Fishback’s big TV break may not seem very auspicious; after all, she played a character named “Black Woman” and only had a few lines… but “I got to say them opposite Clive Owen, which is pretty good, you know?” she says. In addition to trying to figure out how things worked on the intricate Showtime production, the actress ran into a problem with vision. Not the director’s take on her character or anything like that — actual vision. Fishback wears glasses in real life but neglected to wear contacts during the shoot, which took place at night in a sparingly lit area. “It was super dark, and I didn’t know where the camera was!” she recalls, laughing. “And everybody’s moving so fast and they all seemed to know what they were doing, so I was really nervous about it.”
With the sage advice of a casting director ringing in her ears (“Is everybody going to come in and give the same audition? Because if you feel like they will, then you haven’t worked enough on it”), Fishback entered an audition for a guest spot on the CBS procedural. The role: a teenager in a Scared Straight-type program. “I was like, ‘Well, if I’m a teenager, I’m pissed off and I really don’t want to be where I am, then I might not try to be as clear with my words or how I talk to the people in authority. So, I had this necklace that my mom just got me for Christmas, and I decided that I was going to put it in my mouth to talk with it in my mouth.” The risk worked; when she landed the role — most of her scenes were with a very supportive Donnie Wahlberg — and met with the costume department, the detail about the jewelry had been written into her character. “That was a big deal for me, to know that what you bring to something as an actor could actually change the course of what people initially thought for my role.”
Fishback had to act her way through labor as Elan, the woman whose baby Paige and Evan were planning to adopt. Never having had a child, the actress went to YouTube to watch birth videos, and “I scared myself,” she says, chuckling. “I was like, ‘Oh my god… like, why would I do that to myself?'” The prosthetic belly was also a first (you wear it “kind of like a bathing suit,” she says) and it allowed her to mess with her friends when she posted a photo of her, looking rather expectant, on social media. “I don’t think it really worked,” she says, “but I was like, ‘I am desperate to use it!'”
SHOW ME A HERO
The Deuce is Fishback’s second David Simon project, after this Oscar Isaac-led miniseries, which aired on HBO in 2015. In it, she plays a teenager who becomes involves with a low-level criminal. Fishback credits her agent, Leslie Zaslower, with the abundance of high-profile projects on her resumé. “I always call her a visionary, because she’s like, ‘OK, Dom, you did this. Now what’s the next step? How do we increase that?’ She was always thinking bigger before we even got there.”
Fishback has a theory about why Darlene’s pimp didn’t seem too angry when she realized she was the inadvertent star of a popular porn short back in Episode 2. “I don’t know, because David [Simon] never said and [EP] George [Pelecanos] never said, but when Larry is like, ‘Oh, OK. Oh, he did that? I’ll make sure he’s not taking advantage of you,'” she says, affecting the nonchalant attitude of her character’s employer. “I feel like he knew. He was a part of it.” Makes sense, no?
THE DEUCE (cont’d.)
You know the bare foot that splashes in the puddle at the end of the series’ opening title sequence? “That is my foot,” Fishback says. “We went through a lot to get that, and Michelle [MacLaren, a producer and director on the series] loved that shot. But it was friggin’ cold!” The shot was obtained outside when the weather wasn’t exactly cooperating, “and I remember they were blow-drying my foot” between takes, Fishback says, laughing, “and then afterwards, I still had [a scene] to do later that night.” For her hard work, MacLaren treated the actress to a visit from an on-set masseur — her first massage ever. “They came to my trailer,” she says dreamily. “I was like, ‘I think we may have a problem, because I love me a massage now!”