Whether you’re tired of re-watching your favorite comfort shows, looking for something to binge, or just plain curious about Drake’s newest project since Euphoria, look no further than Saint X. This one’s for my true crime girlies, and for those of us who like our television with a sprinkle of “WHAT?!” Saint X, the new 8-episode series, co-produced by Drake and Future, looks at the story of a missing American girl in the Caribbean. After nearly a decade of no one knowing the true story of her disappearance, her younger sister, now a 20-something living in Brooklyn, NY goes digging for new information and potential suspects.
The story is developed from the novel by Alexis Schaitkin, and just like the book – it keeps the audience on the edge of their sear. Along the way, we’re introduced to characters like Edwin (played by Jayden Elijah) and Clive ‘Gogo’ Richardson (played by Josh Bonzie) who find themselves in the middle of being accused and possibly even charged in this missing person’s case. Developed by Leila Gerstein, the first episode was released Wednesday, April 26th on Hulu. It was directed by director and screenwriter Dee Rees, who also worked on the 2015 film Bessie.
I had the pleasure of sitting with the two actors who played the primary persons of interest in the series. We talked about audition processes, the dynamics of the tourism economy, & how race and class disparity creates familiar ripples in the storyline. Let’s dive in!
Shonette Reed: How did you two come across the roles that you have in the show?
Jayden Elijah (Edwin): Me, I did a self-tape. Did a couple of self-tapes. Filmed with my friend Jordy Lagbre, he’s also an actor. We just kind of, we were doing the scene, where, I’m not sure if you remember Josh, but we were smoking on the beach. That was my audition scene, I’m sure it was yours too.
And so, we like, got some rolling paper. Put some tea in there, you know peppermint tea. Did it in a couple of takes and just had a good time. Had a recall. Had a screen test over Zoom. And before I knew it, I was shooting in the Dominican.
Josh Bonzie (Clive ‘Gogo’ Richardson): I did a self-tape and then the next day, I was actually working at a restaurant; the casting director reached out and asked if I’d get on a Zoom meeting with her. At work. So while I was at work I had to go down to the basement and have this meeting with this casting director for the role. She talked with us about it and we got to know each other, and about two weeks later after a pretty brutal audition process, I was off to the Dominican to go shoot.
Shonette Reed: As it relates to the show and your role – did race play a part, and if so, how?
Jayden Elijah: I think in every way. I think in life, race plays a role whether we like it to or not. Of course, I can’t say too much right here but how the media can view Black men. The dichotomy between Black men and White women. In itself, that communicates so much about the place that we are in still. The story is still so relatable.
Josh Bonzie: I couldn’t have said it better myself. The show, among other things, is a meditation on race and class, and how the systems that we all exist in, [can cause] trauma to a community and to a person. The things that we carry with us. The role race plays is a huge part of the show I’d say.
Shonette Reed: You said that it’s a meditation on race and class, can you expand on that a little bit?
Josh Bonzie: Without giving too much away, we’re meeting an entire community of people with their own dreams and lives, goals, and jobs. And, you know, they’re not American. We’re really getting to know them, and getting an in-depth look at the way these people live. In comparison to the tourism economy that exists on this island where the show takes place. So, we’re getting many different views on different communities of people.
Shonette Reed: With the roles that you auditioned for, were they the roles that you wanted?
Jayden Elijah: Absolutely, yeah. Yeah. Edwin is such a blessing of a role to play, my God. And, again, to work with Josh. To have that chemistry that we had on-screen and off-screen. And just [have] a good time working and exploring for those 6 months that we’re in the Dominican is a blessing yeah.
Josh Bonzie: Yeah, absolutely a dream come true. And I second everything Jayden says. You know, getting to work with him and getting to dive into the psyche of I’d say two really complex people. We’re really lucky.
Shonette Reed: So, you talked about how race and class are different in the UK and the US— how is it different for not just American but those in the UK? Can you explain briefly the differences?
Josh Bonzie: The history of America is so complicated and we see time and time again how race plays [into] every aspect of our lives. Of course, you know, the three of us sitting here can speak to our own experiences. Growing up in the US, I can only speak to my own experience here.
Jayden Elijah: From the UK, so I can’t speak too much on the American experience. What I do know is that when we talk on colonialism, the British Empire had quite a lot to play in that. So, we definitely have our own flavor of racism, so it has affected every single part of my life. And unpacking that is a process that I’m still in the depths of, but filming [Saint X] and exploring Edwin with the whole cast and crew is something that helped me explore more of it and convert it into something that, hopefully, educates others and entertains others also.
Watch the full first season of Saint X now on Hulu.
Born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, Shonette holds a BA in Journalism and Integrated Media and an MA in Intercultural and Urban Studies. She enjoys art in its many forms, reading, cooking, and exploring. Shonette is also the creator of Resolute Magazine– a Christian BIPOC-centered arts and culture magazine.