Chance Perdomo plays Ambrose Spellman on Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and was recently nominated for a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Award for his portrayal of Jerome Rogers in BBC 3’s Killed By My Debt. Perdomo is down-to-earth with an adorable, infectious laugh we wish we could include on paper. We got the chance to talk with Perdomo about his roles, accomplishments, and take on the characters he gets to play in our Spring 2019 issue.
Sabrina is primarily about witchcraft and the Church of Night and those kinds of things, but it also sort of reflects a little bit of the real world that we live in. There are some pretty strict divides between the different groups and a lot of connections to stronger religious undertones. Have you gotten a chance to really dive into those or see the similarities between that, between the real world and the fiction ones, Sabrina from season to season, the real world and what happens in Sabrina?
Well, I think, definitely, art mimics life and sometimes life mimics art as well. So, I do see similarities in the way the world’s heading with some of the commentary from Sabrina. Because Sabrina does try and cater to a wide demographic, they don’t necessarily give you a conclusive connection, but they do deal with the universal themes of identity, whether that be race, whether that be self-actualization, whether it be female empowerment, or whether it be religion. That all comes under the umbrella of identity. At the moment, identity is a huge topic in the news, especially considering what we see with the accusations of homophobia, of sexual misconduct, of racial inequality. People are speaking up and speaking out, and being true to their identity and their rights and civil liberties as human beings. I think it’s no coincidence that Sabrina is also mimicking that sense of empowerment. It’s a reflection of what’s going on in the world around us, and I definitely think, in short, yes, very much. Do you see the correlations of what’s going on? There isn’t one specific correlation, it’s just reflecting the tone of society we live in today.
You also play a 170-year-old trapped in a 20 somethings body. Was it hard to tap into that old-man-that-has-been-on-this-earth-for-170-years mindset?
I think the challenge was the juxtaposition between youth and age. He has to seem like he has a precocious amount of knowledge, but it’s only precocious if you don’t know his age. What I found was a challenge was the emotional content of the character, the fact that there’s going to be emotional weight to everything he says. You can’t give too much away overtly. It has to be softly, with the eyes. So trying to really play with his mannerisms and to see the youth in his face, but the age in his eyes, that’s what I loved. That was both simultaneously what I love the most and what is the challenge of Ambrose.
I think the existential questions and dilemmas [The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina] poses are really universal.
So why do you think The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is such a successful show?
I think the existential questions and dilemmas our show poses are really universal. Whether it be a little commentary, whether it’s religious, whether it be the LGBTQ community, whether it be race, whether it be female empowerment, whether it be just life as a teenager growing up in high school with a-holes everywhere, you pose existential questions that you can relate to. And also the fact that it’s on the streaming service with a global community. That’s perfect. That’s probably why it’s resonated because there’s relatability for you, no matter where you’re from and what your experiences are.
So you alluded to this a little bit, but Netflix is one of the most popular places for new shows and budding acting careers. Does it feel good to be able to be a part of that?
100%. Netflix is killing the game, like 100%. There are so many streaming platforms that are following in their footsteps because they found, essentially, a winning formula. Audiences, I believe, are getting a little bit tired of all the unoriginal sequels and franchises that don’t necessarily say anything other than “pew, pew, pew, bang, bang, explosion, explosion.” Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the Marvel cinematic universe, and it would be a dream to play Miles Morales, but at the same time for a cinema goer, gone are all those movies that were like character-driven and the mid-level budget movies of the seventies, eighties, and nineties. There’s no place for them. They were replaced by sequels and franchises and so they get eaten up and taken into the streaming services. Netflix really is able to nurture those arcs and those character-driven stories, which has proven to still attract many moviegoers and TV goers. They do treat it very much like movies, even though they’re TV series. They go through the arc and you are able to really invest in the character and see their growth and their changes. And they’re a global company with a global audience.
The digital age has changed the way that the industry goes about business. A global audience requires authentic global representation and you can see that in the choices, even Marvel is making them. They have Shang-Chi that’s coming out in 2020, which will have a predominantly Asian cast. You have Crazy Rich Asians, you have Black Panther. They’re all telling new narratives, new to film but nothing new for the world we live in. People’s tastes are changing and Netflix is very good at representing the authenticity that we see in the world.
So you also just did a movie, Killed By My Debt. You played a character called Jerome and you also were nominated for a BAFTA award for it, correct?
Yes. The film itself was nominated for two BAFTAs. One for “Best Leading Actor” and the other one was for “Best Single Drama.” That was the project I did just before Sabrina. Once we finished that show, I went straight to the car and went straight to the airport to do the screen test for Sabrina.
Are you so excited about your nomination?
100%. Like it still hasn’t even sunken in. I’ll be doing the dishes or I’ll be walking the dog and suddenly my stomach will just flip because this project holds such a special place in my heart. It’s real people’s lives you’re portraying, and that’s a daunting prospect: the constant fear of can you do the family justice. It was beautiful to have the Rogers family give the seal of approval and then to find out that it was being shown in schools as an educative tool to promote financial literacy and not to let debt spiral out of control.
The Rogers family has also been able to then further talks with the UK parliament to be able to push for new laws to have a greater jurisprudential oversight when it comes to debt collection. Then these two BAFTAs are just another part of the overwhelming response to this project. I still don’t know how to feel about it because it’s been greatly overwhelming. And from an actor’s perspective to be next to the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch and Hugh Grant is….I don’t know, if I talk about it, if I keep talking about it, I’ll just start crying.
Do you have anything else that you want to share, any upcoming projects or is there anything else you want to talk about?
What I will say is that I am willing, and I welcome all that comes career-wise, if it resonates within the heart and it drives a cool narrative and the characters are dope. I welcome it all. Amen.
STORY GINA DECICCO
PHOTOS RAUL ROMO
GROOMING SHIYENA for EXCLUSIVE ARTISTS using SKYN ICELAND
STYLIST MICHAEL FUSCO
CREATIVE DIRECTION ANNA ZHANG