Rapper/actor André 3000 (aka André Benjamin) has been cast in the second season of ABC’s acclaimed anthology crime drama series, American Crime .
The show’s riveting first season centered on race, class, and gender politics as it followed a racially charged murder and the subsequent trial in Modesto, California.
Season two will be set in Indianapolis, where the show’s central crime will focus on a high school boy who accuses several players on a private school’s championship basketball team of sexually assaulting him and taking photos and posting them online — exploring issues of social economics, education, and sexual orientation.
“We wanted a city that could represent America and could represent where we are now, in terms of being of a canvas of America,” says creator John Ridley ( 12 Years A Slave ).
Of American Crime ‘s brilliant main cast, Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), Timothy Hutton ( Leverage ), Regina King ( Ray ), Elvis Nolasco ( Oldboy ), Richard Cabral ( End of Watch ), and Lili Taylor ( The Conjuring ) will return for season two.
André and King will play parents of one of the teenage boys accused of the crime.
“As parents you’re absolutely tested as your kids stand accused,” Ridley says. “Everything you believe about them gets upended. People with money have the capacity to protect themselves from the law or use the law to prove their innocence in a way that people who don’t have money don’t.”
Taylor will portray the mother of the victim Connor Blaine (played by Connor Jessup ), while Huffman and Hutton will be headmaster and basketball coach at the private school where the incident happens.
“They both have vested interests, they both believe they’re putting the interests of their kids at heart,” Ridley reveals. “But there end up being some conflicts. Is one protecting the team more than the school? Is one protecting the institution more than these players?”
Nolasco will return as the principal of a public school that gets swept up as issues of education get raised.
“People have their opinions about public school vs. private school: Is one better set up to deal with students and their needs better than the other?” says Ridley.
Season two was originally conceived to be about a teenage girl who was assaulted but Ridley and his writers changed course as they started to develop the story.
“We really thought, if we were going to try to tell a story that is as provocative as it can be, are there other things that we can say?” he says. “We started looking into cases where there was peer-to-peer sexual assault among men. As difficult as it is for society to deal with it among women, for men, every single issue is magnified.”
In their research, they met with victims and families. “I’ve been doing this a long time, I’ve been in lot of writers’ rooms,” he says. “This is one of the most emotional rooms I’ve ever been in.”
Joey Pollari ( Avalon High ), Angelique Rivera , Hope Davis ( In Treatment ) and Faran Tahir ( Iron Man ) have also been cast in the upcoming season, which is set for a 2016 premiere.
American Crime recently earned ten 2015 Emmy Award nominations, including Outstanding Limited Series, Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special (Ridley), Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie (Huffman), Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie (Hutton), Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie (King), and Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie (Cabral).