Mickaëlle X. Bizet On American Crime Season 3 And Pushing The Boundaries Of TV

If you've tuned into American Crime at any point over the past three seasons, you've learned that it's a show unlike any other on basic cable. The John Ridley project has changed the way television tackles important social issues, and forces viewers to see the world in a different light than they're used to.

Mickaëlle X. Bizet has joined the show's cast for season three - appearing for the first time in last Sunday's episode - and she's all in on Ridley's unique vision. The actress took some time to chat with ComicBook.com about the new role, the show as a whole, and how its message is changing the entire system.

CB: Mickaëlle, tell us a little bit about portraying Gabrielle Durand.

[MC]: She's just like a lot of people when they come to America, you know they want to create a better life for themselves. You know you have your life and you make mistakes and I came to America just like her. I just wanted a better life, I had big dreams than what I saw was going to happen me in France so I just went for my big dream, the American dream and I moved to America to be a nanny for an American family actually. Just like her.

Except that my story's more like a sitcom than her story. The family I ended up living with, they were amazing and they just adopted me like their own daughter. The little girls I was taking care of became my little sisters, and they're still in my life. That's where Gabrielle and I are really different. I had an amazing story with my host family. Hers just takes a horrible turn.

Have the fans of the show started reaching out, interacting with you regarding the role?

What's interesting is that you know like ABC has this live Tweet every Sunday and so on Sunday, people on Twitter, the fans, had really funny gif's for Gabrielle. My favorite was, you know Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost? When she says, "You're in danger girl," so people had that gif for Gabrielle. Although it was just her introduction, they were already like, "Girl, run!" Somebody said, "Run Gabrielle! Run!" They already know it's not going to go well.

Yeah, because everything with Lili [Taylor]'s character seems to be really great. It's her husband that kind of I think has everybody a little bit worried.

Yeah, right now yeah. Everybody's kind of like, "Oh, what's his deal?" You know when I introduced myself to him, that kind of shocked everybody, the way he reacted to me. They all have, on Twitter they have, they're speculating on is he racist? What's going to happen to her? Is it going to be something with him? You know because she's a woman, she's a nanny in his house, it's really fun to see what people think is going to happen to her.

No matter what happens to her you know it's basically, because the whole season right now is based on exploitation of people. You know it was on the farm and you know with the business of the families and how they exploit people for their own benefit. With Gabrielle obviously is probably going still going to be in that realm of like exploitation. When I did research on her, on domestic workers and nannies in America, I found out that there's a lot going on. Like the struggles of domestic workers. That revolves a little bit around that.

mickaelle americancrime
(Photo: JeanPaul SanPedro)

I'm curious to ask you, what has this show meant to you, not as an actress, but as a person of color and as a woman and as someone who wasn't born in America? John Ridley's really aimed to bring a voice and to bring power to the stories that don't always have that type of voice.

Well exactly, that's what I love about the show. When I started watching the show, I was just shocked, I was like, "Wait, this is ABC? This is actually on TV?" When you hear the title American Crime you expect like a regular procedural, a series like a CSI or something like that. I was like, "Wow, this looks really real." You start, when I was watching it, my mind just directly went into the psychology of the characters and I love the fact that I started kind of like feeling what other people were feeling. That I did not even think about. I like that they put to the forefront things that we don't really talk about. Like the second season, there's something that Regina King's characters said about the rape of the boys, she goes, "That's not possible. That does not happen to boys." I'm like, "Oh my God, so many people must be thinking that, that boys don't get raped." I think those are such great starter points for conversation and for us to start thinking about things that we have no idea about.

With this season in particular, me being an immigrant, there's a lot of assumptions that are being made about immigrants, just like you know, Benito Martinez' character this season, it was great to see the reaction of people when he started speaking English, because the assumption is that when you're an immigrant you come here and you don't speak the language. You're less than this, you're less than that. You're less everything. People don't think of you as smart or whatever. So when he started speaking English Twitter went crazy. "Oh my God, he speaks English!" You know? I like that. That they're unveiling all the assumptions we make about people. I lived that too. I came from France and there were so many assumptions. People were like, "Oh you're from Haiti," I'm said, "Well no, I'm not from Haiti. Nothing against Haiti, I love Haiti. I'm from France." They were like, "There's no black people in France."

I'm like, "Yes, there is. France used to be a really, really big empire and they colonized a lot of countries. There's a lot of black people in France from the former colonies." There's a lot of assumptions that are being rectified with that show. I really love that. It makes you like look at people that you would think are bad, but then you start seeing where they're coming from. Like the first season, we were all expecting to be rooting for one character or like be against another character because they're bad, but then you started realizing what they're going through. It's almost like everybody, there's a different perspective to everything. You know people do what they do, good or bad, they have their own reason. They have their own reasoning.

That's something I really appreciate about the show, is that every, the villains and the heroes of the show come in all colors. They don't paint the picture of, oh someone of color is bad, and they don't paint the picture of oh, here's the evil white man. It's very much like anyone can be good and anyone can be bad, and that's kind of the beauty and the tragedy of our world regardless.

With American Crime, aside from Gabrielle's story, which story in this season have you been most excited watching? Which one have you enjoyed the most?

I think what goes on, on the farm.

Yeah, because at some point a few years ago I had decided to change my diet so I watched a lot of documentaries on Netflix about food and you know like, what's going on in agriculture and how to like pick the right foods to eat for your health and everything. When I started reading the script that they sent me, I was like, wait a minute, that really sounds like what I saw in the documentaries. At some point, I don't remember if it was Forks Over Knives, but one of the documentaries I watched, there was a point where they were on the farms and the guys working on the farms were living in those trailers and they were brought by, the owners of the farms, they were brought illegally, you know human trafficking.


To work on the farms in those conditions, and there was something about how, just to be okay with immigration, you know the owner of the farm would allow immigration to come and do raids on them once in a while and bring some of them back. I was like, this isn't fine what's happening. When I realized that American Crime was going into that, I was like, "Oh my God, they're not joking." So yeah, that's my favorite storyline, not storyline, but you know like depiction of what goes on her that we don't really know about. What goes on in the farms with those workers. A lot of my friends are Latinos and they go, "Oh my God, like my uncle works on one of those farms and I know somebody, something happened to them. This is so true, this is so real." Like people watching the show are not going to believe that this is actually happening, people dying on the farms. Women getting raped. It is happening.

Be sure to tune in to brand new episodes of American Crime, Sundays at 10pm ET on ABC.