Dive deeper into the history of the iconic hip-hop group that was born right here in New York City in the newest season of “Wu-Tang: An American Saga.”
As the name suggests, “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” tells the story of the group the Wu-Tang Clan and their starting days in Staten Island. The second season of the show, created by Wu-Tang member RZA and writer Alex Tse, recently started airing on Hulu this month.
For the actors in the show, there can be more pressure to bring the characters to life because they are real people.
“There’s definitely more weight, [GZA] is an icon, a legend, a hip-hop pioneer that was raised in the city where I’m from,” said Johnell Young, who plays GZA/Gary Grice. “There’s a lot of pressure to get his mannerisms, his voice, and bring it to life for fans and himself.”
“For me, I’m so concerned about every detail of a person. In season one, a lot of us were nervous in our approach,” said Marcus Callender, who plays Wu-Tang producer Power Grant “I was kind of a bit worried about it. I eventually met the actual Power 7 eps in. What I had come to find out was that way they cast the show, it definitely cast in away all energetically feel like the people we play off the lip.”
“Wu-Tang is a part of the culture. The show tells a story that a lot of fans want to know, the ins and outs of one of the biggest outlets in hip hop,” said Damani D. Sease, who plays U-God/Lamont Jody Hawkins. “The voice part was most challenging, everyone in the group has something known for, and U-God is known for his bass-filled voice. Perfecting that the biggest thing for me.”
“It was more exciting being able to play such an iconic persona and I think that I didn’t spend too much time fanning over the moment and got straight to work,” said Siddiq Saunderson, who plays Ghostface Killah/Dennis Coles. “I was excited about utilizing my skills to tell a complex and nuanced story and best to serve the story and culture of Wu-Tang and the Wu family.”
The second season dives deeper into the music production side of Wu-Tang’s story, rather than the very beginnings which were explored in the first season.
“This is the season where you get the music. In season one, the takeaway was that people thought we get right into Wu-Tang and the music, but we’ve got to give context. This season gets the music,” said Callender. “For my character, people are going to learn the role Power plays. Unless you are a super fan, you probably don’t know who Power is, he is their executive producer. He’s not as much front and center as the group, but is very much involved with the Wu.”
For many of the cast members, coming together and performing helped really sink in the story and really started to give the story some more life.
“The moment where we were together on stage, that was a very iconic moment,” said Young. “This is what all the fans have been waiting for season one. When we actually filmed it, we got caught a moment of looking people in the chamber, we were just this generation’s Wu-Tang Clan. I can’t wait until people start seeing that.”
“When I was younger, I was always singing and dancing stuff. I wanted to do entertainment but didn’t know how to pursue it. I used to be a big fan of Tupac and stuff, so when I got into the acting world, I wanted to perform,” said Sease. “When we performing, it felt so real. I wasn’t acting, I was performing, I was so in character.”
However, for some, the intensity of telling the Wu-Tang Clan’s story really stayed with them by the end of filming the end of the season.
“There was some intensity that comes with this role. By end of the season, I was having difficulty sleeping because of some really intense dreams. I felt that pressure, my body on set doesn’t know I’m acting,” said Saunderson. “In a scene where we were shooting guns, it was tense, emotions were high. I was putting myself through those emotions, my mind knows I’m acting but my body is not aware. We put ourselves through a lot of stress, but the mind knows it’s not real.”
At the end of the season, you will truly see the Wu-Tang Clan come together and come into their own as a group through their work together.
“[The audience] can expect to see the brothers coming together,” said Saunderson. “I think the power of togetherness over trying to accomplish something major by yourself is a theme and a major part of the storytelling from season two.”
“People can expect to see the whole Clan come together. You can see everybody’s development of character, and the making of 36 Chambers, I can’t wait for the fans to see that,” said Sease.
“Comradery, brotherhood, love, disagreements, putting ego to the sides, focus. Most of all, the music, a lot of the music,” said Young.
“Wu-Tang: An American Saga” airs new episodes on Wednesdays on Hulu.