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Q&A: Colman Domingo

The multitalented performer on playwriting, The Birth of a Nation and the new season of Fear The Walking Dead

In his role on AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead, Colman Domingo plays a man who’s living at the beginning of the apocalypse. Considering the long, varied career that Domingo—an actor for stage and screen, a playwright and a director, among other things—has had, however, there’s very little doubt that he can survive whatever comes his way. Here, Domingo discusses his role (expanded in the upcoming second season of Fear as Victor Strand) and the other elements that are making for a very exciting year. 

The second season of Fear The Walking Dead is about to kick off, but you’ve also been working outside of TV. The play you wrote, Dot, just finished an Off-Broadway run. How do you find time to do all of these projects?

I’ve been a writer for about half my career, it’s just something that I have to make time for. So, even when I booked the series or I’m working on films, I always find time for my writing. It is sort of my hobby, and I’m grateful that my hobby is also part of my career; it’s how I tell stories. I’m having a really wonderful time in my career as an actor, but I also have to make sure that the team that I’m working with makes time for my writing and directing projects, because they feed me in a way that my acting career doesn’t. I love creating and bringing people to the party as a writer and a director and that’s a different skill set than what you use as an actor. 

You are having a wonderful time as an actor. How’d you get involved with Fear The Walking Dead?

It was actually simpler than I imagined. I just joined with the agency to represent me now, and the very first audition I went on [was for Fear]; they were very excited about this Walking Dead expansion. Now I had no idea about any of this, I was like, I don’t think that’s something for me but, who am I to say. So she sent me the material, and the material was so well written that the next morning I put myself on tape, sent it off and I didn’t think about it. I got a call that they were interested, and they made me an offer. It was actually pretty effortless, and it’s still very — I think the show runner and the writing team and our producers, they’re so respectful of artists, and they’re not making you jump through hoops. They sort of like see what you can do and your abilities, and they trust it and look forward to it. 

And you get to film in Baja California, Mexico. That can’t be bad. 

Honestly, I’ve never seen more sunrises or sunsets in my life, because our studio is on the water. It’s the old Fox studios where they shot Titanic and All is Lost, and it’s been nothing but a joy to discover Mexico by living there. The food is great, the people are great and I’m having the time of my life down there. The work is hard and grueling, but it’s exciting and you feel like your muscles are being flexed with different things. They’re working on an epic for each episode, which is exciting.

What’s in store for Victor this season?

He’s such strong character, with a strong mind, and here we are in an apocalypse. So, things must change, whether we want them to or not, and things you had control over yesterday you don’t have control over today. I think we’re seeing how these eight character collide, grow, change and shift, and the dial might turn in such a way that it’ll go to a place you never thought it would go to, but it has to for survival. So that’s what’s fascinating and daring about this season. 

Does it lead you to sometimes sit around and wonder how you would spend the last days if the world was ending? 

I think my last days would include a lot of tequila, but I just wonder what I would do. I think I would go along for the party a little bit and just see what’s gonna happen.

And then you’ve got some pretty exciting stuff coming up. It’s going to be a big year for you!

Yeah, I’m exciting! The Birth of A Nation comes out this fall, and I’m so excited about that film. I’m thrilled to be along for the ride on that one. I have some writing projects that I can’t really announce just yet but I have some exciting musical projects that I’ve been writing that I’m in the early stages of, pretty much at completion. It’s a great moment because, like any working actor will attest, it’s not always like this and right now I have agency in so many areas of my career, it’s thrilling. And hopefully I never take it for granted, hopefully, because I know that it could all be very different. I have many comrades who are just as talented, just as experienced, who may not be having the year that I’m having.

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