Lyndsey Beaulieu was born and raised in New Orleans but moved away to attend the University of Virginia. After college she lived in Los Angeles where she became part of the HBO family as an assistant at the HBO offices, then as a Writers' Assistant on ‘Big Love.’ She has been with ‘Treme’ since the pilot and currently works as the Writers' Office Coordinator.

 

Friday
Dec132013

Actress Camryn Jackson on Cherise’s Death: “I lived it.”

by Lyndsey Beaulieu

It’s no secret that the writers of ‘Treme’ are known for blurring the lines between truth and fiction, often getting people to reenact their life stories. This week, Antoine Batiste (Wendell Pierce) loses one of his students to gun violence -- a story tragically rooted in reality. New Orleanians will recall this past May, when two 15-year-old students, a boyfriend and a girlfriend, were shot and killed three days apart. The young man, Brandon Adams, was shot and killed while leaving a neighborhood basketball court on a Friday night. His girlfriend, Christine Marcelin, who was with Brandon the night he was killed, was found dead from gunshot wounds the following Monday. Living in a city like New Orleans, these stories are a common theme on the nightly news. Christine and Brandon were good kids, eighth graders at KIPP Believe with aspirations of graduating high school and one day going to college. Camryn Jackson, the young actress who plays Batiste’s music student, Cherise, was friends with Brandon and Christine, whom she knew since they were in the 6th grade together. Camryn spoke at the candlelight vigil remembering her friends, and as difficult as it might have been, she did a good job recreating their story on ‘Treme.’

I spoke with Camryn recently, and was struck by how smart, poised and eloquent she was when talking about her connection to the story and what it was like portraying it on the show. “I was more nervous and scared in the real situation when I spoke at the vigil,” she says. “I had never felt what they felt and I wanted to say the right things.” 

At the start of Season 4, the writers and producers approached Camryn about depicting Brandon and Christine’s story. “I thought putting it out there was better than being quiet about it. Christine Marcelin deserves to be seen as a real person, not just another death.”

Camryn’s heaviest acting scene this week is with Wendell Pierce. Like his character, Wendell took the time to teach Camryn in the scene, actor to actor. “He coached me through it, told me the scene had to be real and to think of something that makes me sad and use that emotion in the scene,” says Camryn. “That was easy to do because I lived it.”

That’s the troubling part for me -- that imagining something as horrific as the murder of two of your 15-year-old friends doesn’t require much imagination. Many young black kids in New Orleans won’t live to see their 18th birthday. If they do, there’s a strong chance they’ll know someone who won’t.  

Wednesday
Dec112013

A Walk Down Memory Lane With My Dad, Paul Beaulieu

by Lyndsey Beaulieu

In this week’s episode, “This City,” Albert Lambreaux (Clarke Peters) takes his daughter Davina (Edwina Findley) on a tour of the “Seb’m Ward,” and shares many of his childhood memories with her. I’ve heard the stories many times over -- not because I work on the show -- but because they are my dad’s memories of growing up in the Creole 7th Ward.

Over the summer, writer and executive producer George Pelecanos approached me about talking to my dad – the show wanted to give Lambreaux some of that same history. When I read the script for the first time, it was more than just a 7th Ward anecdote thrown in here and there. It was my dad on the page.  Instead of Lambreaux, I heard my dad retelling the stories of “Crazy Roy,” “The Ragman,” and “Coupon Bread.” I’ve been hearing about “Coupon Bread” since childhood and the days spent at my Maw Maw’s house on Pauger St. and Duels, the very same streets referenced by Lambreaux.

Just before the episode aired, I let my dad take a peek at the script so he could see just how much his conversation with George Pelecanos influenced the character of Lambreaux. For me, one story in particular stands out from the episode, because my dad never shared it with me before:

Me and my daddy were riding the Elysian Fields bus. Mr. Buddy, the white man who was friends with my daddy, also got on the bus. It was crowded in the front, so he sat next to us behind the ‘Colored Only’ sign. The driver stopped the bus and walked all the way to the back to tell Mr. Buddy he couldn’t sit there. Buddy refused to get up, said we were his friends, and he got off that bus. We got off too, and walked the rest of the way. Buddy exemplified how white and black folks got along back then -- we worked together, played together, and lived side by side -- only the law kept us apart. We lived all around white people and I can’t remember anyone ever showing any prejudice. I can’t speak to how it was in the rest of the city because I didn’t grow up there -- that’s just how it was in 7th Ward. I think we’re more divided today than we were then.

My dad’s childhood stories becoming Lambreaux’s isn’t the only connection he has to ‘Treme.’ He had the chance to try out his acting chops in episode 2 of the first season, ‘Meet De Boys on the Battlefront,’ where he appeared as George Cotrell’s (Otto DeJean) nosy ‘neighbor.’ His scene that day was with Clarke Peters, and from the minute the two met, an instant bromance was formed.

This week’s episode will go down as one of my favorites and I’m probably not the only one. There’s an entire community of people who grew up in the 7th Ward and share many of the same memories as my dad. Thanks to ‘Treme,’ those memories will live on forever.

Monday
Dec092013

Getting to Know Aurora Nealand and Her Alter Ego “Rory Danger”

From the beginning, the creators of ‘Treme’ have been good about portraying New Orleans’ many musical genres. This week’s episode is no different, once again taking us into new musical territory with the sounds of rockabilly, via Rory Danger and The Danger Dangers. The band’s front lady, Rory Danger, is the creation of reoccurring guest star Aurora Nealand, whom we first met as part of Davis McAlary’s (Steve Zahn) ragtag group of musicians who jammed out for “Shame Shame Shame.” From there, we got to know her as Annie Talarico’s (Lucia Micarelli) friend and one-time roommate.

 

In real life, Aurora is known as the vocalist and saxophonist for her trad jazz band, The Royal Roses. At the forefront of the resurgence of the genre, the Roses draw heavily from classic influences like the great Sidney Bechet. But Rory Danger and The Danger Dangers is an all-together different thing -- with their hard-hitting, infectious, rockabilly sound.

 

I recently sat down with Aurora and talked about music, her alter ego Rory Danger and her experience working on ‘Treme.’

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