Anthony Anderson Talks His Hit Web Series Drama 'Anacostia', Working with Martha Byrne & Elizabeth Hubbard, His Amazing Journey & More! (EXCLUSIVE) Read more here--->>>
#DontSleepOnDigital; Anacostia The Series
We talked to the creator, director, writer who also stars in the multi-award winner web drama series, Anacostia, Anthony Anderson. We talked to Anthony about Anacostia, working with the legends Martha Byrne and Elizabeth Hubbard, his struggles, his biggest disappointment and more. One thing became very apparent while we talked to Anthony. Anthony is a visionary. He is not living his life looking around to see what others are doing. He lives his life looking around to see what others aren't doing that needs to be done and he does that. For instance, Anthony is the brainchild of the Capital City Web Awards. These awards "provide a platform that is long overdue to award those creators of color that are often unnoticed and underappreciated." The first annual highly successful Capital City Web Awards were recently held in Washington D.C on August 17, 2019.
This is good soap people. It has everything you want and love in a soap; the heroines, villains, the cra-cra storylines (in the best of ways) and the seamless weaving of characters and storylines throughout the canvas all leading to well-orchestrated umbrella storylines. Yes! Anacostia is a soap opera people.
Anthony didn't dream of writing a soap opera (even though he has been an avid soaper since his youth). He didn't have plans to write anything really. Anthony wanted to be a music video dancer. But you know what we always say, fate and destiny can often time have plans of their own. This was the case for Anthony. Fate and destiny wasted no time in steering Anthony in the direction he was born to go. On the set of his very first music video, dancing for DMX, Anthony injured his knee and had to have emergency surgery. While rehabilitating, his agent told Anthony he needed a Plan B. Anthony started off booking commercials and then booked indie films. He loved it. He loved the work so much he penned his own indie film, The Ties That Bind, which was very successful on the indie circuits.
Fresh off the success of The Ties that Bind Anthony started penning another film when his friend asked him if he had ever heard of something called a "web series." Anthony hadn't. That was ten years ago very few of us had. She suggested he turn his film into a web series. Anthony always willing to try something new, converted his material to a web series format. Then he called every person he had worked with before to help him. He called directors, camera, sound and lighting professionals and all of them gave him the same answer, "no". A discouraged Anthony was ready to return to his original plan of another indie film when that same friend asked him the magic question; "Why don't you just do it yourself?" Why not indeed.
Anthony went to work; he put out casting calls, he called actors and actresses that he had worked with, he held auditions, he hired a videographer and he started canvassing neighborhoods for filming. He went to work. His work paid off. Anacostia took to the screen and it caught on. This was all happening at the advent of Facebook and Twitter. The power of Social Media and its word of mouth advertising hadn't yet been fully realized. Regardless it was happening. People were watching, gravitating toward the show and spreading the word about Anacostia.
Anthony was unaware of what was happening until he literally met it face to face. He was in L.A. (his first trip there) for a film festival. He and Marion Akpan (the actress who plays Nancy on Anacostia) were in line in West Hollywood when they saw two ladies pointing and running. He and Marion were stretching their necks to see who was the nearby "star". They didn't have to look far. He and Marion were the stars. "Marion and I were standing in line in West Hollywood when two ladies come up to us running and pointing, 'Oh my God! It's Sean and Nancy! We love you guys!' Marion and I were like you all don't watch Anacostia in L.A.? They told us, 'Oh yes we do! We love it!' Anthony and Marion were blown away that people in California, literally on the other side of the country were not only watching the show but thought (rightfully so) that he and Marion were "stars."
That was the first time Anthony became aware that Anacostia was making a name for itself. But it was when the show received its first nomination that Anthony knew it was imperative that he step his and the show's game up. He watched other shows and observed that their overall look, quality, and feel were superior to Anacostia's. Anthony tells it like it is. Even in relation to his own show, he will be the first to admit that the show's production quality needed an upgrade. Anthony was also honest about it being hard to watch some of Anacostia's earlier shows. But our take is those are just as important because it exhibits, the progression and the growth of the show and Anthony's vision. And most importantly it shows, the intelligence, wisdom, and fortitude of a visionary who continues to personally evolve and improves on his product.
Anthony continued to improve on every aspect of the show's production. You can see the improvements over the course of the seasons. However, there is one thing that has remained consistent; the great storytelling. Mr. Anderson is a storyteller. He knows how to tell a story. He knows how to write layered storylines full of twists and turns just like we like it.
There were others liking it as well. At the Second Annual Indie Awards, Anthony and Anacostia's journey would go to a place that Anthony thought he could only dream about. The first person Anthony saw coming off of the elevator was none other than Martha Byrne (Lily, As the World Turns). "My mouth fell open. I was flabbergasted. She looked at me and said, 'Hi Anthony'. I thought to myself she doesn't me." She did. And she knew and loved Anacostia. Martha told Anthony she loved the show, she was interested in them doing something together on it and she would call Anthony to talk about it. Anthony thought Martha was just being nice. She was being nice and truthful at the same time. "She actually called me. She really wanted to be on the show. I told her about two characters I had in mind for her. She told me she liked the character of Alexis. I told her it's, 'yours.' She told me to send her some scripts. I had nothing. I wrote five scenes that night and sent them to Martha. She called me the next day and told me she was in."
Anthony told us the day Martha showed up on set for Season 3, everybody was there. No surprise there! "This was the first time we had an A list actress on the set of the show. We all watched in awe of how she worked. We were in awe of her methodology. We looked at how she turned her body, how she delivered her lines, how she prepped for her scenes; it was a master class. We had a cliffhanger for season 3. Martha told me, 'I don't know how you plan for the story to progress but if you want me to come back; I'll come back. You don't have to make this all about me. This is your parade. I'm just marching in it.'" OMG, we love Martha even more. Martha returned to the show and also came on board as an executive producer and as a writer.
Hold onto your hats. There is more. One day when Anthony and Martha were on the phone plotting season five Martha asked, "What do you think of Elizabeth Hubbard (Lucinda Walsh, As The World Turns) on Anacasotia?" What did he think about it?! Just like with Martha it was hard for Anthony, God Bless him, to wrap his head around such legends on his show. But again fate and destiny...Little did Anthony know it practically a done deal all he had to do was say yes. I mean, that was a given right? Two weeks later, Anthony and Martha were on their way to Elizabeth's home where they filmed all of Elizabeth's scenes. "We pulled up in Elizabeth's driveway at 7:30 in the morning. When I got out of the car I just stood there looking at her. She said, 'Well just don't stand there come here and say hello.'" That sounds like Lucinda! Lol. "It was just amazing to be behind the camera with Martha watching Elizabeth work. Elizabeth is the first actress to receive the Daytime Award for Lead Actress and she was there taping for my show." At lunch, Anthony was treated to stories from Elizabeth and Martha about their days at As The World Turns, their knowledge of the industry and Anthony got a peek at Elizabeth's two Emmy's.
What a ride it has been for Anthony. His journey has had the highest of the highs. Anthony won his first award for leading actor in 2011 at the 2nd Soap Indie Awards for his role as Sean Williams-Grey on Anacostia. Martha Bryne won the first-ever Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Performer in a New Approaches for Drama Series for her role as Alexis Jordan. That same year the show itself received its first Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding New Approaches for Drama Series. But at the same time, Anthony has had more than his fair share of struggles and disappointments. The first season filming Anacostia his car was repossessed. There were times he had to rely on favor more than money to get things done. Sometimes while the cast was on set of Anacostia lunch consisted of two dozen donuts with orange juice from the 7-11. Anthony candidly shared with us one of the greatest disappointments has been that he believes Anacostia hasn't received the recognition it deserves, given the success and the longevity of the show, from the press. With the success and longevity of Anacostia plus the awards garnered for the show, Anthony believes the show's coverage hasn't paralleled their success.
Notwithstanding, Anthony is extremely grateful and proud of the coverage and recognition the show has received. He's extremely pleased that there has been a shift away from the perception and coverage from Anacostia being "an urban or rural" show to that one of being a "drama show." "When they would first write about the show, they would call it an urban or rural series. I asked people to stop writing about the show that way. It was limiting. When you actually watch the show you will see it is for everyone. We focus on issues that are important and relevant to everybody. We address abuse. We show that it's not always physical and that words can hurt just as much. It's important how you treat your mate. We talk about self-love and accepting yourself as is even while you are working on whatever areas you want to improve. We have a model who lost her career because of drug abuse. She wants to go back to work. But her husband wants her to stay at home and start a family. We also tell the story of an openly LBGTQ man and we show there is more to him than just his sexuality. He goes through the same things everyone else goes through. We address issues that everyone can relate to."
Anthony has never taken a writing class. He writes from his imagination, his own experience and the experiences of others around him. It warms his heart when he receives messages that the audience is identifying with his characters. "As a writer that is all you can ever ask for." Anacostia is gearing up for the remaining episodes for season 6. "We have already filmed the first three episodes for season 6. We are pushing the envelope for the remaining episodes. This will be our most ambitious set of episodes yet."
Listen. Watch this show. The first full four seasons are available on YouTube. Season 5 is on Amazon Prime and the first few episodes of season 6 are on YouTube. It is soapy drama goodness.
We will conclude with Anthony's words. We think this encompasses everything good thing we learned about Anthony and this awesome show. "This show has taken me to places I'd never thought I'd go. It has introduced me to people I'd never thought I'd meet. I believe we have the greatest people. They are the greatest people I have worked with in my life. It's a blessing to have a great collaboration when you are working on set. We have had our struggles but nothing has stopped us. We always get the show done. I know God has been there with us. I believe he sees our struggle and he has and will continue to provide for us."
Thank you so much for speaking to us Anthony!
We can't wait to see what's next for the remaining episodes of Season 6!
Fam, watch Anacostia!
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