Netflix’s ‘From Scratch’, starring Zoe Saldaña, is an act of pure love for Attica and Tembi Locke

Black women live epic love stories. It might not seem like it from what the media is saying and how often Hollywood ignores the romantic lives of black women, but like everyone else, we have moments that make us dizzy and take our breath away. Writer/producer Attica Locke has always known the importance of seeing all facets of black women’s lives on screen, especially as leading women. Therefore, the Small fires everywhere the writer learned that his sister, Tembi Locke, was writing his memoirs, From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Homecoming, about his epic love story; Attica knew she had to come to life on screen too.

Before Tembi had even finished writing the novel, Attica pitched the film to Hello Sunshine – Reese Witherspoon’s production company. “I literally presented my sister’s entire book in one sitting and said, ‘You have to read it,'” the from zero the showrunner told Shadow and Act. “[Hello Sunshine President Lauren Neustadter] went, ‘Okay.’ She was a little dubious like, ‘Your sister wrote a book?’ But they read it, and within a week we were in their office talking about, “How are we going to do this?”

At the time, the from zero The manuscript was still a Word document full of typos, but Attica knew the richness of the story, even if Tembi hadn’t seen it yet. “She chased us off the cliff”, from zero reminds the author. “It’s Attica’s stewardship – with the depth and breadth of years of writing TV and novels. She could really see where we needed to bend, where we needed to bend.

Leon Bennett/Getty Images for Netflix

Those early meetings and phone calls evolved into Netflix’s new limited series, from zero. The great love story opens in 2000 in Italy. It follows Amahle “Amy” Wheeler (played by Zoe Saldaña), a young woman who takes a break from law school to pursue her passion; art. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with a Sicilian chef named Lino (Eugenio Mastrandrea), who will change her life forever.

Together, Amy and Lino embark on a romance for the ages that spans time and continents. However, Lino’s unexpected health crisis threatens to shatter their planned future.

Since from zero is based on Tembi’s life, audiences needed to see things unfold the way she and Amy did. “We knew we had to tell it in a linear way, not in a mosaic,” she explained. “It was one of the first decisions we made because we felt that if we were going to ask the public to go into deep grief, to go to difficult places, we didn’t want them to get lost. in time and space by changing.”

Once the story was set in stone, Attica and Tembi knew the right actress was an essential part of telling that story.

Like Attica’s makeshift plot, casting Zoe Saldaña as Amy was also a sweet fluke. “It was Lauren calling me and saying, ‘Attica, Reese had dinner with Zoe, and Zoe was there with her husband, who is Italian,” Attica recalled. ‘I did not know. She speaks Italian. Zoe, on screen, there’s this sweet point of tenderness and strength that resembled the character, Amy. I found out things about her in the process.

The sisters were off to the races with Saldaña on board as star and as executive producer. Tembi felt reassured in the team she and Attica had built around them, especially as she recounted some of the most vulnerable moments in her life.

“Zoe and I had a lot of discussions about things, so I felt very confident,” she explained. “The moment we got on set, I was like, ‘Okay, this scene is in good hands. There were times when it was too much. It was a lot to relive. Some scenes are literally frame-by-frame recreations of things that happened. There’s a delicate balance, but I also had Attica there to say, ‘You don’t need to be here today. Go home.'”

Reliving again some of the most intimate moments of his life has also confirmed for Tembi the importance from zero is. “The rain scene, that’s where it really happened, the same block. It’s the same corner,” she says. Florence and later when we went to Sicily, those coincidences, non-coincidences, were kind of miraculous.”

Manufacturing from zero evolved into more than a reflection on Tembi’s lived experiences, on-screen characters, or even the bond the sisters share. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Attica said. “I don’t know, even in the courts of this lifetime, if I will be able to express what a powerful experience it was to be moved by something that was nothing but pure love. Pure love got me through all the tension and stress. It was a true labor of love. It was love for my sister. It was love for my brother-in-law. was love for my niece. Tembi wrote what she wanted to read. We did what we wanted to see. We wanted to see our version of Black Texas, our humor. We were doing something cutting edge and new. .

Netflix’s eight-episode limited series from zero will premiere on October 21.

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