‘We’re part of this city’: Cast of ‘The Wire' used real Baltimoreans to shed light on unrest
Freddie Gray’s passing at the hands of Baltimore police officers on April 12 sparked protests and riots, but many residents do not believe that national media portrayals of neighborhoods being torn apart accurately told their stories.
Many of the cast members agree, saying that the national media was not listening to the residents of the neighborhoods in turmoil.
"The feeling is that media was not telling the full story, or they distorted what they saw and gave people repeated images that gave an impression of this community that was false," said Maria Broom, who played Councilwoman Marla Daniels on the show.
That’s where the stars of The Wire come in. They created an event called ‘Wired Up’ which has the expressed aim of recognizing the “‘unsung heroes' of Baltimore – those who serve inside and among the community, tirelessly and selflessly,” according to the event’s website.
The cast began delivering monologues on Saturday at 3:00pm to voice stories from the residents of the Penn North, the neighborhood which is considered to be the ground zero of the riots.
"We lived here while we were shooting and became a part of these communities. There's a real core group of us who feel parts of Baltimore are woven into who we are as result of the time we spent here," said Sonja Sohn, who played Detective Shakima Greggs on the series, reported the Baltimore Sun.
Surprisingly, Hollywood did not profit off the reunion of the legendary series – ‘Wired Up’ was purely a charitable effort.
"One thing we as artists can give back is that we know the power of storytelling," she added. "We know how it heals and radiates outward and what it inspires in other people. And so, we're going to give a platform to these folks who felt they were not being heard."
The HBO series ended seven years ago after a five season run and as has had a cult following ever since, with some ranking one the greatest television series of all time. The cast reunited this past weekend at Baltimore’s signature Artscape event, which is one of the largest public arts gatherings in the nation.
In addition to Broom and Sohn, other actors who attended were Seth Gilliam, Chad L. Coleman, Andre Royo, Felicia Pearson, Trisan Wilds, Michael Kenneth Williams, Jaime Hector, Gbenga Akkinagbe, Larry Gilliard Jr. and Chad L. Coleman.
"The fact that it's the people from 'The Wire' doing this… it's going to get attention," Genard “Shadow” Barr, an 18-year-old resident of Penn North said before the event. "They're able to take and represent the voices in an exciting way. The stories are engaging, and now they are going to be told with the help of professionals."
"We feel we're part of this city. Baltimore has a love-hate relationship with 'The Wire.' But that's sort of irrelevant to how we feel about Baltimore,” Sohn said. “We love it and want to support the people here who are going to have to be super-active going forward if true transformation and change is going to come."