'All Rise': Simone Missick on 'New Beginnings' and 'Looser,' 'Messier' Season 3 (Exclusive)

The star and executive producer tees up the legal drama's return and if Oprah Winfrey will drop by for a cameo.

Judge Lola Carmichael is back and she's turning over a new page. The legal drama All Rise returns for its third season Tuesday on a brand new network, Oprah Winfrey's OWN, but leading lady and executive producer Simone Missick assures viewers the show -- amid changes in front of and behind the camera -- is keeping its signature flair, and knack for showcasing inclusive and timely stories.

"New beginnings is the theme for the show this season, but it is also literally what we as cast and crew are dealing with. We have different cast members; Lola has a different husband -- same character, but different actor. We're filming somewhere different... The excitement is palpable," Missick tells ET ahead of the drama series' return. "The support and the exuberance that the OWN team has. Even our Warner Bros. family, they fought really hard to find us a new home. For it to be OWN, it's incredible."

All Rise picks up six months after the events of the season 2 finale, returning to election night as Lola (Missick) awaits the results of her campaign to retain her seat as a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge. And the new season finds the core characters in very different places in their lives, both in their personal lives and careers. Emily (Jessica Camacho) returns from Puerto Rico with renewed drive and purpose about her career, while Luke (J. Alex Brinson) begins working at the public defender’s office. Meanwhile, the newly engaged Mark (Wilson Bethel, who directs this season) has assumed a new role at the D.A.'s office and Sara (Lindsay Mendez) starts work as a victim's advocate.

"There are so many new beginnings within the characters on the show, but then also professionally... behind the scenes, that it's a gift. I don't know of a situation where anybody had that same kind of scenario coming into a third season," Missick adds.

With the show back with a renewed purpose, Missick looks back on the moment she found out she would be stepping back into Lola's high heels, what being on cable has allowed the show to do and whether her new boss, Oprah, will pop by for an onscreen appearance in the future. 

ET: When and how did you find out that All Rise was being brought back to life by OWN?

Simone Missick: I remember being in my backyard and getting the call and screaming. And my husband was like, "What happened? What's out there? Is it a coyote?" And I was like, "No, we're getting another season and we're getting a third season at OWN." Moving on to a network that really celebrates stories about women and especially women of color was exciting. I don't know too many people personally who get to say that Oprah's their boss. So now that's like vision board complete in my life. But I loved Lola. I felt like she and our characters had more stories to tell and that it wasn't time for the show to be over. So I'm just so excited that we get to go on and do 20 more episodes and hopefully many more.

You're now an executive producer, which means you have more ownership and added responsibilities that comes with being privy to the decision-making process. What has been the most important thing for you as an EP this year that you're like, "We need to make sure that we stay true to this"? 

Thankfully, our creative team is very dedicated to telling diverse stories, to telling stories about people that look like America and to do those honestly and carefully and with respect and dignity. Our show, I believe, is continuing to do that. It's just great to be able to be privy to those things behind the scenes and also, like you said, to weigh in, to make sure that we have directors who come on board who have different perspectives, [that] was important for me. It was very important for Dee [Harris-Lawrence] as the sole showrunner this season. But I think for me, my biggest heart is for actors. We always said on our show, actors are our production value. We don't have explosions, we don't have crane shots, we don't have shootouts. It's the actors. Being a person who worked their way up in this industry, I know what it's like to come on set and to not be taken care of. So it is so important for me that our guest actors feel taken care of, that our cast members are taken care of and our crew.

I remember I let an actress know that her audition was so powerful and she looked at me and she had this weird look on her face. She was like, "OK, thanks." Later, she gave me a card and she was like, "I don't know why I was so embarrassed by that compliment that you gave me, but it meant so much to me. There's been such a blessing to be on this show and to work with you all. You have treated me with so much kindness." So many actors say that, "I don't want to leave. Don't you need more of me because I can kill somebody else." And we're like, "Oh no, you're good!" But that's important that people feel welcomed and taken care of because our industry is brutal. That was really important for me. That and snacks, good snacks.

Last we saw Lola, it was election night and the results of her campaign hadn't come in yet. Can you tee up what fans can expect this season for her journey?

We start this season off with Lola in the middle of election night. Spoiler alert: She doesn't lose her job or else we wouldn't have a show. But the same challenges that she has had trying to maintain the level of humanity as she is approaching every case still exists. Things within the HOJ have shifted. Judge Benner has shifted to a different part of the legal system. We have other judges coming in and weighing on Lola's every decision, which is exciting. But for me personally, Lola's personal life gets a little messier this season and it was something that Dee and I talked about before we started the season. That was something that we wanted to see. And we are 100 percent giving it to the fans. Someone from Lola's past comes in and shakes things up in a real way. And it's cable now. So things are a little looser, a little fast and loose over here.

Anne Heche is still a thorn in Lola's side as her nemesis, Judge Corrine Cuthbert. What can you tease about their back and forth this season?

Anne is such a gift to work with. She is a bottle rocket. You never know when she will go off or what will happen. I think that our fans are going to enjoy seeing she and Lola go at it. We are getting ready to start an episode with her again. I think my first day working with Anne is on Thursday of this week and I'm looking forward to it. We also have Roger Guenveur Smith, who is an amazing actor who I have loved for decades. He is so good in his role as a very conservative judge, Thomas Marshall. (Watch ET's exclusive clip below featuring Missick and Smith.) It's a little bit of a take on two other famous judges who were on the Supreme Court. It's interesting to have his perspective jammed into the courthouse and Lola have to deal with it. She's getting it from all sides. She's getting it with the lawyers in front of her. She's getting it from the judges behind her.

Wilson is also directing an episode. Can you describe what the experience was like having him put on the director's hat for the first time? 

I was so proud of him. We all were. He was a basket case for the weeks going into it. The first day, his stomach was killing him. He was so nauseous because there is this immense amount of pressure. You're doing it for people you respect, but there is always this question of like, will they respect you in this new position? And our crew took such good care of him. He was so prepared and so excited and so passionate about his work. And it showed. His episode was also written by one of our writers who started out as a writer's assistant and now this is her first solo episode. To have these two people who have stepped into new beginnings behind the camera and be able to work together on that episode, it's so great. It also has Wilson's stamp on it. A lot of who I know him to be as a person and as a creative and as an actor and an artist is also on camera in a way. It's a great episode. It was also really funny. Lindsay and Ruthie [Ann Miles] were hazing him. They were like, "Do not look us in the face and talk to us directly. If you have any notes, you give them to Jason. You have Jason give us the notes. We don't want to hear from you and just be better." And he's like, "Oh, OK. I'll try." I'll probably post that video before the episode premieres!

You mentioned cable, which means the show is a little "looser." How would you describe this new chapter?

In this new season, we see a lot of our characters in different positions. Mark is now tasked with finding his boss. Luke is moving to the P.D.'s office. Emily is coming back from Puerto Rico and she's trying to figure out where she's going to land. Sara is now in a completely different part of the building, working as a victim's advocate. All of these people's professional shifts are also infused in their personal lives. We get to go into Sherri's life and meet her parents and find out about who she is and where she came from. We get to see our characters falling into different romances as well in a way that we don't normally see. 

Maybe Oprah will pop by.

Your mouth to God's ears! We certainly wrote her into an episode and they were like, "Oprah's not..." We were like, "It was worth a try!"

All Rise premieres Tuesday, June 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on its new home, OWN.

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