Dominique Fishback makes an impression. Mention the 29-year-old Brooklyn native to her Project Power creative collaborators and it is as if their batteries just kicked in, the rhapsodizing is instantaneous. “My favorite part of the whole movie is Dominique,” says costar Joseph Gordon-Levitt. “It’s not always easy in the middle of a huge, grand-spectacle action movie to really bring real emotions and honesty, and she just nailed it, nailed it to the wall.”
Co-director Ariel Schulman notes that and he partner Henry Joost did an exhaustive search for the actress to play Robin, a fearless young woman who must go toe-to-toe with Gordon-Levitt and Jamie Foxx as she gets caught up in some serious business in Netflix’s turbocharged drama. “We were so excited about casting that role, more than any other, because, she's such a great character and we felt like there's so much humanity there. We wanted to cast someone with a real breakout potential.”
Schulman raves about watching her spar with Jamie Foxx at their chemistry read: “It was just like instant electricity in the room. We threw her an improvisation and [he] just looked over her shoulder and said, ‘She’s got it. She’s the one.’”
Indeed, Foxx is effusive. “Just so much talent in one person,” he says of the actress who previously received good notices in HBO’s The Deuce and the acclaimed 2018 film The Hate U Give. “And you know what's interesting about getting seasoned in this business — as we would say, getting older — is that you look, you wonder, you comb, to see who's going to be the next one. Who's going to be that Regina King? Who's going to be that Regina Hall? She is definitely that, and then some. I'm blessed to be able to work with her and can't wait to see what she does next.”
Jai Lennard for EW
Fishback gets emotional and covers a grin on her face during a Zoom call when the praise is reported back to her, but she earns it with a performance that travels from stark fear to streetwise sass to true vulnerability-- not to mention rapping-- and several other emotional touchpoints along the way.
As to how the film might help propel her to the next level, “I get a little self-conscious to even speak on it,” she says. “But I do feel like watching it — and just the fact that we have Jamie Foxx who brings his own audience in and then Joe brings his own audience in, so to just bask in their glory for a little while — it can only mean well.”
She also has a vivid memory of the chemistry read with Foxx and how quickly it went. “I had flown all the way from New York to L.A.,” she says. “I'm sitting there like, ‘I don't want to leave yet.’" Foxx asked her if she actually rapped in her real life and she noted that she didn’t but that she was a spoken word artist and he asked her to share some of her work. “I ended up doing a piece that I wrote called ‘Ode To My Hood,’ where I play Brooklyn and myself. Brooklyn is nervous that I'm going to become a star and leave and never come back. I'm trying to convince Brooklyn, I'm like, ‘No, it's not like that. I love you.’ Jamie just loved it, and so that was an amazing, amazing opportunity.”
That love of spoken word also manifested itself in her own one-woman off-Off Broadway show playing 22 separate characters. So, although she is not sure where her path might take her after Project Power, Fishback eagerly offers, “I have a lot to say — I’m a writer as well, so I’m ready for people to take me seriously.” (Asked if she could follow the trail blazed by Anna Deavere Smith she replies quickly, “From your lips to God’s ears.”)
Viewers will have a number of chances to take her seriously in the future including her role in an upcoming film about Black Panther Fred Hampton in which she will costar with Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield. Surveying the opportunities she’s had and those coming up, Fishback feels a sense of coalescence, saying, “My essence, my purpose, they’re all aligning.”
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