keep it coming please.

  • KAMMs | March 21, 2014 4:22 PMReply

    CC,

    Thanks for the welcome! The highlight of my 2014 was actually my experience in L.A. at PaleyFest, connecting with Nicole Beharie & her comments in recognition of my work. I suppose one may have had to see the my previous post(s) to get all of that though. :0) The post sharing the publishing of this article was another update about the overall experience.

    I've been writing feature articles on artists of color (Beharie, Jerrika Hinton, + more) and following their careers for a bit now. The underlying theme so far has been visibility, something deeply important to me, with a goal to increase theirs. I've gone so far as to interview Chris Domig & Russell Sharman, the co-star & writer/director of Apartment 4E. I said all that to say, I have a ton to share and just as much to say so I look forward to collaborating with Shadow & Act!

    Thanks again! :0)

    KAMMs

  • CC | March 21, 2014 3:06 PMReply

    Btw KAMMs, welcome to S&A! I saw on your Facebook page that you said being published on this blog was your highlight of 2014. Well, there's 9 months left, so come back to give us some more of the good stuff - it's a win-win proposition. Hey, as Andre Seewood said " it takes a nation of millions to hold us back, therefore we are fighting a war that has many fronts and needs many approaches to get to victory" Peace.

  • Patrick W. | March 21, 2014 7:01 AMReply

    This was a great read! And easiley one of the better reviews / recaps of the event.

    I never really shipped Ichabbie either and i always thought i was the only one. lol man fans haate to hear anything other than ichabbie.

  • BMT | March 21, 2014 4:54 AMReply

    good job KAMMs with an S. i love all the insight you gave. also, i need to see that mashup with "the wire" lol. lyndie greenwood's dress gave me such life.

  • KAMMs Moore-Mitchell | March 21, 2014 2:40 AMReply

    Dear Anonymous,

    My degree in journalism and 8+ years of professional writing experience says quite the opposited. I stopped blogging quite some time ago.

    Thank you for reading the article and for your feedback. I suppose it's worth nothing that when I pitched the piece to the editor here I noted that the piece, before I re-worked it for Shadow & Act, was intended for an outlet with more of a focus on television, for which that type of background information is very well known.

    I offered to add backstory and information if the editor deemed it necessary. I have to agree with the editor's decision here, especially seeing that this piece was geared toward a niche market.

    The word shipping is not considered slang. A colloquial term, vernacular more germane to a certain demographic? Perhaps, though with shows like Scandal that are popular across many demographics the word is being used more and more commonly and without explanation, including in credible publications by credible writers.

    Nonetheless major research isn't required. A simple Google search, you know like the one Tom Mison did, should have yielded a good bit of results.

    Moreover, a bit of extra work never hurt anyone really, especially not work that adds to who we are. I look up things I'm not familiar with all the time, or make a note to look it up later. After all it's what I was trained to do - in elementary school. That training was reinforced during my time at university, especially in my news editing course. (Love that teacher :0))

    Again, thank you for reading and for your time to comment. I appreciate it more than you know.

    P.s. it's KAMMs - with an 's.' :0)

  • CC | March 21, 2014 5:33 AM

    Kamms, disregard, I Googled it.... sorry

  • CC | March 21, 2014 5:17 AM

    Kamms,

    ........................................................................................? %).... :$?

    CC

  • KAMMs | March 21, 2014 4:31 AM

    CC,
    ........................................................................................... ? >_>

    KAMMs

  • CC | March 21, 2014 3:36 AM

    "Mm he's handsome but not my type. Not in the fine category. He's hella light skinned, no lips, & he's a sneaker head."

    LOL... hey Kamm, we won't tell anyone were that came from or who said it...*wink*... but could you tell me, what is a sneaker head?

    Btw, nice article, never heard of a PaleyFest.

  • Jan | March 21, 2014 1:05 AMReply

    Kamm very good article, I did not know you were a writer. Good job!

  • Anonymous | March 20, 2014 10:47 PMReply

    Kamm, I know you're just a blogger, not a trained journalist, but you should NEVER assume that your audience is familiar with slang (i.e. "shipping) and should ALWAYS take a moment to clarify, for your readers, what such words mean. Don't make us have to go looking for it. That's how, as a wannabe writer, you lose credibility.

  • Anon II | March 21, 2014 5:23 AM

    Kamms,

    o/\o... I;-)

  • KAMMs | March 21, 2014 4:20 AM

    Anon II,

    While I appreciate the "defense" it'd be awesome if we could keep this civil.

    :O)

  • KAMMs | March 21, 2014 2:43 AM

    Dear Anonymous,

    My degree in journalism and 8+ years of professional writing experience says quite the opposite. I stopped blogging quite some time ago.

    Thank you for reading the article and for your feedback. I suppose it's worth noting that when I pitched the piece to the editor here I noted that the piece, before I re-worked it for Shadow & Act, was intended for an outlet with more of a focus on television, for which that type of background information is very well known.

    I offered to add backstory and information if the editor deemed it necessary. I have to agree with the editor's decision here, especially seeing that this piece was geared toward a niche market.

    The word shipping is not considered slang. A colloquial term, vernacular more germane to a certain demographic? Perhaps, though with shows like Scandal that are popular across many demographics the word is being used more and more commonly and without explanation, including in credible publications by credible writers.

    Nonetheless major research isn't required. A simple Google search, you know like the one Tom Mison did, should have yielded a good bit of results.

    Moreover, a bit of extra work never hurt anyone really, especially not work that adds to who we are. I look up things I'm not familiar with all the time, or make a note to look it up later. After all it's what I was trained to do - in elementary school. That training was reinforced during my time at university, especially in my news editing course. (Love that teacher :0))

    Again, thank you for reading and for your time to comment. I appreciate it more than you know.

    P.s. it's KAMMs - with an 's.' :0)

  • AnonymousII | March 21, 2014 12:38 AM

    FU*K OFF! Do you understand that slang? How dare you rain on this parade... you freakin' jerk.

  • Helloworld | March 20, 2014 10:19 PMReply

    So glad to see that this show will be returning. Thank you for providing such a realistic overview of the event.

  • KAMMs | March 21, 2014 4:20 AM

    HELLOWORLD,

    Thanks for reading! I'm happy it's returning as well. :O)

  • ShebaBaby | March 20, 2014 9:48 PMReply

    I was there and this article is spot on. It was a lotta fun to watch them talk about their surprise hit first season. Nicole seemed a lot more relaxed than she does in some interviews I've seen her in which was great! I hope she's finally getting the hang of her impending superstardom. Totally enjoyed myself.

  • KAMMs | March 21, 2014 4:23 AM

    SHEBABABY,

    Thanks for the feedback!

    I agree that Nicole seemed a bit more relaxed, speculating and based on other interviews, I think that had more to do with the company with which she was in. Plus she's probably getting used to this all by now (like you noted). They also had another panel Q&A session with the cast, which was hosted by the SAG foundation the night before. That probably helped! :O)

    -KAMMs

  • JMSanders | March 20, 2014 9:34 PMReply

    Excellent article Kamms! Felt like I was right there in the room!

  • KAMMs | March 21, 2014 4:23 AM

    HEY MS. JOCELYN!

    Thanks for reading & for the feedback. :O)

    KAMMs

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