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Interview: Denée Benton & Louisa Jacobson on their Authentic, Critical Characters and an Incredible Ensemble in ‘The Gilded Age’

HBO’s new series The Gilded Age brings the scope of creator Julian FellowesDownton Abbey to 1882 New York City, following a young transplant, Marian (Louisa Jacobson), from rural Pennsylvania who moves in with her wealthy aunts. Marian arrives with a new friend in tow, Peggy (Denée Benton), whose journey reflects her identity as a Black woman in the era.

Awards Radar had the chance to speak with Benton and Jacobson about the chance to tackle these fantastic roles and the others actors they were excited to work with in the ensemble.

Asked whether she felt her character was way ahead of her time, here’s what Benton had to say:

“I’m always a little annoyed by that point of view, because I think it says that people were not capable of critical analysis at every point in history. As women, and then as a black woman, there have always been people at every point in history who were aware enough to be critical of their societies. That lineage of my ancestry has always existed. Really, it’s the question of, why have we been taught that these people didn’t have these thoughts and didn’t have these senses of their own desire for sovereignty. What’s been really exciting for me is to read pieces from this time, to read writings from writers like Peggy at that time, who were grappling and asking the same questions that we are asking today.”

Watch the full conversation below:

New episodes of The Gilded Age premiere Mondays at 9pm on HBO.

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Written by Abe Friedtanzer

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