When productions began to resume after the first wave of COVID-19, Atlanta was a frontrunner amongst the U.S. production hubs for getting back to business with the needed safety protocols in place. For this installment of Filming in Times of COVID-19, we’re featuring an actor who has worked in Atlanta during the pandemic and is shooting upcoming projects in that market as well. You may know Donna Biscoe from her recent work on the Greenleaf and Ambitions series, and she recently wrapped filming on both the Saints & Sinners series and feature film. As for one of her next projects, the busy actor is working on Tyler Perry’s upcoming show called All the Queen’s Men, but Biscoe still found time to talk with Casting Networks about filming in times of COVID-19.
What can you tell us about your most recent on-set experience in light of the COVID-19 protocols in effect?
When we first went back to filming the Saints & Sinners series, they had everything in place, but it was a continuous kind of learning curve for us actors on what we should and shouldn’t be doing. The constant testing was what you really had to get used to because we were eventually being tested with a nasal swab four times a week. You really have to go into it with the mindset that it’s all being done to keep people safe. And even before we started shooting, I got an email stating that one of the scenes would require Vanessa Bell Calloway and me to be in close proximity to each other. They asked if I was OK with it and noted that they could adjust the blocking or even the script if not. So they were diligent about identifying areas that could make actors uncomfortable. Vanessa and I were fine to do the scene, though, because we had been tested enough and they had followed all the protocols to make sure we were safe.
It’s great to hear you felt so comfortable and protected on the set of your last project. How about the upcoming series All the Queen’s Men that you’ll be filming at Tyler Perry Studios?
They’re being super careful about everything. You have to be tested before you get into “camp” [the 330-acre studio compound] and then quarantine on the premises for 24 hours before you actually start shooting. Everyone wears masks and has certain areas that they can and can’t go. They really have it all worked out at that studio. If production companies want to know how to go about filming right now with all the protocols in place, they need to call Tyler Perry because he’s got it goin’ on over there [laughs]. It’s great because everyone wants to stay safe and healthy, and his system seems to really be working.
That’s definitely an encouragement during these times. So overall, how would you describe the feeling of filming during our current pandemic times?
Listen, I just thank God because I know that there are so many actors out there that are struggling and not working. To be able to get back to work to help support my family is really a blessing. Plus, when I first got back to set and saw how they were making sure that we were all safe, it put my mind at ease about filming in the midst of what’s going on. Everybody’s really cautious — we come to set safe and healthy and want to go home the same way. So there’s no doubt in my mind that I am truly blessed to have already worked on two projects during this time and to have two more in the wings.
Amongst her upcoming projects, Biscoe will also be working on the upcoming season of Ozark. And the actor noted that she’s been spending quality time with those in her household when not on set. Besides helping slow the spread of COVID-19, the decision also enables her to do what she loves. “I’m just taking it all in and finding myself staying at home more so that I can be able to go to work,” Biscoe concludes.
This interview has been edited and condensed.