Swarm is an upcoming horror series that premiered at the 2023 South by Southwest Film Festival last week and hails from two-time Emmy winner and multitalented actor Donald Glover (Community, Solo: A Star Wars Story) and producer Janine Nabers (Watchmen, Away). The thriller stars BAFTA nominee Dominique Fishback (Judas and the Black Messiah, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey) as Dre, “a woman turned mad by standom for a Beyoncé-like pop star,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
This marks Glover’s second project since signing a deal with Amazon. The first was six-time Emmy winning series Atlanta, which is set in the same universe as Swarm. “The culture of the internet was very present in Atlanta, and it’s very present in Swarm,” said Nabers, who works on both shows. “Donald is from Atlanta and kind of took that city and made it into something a little more subversive, and I’m doing that with Houston, the city that I’m from.”
Furthermore, Nabers shared her goal of showcasing Black representation on Swarm — “I think it’s time for us to have characters that represent as big and as subversive and as weird a world as all of the white characters we’ve seen in many TV shows and movies since the beginning of time. There’s a lot of diversity in horror right now. It isn’t really so scary like a ghost coming out of a closet anymore. I think psychological horror feels like something rich and uncharted territory right now for Black people, so I’m really excited.”
Glover described the series as “a post-truth TV show” — “It’s based on true events. I know there’s a lot of heavier issues or ideas but it really boiled down to, is this something that’d be fun to watch?… That’s something that we talked a lot about [in the writers room], like, this could be really kind of weird.”
Fishback discussed getting into the headspace of her character. While her acting process is to research her roles, she took a different approach for Dre: “Psychologically on the page, I couldn’t really track her, so I had to just decide to be present… In every project that I do, I advocate for my character and so it was about time I really advocated for myself. I never just think about my character, I think about the whole entire world and arc of the whole show.”
Alongside Fishback are actors Chloe Bailey (Last Holiday, A Wrinkle In Time) as Dre’s sister and Damson Idris (Snowfall, Outside The Wire) as Dre’s boyfriend. Guest stars Rickey Thompson (Foursome, Good Mourning), Paris Jackson (Gringo, American Horror Stories), Rory Culkin (Signs, Mean Creek), Kiersey Clemons (Dope, Sweetheart), Byron Bowers (Honey Boy, No Suddon Move), and singer Billie Eilish (No Time to Die, Happier Than Ever) are also set to appear.
Bailey said of her character, Marissa: “I think a lot of people can relate to her.”
Idris also gave his two cents: “There’s nothing that shocks us today on social media. And as someone who’s in the limelight too living under a magnifying glass, there’s nothing that shocks me either. But to the artists I’d say: start protecting yourself a bit more. You don’t always have to dance.”
He praised his costar as well, saying, “[Dominique] is a true artist, a transformative artist. She’s not always going to play a girl from Brooklyn in her career, she’s going to constantly morph and those are the people I want to work with. I’d rather make a bad movie with some people I love than a fantastic movie with some people that I can’t stand.”
On a final note, while the crew of Swarm have not officially confirmed the inspiration behind the fandom in the series, there is much speculation about its similarity to Beyoncé’s fan base, called the Beyhive. Glover has a message for them — “Beyhive don’t kill us, it’s not that bad, it’s actually pretty cool!”
Swarm will debut on Amazon Prime Video this Friday, March 17.