Christina Jackson on ‘Boardwalk Empire’ casting chemistry and her latest challenge

SCREENSHOT: Steed Media Service
Screenshot: Steed Media Service

Christina Jackson is an actress to watch. She’s landed roles on television shows like Deception and River Ridge, but her turn as gangster Chalky White’s daughter Maybelle on “Boardwalk Empire” has been something of a breakthrough for the talented star. She’s building a name as part of strong ensemble shows that tell a very specific tale from a very specific facet of American culture. It would be easy to fall into stereotyping crime families from the ’20s or coal-mining townsfolk, but Jackson doesn’t struggle to avoid broad characterization.

“I think it’s very easy to not slip into the caricatures and the stereotypes,” she explains. “When you get into stereotypes, that’s kind of the cookie-cutter way out. It’s very important to me to not play a ‘type’ up.”

Jackson’s next role is as Sallyann; the shop-working town girl in the upcoming series “Outsiders,” a moody drama set in Appalachia about a family of mountain folk with a twisted history.

Jackson knows about hard families. On “Boardwalk Empire,” Jackson gave a memorable performance as the spirited Maybelle. The relationship that she and Chalky (as played with aplomb by Michael K. Williams) had to honestly put across on screen was as ever-changing and nuanced as anything on the show:  the sometimes-strained bond between a father and a daughter who was initially drawn to her father’s lifestyle, then repulsed by it and ultimately its greatest casualty. For Jackson, being able to convey that kind of bond is something that goes beyond simply casting great actors.

“There has to be fluidity,” she says. “There has to be an honesty. The matriarch, the patriarch — there has to be cohesiveness in order for you to really believe as a viewer that these people are a family.”

With her new show set to debut in 2016, Jackson is eager for audiences to connect with this uniquely dark tale; one that she was drawn to from the beginning.

“I loved it!” Jackson says of her initial reaction to the script. “It’s very original content. I’d never read anything like that before. We’ve seen a town before, but we’ve never seen a family like this before. So just to see this family and get a taste of them and know that there is a possibility that Sallyann might cross paths with them and seeing where she fits in with all of this, I was definitely intrigued. But there is a lot going on!

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