Siddiq Saunderson currently stars in the Hulu series Wu-Tang: An American Saga, which returned for its second season this September. In the drama, he portrays Dennis Coles, a loving 19-year-old who would do anything to protect his friends and family.
Dennis, aka “D-Love,” also has an untapped talent that helps him grow into the artist Ghostface Killah.
Earlier this year, Saunderson starred in the indie drama R#J, a Gen Z adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, which premiered at Sundance. Adapted by Timur Bekmambetov and directed by Carey Williams, Saunderson received rave reviews as Mercutio. His additional television credits include BET’s Boomerang and Netflix’s Messiah.
The stakes seem so much higher in Season 2 with Bobby and jail and your shooting. Will the stakes be that much higher all season?
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I think the stakes just continue to rise with these young men. I think that the high stakes and anxiety and that energy and that tension that exists within these first couple episodes of Season 2 really contribute to us booming into the rap stars we are.
Okay, and can you tell me how Dennis plans to balance being a new father with all of his other responsibilities?
Being a father definitely creates extra responsibilities that he never had to face before. I also think that being a father and dealing with Shuree and raising the baby, there are certain specificities within things that he never noticed, like we need this type of Pampers.
I think that technicality shakes his mind into something different and how he thinks about being in situations and relationships.
I think Dennis and Shuree are really cute. I was really enjoying watching them. How does the rest of the Diggs family feel about this couple and the new baby?
It’s not ideal. Shuree is still pretty young. There are a lot of responsibilities and many things happening and change and risk, so adding a baby into the mix definitely created some tension.
I also think it was a blessing that eventually brings everybody together.
Okay, so let’s talk about the music. In Season one, Wu-Tang recorded a single. This season, I heard it would follow the journey of all of them making their 1993 album, Enter the Wu-Tang:36 Chambers. What can you tell me about that?
This season, you get to see us in the studio and hear samples of songs that become hits.
There are a lot of Easter eggs throughout the season, musically and sonically used because there are no humans and some background music or street performer that’s playing the violin and playing a part of the song again, that ends up being sampled in making a song.
You may hear certain music elements from the 36 Chambers spread out and used in very interesting and imaginative ways throughout the season.
So I think the real Wu-Tang fans are going to be hyped over all of those things, those small details throughout the show because there’s a lot of thought that goes behind the work.
That sounds fun. So we’re going to see a lot of music.
Yeah, there’s going to be a lot of music. However, there is still life, and you see how the music is born out of these men and their circumstances and how the lyrics and the energy that you feel when you hear the tracks on this album. You kind of get that expanded. I think that’s what sets our show apart from others.
Okay, and can you tell me how meeting Ghostface Killer helped you define your character?
It made me trust myself more that I was meant to play the role. He gave me his stamp of approval and his blessing and really was there for support. I’ve always been there, and he said to call him about anything if I had any questions, but we don’t talk.
So just knowing that he’s there meant the world to me, and it also was just enough to allow me to feel confident in the work that I was doing.
There are many people, and everybody has an opinion, especially on social media. I have this platform for them to share their opinions and their thoughts, but the most important ones for me are the people who hired me to take on this role and star in it. As long as they’re happy, I’m happy.
Absolutely. And how much did you know about the Wu-Tang be for getting this role?
I knew some of their songs. I wasn’t a super fan or anything like that, but I definitely was aware of who the Wu-Tang was.
I think the beauty of portraying this character and going out into the Wu-Tang family now is that I can see how amazing and impactful these young black men from New York were.
They could rise to the occasion, beyond the occasion, and surpass the institutionalized traps, things that are put into our society that prevented black men from succeeding. They could move past that and create something that is so powerful and impactful to the cultures.
It is indeed. And how important do you think it is to tell this story during such a pivotal time in history, like Black Lives Matter?
I think it’s important to tell this story. Absolutely. I don’t necessarily think now is that much different from the time that we lived in the past.
I think things are changing, and conversations are being had, but you know, the civil rights movement has been going on for so long. As it changes, we change to evolve.
Instead, I feel very honored to be a part of a project that shows black men in a positive light through all the hustling and gun violence. All those things are products of the environment and parts of a bigger issue within our society.
I’m glad to be a part of the story that tells the story of extreme artistry and brilliance within black men and black people. I feel really proud about that.
Absolutely. And tell me a bit about the film R#J you appeared in. I’m a huge fan of Romeo and Juliet and Shakespeare. How was this version different?
It was very different. This is a screen life. It falls under the screen life genre, so it’s through the perspective of the screen. Whether it’s a FaceTime conversation or an Instagram, or an Instagram live video, it takes a very classic story and brings the two perspectives in a new way.
We will also be able to enjoy it because it shows a different perspective and shows how social media would affect how Romeo and Juliet and if they’ll engage social media and how social media plays such a huge part in the love and the feuding and all the things that make Romeo and Juliet what it is.
So I’m really excited that I played Mercutio. He’s a very eccentric role, and I was really just happy to show a different side of what I’m capable of as an actor.
It’s very different from my previous roles, but that’s why I do it, and that’s why I do what I do. That’s why I love what I do because I get to play with all these different people and use my imagination.
Absolutely. Well, I’ll have to check that out sometime. As mentioned, I am a huge fan of Shakespeare.
We’re hoping to find a home somewhere soon. We’re at fundamentals this year in South by Southwest. I think we’re worried that they might not release it at all, with everything happening in the world, and we don’t want that to happen.
New episodes of Wu-Tang: An American Saga Season 2 drop on Hulu on Wednesdays.
Laura Nowak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.