LOS ANGELES– Some young people enjoy afterschool activities such as playing sports or being part of a debate team. Others prefer to do nothing but hang out with friends.
Hilde Lysiak spends her free time looking into criminal activities. The 14 year old has been working as a journalist since she was 9 publishing the Orange Street News, a local newspaper in Selinsgrove, PA. She is the youngest member of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Her story as an investigative reporter serves as the basis for the new Apple TV+ series “Home Before Dark.” All 10 episodes in the first season will be available starting April 4 on the streaming service. A second season had already been ordered.
The series shows what happens when Hilde (Brooklynn Prince) moves from Brooklyn to the small lakeside town her father left behind. Hilde becomes intrigued by a cold case that everyone in town, including her own father, has tried hard to bury.
Not everyone was excited about the young girl’s investigation.
Hilde says, “After I reported on the story of a murder, everybody in my town didn’t think that I should be doing it. Not everybody, but there were a lot of people commenting saying I should be playing with dolls and not reporting the news.
“I think that kids are a lot smarter than adults really give them credit for. A lot of parents tell their kids that they can do anything, but they won’t even let them cross the street by themselves. So, I think you really need to give them room to show what they can accomplish and what they can do.”
Her love of journalism came from her father who worked as a reporter for the New York Daily News. She would talk with her father about the stories he was writing but that changed when the family moved to Pennsylvania and her father quit his job.
Hilde was not ready to stop reporting and launched her publication. Initially, the stories were generic but she soon started looking into more series subjects.
Executive producer Dana Fox had been looking for a project that would feature a young female protagonist. The key was finding a way to give the character depth and not make it a show aimed only at a young audience.
Fox says, “We couldn’t get hooked into it until we knew the stuff about her and her father, and that he got really sad and disaffected with journalism and quit his job and went to this hometown, and basically Hilde said, ‘You may not be a journalist anymore, but I still am.’
“Her pure of love of journalism is what brought him back to wanting to be a reporter again and brought him sort of back to life. And for us that was the emotional core, because I think on a lot of levels we all kind of want to save our dads.”
It was one thing for Fox to find the right inspiration for the series but it was another to discover the right performer to play the role. The solution came with Florida native Brooklynn Prince who is best known for her work in the 2017 film “The Florida Project.” She’s been acting since the age of 2 from commercials for Chuck E. Cheese to the horror film “The Turning.”
It was equally important to find the right person to play Hilde’s father. Jim Sturgess – the British actor who starred in “Across the Universe” and “Cloud Atlas” – was cast.
Brooklynn and Stirgess formed an immediate bond forged by a shared love of the music of the Beatles and Queen. Between filming of scenes, the pair would break into song.
“Me and Jim have like that best friend bond that when we’re apart we’re absolutely teary. Like, we like just sit in our bed eating ice cream and just cry,” Brooklyn says.
The casting process was a little weird for Sturgess. He traveled to Los Angeles to read scenes with Brooklynn to see if they would have the right father-daughter chemistry. In the past, such auditions for Sturgess would be to find the chemistry with a romantic lead.
Fox confirms the chemistry that they saw with the pair from the beginning only got stronger when the filming started.
“I remember the end of the first season and everybody was like, ‘We got to get this girl home. She needs to like take a nap. Like, let’s really let her relax.’ And three days later I got a call from your mom and she said, ‘Oh, Brooklynn wants to get back to work. She misses the set. She misses Jim. She misses the family’,” Fox says. “It’s really sweet. She loves the work. What I love the most about Brooklynn and actually Hilde as well and what has been so inspirational to me is just like they have the strongest work ethic of anyone I’ve ever met.”