NBC held a press junket last Thursday in support of their current and upcoming shows featuring an all-star lineup of cast members from “Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector,” “Council of Dads,” and “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist!”

Actors Russell Hornsby (“Lincoln Heights”), J. August Richards (“Angel”), Michele Weaver (“Love Is”) and John Clarence Stewart (“What If”) all a synopsis of their respective projects while supporting their network base for the inclusion of black characters’ portrayals as heroes rather than clichés at Midtown eatery, The Federal. 

They also revealed their journeys in Hollywood escaping the perils of tokenism in order to be judged off of their work and talent. 

Veteran actor Hornsby, from ABC’s “Lincoln Heights” popularity, headlined the luncheon for his lead role in the spinoff, “Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector.” 

The show, now in its first season, is based on the best-selling book, “The Bone Collector” by author Jeffery Deaver.  

When a serial killer returns to terrorize the city of New York, circumstances force NYPD detective and forensic guru, Lincoln Rhyme, back in action. After Rhyme suffers from paralysis due to falling blindly in a trap, he teams up with a young profiler to help bring down the killer. 

Hornsby praised NBC’s representation for characters of color, and its progressive state of inclusion saying, “It’s just time, it really is. Everything I’ve done in my career, all of the years, has led me to this point; I believe NBC sees and most importantly, their listening.” 

Richards, who is also a veteran of both the small and big screen including WB’s “Angel,” and the classic Nickelodeon movie, “Good Burger,” joins the cast of “Circle of Dads.” His co-star, Weaver, stars alongside him in this coming-of-age drama centered on surviving fatherhood and its numerous transitions. 

Richards touched briefly on being a part of an era where certain actors were cast in the primary role of the “black friend.”

“For a while, I was playing ‘that’ guy, but what got me into a lot of my early roles was the fact that I never looked my age,” he said. “At some point, I knew there would be a progression where I didn’t have to play the ‘one black guy.’ NBC has given many of us that opportunity matching the times.”

Weaver echoed Richards’ sentiment pertaining to the network’s continuous movement for black female actresses. 

“I’ve seen networks evolve, slowly, but it’s happening,” she said. “I wanted to see diversity seen as ‘must-see’ and not just a requirement. (NBC) is giving us that and audiences can enjoy it, you know?”

On a lighter note, the network’s unique comedy “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” sees newcomer Stewart reunite with his co-star Jane Levy from Netflix’s “What If” series. 

Stewart said that his role as Simon helped merge his love for music and acting all into one and that the network has served as a positive catalyst for that creativity. 

“What’s great about NBC is that they are good at bringing forth comedy that doesn’t see color. I don’t think there will ever be a time where everything is right, but at least we’re being heard and action is taking place.”

Hornsby’s “Lincoln Rhyme” fills out the Friday time slot of 8 EST /7 CST. “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” beeps its tunes on Sundays at 8 EST/9 CST and “Circle of Dads” will premiere on March 24. 

(Photo by: Zach Dilgard/NBC)
(Photo by: Zach Dilgard/NBC)

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