The Cast of ‘Woke’ on How the Series Approaches Social Justice With Humor
At a time when being Woke is imperative, Hulu’s new series couldn’t have arrived at a more timely moment.
The new comedy series inspired by the life and work of artist Keith Knight arrives on the streaming platform beginning Wednesday, September 9. Stepping into a version of Knight’s shoes is New Girl‘s Lamorne Morris who portrays Keef Knight, an African-American cartoonist who finds his worldview shifting after an all-too-common occurrence between himself .
“He’s a middle of the road kind of guy, meaning politically he’s a bit ambiguous, so he doesn’t really take sides,” Morris says of his character Keef. “He just minds his own business, until one day something happens to him that causes him to see things clearer and a bit differently,” he adds, teasing of what’s to come.
Before Keef begins to awaken, he encounters Ayana (SNL‘s Sasheer Zamata) who tries to find social justice messages within Keef’s popular local cartoons. “I’m trying to bring him into my world because I recognize that he has a very powerful and prominent voice and he could be using that for good,” Zamata tells us. “And now that he has had such an extreme incident happen to him, it’s like, ‘okay, you see the world a little differently now, why not put that in your art?'”
That is easier said than done, especially once Keef finds himself conversing with inanimate objects following his view-altering experience. “Now the question he has to ask himself is, ‘How far will I go to speak out? And if so, at what cost? And do I take the advice from my friends around me, or not? And where would that lead us?'” Morris says.
“The time that he lives in is very heightened and there’s a lot of tension in the air, and he could be a solution on a more local level,” adds the actor. “He just has to ask himself if he’s willing to go there or not.”
Along for the ride are his roommates and friends Gunther (Workaholics‘ Blake Anderson) and Clovis (T. Murph) who have vastly different approaches when it comes to helping their buddy. “[He tries] to be a voice of reason,” Anderson says of Gunther. “I believe that my character sees his friend spiraling and going through a tough time in his life, and he just wants to be available to him… and then also just tries to silence whatever [Clovis] bringing to the table,” he adds with a joking tone.
“I think he means well, but he goes about it the wrong way,” Murph says in response to Anderson, defending his character Clovis. “There’s instances where he should have been more like Gunther and been there for Keef, but he’s more so trying to protect the bag, as they say. He doesn’t want to mess up the money.”
“On the surface, we see the police brutality as one instance of being woke,” Morris says of the examples in which woke-ness will manifest itself to viewers. “I think, for him, a lot of it has to do with the objects around him that speak.” Of those objects, some include Keef’s drawing pen, trash barrels and more.
Helping him deal with this raw perspective and experience of what life is like being Black in America is Zamata’s Ayana who will help guide Keef through his Woke journey. “Ayana herself is very progressive and runs a progressive publication and likes to stir things up,” shares Zamata. But she also hasn’t cornered the market on everything there is to know about being woke.
“Sometimes you thought you knew something, but then it turns out, oh, actually my view was outdated and I didn’t even realize,” explains Zamata. “And I think Ayana will also have some moments where she’s questioning even her own thoughts.” Don’t we all? See how the thought-provoking and laugh-inducing journey unfolds, catch Woke on Hulu this fall.
Woke, Series Premiere, Wednesdays, September 9, Hulu