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Tattiawna Jones talks Amelie’s journey on 19-2

It seems like no one on 19-2 is allowed to have nice things. After Ben Chartier revealed his secret spot away from the world to Amelie De Grace (Tattiawna Jones) and she recently saying “I love you” to him, her life was cut short. In typical brutal 19-2 fashion, Amelie died violently at the hands of Frank Ferney (Spiro Malandrakis), a recovering drug addict who blamed social worker Amelie for him not being able to foster his niece, Martine.

Now, with 19-2‘s season finale around the corner, we spoke to Jones about her role, her experience on the gritty Bravo drama … and her stand-up career.

Congratulations on your portrayal of Amelie. Sadly, I’m talking to you because she is no more. How did you find out? Did showrunner Bruce Smith call to tell you the news?
Tattiawna Jones: He did, and he was really great about it. I can’t imagine it was a fun call for him to make. ‘Hi, um, you’re getting fired and this is how it happens.’ [Laughs.] It wasn’t like that at all. He was so lovely and the 19-2 family is a group of artists that are there wanting to tell a good story. He said, ‘Amelie is going to meet her end, and this is how it’s going to happen and how it works into the story.’ I was super-excited and thought it was unbelievable. No one was going to see it coming. It gives 19-2 heart. It’s such a personal show and a personal story. Amelie dying in that way makes it even more personal. When I read the script, I’d felt like I had lost someone and that’s how I do feel when I watch 19-2.

I love to do action stuff, so the stunts were really fun and my screen partner was super-fantastic. In between action and cut was as terrifying as it should be.

Fans certainly didn’t see it coming.
I think it speaks to the courage of the writers. It’s something that I had overlooked as an actor; the people who live through these characters first are the writers. I got Amelie as a toddler and was able to grow her up a bit. The writers have to live through this first and are blamed [when something bad happens]. If a writer has the courage to do something like that for the sake of the story, they should be commended for it. That’s how I felt when Bruce called me up and when I saw [writer] Lynne [Kamm] on the set. It’s bravery to take people by surprise.

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What about working with Spiro? Did you talk about the scene in advance? He had a tough job to do too.
He had a really tough job and I’m glad you said that. People often think the victim in the partnership has the tough job but his character is the abuser in this case and that is a tough job. You’re into all kinds of politics with our characters: man and woman, race politics, all kinds of politics at work. The writers want people to think and to look at their own sensibilities. We didn’t talk about it beforehand. We got on-set and are relative newbies in the stand-up comedy world, so we were talking about that beforehand. He was a pro and I never felt unsafe.

Did you do research in preparation for playing Amelie? Did you speak to social workers?
I did. Lynne really helped out a lot and gave me a bunch of information. I spoke to a couple of people that I knew, did some Googling. You have to do research if you’re going to play any kind of public servant.

It’s a tough job.
Oh my God, I couldn’t do it. I could never, never do it. I cannot believe the kinds of things these people go through. But also, it’s a thankless job. These people are underpaid and get no accolades and yet are doing good work at the ground level day in and day out. There are selfless and want something better for someone else.

What did you learn about your time on 19-2?
I learned a lot about how to make a really great piece of art and not let money stop that.

I have to ask you about your stand-up career. What’s the status of that?
It’s sitting at home. I’m scared to go back and work on it. I’m at the stage where I have a ton of material written and now it’s up to me to go to an open mike and go on at one or two in the morning like any other comedian ever in the history of comedians has and earn it.

Is stand-up something you’ve always wanted to do?
It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and been afraid to do. I’m kind of good enough at it that when I’m with my friends, but I’m not that good at it as a profession because I haven’t put the work in. Now I’m putting the work in and learning about the craft of stand-up comedy.

19-2‘s season finale airs Monday at 10 p.m. ET on Bravo.

 

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and partner at TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.
Greg David
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