All Rise has been a singular type of show since its inception. It is much more than a courtroom procedural drama. Led by Judge Lola Carmichael (Simone Missick), the series follows the cases that land in her courtroom and the personal and professional lives of the prosecutors, public defenders, bailiffs, cops, and defendants that orbit around her.
After a two-season run, All Rise was canceled on CBS. It has since been revived on OWN as a more comprehensive series that expands beyond the courtroom. As we head into the second half of season 3, Shadow and Act spoke with Missick, who is also now an executive producer on the series, about this amplified version of Lola, multifaceted female characters, and all of the remaining secrets and surprises that this season will reveal.
"I definitely wanted for Lola to make some missteps," Missick says of the expansion of her character this season.
“I wanted her to not be on sure footing as it pertained to her personal life,” she continued. “And I wanted to go home with her and see that intimacy between her and her husband. I wanted to see them in their domestic bliss. I wanted to see them fight. I wanted to see them make love. I wanted to see them be parents. I think that helps shape a full picture of a person and their life, to see their family, friends and loved ones, not just the people they work with.”
In the season 3 opener, Lola narrowly won her campaign to remain on the bench, which certainly rattled her professionally. Missick also thought it critical to showcase that her marriage was also going through ebbs and flows. “I think seeing Lola questioning her ex and that relationship and wondering what could have been is real,” she says. “It is what people really go through. And our fans are super-protective of Lola and her marriage, and they’re happy about it, but it’s life, unfortunately. I wanted to show her be a little undone this season.”
OWN is a network that champions women's stories, and in her new role as an executive producer, Missick knew it was vital to expand and explore the lives of all of the beloved female characters on 'All Rise.'
“We are able to see Sherri’s [Ruthie Ann Miles] personal life and who she is and who her parents were and what her upbringing was, in a way that has been spread over these first nine episodes,” she explains. “We will see it ramp up even more in the back half of the season in a way that I think is just exciting for a character who is so beloved, but we don’t know much about her background. For example, why is she an Asian American woman whose last name is Kansky?”
Exploring Sherri’s background is only the beginning. “We’ve watched Sara [Lindsay Mendez] switch careers,” Missick says. “Now we’re getting into her personal life in the later half of the season. I love that in addition to the characters we already feel like we know, we now get to go home with our other characters in a way that I think is necessary.”
Now that 'All Rise' has moved from network to cable, the writers have been given more freedom regarding the storylines and cases they explore.
For Missick, two cases, in particular, stand out this season. “I’ve truly enjoyed two cases that came nearly back to back, dealing with Black men in our criminal justice system,” she says. “One is a man who perhaps is a serial killer, and we don’t know if he eluded justice, but he is responsible for murdering dozens of Black women in and around south LA, and those cases very often do not get solved. Then the next episode was about a man who had been wrongfully imprisoned for 30 years and was innocent and was perhaps not going to get out based on a technicality. That has been wonderful to highlight how unfair the system can be toward Black and brown bodies.”
Missick credits a great deal of 'All Rise's success on the series showrunner, Dee Harris-Lawrence, who previously helmed the critically acclaimed 'David Makes Man.'
“I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in telling Lola’s story and in telling these characters’ stories,” Missick explains. “She gives our writers the freedom to come up with all kinds of ideas and cases and stories, pull them from bylines and inside centerfolds of newspapers and magazine articles, and share that with our audience. I think our partners at OWN trust what we are doing, and they trust her as their showrunner to bring these stories to them in exciting, different, impactful, and fun ways.”
From the character development to the music and the hair this season, 'All Rise' has undoubtedly risen to the occasion, and for Missick, it's been more than she could have ever dreamed.
“Everything about this third season feels like we are operating at our highest selves,” she explains. “Everybody is coming to work excited to do their job and trying to knock it out of the park, from the writers to the directors to the editors, to everyone in our crew and our cast and the actors we get every week. I just feel like we are super-blessed.”
All Rise airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on OWN.
Aramide A. Tinubu is a film critic, consultant and entertainment editor. As a journalist, her work has been published in Netflix’s Tudum, EBONY, JET, ESSENCE, Bustle, The Daily Mail, IndieWire and Blavity. She wrote her master’s thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a cinephile, bookworm, blogger and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can find her reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or A Word With Aramide or tweet her @wordwitharamide.