Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

By now, the tropes of moviedom’s high school social groups have been etched in stone: There’s the jocks, the band geeks, the burnouts, the Plastics, the Pink Ladies, and so on, and so forth. But in Selah And The Spades—the new teen drama hitting Amazon Prime streaming today—we’re presented with five “factions” not based on social status, but built around a utilitarian need for survival. Take, for example, the Spades, who share the responsibility of supplying their colleagues with all of their party needs. If it all sounds a little fanciful, well, that’s just how life-and-death high school can feel when you’re a teenager, and that’s something writer/director Tayarisha Poe understands deeply in the stylish, but grounded world of her debut feature. At the film’s core are Selah—the titular mastermind of The Spades—and Paloma, a newcomer at the school who Selah has decided to groom as her successor after graduation. As Selah and Paloma, relative newcomers Lovie Simone and Celeste O’Connor make strong first impressions, so we jumped at the chance to talk to the pair of rising stars about inhabiting Poe’s rich world. Simone and O’Connor opened up about teenage politics, forming a lifelong bond on set, and the refreshing experience of portraying black kids who are free to be themselves without punishment.

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