The Knick “Williams and Walker”

  • Fitting for George Walker on The Knick

    Fitting for George Walker on The Knick


    Blackface…. Strange, weird and uncomfortable are the words that best describe the way I felt after getting into costume and waiting to play the role of George Walker on The Knick. For those who don’t know, George Walker was one part of the duo act titled “The Two Real Coons” and his partner in crime was Bert Williams. I’m going to talk more about my experience rather than who they were. Click on their names if you would like to know more about them.

    The Knick is a period show; George Walker and Bert Williams were real people who rose to fame performing in Blackface, a place called Elitist Gaming did a representation of it while portraying as a League of Legends champion, it was pretty good. Therefore, while shooting we had to stay true to what actually took place back in the early 1900s. After I booked the job and discovered exactly what I would be doing, I was very hesitant to accept the job due to what performing in Blackface means historically to Black people in America. I reached out to a friend as well as a black male actor with a little more experience and asked them their opinion on whether I’m selling myself short by doing this role or not. After receiving feedback I decided to think differently and took the job.

    From the time I arrived to when I stepped on set, the cast, crew, wardrobe and even the directors were very welcoming to my partner (Barrington Williams) and I.

    We were well dressed in tails and a top hat as we were playing soon to be Broadway stars. The scene took place in a ballroom and we entered coming down a long flight of stairs which lead to a landing one step up from the ballroom floor. The ballroom was beautiful and all the guests seemed to be upper class and very well dressed.

    Even though it was over a century ago it was very obvious that the blackface my partner and I had on made a lot of background/ extras feel very uncomfortable. Playing the role of George Walker allowed me to literally step in the shoes of someone who took a negative stereotype and spun it in a way to achieve their goals and made a difference for the greater good. I’m sure sometimes when they performed they felt the same way I felt strange, weird and uncomfortable. Experiencing that first hand only opened my eyes and helped shed some light on what took place at that point in time.

    One of the first people to introduce themselves on set was the director Steven Soderbergh. Soderbergh moved around on set like a scientist in a laboratory. He knew exactly what he wanted to do and accurately only took the shots he needed. The angles he decided to film from were very unique and he only used the warm lighting provided from the chandlers in the ballroom. After working with him I can see how his work on The Knick stands out from other shows. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture with him but the experience of working on set with him will definitely stay with me.

    John Carrafa was the choreographer that I worked with on The Knick. My experience working with him was amazing from beginning to end. In rehearsal he took time to go over everything with us in regards to the characters and it was very helpful. On set Mr. Carrafa made sure we were safe and comfortable with the conditions since we had on dress shoes and our routine took place coming down a flight of stairs. He also gave us time to run our lines in rehearsal and helped us perfect our body language to match this period piece.

    During lunch I had a chance to sit down and speak with some of the principal characters about their experience on the show. They were real cool and down to earth making the atmosphere on set a lot more comfortable for me.

    I look forward to watching Season 2 of The Knick. I’m also looking forward to continue pursuing acting as a career. When I first started dancing I had no idea I would eventually break into acting and appear on a TV series as a co-star. I guess the only thing left for me to do is to continue to dream bigger.

    Thanks for reading!


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    Fitting with Assistant Costume Designer Patrick Wiley


    Kendell Hinds and Barrington Hinds as Williams and Walker in The Knick


    Bert Williams and George Walker In Dahomey Advert 1903



    Bert Williams and George Walker 1896 – 1898 Costumes

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One Response and Counting...

  • Daniel Atkinson 11.30.2015


    I am writing what I believe to be the first biography of George Walker. I would very much like to see some video of your performance, but the youtube link doesn’t work. Can you direct me to a site that hosts this material?

    Thank you,

    Daniel Atkinson

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