Adapted from the New York Times bestseller, the Prime Video series The Power breaks new ground. It’s an ambitious undertaking spanning the globe with storylines that include Seattle, London, Eastern Europe and Lagos. Around the world, teenage girls are discovering their ability to produce electricity with their fingers. Many use this "power" to empower and liberate themselves. In some instances, it becomes a gender equalizer. Of course, “the power” angers some men, which threatens women’s lives, forcing some to possess the power, or the skein as it is more formally known, in secret. Shifting gender dynamics is a huge focus of the book and plays out very prominently in the TV series. Helping to tell the story are emerging as well as veteran or popular actors.
As one of the young girls who has the power, newcomer Halle Bush plays a significant role in the series. Her character Allie, who eventually becomes a woman-centered religious leader Eve, was shuffled through the foster care system before landing in Alabama with a very religious couple who are not who they seem to be.
“At first when you see Allie, she's been adopted into this abusive home, and she survives a brutal attack in this abusive home. As she survives, it leads her to gain “the power.” At first, she's a bit frantic about the power because she doesn't know where it came from, what to do with it, and she doesn't know she's not the only one with it,” explains Bush. “But then there's this voice in her head telling her and reassuring her that it's going to be okay. Throughout the series, you see the voice and Allie's relationship grow together and bond together, as the voice teaches and guides Allie on how to use the power and what to do with the power and how to inspire other women with the power.”
British Nigerian actor Toheeb Jimoh, best known for his role as footballer Sam Obisanya on Ted Lasso, plays Tunde whom he describes as “a young aspiring journalist from Nigeria who unknowingly breaks this story of the power and goes on the journey to figure out how to best use and navigate this new platform [and] the influence he amasses from the story.”
Similarly the British Ghanaian photographer, visual and performance artist Heather Agyepong plays Ndudi, who is a “young Nigerian budding journalist who is really interested in the power. When she first hears what the power is, she goes to investigate it and then the power kind of transforms her life a bit and the series shows the power’s effects for the good and for the bad.”
The Wire and If Loving You Is Wrong alum Edwina Findley is Helen, chief of staff to Toni Collette’s Mayor Margot Cleary-Lopez. “We are the women that are essentially running Seattle,” she relays. “As the power breaks out around the city and the world, we try to stay ahead of it. We try to figure out what it is. We try to figure out how to spin it, how to harness it, how to leverage it, how to overcome it in certain ways in order to essentially move forward or work in tandem with our political agenda as well. When we burst into the series, the world is on fire. There are fires happening everywhere. There are plane crashes, people being electrocuted, and we don’t know what’s happening. So, Helen is a master strategist. She’s the one that’s staying 15 steps ahead and trying to get control of this issue.”
Bush, who describes herself as a “country bumpkin” from Greensboro, North Carolina, says being part of The Power “feels very inspiring.” Filming the series made her truly reflect on the driving theme. “Every time I was on set, I was thinking to myself ‘what if women really did have the power,’" she shares.
“I know I would feel more safe going to the store, going on a jog, wearing what I'm wearing, and not having to live in constant fear of having to tell my sister ‘don't wear this, don't do this, make sure you have just one earplug in and make sure you have your keys in your hand,’” she continues.
Jimoh says being able to actually play a Nigerian and represent Nigeria in the series is in line with his personal goals. “I've always wanted to play a part in telling Nigerian stories. I grew up at a time where you'd see Nigerians on TV and the people who were telling those stories had nothing to do with Nigeria. And so part of why I wanted to be an artist was to tell the story of my culture in a way that only we can,” he explains.
“In the West, African women are kind of silenced. You don't really hear about them,” shares Agyepong about the importance of her role as Ndudi who is, interestingly, also romantically linked to Tunde. “You hear about a lot of men, but not women, and to play this kind of nuanced, strong, vulnerable Black African woman is so amazing.”
Jimoh feels that The Power and its message about misogyny and sexism doesn’t exclude men. “I think Tunde’s journey is one of allyship and how he can use his power to pull up,” he explains. “An important part of feminism is also getting male voices involved in it . . . sometimes men can hear that and feel it's a female-led thing and it has nothing to do with them. And if anything, it’s the opposite.”
For Agyepong, The Power is an extension of her own work. “Every day I’m talking about gender and women and mental health,” she says. “So, it just felt incredible to be on a streaming show to talk about such a difficult and complex topic. It’s just such a privilege to make art that’s really powerful and impactful.”
Ronda Racha Penrice is the author of Black American History For Dummies and editor of Cracking The Wire During Black Lives Matter.