Daisy Jones & the Six’s Nabiyah Be on how being queer helped her bring Simone’s love story to life
As Daisy Jones & the Six continues to drops weekly episodes, actor Nabiyah Be is shedding light on how she brought queer Black disco singer Simone Jackson to life.
The hit Amazon Prime Video series is a TV adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s best-selling 2019 novel of the same name, which follows the story of fictional 1970s band The Six and the turbulent relationship between lead singers Daisy (Riley Keough) and Billy (Sam Claflin).
In both the novel and TV series, we meet Daisy’s best friend and number one supporter, Simone (Be), who is herself a pioneer within the disco scene. However, unlike the book, the TV series has fleshed out Simone’s character by giving her a queer story arc and sweet sapphic love story.
On how her own queer identity influenced the character, Be told Variety: “That was easier than if I were someone playing this role without that background.
“Maybe I’m not a gay actor playing a gay role, but I’m definitely not a straight actor playing a gay role.”
Be added that bringing a queer twist to the series was a good idea, stating: “I think that making her queer definitely added a level of profundity and truth to how impactful music was to the LGBTQIA+ movement and community.
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“I think it made a made her story more truthful to history.”
Be’s character is loosely based on legendary disco queen Donna Summer, who was a major influence within the LGBTQ+ music scene in the 70s and 80s with hits such as “I Feel Love”.
In episode three, we see Simone flirting with Bernie (Ayesha Harris), a New York-based musician who she decides follow, leaving her life in California behind. In episode seven, entitled “She’s Gone”, we see the fallout as Simone’s story is brought front and centre.
The idea to make Simone queer was first proposed by showrunner Will Graham, which made Be “drop the book”. She went onto write a three page paper about how Simone’s character should be fleshed out.
“In the book, she goes from point A to point B, but the middle part, we didn’t have,” Be shared. “I understood that a lot of it was going to come from me being one of the few Black bodies, and just living this story in my body. It was extremely collaborative.”
As for Bernie and Simone’s romance, Be wanted to focus on the “joy of it all, the romance of it all” rather than “how difficult it might have been for them”.
Drawing from real life pioneers from the time, Be and Graham explored whether Simone would have felt “worthy of a healthy, loving relationship”. Bernie represented the “joyful defiance that helped so many marginalised groups of people through that time”.
It was mental health that Be found to be the biggest gap between today and past attitudes. “Historically marginalised groups of people, a lot of us have an easier time with the toughness: ‘I’ll take it on,’ kind of like Amazonian warrior archetype, rather than the subtleties and that softness,” she said.
Daisy Jones & the Six episodes one to eight are now available to watch on Prime Video.
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