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COLUMN: An interview with Dominique Fishback from HBO's "The Deuce"


Dominique Fishback stars in the HBO show “The Deuce." Fishback, who is a Pace University graduate, plays a prostitute named Darlene on the show. Photo courtesy of HBO Buy Photos

Actress Dominique Fishback quietly steals her scenes on “The Deuce” every week at 9:00 p.m. on HBO. 

The Pace University graduate plays a prostitute named Darlene who becomes more complex with every episode. 

Fishback discussed her history in acting and credited her mother as the first person who encouraged her to be an actor. She said her mother told her: “Dom, you should try acting. You’re really dramatic and I think you would be good at it.” 

She listened to her mother and continued to act, despite a high school guidance counselor who told her she didn’t have the “it” factor.

First Fishback worked with “The Deuce” co-creator David Simon on his mini-series “Show Me A Hero.” On the last day of the show’s production, Simon told her he had written a part for her on “The Deuce.” After talking about it with her family, she accepted the role. 

Before working in television, Fishback was a playwright. She played 22 characters in her Off-Off Broadway play “Subverted,” which was about the subjugation of the African-American experience. Fishback noted that “being a playwright does help immensely” with her acting.  

The most important part of her creative process involved writing her thoughts in a journal, Fishback said. She said writing Darlene’s thoughts and backstory makes her “able to just play because [I’ve] done all the work.” 

In addition, she wrote summaries of each scene and attached songs to them so she could get into the right mood on the set.  

She doesn’t flinch from the gritty portrayal of life on “The Deuce,” Fishback said. 

“I believe in telling history no matter how ugly it is," she said. 

Although the show itself is graphic, Fishback said the show’s production team made her feel supported. She said director Michelle MacLaren had everyone turn around when she first took off her top in a scene.

When it comes to Fishback's favorite scene of "The Deuce," she said it airs in next week’s episode, “What Kind of Bad?” The episode features Darlene going back home to North Carolina and talking in a more Southern voice. 

Scenes where she uses different accents are not surprising because Darlene does linguistic “code-switching” when she plays different characters. She said those scenes were also fun for her to film because she loves exploring the different sides of Darlene. 

In addition to playing identical twins in the series, James Franco directed two episodes. Fishback praised Franco for being “very calm and collected” during his directing stints and said that she “really enjoyed being directed by Franco.”   

In her spare time, Fishback said she is working on a screenplay. She said she hopes to “be a vessel for people who don’t have a voice.” With her performance of the marginalized, yet intelligent, Darlene, it seems as if she is doing just that.  

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