How ‘Underground Railroad’ Editor McMillon Approached Its Nuanced Performances

Labor News, Industry News

Reprinted from The Hollywood Reporter by Carolyn Giardina on June 4, 2021.

Joi McMillon — the first Black woman to earn an Oscar nomination in film editing (alongside fellow editor Nat Sanders for Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight) — recently reteamed with her Florida State classmate Jenkins for his powerful Amazon limited series The Underground Railroad, based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. The 10-episode series follows Cora Randall, played by Thuso Mbedu, a slave who flees her Georgia plantation using an underground train system. McMillon, who led a team of editors that also included Alex O’Flinn and Daniel Morfesis, spoke to THR about her biggest challenges, exploring Black mental health, and using Cora as a throughline.

How did you approach the 10-episode arc? 

The thing we wanted to be sure of was translating how inventive the novel is to the screen. Our approach was one episode at a time — what’s the tone of the episode, and how should it flow together so that when you step back and look at all 10 episodes as a whole, it makes sense? Even though chapter one (“Georgia”) and chapter 10 (“Mabel”) were the episodes that I worked on first, having the ability to go back and being informed of how the episodes were going to play out was really great. I think it was actually “Mabel” (which follows Cora’s mother) that set the stage of what the show was supposed to be, because the tone of that chapter is so specific.  …

THR 6/4

RELATED POSTS:  California Subpoenas Amazon Over Worker Safety in Pandemic
About Jeffrey Burman 861 Articles
Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at jeffrey.s.burman.57@gmail.com.

Leave a Reply