Fosse/Verdon is a biographical miniseries that stars Sam Rockwell as choreographer Bob Fosse and Michelle Williams as acclaimed dancer Gwen Verdon. The acclaimed miniseries tells the story of a couple's troubled relationship — both professional and personal. As per our previous report, during the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, the show received an extraordinary seven nominations.
Today, we have Aya Cash who plays the role of Joan Simon in Fosse/Verdon. The 37-year-old Cash is well known for getting nominations for her lead role in FX's series, You're the Worst. Aya Cash started her television career from some acclaimed shows like Brotherhood, Law & Order, Mercy, and The Newsroom. We got the opportunity to have a word with her about her character in Fosse/Verdon and how the character's arches change as the story progresses.
International Business Times: How much did you know about the Fosse/Verdon story and about the character that you played in the show?
Aya Cash: I didn't know much. I knew nothing about Joan and I knew very little about Bob and Gwen. Obviously, I knew the sort of things everyone knew - I knew the movies, I knew the jazz hands, but I had no idea she was his ghost director. I had no idea that she was such a powerful creator in her own right - not just a singer, dancer, and actor, but a true director and choreographer. It's really exciting she's having her coming out party.
International Business Times: Joan and Gwen's relationship is one of the really lovely bits of the show, where you see a different side, where the vulnerability comes out and that's the point where the entire story shifts. What did you tap into in that? Did you talk to the real people to understand the thoughts that go behind playing such characters?
Aya: I didn't get a chance to talk to the real people, except Nicole Fosse, who's an executive producer, who was on set quite a bit and was very helpful in terms of just little details, like the fact that Joan always had the bow in her hair. Always. You never saw her without the bow. And Neil Simon talks about her and says, 'She was funnier than me, she was smarter than me.' Those things. So you got a sense that this was a very powerful woman, but one who was fine to not be in the spotlight and that's a really important distinction between her and a lot of the people in this show.
International Business Times: I thought that was a really interesting aspect - when they're in Majorca and she's talking about stepping back. I was thinking about it in terms of today and feminism and how we think about our careers because it's a lot to ask of somebody – to step back like that and given the current scenarios that particular scene had a lot to offer, isn't it?
Aya: Sure. When she says, 'But I'm not Gwen Verdon,' the truth is there are certain people who are okay with that - men or women who are okay with standing behind the scenes. There are plenty of people who work in our business who absolutely need the validation and the fanfare and then there are people who don't. Half the people who make movies and television don't ever get any accolades or credit. And a lot of them are fine with that, they would not want that. So I think it's alright for her to step back. I think feminism is about choice, it's not about deciding to choose for others. So, while I probably wouldn't be able to make Joan's decision, it doesn't mean I'm a lesser woman because I want some of the spotlights for myself. I don't judge her for it either.
International Business Times: Well, that's great to hear. These women were working in the 1970s so do you think things have changed for women in show-business?
Aya: I think things have started to change. Whether it's because people are so scared that they're going to get in trouble or not, it doesn't matter. Intentions don't matter as long as there are actions at this point. The intentions can be changed over time and they won't change immediately, but the actions can be changed immediately, and I think actions are being taken. Are they enough? Are we done? Absolutely not. But we're taking steps and I feel excited by those steps. It's a better time to be a woman in show-business now than it was 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, and I hope it will be exponentially better in the next 20 years.
International Business Times: And not just in terms of #MeToo, obviously, but in terms of female roles, in terms of the stories being told. This says Fosse/Verdon, but it's very much Gwen's story, isn't it because in the end, it tells how she felt and how she overcame all the obstacles that came in her way?
Aya: Yes. I mean, I think that's what's so amazing about this. Fosse is what gets you to come in and Sam Rockwell is amazing in it, but Gwen is a discovery. We know a little bit about Fosse, but we don't know about Gwen, so that's going to be people's discovery.
The Emmy nominated series Fosse/Verdon premieres in India on July 29th at 10 pm on S.T.A.G.E. on Star World.