When we got down to the end, it was myself against someone who was the owner of an art gallery and also had a Broadway show coming out. [The producers] really had to figure out which way they went. I’m glad they went with me—the other guy was phenomenal. No shade to him…. But when I went into casting, I was very clear: I have a background as a social worker. Being able to get to the emotional core is the only way to sustain change…. I can introduce you to an art gallery all day long, but that’s not going to help you to figure out why you haven’t cleaned your house, changed your hair, changed your diet…any of those things, in 20 years.
n season one and two, they were still balancing how to do in the edit from my point of view. I would have these heartfelt conversations, but [the viewer] didn’t really understand, in my opinion, that, Oh, his role is to fix the inside. Because you know, everything else is external. You cut someone’s hair, you change their clothes, you see their diet, you see the house. Mine was a little bit more ambiguous. But as the fans of the show responded, they were like, “No no no, we want more of what Karamo’s giving! I realized every time he comes onscreen I start crying.”
[The producers] leaned into it for season three, and I’m really proud of season four. They really have leaned into even more of, like—we don’t need you to do anything but sit down with a person, and really help them figure out what’s going on, emotionally and mentally. I think that has changed the show in a really positive way—and is why people have such connection now, versus it just being a makeover show. It’s one thing when someone has a shirt on that you like. But it’s another when you’re like, This is exactly what I’m going through with my mom. This is exactly what my dad is going through. This is exactly what I’m feeling.
For me, it was important on two levels. First level is to help Wesley, but also, as a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas [High School] in Parkland, Florida, where the kids were killed—my former classmate was killed. And as a black man in this country, we see people die in the streets—we see it on Facebook. We have so much trauma around this, and people are never getting to the source…to sit down and confront this face-to-face.
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