‘In Contempt’ – Ash plays it brash in BET legal drama

Erica Ash of "In Contempt," premiering Tuesday on BET
Erica Ash of “In Contempt,” premiering Tuesday on BET

Q: Is it fun saying the things your outspoken public defender character gets away with in BET’s “In Contempt”?

A: Yeah. I think that might be the through line of my career, is that I don’t play a quiet character. I play those characters that say the things that need to be said. And, yes, it is a lot of fun because in my real life, believe it or not, I do have boundaries and scruples when it comes to speaking to people. And so sometimes I’ll pretend like I’m in character in my real life and say the things that need to be said, and blame it on prep work.

Q: In researching your role, did you fall back on other TV legal dramas for reference?

A: I have to say that I normally don’t like to watch other shows similar to mine when I’m preparing for it, because I don’t want to adopt that. And as an Army brat, that’s just something that I naturally gravitate towards. So I try to steer clear of that.

I will say this, the choices that my character had to make in this show weren’t always the popular choice. And sometimes the things she had to do on behalf of her client, made me take pause and wonder, do I like her? Am I going to root for her in this episode? And it frightened me, because it’s making the decision to tell the truth, regardless of how it comes across.

And one character that I did appreciate having seen in making these kinds of choices and having to do the work behind that, is Viola Davis in “How to Get Away With Murder,” because I watched her make some unpopular choices, and I saw how the audience reacted to that, and I saw where it got her, in terms of that. And I thought, I can do this. So in that sense, yes.

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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