If you’re a fan of television shows that reel you in and have you glued episode to episode, then you are most definitely a fan of “Snowfall.”
Currently knee-deep in their fourth season, the FX series chronicles the life of Franklin Saint (played by Damson Idris), as he navigates the crack epidemic in the 80’s.
Growing up in South Central Los Angeles is a battle in itself, and Franklin Saint paints the picture of someone doing whatever he can do to survive and make it out. While business is booming, it’s hard not to see the downsides of hustling crack cocaine, with addiction and violence at an all-time high.
With Season 4 specifically, there seems to be outright war.
Walter Mosley, the genius who wrote “Snowfall” and executive produced the show alongside the late great John Singleton, is an established author who has written screenplays, poems, articles, and over 60
He is a true writer if there ever was one.
AllHipHop: How does it feel to have “Snowfall” take off the way it did? From my peers alone, they say it’s the best show out right now.
Walter Mosley: I love “Snowfall.” It’s a great show, I’ve been working on it for the last 5 years. It’s been a great deal of fun. Really, five years ago, John Singleton called me and says “Walter listen, I’m doing this television show. I need you in the room.” I said “well John, I don’t know how to write television.” He goes, “that’s okay you don’t have to write, just sit in there. Back me up.” [laughs] I said “okay.” I sat around long enough, the head writer said “as long as you’re going to be here, why don’t you write something?” So I started writing for them. It’s fun, and it’s a good show. It’s a show where people want to hear what they believe is going on in the world. Since most things, most places, most events say the opposite, it’s nice for people who either experienced it or who have relatives that experienced it, to hear about that life. That world.
AllHipHop: What’re you most excited for, approaching the Season 4 finale?
Walter Mosley: Oh my gosh, it’s almost over already. It’s fun, I think it’s great. It’s wonderful to have the development of the characters, to see where they’re going, to see where they end up. It’s like regular life, so many shows where people do the same things continually. Even though they’re either drug dealers or fighting drug dealers, their lives are continually changing. Their understanding of the world is continually changing. Most people, that’s how they live. Our lives are changing all the time.
AllHipHop: The “Snowfall” text changes colors and textures as the seasons go on. What’s the significance?
Walter Mosley: I know! It’s funny because there’s so many people. To make a television show, hundreds of people work on it. I look at that, I don’t have anything to do with the text. I’m always really happy when I see them. I just saw Episode 8 and went “wow, that’s so interesting!” That’s the way it is.
AllHipHop: Do you relate to being around during the crack epidemic?
Walter Mosley: You know, that’s what John asked me. When he called me, he said “you were here then?” I said “no I wasn’t John,” I was on the East Coast. In northern New England, I was in the woods. Because I’m 10 years older than he was, so I missed the crack epidemic. What I know is South Central L.A, being born and raised there. I spent a great deal of my time there before going off into the world.
AllHipHop: Did you know a lot about the CIA’s involvement before writing the show?
Walter Mosley: Oh yeah. You know the CIA were involved. I wasn’t there but you knew there’s no way all of this cocaine all of a sudden found its way into South Central. That’s not a mistake, all these weapons finding their way into South Central. That didn’t just happen. That didn’t happen in the Mafia, certainly not going to happen in South Central L.A. It’s so interesting now. There are certain people when I talk about it: “so we’re talking about how the CIA was involved…” Then I go, “CIA?! No, they work for the government. They don’t deal drugs.” [laughs] It’s fun to bring up to people, even if they feel like it never really happened. There’s still a tiny touch of suspicion.
AllHipHop: How was it developing the characters from season to season?
Walter Mosley: The characters, it’s almost from episode to episode. There’s Season 1, 2, 3, 4 to see what’s happening with them, but for us sitting in the writer’s room, every day we’re thinking something new, something different, something more advanced or evolved for characters. Deciding this character’s going to die, and that character’s going to whatever. The hardest thing certainly is Franklin, to understand who he is because his nature is hidden. Who he is, is really an enigma. It’s been a great deal for him dealing with that.
AllHipHop: What’s your favorite thing about Franklin?
Walter Mosley: There’s the actor of course, and my favorite thing about him is that he’s English, which is wonderful. The idea of the character is how lost he is. For me, he’s really a lost character. He’s powerful, he’s intelligent, he’s beautiful, but through all of that, he doesn’t really know how to put things together. In his head he knows, but in the world he doesn’t. In a way he’s kind of helpless, and I love that about him.
AllHipHop: Talk about the growth of Franklin from asking his cousin for advice to being the boss himself.
Walter Mosley: He was always going to be the boss, even when he’s asking advice. Even when he goes to his uncle and his aunt, they help him get into the business, but just like that he’s beyond them. Even the fact he’s thinking about doing it, is beyond them. He’s one of those people, you meet him and say “oh, this is a leader. This is a person who’s going to make things happen, he’s not going to follow events.” From the beginning, from the three creators of the show, were always going to go in that direction so it wasn’t so much of a surprise. The surprise is what he’s willing to do, who he’s willing to go up against, who he’s willing to fight, who he’s willing to kill. Really, it’s a crazy world. You have a part of Los Angeles that’s not really governed by the police, certainly not then. You try to make your own way and all of a sudden, the police don’t like you. You didn’t mind when I was fighting in the street or killing somebody over my girlfriend, but now that I’m making money, you’re mad at me. What’s up with that?
AllHipHop: What’s your favorite part of all Season 4?
Walter Mosley: The fact that the whole season is a war. There’s a war going on here, there’s a war going on in South America. There’s a war in between different cultures and the gangs, it hasn’t been that before. It’s been individual gangsterism, but this is an all-out war and it’s hard to understand who wins. Maybe even nobody wins. You keep on working, you keep on struggling, but it’s a hard life.
AllHipHop: How was it filming after the passing of John Singleton?
Walter Mosley: John’s a really interesting guy. He was very concerned about his community, that part of Los Angeles, his culture, Black people. He wasn’t the guy who needed to own things. He didn’t need to remind people: “I did this, I did that.” He wasn’t really that guy. The writers in the room, he was happy to pass on to us from the very beginning what we’re doing. He said “well listen, what did you write about today Walter?” I said “well you know, I got to Episode 6 or 8.” He goes “so you got some sex and violence in there? I need some of that.” I said “yeah John, I think I got it.” He said “okay, that’s good.” He’d read it and come to me the next day: “look, this is really good. I didn’t really understand this or that.” But it wasn’t like he needed me to somehow have him lead and I’d be in darkness. When he died it was really sad, but this show was going to go on anyway because we knew what we’re doing.
AllHipHop: Favorite episode this season and why?
Walter Mosley: Hmmm, we haven’t seen my favorite episode this season. I can’t tell you about it because it’s a secret. [laughs]
AllHipHop: What’s going to happen Walter?
Walter Mosley: Things are going to happen, that’s all I can you. It is my favorite. It usually is tense, we usually build to a crescendo. It’s really nice.
AllHipHop: How do you feel about Freeway Rick Ross saying you guys stole his story?
Walter Mosley: Listen, I know other people do know who he is and what he did, but it hasn’t been a part of my experience. A lot of people worked in drugs and did a lot of stuff in LA. We’re telling a story. We talked to lots of people, not him, but we talked to lots of people about what their experience was. John was there, John brought a lot of people in that we talked to. Of course, we’ve been dealing all over the place. In the Barrio, talking about the CIA and all that stuff. So I can’t say.
AllHipHop: I’m actually interviewing Amin and Michael, do you have any questions for them that you might think would make for an interesting story?
Walter Mosley: That sounds great, that sounds wonderful. They’re really wonderful actors. They have their characters, so you can ask them about that. You can ask them about anything. One of the interesting things, not Michael but most of the actors were new to big-time performance, and they’ve been great. They’re really interesting, really intelligent people, you’re going to have great fun. I don’t know how you’re going to talk to 2 people in such a short period of time, they have so much to say.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let us know?
Walter Mosley: No, I keep everything a secret as you know. The show’s going really great and it’s going to continue. I know it’s going to continue into a fifth season, I’m very happy about trying to talk about Los Angeles then and there.