Articles: Christina Jackson Talks ‘Outsiders’




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By Samantha Ofole-Prince

Christina Jackson as Sally-Ann

When television viewers were introduced to Christina Jackson’s character Sally-Ann on WGN America’s “Outsiders,” she was a naïve store clerk, oblivious to the family of renegades living within miles of her mining town.

How times have changed.

Over several episodes of the engaging drama, Sally-Ann has not only met the tribal clan, a group of outsiders who live off the grid and above the law atop of Shay Mountain, but has embarked on a forbidden love affair with the young Hasil Farrell.

As anticipation builds for the season finale of “Outsiders,” a one-hour original drama that follows a tight-knit family fighting to preserve their unconventional lifestyle, Christina Jackson spoke to Samantha Ofole-Prince about the evolution of Sally-Ann.

The series, which premiered in January on WGN America, is already a success. What do you think keeps viewers coming back to watch each week?

The mystery and the intrigue. People want to know how the Farrells have been living without technology and living parallel to how society is without any desire to want to integrate. For audiences that’s a big draw. There is blood and the special effects and all of that incorporates into a pretty good hour on television on Tuesday night.

This is a community frozen in time that live off the grid and have their own tribal like rules and customs. As most of us couldn’t go a day without our devices, could you live that way?

If I lose my cellphone, I am not pressed to find it. I could crawl away in the woods somewhere and be in a community of people who just talk and feel and co-exist and live together, but I am always drawn back in on what I would be leaving behind such as other family members and what I would be missing.

Sally-Ann’s innocence is a big part of her character when we first meet her. Did you feel you were able to bring that to the role?

She isn’t much different from who I am and how I grew up. I grew up in a small town and I know what it’s like to be around people who are out of work and just trying to make it through so the similarities are how we grew up. I am pretty quiet which Sally-Ann is.

Kyle Gallner as Hasil

Her introduction to the Farrells comes when they raid her store and she eventually starts a romantic liaison with the inquisitive Hasil. What is it about Hasil that attracted her and makes audiences root for their relationship?

People like to watch individuals fall in love. You’ve never seen two people meet like Hasil and Sally-Ann. From those two worlds, under those circumstances and at that point in time. Hasil coming along at this point in her life and him pursuing her as avidly as he did brought something out of her. She’s kinda living this life of solitude and Hasil coming in was a whirlwind for her.

When we first met Sally-Ann she was this jaded store clerk with well-coifed braids, which is certainly a stark difference to who we saw on last week’s episode.

You are sort of seeing the strength of Sally-Ann. You are seeing her under pressure and seeing her make these decisions and are literally seeing the journey of a person evolve. Whether it’s because of love or circumstances, they just happen to be happening to her all at the same time. You are seeing her take on this protective role and the hair coming out and her getting out of the khakis and wearing more age appropriate clothes. All of these things are cool to watch and bring to life.

Christina Jackson as Sally-Ann and Kyle Gallner as Hasil

At the show’s core are a group of outsiders who don’t seem to care who they hurt in order to maintain their way of living. Why are good girls always attracted to bad guys?

Hasil’s not a bad guy. He might be a little jaded by the decisions that he is making to be with Sally-Ann, but I like Hasil the way he is because he is very honest and very free and very curious. I think the stigma of being a Farrell is what turns people off and that’s without them ever getting to know a Farrell. They just know what they have heard, how they look and dismiss them from that, which is why he’s so drawn to Sally-Ann because she didn’t’ do that.

You played ‘Chalky White’s teenage daughter in the HBO series ‘Boardwalk Empire’ and are now starring on yet another successful series. That has to be extremely gratifying.

I can’t be grateful enough. Boardwalk Empire was such a learning experience. Being able to be part of an ensemble cast like that which across the board has great acting, writing and great costumes and being able to portray a character who isn’t your stereotypical 1920s African-American girl is always a gift to me. Then to come to Outsiders where everyone of our cast is a really good choice for the characters they are playing is great.

Christina Jackson as Sally-Ann

Were you a little apprehensive coming from a series that aired on an established network to joining a series on a relatively new network?

No. HBO has a great legacy of great shows, documentaries and mini series and WGN America is now just starting, but if you turn on to WGN America on any given night where their programming is on, you are transported to a different point in time. Whether is Salem, Underground or Outsiders, which is the only show that is set in present day, but you still have a group of people who are living like its 200 years ago. WGN America is definitely on the track to being a network that is synonymous with good programming.

If you could change Sally-Ann in anyway, what would you change?

I would want her to be able to be in a situation where she could properly reciprocate the love and caring for Hasil as he has for her. Really be there for him in a time that he needs her. You can see that she cares and does the best that she can in conveying that, but it’s not an equal thing between them.

“Outsiders” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on WGN America.

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