Netflix’s ‘Seven Seconds:’ An Intimate Look Inside Your Truth [VIDEO]
Accidents happen. In a matter of seconds, we become overwhelmed with adrenaline and survival instincts; we are instinctively responding to a mixture of emotions and moral fiber, leading the charge. But what happens when your moral compass is fighting against the social and political tide? Individuals are pushed, families are jeopardized, and victims are forgotten. From creator and executive producer of The Killing, Veena Sud, comes Seven Seconds - a thrilling new anthological crime drama that explores the human stories behind the headlines.
Breakout newcomer, Clare-Hope Ashitey, plays the character, K.J. Harper, an assistant prosecutor on a case where an African-American teenager is left for dead following a hit and run accident by a white police officer in Jersey City.
“She ends up with this case landing on her lap…and it really is the making of her,” Ashitey explains nodding to the complexity of her character. Ashitey's character alongside two-time Emmy award winner Regina King, as the prosecutor, exhausts all efforts uncovering the truth in a corrupted judicial system.
To accurately tell this story, Sud purposefully hired a diverse group of writers and actors that directly reflected the community of Jersey City. Aware of the cultural differences among her team, Sud immersed her writers and actors into the legal system. The creative group visited families that have lost loved ones to police brutality and even brought them to the morgue to smell and feel the coldness of this reality.
Ashitey, born and raised in London, reflects on her experience preparing for the role. “I spent time at Jersey City with city prosecutors and New York DA’s, Jersey City police, New York Police. I went to the courthouse downtown in New York. I went to the courthouse in Jersey City and really had to try and get to grip that system because it is very different to the legal system in the UK.”
The characters in Seven Seconds battle with personal demons, as well as stereotypes and systematic racism. K.J. Harper’s character is no acceptation, “She has got a lot of issues. I think she has given up in a lot of ways. I think things haven’t gone well for her at work. She has been unlucky in love and she has problems with her family,” Ashitey shared.
When faced with such hardships, K.J. internalizes her problems and tries to solve them herself. “She turns to drink and she turns to casual sex to try and fill that void and I think as most people who have ever tried that in life it doesn’t work. She is in this spiral of self-loathing, self-medication that just goes around-and-around in circles,” Ashitey described.
Coexisting with the pressures of work and personal issues are our country’s muddled race relations. They loom ominously over each episode, similar to the gray clouds of Jersey City’s winter sky. Ashitey recounts her experiences with race in America while shooting the series. “The racial landscape is very different to how it is at home…it is an ever-present part of society, race is in the US,” explained Ashitey. “It (race) is so woven into the fabric of how society works here. Everyone sees through a racial lens…and that is why they have entrenched stereotypes and form how they interact with people and how they judge people before they’ve even gotten to know them. I’m not used to seeing race first,” she included.
Unfortunately, as consumers, we have grown accustomed to media outlets bending rhetoric to fit their agenda. Truth, the foundation in which journalism was built, has sometimes lost its footing to monetary gain. A show, such as Seven Seconds, focuses on these fleeting truths. By developing a character as complex as A.J.’s, Sud challenges viewers to come to conclusions that are based in personal truths, not the whims of sensational headlines.
The show is available to stream on Netflix. Watch the trailer full here