Past time, maybe.
So who is Sofia Black-D’Elia, anyway?
You may already know her, though you might not realize you do. After a brief daytime stint, she debuted in 2011 on the MTV show Skins as the haughty and confident ‘Tea Marvelli.’ That’s her all the way on the right.
The following year she landed a role on Gosssip Girl as ‘Sage Spence.’
We see her again, really, three years later (unless you caught her smaller role in the fast-cancelled ABC series ‘Betrayal’) as ‘Erin Calder’ in the CW series The Messengers.
That’s her, standing in the shadows of this ensemble cast. At this point, if you’re a fan of hers, you might be getting a little tired of her not being the center of attention and kind of playing second fiddle to fairer-haired women.
But that’s neither here nor there, because honestly, she’s probably not on your radar at this point.
Many of you will discover her for the first time in the never-asked-for remake of Ben Hur, as ‘Tirzah Ben-Hur.’ Most of you don’t, because, y’know…Ben Hur. Here she is at the premiere:
But finally, in 2016, a year that was the biggest asshole ever, it gave us Sofia Black-D’Elia on a show that actually mattered: HBO’s The Night Of.
She played Andrea.
Looking back on that series, it wouldn’t have worked at all with the wrong person as the focal victim, but she wasn’t just great, she was utterly captivating. Her performance matched the award winning Riz Ahmed step for step, and without her ability to capture the dual fatalism and desperation for life of the Andrea character, that whole show would have crumbled. She absolutely crushed it. Effortlessly, she made us experience that impossible-to-fully-explain rush of adrenaline when a siren casts their gaze upon you. As Andrea, Sofia Black-D’Elia upped her game and put everyone on notice that she was more than just a pretty face.
So you can imagine how shocked (and pleasantly surprised) I was to find her yesterday on FOX’s new comedy The Mick. I tuned in because of an ironclad adoration for Kaitlin Olson, and a hope that her new FOX show would make hay. I had high hopes.
It was a mixed bag, honestly.
Like the Comedy Central show Idiotsitter, which takes Workaholics fan fave Jillian Bell and inserts her in kind of a fish-out-of-water uberwealthy scenario, The Mick’s premise features Olsen, of Always Sunny fame, as a degenerate aunt thrust into a custodial role when her Bernie-Madoff-esque sister and brother-in-law flee the country and leave her in charge of the estate.
I hate when I don’t automatically fall in love with a show I’m excited for. But this one might be a grower.
The Mick fails where many projects like this fail, namely not giving us a reason to relate or care right up front. They’re counting on the fact that we’ll love Kaitlin Olson enough to ride the train through the night, but even as amazing as she is, its a tall order. They establish her in the very few first frames as truly repellent and hygienically disgusting. I mean, yay! that we’re in 2017 and we can have female leading characters who are willfully fucking nasty. That’s actually progress. But give me something more to notch my spurs into, The Mick! Maybe once upon a time, case study white trash sitcoms may have been good clean fun and all the rage, but man, knowing that that particular voting block helped make a vile reality TV neo-Caligula the most powerful man in the world and set social causes back at least a quarter century? It’s much harder to watch them with a chuckle.
That said, The Mick is helped by very good casting, solid comedy writing, top-notch physical comedy and some breakout performances. Sometimes all it takes for a show to latch on is great ancillary characters. Notably well formed and acted are the characters of ‘Alba’, played by Carla Jimenez:
And obnoxious ‘Chip Pemberton’, played by Thomas Barbusca, reprising a younger Alex P. Keaton role for a new, more disaffected generation.
I’m not as sold on The Mick as I hoped I’d be, but the thing that will keep me locked in is the role of ‘Sabrina’, played by you-guessed-it: Sofia Black-D’Elia.
Here’s the thing: she’s a game changer. Sofia Black-D’Elia on a screen now makes any show immediately better. She has that fleeting and unique superstar quality where you’re magnetically attracted to them, regardless of whether you want to be or not. Their talent and presence just compels you. Someone smart will recognize this and stop making her the pretty thing in ensembles and recognize top-tier ability. She has rock-solid comic timing and presence. She exudes on-screen status without even trying. And she has that it-girl, je ne sais quoi quality. You can’t teach that shit, people. Either you have it or you don’t.
This little vignette gives you a glimpse into her comedy timing:
So, friends, it’s time. It’s time to become fully aware of Sofia Black-D’Elia. It’s time for directors to give her the straight-up lead in something. It’s time for an Alicia Vikander-esque conquest of the visual universe.
She’s the real deal.