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Regina King on Playing a Devout Muslim in ABC’s ‘American Crime’

American Crime - ABC
American Crime – ABC

*Settling into the vacated “How to Get Away With Murder” time slot on Thursdays is ABC’s new drama “American Crime,” an anthology series penned and executive produced by Oscar winning “12 Years a Slave” screenwriter John Ridley.

The show takes a look at race, class, religion, sex and gender in the American justice system through a murder in Modesto, California. White war veteran Matt Skokie is killed, and his wife, Gwen, is brutally attacked during a home invasion.

Matt’s racist mother (Felicity Huffman) is relentless in her quest to find the killer, and it doesn’t help that the three main suspects are men of color: Tony (Johnny Ortiz), a Hispanic teen rebelling against his father Alonzo (Benito Martinez), Mexican street gangster Hector (Richard Cabral), and Carter (Elvis Nolasco), a black drug addict going nowhere with his white girlfriend Aubry (Caitlin Gerard).

Regina King as Aliyah Shadeed in ABC's "American Crime"
Regina King as Aliyah Shadeed in ABC’s “American Crime”

Regina King recurs as Carter’s sister Aliyah Shadeed, a devout Muslim who sees the treatment of her brother through the lens of her religion – one of many represented on the program. In depicting the different faiths, Ridley said it was “important to be respectful” so that the roles are “characters and not caricatures.”

“One of the things I think that’s very strong about this show is we deal very much with family and faith. And we examine Christianity. We examine Catholicism. We examine the Muslim religion. We’re not trying to be indicative of any one aspect of those faiths, but how those faiths drive and strengthen people,” Ridley told us during the recent TCA Press Tour.

“Sometimes when all else falls away, that’s what remains, is faith, whether it’s religious faith, whether it’s faith in a secular system, or what have you. But having an opportunity over the length of the show to look at faith through many different aspects was very, very important to us.

Below, Regina talks about her preparation to play Aliyah Shadeed in “American Crime.”

“American Crime” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.

Watch the trailer and a sneak peek below:

Sneak peek:

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