Sonja Sohn Looks Back on 'The Wire' and Talks About Diversity in Hollywood
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It's been 13 years since the first episode of The Wire aired on HBO and changed the landscape of storytelling on television and served up a world of characters that no one has ever seen before. It not only blurred the lines between bad guys and good guys, but it gave us an all-too-real portrayal of the drug world from many different perspectives that intertwined with each other with such complexity and intrigue. The show, which can currently be found in its entirety on Blu-ray for the first time, has become a staple in pop culture -- and Sonja Sohn was in the thick of it all.

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Sohn played Detective Kima Greggs, the only female in a group of detectives in the Baltimore drug scene. Her character was, at the time, one of the few strong female characters on television that got her hands dirty, if not dirtier, than her male counterparts.

ETonline had the opportunity to interview Sohn about the impact The Wire had on television, what she misses most about her character and what she thinks about the current state of ethnic diversity in Hollywood. 


What do you miss most about playing Kima?

That's a really good question. The first thing that comes to mind is just having a job with a group of people that you feel incredibly bound to on a deep soul level. To be a part of a project that you feel is bigger than you and your little career. To be a part of a project that makes you as an actor, and your work, and your career, feel small. To have a job that fulfills me in a way that's healthy. That's the reason why I'm an actor, is for a bigger reason. That's kind of the biggest thing I missed. There were so many stories that were always being told [on the show]. You wouldn't say that Kima's storyline was one of the premiere storylines like Omar or Stringer. Kima was sort of the heart (of the show). David (Simon) once said to me that she was the moral compass of the police department. I feel that in a sense she served as the moral compass of the show. If there's something I miss about playing Kima, it's I miss playing a character who had principles, yet still had conflicts within her, within her whole relationship within the police department.

What was it about her that intrigued you?

It was a character that I was allowed to actually touch the many factors of her life. Oftentimes in TV, your character serves a storyline and there's only sort of so much room to dive into the deeper aspects of that character. You play what serves the larger story, but you don't play the full truth and totality of the character. I had the opportunity to do that with Kima.

If you could play any character other than Kima on The Wire who would you play?

I want to pick an unusual answer to be honest with you. Omar and Stringer are the easy answers. I mean I love Stringer's arc and Omar's story arc, but to me, the most unsung and the most fascinating character in the show was Brother Mouzone. He's the most mysterious character. His storyline to me was very, very unique. He had a perspective that I wish had been sort of mined a little more deeply.

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It seems that Hollywood is moving forward in terms of diversity. At the same time, there are moments when they are taking huge steps back. What do you think is the current state of diversity in Hollywood?

I think it's come a long way as a result of Empire,How to Get Away With Murder, and Scandal. The queen of diversity, Miss Shonda Rhimes -- she changed the game for African Americans, you know what I mean? I think that the rising population of Latinos in America is changing the game a bit. And I think Asians are sort of the last ones on board. There are also Native Americans -- but we don't even see their stories. Given that, there's a lot more room for growth in terms of diversity but I would be hard pressed to not say that for African Americans there's a light. There's definitely been some improvement, but there needs to be a lot more so that African Americans also don't have to tell simply African Americans stories and experiences. I think that it would be nice to see more African Americans in shows that are predominantly white.

I'm a mixed race person. Rarely, if ever, will I get a chance to play a mixed race person because of my skin color. I will have to play black. I'd like to see more sort of mixed race roles, where the fact that they are mixed race is woven into the character. We've come a long way, but we have a long way to go.

The Wire: The Complete Series is now available on Blu-ray and is streaming in full on HBO Now.