Aida Osman and KaMillion on ‘Rap Sh!t’ and Ladies in Hip-Hop
The subsequent hit comedy introduces two rising stars who’re each model new to TV and immediately acquainted. Rap Sh!t, created by Issa Rae as her first scripted present for HBO Max, follows Miami women Shawna and Mia, estranged childhood mates who reunite and make an internet-famous freestyle rap after an evening of partying. The duo are electrical from their first impromptu collab, and so they shortly determine to kind a rap group, with the present’s first eight-episode season presenting their highs and lows as they begin their profession, and doc the entire journey on social media alongside the best way.
The sequence required two actors with pure expertise and on the spot chemistry to convey Shawna and Mia to life, and the artistic group discovered them in Aida Osman and KaMillion. Each had much less conventional paths to their roles. Osman—who’s nonbinary and makes use of she/they pronouns—was employed as a author on the present throughout their audition course of, and commenced informing the character of Shawna each within the writers’ room and through her auditions. In the meantime, KaMillion is a rapper from Florida who encourages her followers to reside their finest lives on social media.
Syreeta Singleton, an Insecure alum who’s now Rap Sh!t’s showrunner, tells ELLE.com that the pairing was a “no-brainer” from the actors’ first chemistry learn. “Not solely is their power and chemistry unimaginable to observe, it makes you want you had a friendship like theirs in actual life!” she says. “They’re simply stunning and magnetic, you are feeling the power when they’re collectively, it’s so palpable. We knew this was Shawna and Mia.”
Osman and KaMillion could be the faces of the present, however Shawna and Mia’s friendship is its beating coronary heart. The hilarious pair come collectively within the hope that they’ll change their lives in direction of an elusive higher, and so they make one another comfortable within the course of. In addition they make one another take into consideration their relationships and views on hip-hop, because it takes time for the duo to solidify what they need their music to be. “Fortunately that is season one,” Osman says. “Shawna has numerous room to develop, as does Mia, and so they each get to study their femininity and like re-seizing their very own energy in music, no matter meaning for them.”
Forward, Osman and KaMillion converse to ELLE.com about clicking through the audition course of, filming a present depicted via Instagram lives, and making music that helps folks have an excellent time.
The friendship between Shawna and Mia is nice from the primary time they rap collectively within the automobile (on the finish of the sequence premiere). Did you two have an on the spot chemistry whenever you auditioned?
KaMillion: Sure, I’d say. We’re undoubtedly Zodiac twins, so you understand how that goes.
Osman: Yeah, we instantly related. I noticed her on the callback and we learn strains collectively. We have been in a room with 15 different women that have been all auditioning for a similar a part of Shawna and Mia. However for some cause I simply noticed KaMillion and I used to be like, oh yeah. Let’s convey minds collectively. Let’s determine this out.
In a previous interview, you each mentioned that there’s numerous similarities out of your actual lives that present up within the characters. What components of Shawna are utterly separate from you, and what inspirations did you draw from to create these components of the characters?
Osman: Rattling. Shawna is a lot like me. It’s exhausting to consider the place she’s totally different.
KaMillion: And Mia is a lot like me. I’d say that I haven’t got a baby, however the struggles that Mia endured and overcame and went via simply to search out her place on this planet and her goal, I can undoubtedly relate to that. And sort of doing a bit of little bit of all the things into one thing lastly clicks.
Osman: I suppose I can’t relate to Shawna’s…Shawna’s actually determined, and he or she flies off the deal with in a short time. She’s not strategic. I prefer to suppose there’s a bit of extra tact in how I transfer and attempt to discover success, however possibly I’m incorrect. Possibly I’m as loopy as her. You’ll see later within the season. She likes to go off the rails and he or she typically solely thinks about herself.
Aida, Shawna has such a singular story in determining methods to be seen as a rapper. In the trailer, she says she’s not making music for the male gaze, however the male gaze is such an enormous a part of how feminine rappers get mainstream success. What was the method of constructing Shawna as a personality, each within the author’s room and for you personally?
She’s tremendous exhausting to crack, ‘trigger she’s proper about all of the stuff concerning the male gaze and having to sexualize herself to get consideration. She’s proper about that, however that doesn’t imply that she doesn’t must do it to pop off. It places her on this sophisticated place, and that was sophisticated for us. It was numerous combating within the author’s room. The dialog that you just talked about between Mia and Shawna the place they’re debating the character of rap is the product of us screaming at one another in a effectively lit room at Issa’s workplace, or in a Zoom room. That was actually troublesome discovering out what the reality is. Fortunately that is season one. Shawna has numerous room to develop, as does Mia, and so they each get to study their femininity and like re-seizing their very own energy in music, no matter meaning for them.
KaMillion, I wished to ask you about Miami because the present depicts components of town that we don’t normally see on TV. So, have been you in a position to give numerous perception in direction of town’s tradition from somebody who grew up in Florida?
I truly grew up about 5 hours away in a metropolis known as Jacksonville, Florida, however I’ve numerous household in Miami. I’ve lived in Miami. It was actually cool for me to present the perception and the vibe of Florida residing as a younger girl from the realm, and even phrases or slangs that we integrated into the issues that Mia and Shawna would say or wouldn’t say. That was fairly cool.
The present additionally has this experimental format the place a lot of it’s proven via Instagram Lives and social media. How did that format have an effect on your appearing selections, whenever you’re appearing for a handheld digital camera versus a typical TV setup?
KaMillion: It was truly clean as a result of we use our telephones each day, you understand? So it’s sort of like a pure factor. We get on social media; you’re posting on a regular basis. Me as a rapper, that’s what I’m all the time doing anyway. I’m all the time posting and getting ready content material. What was a bit of totally different is the closeness of the digital camera on these gadgets. It’s like, rattling, you’re proper up in my nostrils. It was getting snug with typically helping the digital camera man to put our faces after we are doing a sure scene and getting these actual shut up pictures. It was sort of uncomfortable, however we made one of the best of it. It was actually cool simply to shoot a TV present from an entire totally different perspective. That is actually an entire totally different means of capturing. I feel numerous new reveals are in all probability gonna incorporate what we’ve already began. So, let ‘em know the place they noticed it first, you understand.
Osman: It was exhausting. We do these screenings, and in a lot of the present, the angle just isn’t cute. While you open your iPhone and the cameras by accident up, you’re like, “whoa, yikes, put that down,” however that’s how we shot a lot of the present. Shout out to Sadé Clacken Joseph, who was our director for the primary episode. She designed this rig that we put on on our our bodies in order that we will get the pictures of us texting on our telephone. We needed to be digital camera girls and actresses on the similar time. While you’re serving to the cameraman [position] the entrance of the digital camera, you’re additionally directing. You’re selecting the place the display screen goes, the place the lens goes, and what they’re seeing. So that you’re doing much more than simply attempting to say strains and be cute. It’s loads.
The style of the present provides numerous perception into the characters’ persona and mindset from scene to scene. Had been you in a position to give perception into every of the characters’ trend sense?
KaMillion: We acquired to decide on. We tried on numerous totally different outfits for the scenes, and so they took photos of those that we felt most snug in. Then, in fact, Issa is Boss Woman. She will get the final say, however we undoubtedly have been included within the selections of what we’ve felt snug doing.
Osman: It’s cool too with Shawna’s wardrobe, ‘trigger there’s a story being advised, together with her getting extra snug together with her physique and what she’s prepared to indicate. She doesn’t actually know methods to costume in the beginning, and he or she doesn’t actually know methods to costume on the finish both, however no less than she’s exhibiting some shoulder. It modifications a bit of bit, so it was enjoyable. We have been very concerned. Keia Bounds, who did our styling for the present, was superb and actually type and allowed us to select from a wide selection of various issues.
Watching the present as a lady who loves hip-hop was very attention-grabbing, because it touches on the misogyny and double requirements that feminine rappers typically face. What are each of your private ideas on the rap sport immediately?
KaMillion: Being a rapper immediately, I actually don’t give a rattling what folks take into consideration sure issues. I’m very strong-headed with the issues that I select to talk on once I make my music. Generally, some songs could not imply something, however simply shake your ass, get on the ground, and have an excellent time. Every part doesn’t all the time should have a that means behind it, however the intent is to make folks have an excellent time. I do suppose it’s essential for feminine rappers to have some sort of message of their route. Like, Metropolis Ladies, for me, their music is for the women which are attempting to determine life and are within the hustle and bustle, attempting to make it out. Their music is geared in direction of encouraging women to get it how you reside. So long as you will have a message behind the insanity, that’s essential. For me, like, I actually don’t care. I do what feels good. I say what I wanna say, and when you prefer it, nice. Should you don’t, there are 100 different feminine rappers you can go take heed to.
Osman: Precisely that. It was stunning getting to observe KaMillion preserve a flourishing rap profession whereas she’s turning into an incredible actress. It’s simply actually cool to observe her. I even used to have grasp ups about all these things, and over intellectualizing what it means to be a rapper. Then I noticed I used to be in my head. I wanted to get in my physique, and my physique simply desires to shake my ass. Why do I’ve to consider males and the politics of all of it when that’s not my enterprise proper now? My enterprise is simply to pop pussy, and we’ll cope with the educational half in a bit of bit, however so long as you are feeling good, you are feeling good.
This interview was edited and condensed for readability.
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