Netflix recently held a special screening in D.C. of “Seven Seconds,” its highly anticipated new crime drama that tackles the nation’s racially charged climate head-on.
The Feb. 22 screening at the AMC Loews Georgetown 14 theater, co-hosted by Color of Change, was followed by a question-and-answer session that allowed attendees to question everyday societal woes and dissect the show’s concepts firsthand with cast member Clare-Hope Ashitey.
“I’m not a very big fan of crime dramas,” said Ashitey, who portrays prosecutor K.J. Harper. “There has to be something good about them.The character was something I immediately felt very passionate about. Before I got the job, I only had the pilot script and that was all that I had read, but it was enough. I read it and knew immediately that I loved it, and I thought the characters were interesting. I thought the topic was important, and I felt invested in it very quickly.”
The show follows the case of a white police officer who accidentally hits a black teenager with his vehicle, the attempted cover-up, and the inflamed racial tension of the aftermath.
Studying institutionalized racism in America before filming began, Ashitey, a British native, said the show led her to question the many concepts and discrepancies of the American justice system.
“It’s just so alien to me,” Ashitey said. “I think the biggest things was that everyone who has a contact with the police is arraigned before a judge, which makes no sense to me at all. From the smallest misdemeanor up to the biggest crime, everyone is brought before a judge. And that means there’s a huge backlog in the American legal system. There are prosecutors and public defenders and judges who are trying to keep their head above water in the tide of this bureaucracy and red tape.
“When you have people in that situation, and they’re in charge really of making decisions that affect these people’s lives, and it’s the middle of the night, and they maybe haven’t eaten since a certain time, and they’ve had to miss such and such thing because they had to be here tonight, and you start to introduce all of these other things into the system that shouldn’t be there, like personal biases and personal animosities,” she said. “It doesn’t make any sense to hamper a system that’s already dealing with so much with something like arraigning every person basically who a police officer speaks to. It’s insane to me.”