The last season of the HBO series In treatment follows Dr. Brooke Taylor (Uzo Aduba), a therapist in Los Angeles who currently has a diverse trio of patients: home health aide Eladio (Anthony Ramos), millionaire turned white-collar criminal Colin (John benjamin hickey), and the distrustful adolescent Laila (Quintessa swindell) – by whom she is trying to help navigate her concerns. Current social and cultural changes permeate all therapy sessions, while Brooke also tries to deal with complications and demons in her own life that are proving to be quite challenging.

During a virtual trip to promote the new season, Collider had the opportunity to have a one-on-one chat with Swindell about why they initially doubted this character, how they found out who Laila is, the dynamics of therapy sessions, and the crowding. so much content in two days of shooting per episode. They also talked about wanting to work on projects that have something constructive to say and venturing into the world of superheroes to Black adam.

Collider: How was this journey with your character? Was it something like you expected?

QUINTESSA SWINDELL: When I got the script, I think it just had the sides. I don’t know if I had gotten it complete yet. It was basically when Laila made fun of the initial therapy session and lied to do what she thinks the therapist, Dr. Taylor, wants her to do, so she just makes up all these things. To me, when I was looking at that initially, I was like, “Oh, okay, so she’s what she’s saying. I don’t know if I have the ability to play that or where it could go ”, coming from the space of being a non-binary person and not wanting to be activated in any particular way. But then when I met with them again and got this script completed, they said, “Oh no, this is basically a lie that she’s telling and it’s actually going into a much deeper, intrinsic, and very specific space. ”

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And so at first, there was a bit of judgment on my part about the character, and that’s the one thing you learned not to do in drama school. It was a lot of unlearning and destabilizing the place that I have personally come to, working through the trauma and putting my mind back in the space of a young teenage girl who is actualizing herself her place in the world, and what she looked like and how. it felt. I like it, and do it in the most transparent way possible.


Image via HBO

By the time you were able to put all those pieces together and figure out exactly where her story was going, did you feel very different about her at the end of it?

SWINDELL: Oh, absolutely, yes. When you only get a part of a character beforehand, you can only know so much, but the writers have done such a phenomenal job of really, really packing a lot into these characters and making them truly multi-dimensional. I was constantly learning more and new things about Laila, as time went on, which made me feel much more connected to her and her experience.

It is definitely an interesting situation because it is not comfortable for anyone to sit and bare their soul to a therapist they do not know. In particular, you don’t want to do that with any stranger. It is fascinating to see them each decide how much to share and how much they are going to manipulate the situation.

SWINDELL: Of course it is. It’s interesting because I feel like Laila doesn’t trust adults, particularly because all the adults in her life have hurt her in one way or another, to her head, or contributed to her own trauma, or have simply talked to or treated her. less than you really deserve as a human being. I believe that Dr. Taylor is the first time that she has been spoken to as an equal. It’s really interesting.

And Laila is still very young and doesn’t quite know who she is either, so she’s still exploring herself.

SWINDELL: Yes, absolutely. I agree. I feel like, given the circumstances of the world that I feel most teenagers are going through today, you have a great deal of self-actualization, especially as a queer person, a person of color, and as a young black man. Laila is experiencing that realization that people in her family could be killed or she could be killed, but that she could also get away with the clarity of her skin. I think she’s actually incredibly self-aware, but she’s working within her own self-realization all the while trying to figure out how to navigate life, navigate her grandmother, and navigate the world she’s in and trying to do better. .

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Do you have any tricks, as an actor, to prepare to do scenes like this, to take on so much dialogue and to go through all of this at once?

SWINDELL: My preparation consisted mainly of talking to people who are a little younger than me, or family friends who were a little younger and were in school, or how younger people in general have been dealing with school. online, isolating themselves from their friends, isolating the people they love and the way they navigated that space and the frustrations they would have, and then incorporating that into many of Laila’s characteristics or her circumstances with her family, and then mixing all of that and trying to be as honest as possible.


Image via HBO

Was it ever completely overwhelming to do these episodes in two days?

SWINDELL: Yes, it was a lot, but it’s mostly just one scene. It was incredibly difficult, but at the same time, it seemed like a great opportunity to strengthen the memorization skills and focus that it takes to carry out the scene, and to be able to be emotionally present for the duration of one day and then the next day, and be there to do it. It was a lot, but at the same time it was worth it. I definitely learned a lot, especially having someone like Uzo. [Aduba]. They took great care of me.

Did you spend a lot of time thinking about what Laila was doing when she wasn’t in therapy and what a normal day is like for her?

SWINDELL: That is actually an interesting question. Yes and no. Of course, he could imagine the things he was doing outside of therapy. When you enter the therapy space, you think, what was the moment before? How was the day? How does the morning affect the afternoon session? So I would definitely take those things into consideration, as to what excitement to enter with. When I go into my own personal therapy sessions, everything from that day and everything I do goes out the window. It’s blank, and it’s just me and this person in front of me. This is how i was looking In treatment. It was as if nothing else mattered except this moment, this hour, and the moments before it. But I wasn’t really thinking about what it does, other than the things that are mentioned in the script.


Image via HBO

From Trinkets to Euphoria to Voyager for now In treatmentYou’ve been amassing a pretty eclectic collection of projects, genres, and characters. Did you personally have some kind of plan or wish list on all of this, or do you feel like you’re lucky to have had a diversity of projects and roles?

SWINDELL: Yes, I think it’s a bit of luck, but I am attracted to projects that are very unique and that also have something constructive that they say in their essence. Being part of all those projects has been the most beautiful experience. It’s crazy. It was definitely not planned, but I love how different each and every one of them is. It’s great to be able to try and find a place in the industry.

And now you’re venturing into the world of superheroes with Black adam. Do you feel like you can find a way to make room for yourself?

SWINDELL: Yes, because there is a level of realism to the character and that is really beautiful. Seeing what they’re doing with the script and seeing what they’re doing with DC as a whole is really beautiful. It’s inspiring, the direction they’re going and being able to be a part of that process aligns with any other project. It definitely means something. The values ​​at its core are values ​​that align with what I believe in and what I admire.

In treatment airs Sunday and Monday nights on HBO, and is available to stream on HBO Max.

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