ABC's 'For Life' takes stock of real-life events for 2021 shows

A man sentenced to prison for a crime he didn't commit studied to become a lawyer while in prison and helped secure his own freedom, and Isaac Wright Jr.'s real life-story is the inspiration for the ABC drama "For Life."

This season, the central character is navigating the times in which we live, after a summer of discontent in the year of COVID.

And it rises to the moment.

"It just lined up for us to offer the show that was conceptually the right show at the right time," executive producer Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson said.

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The ripped-from-the-headlines approach had meaning for those involved with the show.

"There's episodes dealing with Black Lives Matter," Wright said. "I'm experiencing those things, the same things, especially when we go to the jails."

Scenes for the show were shot at a former correctional facility on Staten Island and at Sing Sing prison, an hour north of Manhattan.

"There was an energy about Sing Sing that made you feel, to a certain degree, the oppression and confinement of being in an institution like that," said Nicholas Pinnock, who plays the character based on Wright.

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Hank Steinberg is the writer who created the show.

"(The lead character) is naturally set-up for this," he said. "Our audience is already engaged in a conversation about these issues."

For the Black Lives Matter arc to be successful, Jackson thought authenticity was necessary.

"It just needs to offer a true perspective," he said.

The idea is to be educational while always remaining entertaining, which Pinnock said is evident in the scripts.

"(The point is to avoid being) preachy, not ramming it down people's throats," he said.

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His co-star, Indira Varma, suggests people may be more receptive to the issues raised this season after the pandemic.

"This experience of lockdown, quarantining, for a lot of people who have never been in prison, gives them some sense of empathy as to what it means not to have freedom," she said.
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