LOS ANGELES (KGET) – Fans of the ABC drama “For Life” will get to see the nine-year journey of how Aaron Wallace (Nicholas Pinnock) went from terrified new prisoner to attorney and social crusader. The episode debuts at 10 p.m. Tuesday, April 21, but if you miss it, it will be available on April 22 via On Demand and Hulu.
If you have not been watching the series, this is a good chance to get the backstory and then catch up with the previous 10 episodes.
Here’s a little help of you decide to watch the drama for the first time. “For Life” is a fictional serialized legal and family drama that was inspired by the life of Isaac Wright Jr. who was wrongfully accused and convicted of being the mastermind behind one of the largest drug distribution networks in the New York/New Jersey areas.
Wright, who represented himself in court, was given a life sentence. He continued to study the law and worked on his own appeal. At the same time, Wright worked as a prison paralegal and was able to win the freedom or get reduced sentences for 20 inmates. His conviction was overturned and the charges dismissed after he had spent seven years behind bars.
Executive producer, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson originally was pitched the idea by Wright of making his story into a feature film. Jackson’s initial reaction was that Wright’s story was too incredible to be true.
“When he was describing his life story, it was so vivid, and the timelines were right. And I was, like, ‘What the (expletive deleted) is going on?’ Because it was so clear that it was, like, ‘No, you are not telling me your life. You are telling me the story that you made up of your life’,” Jackson says. “I was googling it at the same time because I wasn’t believing everything he was saying.
“And I’m looking, and I’m going, ‘Yeah, so you ditched it. It really did happen.’ It’s, like, ‘Man, this is going to work. This is going to be really big.”
Wright’s story focuses on how Aaron Wallace became a lawyer litigating cases for other inmates while fighting to overturn his own life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. His quest for freedom is driven by his desperate desire to get back to the family he loves that includes his estranged wife (Joy Bryant) and daughter (Tyla Harris).
The series is a fictional story but that didn’t stop Pinnock (“Counterpart”) from spending time with Wright in an effort to shape his performance. Pinnock’s goal was to grab an essence of who Wright was and add that to what he, the director and writers used to create Wallace.
Pinnock says that included the way Wright deals with his composure, levelheadedness and steady demeanor. That was something Pinnock felt was important to capture in his performance.
Wright says Pinnock did a superb job in creating the role.
“Watching Nicholas perform, it was a multifaceted experience for me. When I went through what I was going through in prison, one of the things that was very, very distracting that it’s a very, very dangerous environment,” Wright says. “And 24 hours to a day, there’s these distractions that deal with your focus. So, for me, moving through that process, I had to develop such an intense focus that I had to kind of change my character and be someone else.
“I spent so much time fighting that I did not really consider what I was going through until all these years later when I had the opportunity to be on set and to watch Nicholas perform. For the first time, in watching Nicholas’ performance, I was able to see myself as a third person. And the performance was to the extent that it became a therapeutic process for me to watch Nicholas and to move through episode by episode with Nicholas. So yes, he’s an incredible actor, but for me, he was more than just an actor. He was somebody that allowed me to reflect on the pain that I was going through at that time.”
“For Life” also stars Indira Varma as Safiya Masry, Mary Stuart Masterson as Anya Harrison, Boris McGiver as DA Maskins, Glenn Fleshler as Frank Foster, Dorian Missick as Jamal Bishop and Timothy Busfield as Henry Roswell.