“We see over the course of Season 1 this inner strength come out in Rosalee, and by the beginning of Season 2, she becomes a solider and she become so determined to go back and get her family back, out of this bondage,” Underground star Jurnee Smollett-Bell says of her character during our sit-down for Deadline’s Next Generation TV interview series.
“It was really important to us all honestly to see this transformation happen,” she added of Rosalee and the narrative thrust of the Sony Pictures TV-distributed drama series from creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, which just wrapped its second season. “From her to go from this shy house girl, who has never stepped outside the plantation, to someone who has the guts to do it, despite her fears.”
As fans of Underground know, the action-heavy debut of Season 2 on March 8 saw Smollett-Bell’s Rosalee join with real-life abolitionist Harriet Tubman, played by Aisha Hinds, in the battle against slavery and efforts to free those brutally held as property in the Southern states. Amid all the risks, heartbreak and revelations, what many may not know is that Smollett-Bell was very pregnant when filming began in Georgia.
“We started shooting when I was 7 months pregnant,” she reveals of a season that saw her character among other intense scenes submerged in water, caked in mud and fighting off bounty hunters. “The scripts weren’t entirely even finished when we were shooting because we were working up against the clock to shoot me out, because I had to go have my baby.”
She added: “In spite of me being pregnant, I felt so strong. The Mama Bear spirit that we explore with Rosalee …I felt it as well, where you feel that you can really do the impossible.”
Underground is executive produced by Green, Pokaski, Anthony Hemingway, John Legend and Mike Jackson.
Today’s interview marks our third installment of the Next Generation TV video series. Watch last week’s interview with One Day At A Time’s Justina Machado here and the May 9 chat with Abigail Spencer of NBC’s now-renewed Timeless here. Then join us each Tuesday for a new conversation with one of the leading new talents in the industry.