Niecy Nash-Betts, Alexi Hawley, and Terence Paul Winter discuss the creation of the new ABC spinoff series, “Rookie:FEDS” and how Nash-Bett’s real life inspired the character of Simone.
I asked Winter and Hawley what their inspiration was in creating the series, especially in creating the character of Simone, a middle-aged black woman in these particular circumstances. There are many ways this series could have gone, but the choice per Hawley and Winter was deliberate, especially coming off of 2020 and the racial reckoning.
Hawley explained that you couldn’t do a police show in 2022 without addressing the injustice that can accompany this line of work.
“I just think that as a police show today, we’re just trying to be as self-aware as we can. This started back on “The Rookie,” from its inception, but after George Floyd was killed, we took a hard look at ourselves and the stories we had told. We actually tasked a few writers with doing a report card, like going back through all our episodes. And asking, how did we do? For the most part, we did really well because we had always tried to be aspirational about cops doing things the right way. But at the same time, we were also portraying a version of policing that is alien to a big part of the population.”
Hawley provided more details, “and so that was sort of our mission starting in season three, how do we talk about policing? How do we have our characters grounded more in the real world of policing and the issues from systemic injustice to police union issues and all that kind of stuff? So it was a natural progression for us going into FEDS, especially with Niecey as our star, to lean into that. I mean, the FBI has a long history of injustice and intemperance, so how do we bring a character like Niecey into that world and put her in a special unit that is trying to shake things up? And just have her be a woman who’s used to being her own advocate because she had to be. How do you put her in that world and have her navigate through that? And at the same time, be a show that people look forward to watching it and having fun with. It’s an escapist, and it’s sort of a lot to carry. But I feel like we can’t be a police show in this day and age without being self-aware.”