Fishback also discusses why she’s inspired by Meryl Streep.

It’s about time everyone knew the name Dominique Fishback. She shines in Night Comes On, made a huge impression HBO’s The Deuce, and now she stars alongside Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Standfield in awards season hopeful, Judas and the Black Messiah. The Shaka King-directed film tells the true story of Fred Hampton (Kaluuya), the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther party. Much of the movie focuses on his powerful voice within the movement and how that caught the eye of the FBI, but it’s Fishback’s work as Hampton’s fiancée, Deborah Johnson (now Akua Njeri), that adds an especially moving intimacy to the story.

With the release of Judas and the Black Messiah right around the corner, Fishback was an absolute must for an episode of Collider Ladies Night. We’ll have the full conversation for you closer to the film’s release on HBO Max on February 12th, but right now we’re putting the spotlight on a portion of the conversation that sheds some light on what inspires Fishback and her work ethic.

Daniel Kaluuya and Dominique Fishback in Judas and the Black Messiah
Image via Warner Bros.

While chatting about her filmography, she mentioned that her role on The Deuce was actually written for her. On top of that, King had Fishback in mind for the role of Deborah in Judas and the Black Messiah. How does being the top choice for a role impact Fishback’s approach to a project? Here’s what she said:

“The blessing is that I didn’t feel any pressure for that kind of thing. I knew that I had been working so long and so hard that when I was in school and it was time to get an agent, I would be like, ‘You know what? I’m just gonna focus on the craft.’ Because I love Meryl Streep, right? She transforms in every single thing that she does and I used to be like, ‘Even if somebody doesn’t like the particular movie that she does, they can’t say she can’t act.’ You will never be able to say that, and so I want to be like that. So I’m thinking about that in terms of the craft, and so if [The Deuce co-creator] David Simon who’s worked with so many greats sees this in me and says, ‘This is for you if you want it,’ why would I question myself? I’m not gonna second guess what I’m doing. I’m just gonna continue to do it. If I get a little self-conscious, what can I do? I can go back to the drawing board, journal as my character because that’s what got me here, summarize each scene because that’s what got me here, put a song to each scene because that’s what got me here. As long as I stay true to the work of it, then I don’t have to be afraid of living up to the occasion or perception that I’ve probably put on somebody else about me that they’re probably not even thinking of.”

Daniel Kaluuya and Dominique Fishback in Judas and the Black Messiah
Image via Warner Bros.

As for Judas and the Black Messiah specifically, scoring her role was a thrill for many reasons, a standout being that being a top choice for the part meant that her hard work was seen.

“When Shaka came to me about that, I was definitely floored by that one. There were already so many greats attached. Daniel Kaluuya was attached to it, LaKeith, freaking Ryan Coogler was producing it, Charles King and he wants to get Jesse Plemons and he’s saying, ‘This is for you?’ I was like, ‘Oh my god!’ So I wasn’t so much nervous. I was just more honored. I felt seen. Sometimes we’re doing work for so long and you can be looked over for a certain role or be like, ‘I don’t understand. I’m working so hard. I’m showing this aspect of me. I’m showing this thing. I’m really trying. I’m trying to do something different. Is anybody seeing this?’ And to know that somebody was seeing me, and that he had seen me in Show Me A Hero. So he knew about me for a long time.”

Take a cue from Shaka King and do check out some of Fishback’s other work while we wait for Judas and the Black Messiah’s February 12th HBO Max release. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for Fishback’s full episode of Collider Ladies Night dropping that week. We discuss how Kathy Najimy supported Fishback’s career, what it was like working opposite Donnie Wahlberg on Blue Bloods, why Jamie Foxx made such a huge impression on her while making Project Power and so much more!

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