The new Netflix series Transatlantic dramatizes the true story of the Emergency Rescue Committee, which helped thousands of refugees escape Nazi-occupied France during World War II. “We haven't seen this story in particular," he says. "We see this a lot from the white man's perspective, so this is very different." 

Describing the role, Amoussou explains that Paul is a “fascinating character. He grew up in Africa when it was occupied by the French, which influenced his feelings toward their government. He is a political mastermind because he has to think about being hidden in plain sight and still manage to organize the resistance.” But there's an even bigger drive for Paul as he seeks freedom for his homeland.

"When I was doing my research, I found out he was 28 when our story started and he would have missed all the Pan African Congresses. The last one was in 1927," Amoussou reveals. "I based his desire to fight for freedom on his frustration of not being able to meet all these great people: Marcus Garvey, W.E.B Du Bois and Ida B. Wells. I know they're American, but I chose them on purpose because I feel the hurdles of Black people are pretty similar on both sides of the Atlantic."

Amoussou spent his childhood in West Africa and tapped into his family background to help formulate his character. “We’re a military family. On my mom's side, her great-uncles were sharpshooters and soldiers in the war. I heard so many stories of people getting hurt, you can only imagine what happened on the front lines.” 

Amoussou, who learned the African side of history at military school, had a rude awakening when he returned to Paris as a young teen. “In history class, the teacher would say something [about Africa] and I would be like, ‘That's not what happened, that's nonsense’” he recalls, “And I would automatically get expelled.” So while his character is fictional, it's the right step in recognizing the contributions African people from French-occupied territories made. “They fought the war for France, and then they went home and had to fight for freedom,” Amoussou declares. "This project about ordinary people who come together and become heroes is great. I love Black history and I would love to spread more of it and make us proud.”