Continuing to tell powerful stories of the Black American experience in meaningful and entertaining fashion, actor/writer/producer/director Alonge Hawes focuses his eye on a world that’s as serious as hip-hop (Blue Collar Hustle) and retail entrepreneurship (Black On Both Sides) but riskier and deadlier than any normal line of work: the con game.
In Hawes’ new series Silver & Gold, exclusively available on subscription-based outlet Jaro’s web site and Roku channel (both linked to below), that game is played by a couple whose romantic proclivities are consistently exceeded by their knack for criming: Charles Goldar (Quentin Williams) and Bahiya Payne (Brittaney Traylor).
Seductive and scheming, Charles and Bahiya ingeniously work to charm and then swindle the wealthy big shots they cheat out of their riches, while in the background their cohorts – stern, no B.S.-taking thief Sosa Gerena (Roberto Cruz, Jr.) and Pokemon-obsessed hacker Cierra Valentine (Shani Hawes, herself Alonge’s real life sibling) – pull out all the stops to help them achieve as many smooth getaways as they can successful ripoffs. As the team’s scams get bigger, so do their relationships – especially Charles and Bahiya’s bond with cannabis store operator/feared mercenary Aiyden Booker (Julian Robinson) – and so does the danger that each job inevitably puts them in.
Having wrapped two award-winning seasons of his last series, Seeka TV’s acclaimed Black On Both Sides, Hawes was looking for a change of style for his follow-up production. Thanks to his fellow co-star on both Sides and his debut Blue Collar Hustle, the multi-talented Hawes developed a concept that entertained as much as it celebrated the African-American community; a series that would also test his well-established talents behind the camera as much as his first two episodic enterprises did.
“I am always looking to challenge myself and to tell diverse and interesting stories featuring black characters. My good friend Quentin Williams, who co-starred in both of my previous projects, suggested something akin to Bonnie & Clyde (the classic 1967 film biopic of infamous crooks/lovers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow); which immediately got my creative juices flowing.”
Also influencing Hawes’ outlook for Silver & Gold‘s aesthetic was one of the Anime (Japanese animation) genre’s most beloved shows. “I also wanted to do something that was reminiscent (in style and tone) to my favorite anime series Cowboy Bebop. So, utilizing the basic premise of Bonnie & Clyde and the look & feel of Cowboy Bebop as templates, I started the outline for what would become Silver & Gold.”
In contrast to the serious vibe of Hawes’ hard-hitting social dramas Blue Collar Hustle and Black On Both Sides, there’s a remarkably adventurous, energetic and action-packed mood evident in Silver & Gold. Yet like Hawes’ previous two shows, his third is another truthful look at the culture, relationships, victories and setbacks of Black Americans in 2022.
“Silver & Gold indeed has a central message concerning the black community (I believe every project I do will in some way or fashion tackle subjects relevant to the Black diaspora) but it’s also much more fun and in a lot of ways more ambitious than anything I’ve ever done,” says Hawes. “There are elements of noir, thriller, and even fantasy in Silver & Gold that were not present in my previous work.”
With its attractive Bonnie and Clyde-like pair pulling off their crimes in each episode with the support of a stone-faced con artist and geeky computer hacker whose personalities are as different as night and day, one might believe there’s little opportunity for viewers to fully know what makes these four characters so intriguing and how they became such skilled thieves. However, Hawes notes, audiences will see both sides of their stories for themselves throughout Silver & Gold‘s ten episode run.
“The heists in the series’ first three episodes are meant to highlight the expertise of the group as individuals. By episode 4 they begin to gel as a team, and by episode 5 they begin to understand one another as people. Each heist is meant to underscore the need for them to work together.”
Initially, Charles, Bahiya, Sosa and Cierra join forces to shake down a pair of arrogant targets whose bullheaded confidence and intellectual gamesmanship seemingly make them a match for the fledgling group of cons. “If you notice, the first few heists they pull are against someone who themselves are working alone; the corrupt pastor (played by Alex Patterson in episode 2) feels he is intellectually above everyone and uses faith as a barrier of superiority between himself and those who trust in him.
Like that grotesquely entitled evangelist, the quartet’s next mark shares the same obvious flaw: he’s only one man trying to one-up a group of multi-talented criminals. “The “King Of Games” (played by Joshua Dennard in episode 3) uses puzzles and riddles to showcase his cerebral aptitude in a bid to prove that no one can outsmart him,” adds Hawes. “By nature, these people (the targets in episodes 2 and 3) are loners, which makes them susceptible to those who decide to work together.”
With Silver & Gold known as much for its central action plotlines as much as other ensemble caper series like Mission: Impossible and The A-Team are, all three shows contain the one fundamental trait that keeps audiences entertained by their adventures: the fascinating idiosyncrasies of the characters, imbued in the performances of an equally capable cast.
“What makes Silver & Gold unique is really the depth of the characters and how the cast brings them to life. Quentin, Brittaney, Shani, Roberto, and Julian are unique in and of themselves, and they were able to infuse themselves with the characters they play to create an ensemble that I guarantee cannot be duplicated on any other show,” Hawes responds.
Of all four characters, Hawes feels that the most intriguing may be the group’s rough-hewn muscle man Sosa, whose frustration with their on-the-job mishaps is inexplicably outweighed by his commitment to the team he’s part of. “In a lot of ways, Sosa has the most interesting backstory because, when writing the character, I wanted audiences to question why someone so serious and grounded would put up with some of the more inconvenient situations the crew finds themselves in, when he could just simply walk away. I think when the audience finally understands his true motivations, he’ll be the fan favorite of the series.”
Ever active as a filmmaker and actor, Hawes completed filming of Silver & Gold while also shifting from that series to another project that will again place him on both sides of the camera: the yet-to-debut family drama Good Black Man, which stars Hawes as a struggling father who battles prejudice from the outside world while hoping to make a better world – by any means necessary – for his daughter (herself played by Hawes’ own daughter Amina, in her first screen role).
Making Silver & Gold and Good Black Man simultaneously was a tough balancing act for Hawes and his colleagues, but when they viewed the final cuts of their work, the stress of doing two shows at once soon gave way to feelings of well-deserved satisfaction and pride for their production. “There were some very long days and even longer nights getting it all done, but myself and my brilliant team prevailed,” Hawes recalls.
Silver & Gold is also the beginning of a new era in Hawes’ creative history as the series is his first produced in association with Black-focused streaming entertainment platform Jaro Media (also its exclusive distributor). Three years in the making, Hawes’ partnership with the company was made possible largely by the show that first put this accomplished actor and filmmaker on the map.
“Jaro Media’s CEO Richard DeVaughn was a big fan of my series Blue Collar Hustle. They were one of the first platforms to not only license the series, but also market and promote it. I pitched the initial outline of Silver & Gold to Richard back in 2019 and we had a deal in place by early 2020.”
Though the COVID pandemic disrupted all film and TV production throughout that year, Hawes saw that inactive period as a perfect time to make Silver & Gold ready for prime time – or just about any time viewers want to watch it, given how big streaming is these days. While Jaro’s experienced marketing and promotional departments are working to ensure the show’s success, the company’s mission of giving filmmakers the space to work freely without corporate meddling is what fully sold Hawes on Jaro itself.
“The main thing that any artist in any medium craves is creative freedom and Jaro has been a great partner in allowing me that freedom, they basically said “we believe in you. Make what you want to make,” and that was truly a godsend,” remembers Hawes, who praises Jaro’s front-and-center audience building campaign for Silver & Gold while relishing the opportunity the studio has given him with the series. “This is their first platform-branded original series and I am extremely thankful that they believed in me to deliver an entertaining product.”
In fact, Silver & Gold‘s visibility on Jaro is proof of Hawes’ and his production company A Million Stories One Pen’s expanding presence in the indie entertainment industry and his expertise in connecting his acclaimed content with more audiences in more places.
“As a filmmaker and production company owner, it was important for me from the start to establish myself as someone who could create content for multiple platforms. I’ve had my work showcased across platforms such as Indiegotv, Bingewave, and Kwelitv. I’ve created original platform-branded content for Seeka TV and now Jaro Media. Alonge Hawes is no longer just my name, it is a brand unto itself.”
Silver & Gold and Good Black Man officially debuted at the recent Minnesota Web Fest, which also honored Silver & Gold with the festival’s trophy for Best Script, Good Black Man for Best Representation Of Communities of Color and both shows for Best Marketing in addition to Traylor’s nomination for Best Dramatic Performance. While Hawes celebrates the extraordinary work of his casts and crews, he takes the most pride in having his script for the first episode of Silver & Gold be recognized by his peers.
“Silver & Gold and Good Black Man were actually nominated against each other in four categories and one of them won in three of the four! So that was immensely validating. Of course, winning for writing the script was important to me personally because for me, the writing is the most important aspect of any series/movie.”
Though Silver & Gold may be tonally different than the poignant morality plays that Hawes’ audiences have associated him with in the past, viewers who’ve enjoyed Blue Collar Hustle and Black On Both Sides as much for its authentic representation of Black America as they did for its gripping narratives will get that important ingredient of Hawes’ storytelling while seeing it play out in a set of fast-paced, thrilling, romantic and funny schemes that are as compelling as the people those viewers will meet in Silver & Gold.
“Anyone who is a fan of heist stories will enjoy this series. Anyone who is a fan of seeing black characters in a different medium than we are generally portrayed will enjoy this series. Anyone who likes action, romance, and overall coolness will love this series. There’s something in it for everyone. If you took Ocean’s 11, Cowboy Bebop, and a dash of Black excellence and threw it in a blender, you get this series.”
As a series, Hawes wants Silver & Gold to be as much of an achievement for himself and his partners as much as he wishes for it to be a success with viewers. “My overall hope is that the first season is successful enough that Jaro commissions a second season. I also hope that the general audience enjoys the series and that they find the characters memorable and entertaining. We all want to continue making content and the best way to do that is to get as many fans as possible to become passionate about the show. So I hope this is a series that creates real and everlasting passion amongst everyone who views it.”
NOTE: Hawes says that the series will be closed-captioned and subtitled.
Watch Silver and Gold on Jaro Media’s web site:
The series is also available on Jaro Media’s Roku channel: