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'Love In The Time Of Corona' Stars On The Truth And Light Of Making Art Amid Pandemic

Leslie Odom Jr. and Nicolette Robinson star in the new series "Love in the Time of Corona," created and directed by Joanna Johnson.
Leslie Odom Jr. and Nicolette Robinson star in the new series "Love in the Time of Corona," created and directed by Joanna Johnson.

A new show, called "Love in the Time of Corona," is a series of interwoven stories about people in quarantine trying to find love and stay connected. And the cast are actual couples, families or friends, in real life, who have been quarantining together during the pandemic.

One of those couples is the Tony Award winning actor Leslie Odom Jr., who originated the role of Aaron Burr in "Hamilton," and actor Nicolette Robinson, who starred in the Broadway musical "Waitress" and the television show "The Affair." They play James and Sade in the show, a couple deciding if they should have another baby.

Because the scripted mini-series was filmed, and set, during the pandemic, the filming took place predominantly inside Robinson and Odom Jr.'s house, which Robinson says she was "excited" about.

But the timing of the show also gave her pause.

"If I was hesitant about anything, it was really just signing on to do it at all when we had first heard about it because the offer came in for us right in the thick of the Black Lives Matter movement and we were really going through it in our household," Robinson told NPR's All Things Considered. "Just even the idea of stepping out of the real world to make something that was mostly focused on the positive side of this time, we were nervous about it."

But Robinson said once she talked to the show's creators more, she became "excited to then dive into the truth of this moment as well as the light of this moment."

"Our plate was kind of full like everyone else's was," Odom Jr. said. "We're parents, and we're children of people that are in the vulnerable population, and we're Black people in America, you know, there's a lot of things that we're dealing with in this house and unpacking every day, so if we are going to make art right now, what is our responsibility to this moment?"

The four-episode series was created by executive producer Joanna Johnson, known for her work on "The Fosters" and "Good Trouble." It premiered Saturday on Freeform and will be available on Hulu on Sunday. The show follows James and Sade, played by Odom Jr. and Robinson, respectfully, and three other partners, friends and families quarantining through COVID-19.

In order to maintain social distancing, the crew had to figure out unique ways of shooting. Odom Jr. said the crew stayed in individual tents, and the director would use a walkie talkie to communicate with them inside.

Actors did their own hair and makeup, handled their own props and wore their own clothes. The small crew predominantly worked outside of the house, and Marco Fargnoli, the director of photography, would set up cameras on dollies that actors and production assistants who were in the actors' quarantine circles would operate inside the house, according to the Washington Post .And, of course, everyone was tested for COVID-19.

"We really decided in the beginning of this quarantine that we could either be driven apart or brought closer together due to these circumstances and so we really focused on the latter and really committed to building our communication in a better, stronger way and really just enjoying this time that we get to spend together," Robinson said.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: August 22, 2020 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous version of this story said the show premiered on Hulu on Saturday. It premiered on Freeform on Saturday and is also available on Hulu on Sunday.