‘Cloak & Dagger’ stars are happy the series is tackling real issues

Olivia Holt arrives at the table in The Little Jewel of New Orleans restaurant a few minutes before her “Cloak & Dagger” co-star, Aubrey Joseph. She jokes that the delay was planned to create the same anticipation that comes in the first few episodes of the new Freeform series. 

Although Holt and Joseph play characters who are linked together through a years-ago accident that leaves them both with superpowers (he’s the cloak and she’s the dagger), viewers won’t get to see them work together for several weeks. Once they do get together, the young actors get to show off the chemistry that earned them the role in the latest TV series based on a Marvel Comics property.

Holt likes that “Cloak & Dagger” starts as a slow boil.

“I always like when I am watching a TV series or a film where you get to understand the characters as individuals first. I think it makes you respect them and empathize with them a little more,” Holt says. “I personally like that it took a minute to get to know them a little more because they are very complicated individuals to begin with.”

Joseph adds if the series started with them together right out of the gate, it would ruin the element of how much the two young people need each other. The relationship isn’t just built on how he can engulf others in total darkness and she can create light daggers, but from a need by both to find someone to trust.

The TV series has taken great liberties with the origin story first presented in 1982 in issue No. 64 of “Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man,” but the primary element of two young people dealing with layers of angst while coming to terms with their special abilities is both a thread taken from the comic books and fits Freeform’s programming style. Holt’s Tandy Bowen is dealing with the continuing aftermath of the tragic death of her father and a worthless mother (Andrea Roth), while Joseph’s Tyrone Johnson has been emotionally scarred by watching a family member gunned down by the police.

“I think the timing is just right,” Joseph says. “Black men in general have been dehumanized and females minimized. This is the jump start for a new normal. We are seeing a lot more black heroes and females with power. I feel like this show is going to impact people so deeply.

“Having a young black male to look up to, as far as I am concerned, is unreal.”

Holt stresses “Cloak & Dagger” didn’t come into existence just so there would be more diverse superheroes — although that is a major plus — but it’s designed to have the pair deal with real world problems. The show may be set in a world of superpowers, but each story is grounded.

“We focus on a lot of heavy topics, from sexual assault to police brutality,” Holt says. “It is interesting timing that while we were in New Orleans shooting the show, all the movements started in the country. I think we started feeling far more passionate about the writing because a lot of what was happening was already there in the scripts.

“It is so important for us to tell a real story. Don’t glamorize it. Don’t sugarcoat it. The fact we get to start a conversation about something real that is happening in society right now is very important to us. We want to make people feel like they are not alone. As millennials, we want our generation to have a voice and that is one of the goals of the show.”

The co-stars are united in their ideals for the show, but come to the project from very different backgrounds. The 19-year-old Holt not only has starred in several TV series (“Kickin’ It”) and become the face for Neutrogena, she’s also released a debut EP. While filming “Cloak & Dagger,” Holt found a recording studio and spent a lot of her free time working on new music.

Joseph, 20, is a graduate of the Professional Performing Arts School in New York and made his Broadway debut as Young Simba in “Disney’s The Lion King.” He’s had guest starring spots on HBO’s “The Night Of” and NBC’s “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.”

Now they are linked by a project that makes them part of the growing superhero world of TV and film. Even before the first episode aired, they got reactions to the series through social media.

Holt says, “Everyone seems really stoked about it. Even those who have been fans of the comics for so many years are excited to see what we are now bringing to the table in a live-action way. We are just grateful to get to portray these characters and their stories and the journey they go on not only as a team but as individuals.”

 

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