Hailing from Brooklyn, NY, Brittany Adebumola is a theatre major turned network star. She plays Shanice Murray on The CW’s reboot of 4400, a new series about a group of missing people from across time who have mysteriously returned with unexplained powers.
We caught up with Brittany about Shanice’s strengths, her romantic escapades, that shocking decision in 4400 Season 1 Episode 9, and what’s next for her and her character.
TV Fanatic: How has the response been to the show on your end?
Brittany Adebumola: It seems like people really love it! The most surprising thing for me has been that people are not rooting for Shanice and Logan like I thought they would. A lot of people just do not like Logan.
After reading some of the tweets and whatnot, I can see where they’re coming from. As an actor who’s always trying to empathize with the characters, I see Shanice’s side. Throughout the filming process, I have a deep understanding of Logan’s side of the story, too.
But the audience doesn’t seem to have as much sympathy for Logan. I totally get it — he’s been a little harsh, a bit inconsiderate.
Do you think that’s because we all love Shanice and Andre together so much?
I think so. Look at the way Andre treats Shanice and the way Logan treats her. They both give Shanice the puppy eyes from time to time, but Andre is there for her, caressing her hands — he shows up for her. He’s there for her.
He’s just a lot more caring and compassionate than we see Logan be. One’s doing a bit more than the other, so I can understand why Logan’s wasn’t getting as much love. I think in [4400 Season 1] Episode 8, people finally came around.
What has been the most exciting part of this 4400 experience for you?
Getting to experience this with my castmates, many of whom are new to TV. Some of them just graduated from college. I just graduated from college a year and a half ago. Autumn [Best, who plays Mildred] just graduated from high school before booking this.
So for a lot of us, this is a first. It’s been beautiful to share this with them. Everyone’s so open about how they’re adjusting to the experience of being a series regular, having to move to a whole new state to film for six months.
Everyone’s just been so open and vulnerable about their experience. It really has made them feel like family to me. Being able to do it with this group of people has been such a blessing — but it’s also been so much fun, really enlightening, and inspiring!
What is your favorite thing about playing Shanice?
She’s so multi-dimensional. I’m not playing one thing all of the time. On paper, Shanice on paper is a really strong character and a smart woman, but she’s also messed up pretty bad.
She was experiencing a mental health crisis when Mariah was a baby, and she has to pay the consequences for that while also dealing with getting snatched by this green light and getting locked up in this hotel. There’s vulnerability, shame, guilt, and regret that comes with playing Shanice.
She also gets to be in love! She gets tangled up between these two guys — Logan, her ex-husband, and Andre, this new guy. There’s so much to play, and it just keeps me on my toes and challenges me in ways that I haven’t previously been challenged as an actor.
The writers have done a good job of making Shanice multi-dimensional and going through the full spectrum of human emotions.
I really appreciated how the show highlighted post-partum depression, as that’s such a real and traumatic thing for a lot of people. It didn’t make Shanice into a villain for wanting to leave that life. It was real. This show does such a good job bringing up so many social issues.
What does it mean to be part of this show that cares so much about bringing these stories and issues to light?
It’s a blessing and a privilege to be part of something that showcases so many different human experiences.
When I was growing up, television and film were very white and very straight. That was all I saw. There weren’t a lot of Black teenagers and what they were going through. For a while, I thought, “Well, young black women don’t get to be in love — they can’t receive that,” because I just didn’t see that.
Then, I got the breakdown for Shanice in my email from my agent. I saw this woman who had a complicated relationship with her husband because there was so much love that was there before. There’s so much love between her and her daughter, and it’s not that they have this unhealthy relationship — the love is there.
Shanice is worthy and capable of not only giving love but receiving it. That’s what drew me to Shanice and what excited me about her. I’m always looking for some kind of love story when it comes to Black women, and I love that Shanice is so loved on.
It’s hard with Logan because he has a wife, but then you’ve also got Andre. Then there’s Mariah, who wants to discover and fall in love with her mom in the way that Shanice loves her. There’s so much love to go around with Shanice.
In Episode 9, Shanice decides to give up her powers. How did she come to this decision, and is she going to regret it later?
I think this is something that Shanice has been sitting on for a while.
The first time she experiences her powers, it puts her further at odds with her daughter. She’s not fully able to say what she’s trying to say or explain what the letter meant because she’s so caught up in the vision that she just had.
Shanice is big on community and connecting with the people that she cares about. Her superpower, unlike some others, has made connecting with people harder. I don’t think it’s something that she’ll regret. She is one of the few characters that doesn’t really embrace her powers.
Shanice, along with several other characters on this show, really exemplifies Black Lady Excellence, as Mrs. Grover put it. She’s so driven and passionate, and she knows how to use the assets she has in order to help others.
On Episode 9, she gets the 4400 refugee status and sanctuary in the hotel. Now that she’s won that battle, what’s the next step?
Sanctuary feels like a huge win for everybody, but especially for Shanice.
Shanice hasn’t fully exercised her lawyer brain until this episode. So, now coming off the “official” breakup with Logan, she pours herself into figuring out how to get everyone out of the conservatorships. The fact that her efforts were successful is a big win for her, but I think it’s a bit of a slippery slope.
Now that they’ve acquired sanctuary, they have to fend for themselves without help from the government. That means no food, no water. What do you do about transportation? How will they leave the protection of the hotel when there are people outside who despise the 4400?
And those feelings are exacerbated by the whole Mildred event, with her throwing Bill Greene out of the window.
Initially, it feels like a big win and huge relief. I think Shanice and the other characters will come to realize very quickly that it’s going to take a lot of work to keep the sanctuary going, to keep everybody fed and safe and warm, especially heading into the winter months.
What are you up to these days? What are you looking forward to? What do you hope to do next — whether it’s season two, theatre, or anything else?
I’ve been enjoying my time off. I just got back to Chicago, where we’ve been filming — I’m originally from Brooklyn, New York. Over the holidays, I tried to spend time with my family, but that was difficult because of COVID.
In terms of what’s next — I’m auditioning for other stuff. I’m looking forward to a season 2.
As for new roles that I’m excited to play — I’d love to do a comedy! I did a press panel a few months back, and someone was surprised at how much I smiled. Shanice never smiles because she’s always going through it!
I’d love to play a character that maybe isn’t as confident and capable as Shanice. Someone who’s maybe a little bit more off-center, who cracks jokes, who’s silly and goofy, because that’s closer to who I am. I’m looking forward to playing someone like that one day! And I hope that theatre comes back soon.
Me, too! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. We’re really looking forward to the next few episodes and how it all unravels.
4400 airs Mondays at 9/8c on the CW. You can watch 4400 online here.
This interview has been edited for length/clarity.
Mary Littlejohn is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.