As the COVID-19 pandemic threw the world into months of uncertainty, the freshman season of ABC’s For Life left viewers with questions about what awaits wrongfully convicted inmate-turned lawyer Aaron Wallace in the criminal justice system. Executive producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson revealed on Wednesday that the For Life season 2 premiere is set to explore the issues and worries that await the show’s protagonist on the outside world.
During a virtual panel, in which he joined creator Hank Steinberg, lead actor and producer Nicholas Pinnock, star Indira Varma and inspiration/ writer-producer Isaac Jackson Wright Jr., Jackson said For Life‘s sophomore season will take a deep dive into Aaron Wallace’s re-entering society. After having spent at least nine years behind bars, Pinnock’s lead character will experience the “the belly of the beast and worst of the worst – the trauma from that can be like a soldier reentering society after war,” Jackson said.
Based on Wright’s own personal experience with the criminal justice system, ABC’s timely and topical drama follows a wrongfully convicted man who becomes a lawyer litigating cases for other inmates while fighting to overturn his own life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. While For Life may not be a documentary around Wright’s life experiences and efforts to expose the issues in the legal system, Steinberg said the lawyer’s authentic story is what makes the series impactful.
“I don’t really think I would’ve connected to it or thought it was that great of an idea,” Steinberg said of a possible fictional script. “Hearing the specificity of Isaac talk about [his time]…that’s what makes it feel real and textured. His experience is infused all over the scripts themselves, in a way that elevates it.”
Pinnock, who has also taken on producing duties, said that consulting with Wright about his time in prison and his motivations has helped him further Aaron Wallace for season 2. As Wright had to adapt the world around him following his years-long prison sentence, Pinnock’s Aaron will have to adapt to a new environment that’s reflective of reality as he re-enters society during the COVID-19 pandemic and at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“He’s constantly having to navigate himself through those journeys, everything he does on the outside,” Pinnock teased about Aaron. “How is he feeling? How is he navigating? He’s constantly thinking about these things.”
Varma, who stars as Safiya Masry, said that the ABC series allows audiences to hear ” the voices of people who are not always heard” and the cries for justice that are often subdued or ignored. While legal injustice against members of the Black community may take center stage in the show, Jackson attributed a rise in general acknowledgement of such issues to social media and phones.
With For Life returning to TV as calls for justice and Black Lives Matter demonstrations continue across the nation, Jackson says “the stars aligned enough” for the series to make a comeback during the “erupting” conversations about race. Wright also said that the series return and its inherent truth also share a more universal message.
“Truth of the story not only brings life to these issues but it also shows anything is possible, no matter what your color is,” he said during the panel “All things are possible in this system and in this country if you put your mind to it.”
For Life returns to ABC on Wednesday Nov. 18 at 10 p.m. EST.
Steinberg, Wright Jr., Jackson and his G-Unit Film & Television production company executive produce alongside Doug Robinson and Alison Greenspan via Doug Robinson Productions and Russell Fine. For Life is a co-production of Sony Pictures Television Inc. and ABC Signature.
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