(Photo: BBC America)
BBC America's new musical drama series Mood is a show like no other. Rising star Nicôle Lecky plays Sasha Clayton, an aspiring singer-songwriter who's drawn into the worlds of social media influencing and online sex work. Lecky, who also wrote the series based on her acclaimed one-woman play Superhoe, interviewed dozens of real-life sex workers to ensure that Sasha's story is firmly rooted in authenticity. She also wrote and recorded stunning original songs for the series.
One of Mood's executive producers is Margery Bone, whose previous TV credits include the BBC's The Last Post (which starred Jessie Buckley) and the comedy-drama series Undercover. Bone knew she wanted to work with Lecky on this TV series as soon as she read her Superhoe script. "This incredibly bold voice just bounced off the page, so we jumped on it straight away!" she recalls.
As the show's executive producer, Bone says her biggest challenge was overseeing Mood's London-based shoot during a pandemic. "Because everyone [in the UK] was suddenly shooting at the same time, there were huge amounts of movement in terms of crew members coming and going," she says. "And obviously, we had to follow all the COVID restrictions to make sure people were safe. I kept saying to Nicôle, 'It's not always like this!'"
Here, she talks about Lecky's unique point of view and how it's led to a refreshing, revealing, and very powerful new drama series.
What was it about Sasha that you found so compelling when you read Nicôle's Superhoe script?
I mean, she's very funny. And she's so vulnerable and yet so unafraid at the same time. She's someone who really hasn't got much at all – or much in the way of firm ground beneath her feet – and so she survives by having such attitude. And in some ways, you might think she's a real pain for having that attitude. But as you go on this journey with her, you realize that actually, it's kind of all she's got.
Without giving too much away, how would you describe the journey she goes on?
I think what really spoke to Nicole when she was researching – and what really spoke to me reading it – was the fact it's a story about young women having dreams and ambitions in our contemporary world. There are so many options with social media now in terms of how you portray yourself and how that can be monetized. Sex work is one of those options, and it felt like a really interesting and powerful way to tell a young person's "finding their way in the world" story.
It definitely feels like a story we haven't seen on screen before.
I think what Nicole does so brilliantly is look at the image you sell – literally sell – and then look at the reality of who you are behind that. You know, these young women are in lots of ways really in control of their lives. There are no pimps in this show, really. But Nicole wanted to look at this gap that she felt was there. The young women [she spoke to for research] often talked about wanting to be a singer or actress or artist of some kind. They didn't necessarily always set out to do sex work. And ultimately, that [sex work] often came down to economic necessity.
Nicole has said the show offers a very different portrayal of Britishness from what we're normally sold. Is that something that appealed to you as well?
Yes, and I think it's a portrayal of London that we haven't seen before. It felt really refreshing to have this incredibly contemporary, very diverse portrayal of London where different people are occupying very close spaces – I mean, you can go from such wealth to such poverty very quickly. And it shows from a young person's point of view how tough it is to survive. I think on the whole our society is incredibly unequal and a lot of people are struggling right now. It doesn't feel like young people are getting a good break in the grand scheme of things, and this show is very honest about that.
What do you hope people take away from the series?
I mean, I love the fact that it's such a rollercoaster ride. I think [as a viewer] you are really with Sasha, but you're also going "Oh God, what's going to happen next?" I hope the unexpectedness of that journey is what will appeal to people because it's what took my breath away. There's no question it goes to some dark places, but it's also got such heart. I also hope people really enjoy the humanity and joy of the show's big musical pieces and want to go away and listen to the soundtrack.
Mood continues Sunday at 10pm EST on BBC America and AMC+
We love hearing about the making of the show from Margery. Are you in the mood for more Mood!?