TL Thompson (L) and Britney Adebumola play characters who return from the past in '4400.' Photo courtesy of The CW
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Actors Brittany Adebumola and TL Thompson say The CW's reboot of 4400, premiering Monday, allowed them to reflect on history.
In the sci-fi mystery drama, Shanice (Adebumola) and Dr. Andre Davis (Thompson) are among 4,400 people who disappear at various points in time and return simultaneously in 2021.
"Shanice was from 2005," Adebumola said on a recent Zoom panel. "I was 7 in 2005, and at that age, I was dancing in tap class."
Andre is a transgender man from 1920s Harlem. Thompson said the opportunity to represent such a character intrigued him.
"I haven't seen a fully fleshed-out Black trans male character," Thompson said. "That just seemed like that would just be so meaty. The costumes are fabulous. The music was wild. So was the dancing."
Adebumola, 23, said she does not remember much about 2005. In researching Shanice's era, she said she did not find 2005 to be significantly different from 2021.
Adebumola said she delved deeper into Shanice's past. Since Shanice was a lawyer in 2005 Detroit, she would have grown up in the '80s and '90s.
"Why is she so devoted to her community?" Adebumola asked. "What is it about Detroit and growing up in Detroit in the '80s and the '90s that has made her the way she is -- that made her go into law?"
Thompson said the 1920s required more research. When Andre appears in 2021, he still is a man of his era.
"I listened to a lot of '20s music, watched those crazy dances and did a lot of research into the Harlem renaissance," Thompson said. "It was interesting to go back and see what a Black man in the '20s would be experiencing as far as learning the medical field."
4400 is Thompson's first role on a series as a regular. Adebumola previously appeared on the Netflix series Grand Army.
The original series The 4400 aired from 2004 to 2007 on USA Network. 4400 features an all-new cast, with an emphasis on Black characters.
When Shanice returns, she seeks out her husband, Logan (Cory Jeacoma), and finds out he remarried. Shanice's daughter now is a teenager. Logan had assumed Shanice left him when she disappeared in 2005.
"Shanice is in a really tough spot," Adebumola said. "Her husband, her daughter, have come up with a sort of narrative in their head of why she disappeared, why she deserted them, why she abandoned them."
In 2005, Shanice is pulled from her car and lifted into the air on her way to work after returning from maternity leave. Adebumola said nobody witnessed the event to counter Logan's belief that Shanice left voluntarily.
Adebumola said Shanice will continue to try to convince her loved ones she did not abandon them. Shanice is not afraid to speak up to authority figures trying to corral the 4,400, Adebumola said, but Shanice also still copes with recent childbirth.
"She walks around like she's very sure of herself. but then she goes home and [she's] struggling with postpartum depression," Adebumola said. "Playing both sides of that coin also is just exciting to me."
4400 airs Mondays at 9 p.m. EDT on The CW.