Little Apple is a new comedy/drama/sci-fi family show that needs to be on your radar. You see, Apple knows things. Not like your preteen knows all the things, because, heaven knows, they know All.The.Things. No, Apple is special. She has the extrasensory ability to know things far beyond her means and age. Her burgeoning consciousness and rapidly expanding knowledge brings a decision to her at 9 years old that some grownups aren’t prepared to make: Accept the world as it is, or speak up.
There has never been a more perfect time to center a show around children learning to raise their voice and speak truth to power.
“Who is little Apple? A claircognizant (all-knowing) little Black girl living in Harlem and ridding the world of ignorance — one person at a time. With Harlem in flux, so is Little Apple as she and her family grapple with her new abilities, new confidence and sheer impatience for a new school year.”
Riley Wilson, executive producer, says “I see children being thrust into consciousness with the same content adults are consuming, whether that’s hearing conversations about stop-and-frisk or all of the trending social media content on violence against Black bodies. How do we give them authority to speak about their experiences or speak truth to the power plays they are seeing or influencing their everyday lives?”
“Little Apple opens up the conversation a lot more when it comes to racial and social justice,” he said. “It presents an opportunity for not just kids, but parents to have real dialogue about how racial and social justice impact their everyday lives.”
I spoke to Mr. Wilson about this project recently to get more insight into Little Apple and her place in the world today.
Will the show be set up to touch on a different type of conflict/oppression point per episode? Can you tell me a bit about the structure of the show in this regard?
Yes; in essence, there are two storylines happening. The first follows a very intelligent and sharp little Apple, a nine-year-old black girl, as she faces patriarchy, institutionalized racism, and intolerance in her everyday life; the other chronicles her newfound claircognizant (all-knowing) abilities and how she decides to use them.
I would assume that given the type of firebrand personality she’s set to have, she’s going to be in conflict quite a bit at school with her teachers and friends, and even on the playground or on the street with peers. Is this going to be a focal point for any kind of activism that other children (and their parents) can watch and learn and use in their own lives to combat these issues at home? I know many children today feel passionately about these issues, but they may not have the courage to say what needs to be said in the moment (as well as parents who don’t know exactly how to talk to their kids about how to stand up for themselves and others). Will any of the conflict points in this series be designed to help with that?
I’m sure the family dynamic that I created in Little Apple reflects how some of these conversations may go. Apple’s father, Matthew, is a professor at a local college and her mother, Charlene, is a RN at a local hospital. Where Matthew is intrigued by and, at times, encourages Apple’s approach to righting the wrongs she may encounter everyday (whether racial microaggressions, underhanded misogyny, or intolerance), Charlene is more concerned about Apple’s childhood.
In a time where kids are constantly soaking up content, just like us adults, it really is an important dichotomy parents face—informing and educating children, while still protecting their innocence and helping them remain children. Is this art imitating life or life imitating art? Regardless, conversations are being had. Tamir Rice was 12 years old when he was gunned down at a park in cold blood.
I would assume that being practically omniscient would put her in conflict with pretty much everyone who doesn’t comprehend the depth of her understanding. I’ve seen a lot of families of activists who are more like “Just shhhhhh and stop making trouble; it’s hard enough already.” Will there be any of that touched on?
Of course. For example, Apple faces off against Michael, a young Black boy in her class. Throughout history, we’ve witnessed the way Black men have aligned themselves with patriarchy. Apple knows this and makes it clear that no matter how close her Black male counterparts associate themselves with the idea that boys (men) have power over girls (women) and gender nonconforming folks, at the end of the day, he’s still young and black in America. Apple also addresses complicity. She doesn’t subscribe to the idea that we should shut up just to get by.
On Milan Williams as Apple: I’ve listened to several of your podcasts, and she sounds so amazingly grown up! What is it about Milan that drew you to cast her in this role?
Milan just turned 10. I believe she was 8 when I met her. The character, Apple, is 9. So I’ve been working with her for some time. What drew me to Milan was her professionalism and memorizing skills, even as an 8-year-old. The scripts are heavy in dialogue so being off-book early on was key in order for us to create the family dynamic I wanted. Also, Milan’s mother was just as excited and curious about the project as Milan. Much of our initial meetings just consisted of me hanging out with the two of them, breaking down the script and explaining where I’m going when I have Apple tell a young rude little boy, “You’re a young misogynist and I don’t have time for you.”
Although there are two other series coming out soon or recently airing featuring black boys with “super powers”: Raising Dion (Netflix) and Keloid (YouTube web series), Little Apple sets itself apart in specific ways.
Wilson tells Scary Mommy, “Little Apple is special because it is from the perspective of a little Black girl—not a male and not an adult. Her character is designed to be entertaining while still speaking truth to power and encouraging audiences to do the same.”
Little Apple was a finalist for the 2016 Sundance Institute YouTube New Voices Lab, and the project has raised over $15,000 via more than 300 backers on Kickstarter. The project is currently seeking distribution for the live action web series as well as partnerships with Harlem-based businesses to advertise in the comic book.
You can learn more about this project, including more details about the show, the cast, and crew, on their website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or by listening to the Podcast. You can also pre-order the comic now.