Tonight A&E premiers a new docu-series entitled Akil The Fugitive Hunter starring real life fugitive hunter Akil Muhammad.
The 10-part series chronicles the life of Muhammad and his day-to-day quest to rid the South Los Angeles landscape of societal offenders and wrong doers. Narrated by Wood Harris (The Wire, The Breaks) with Ty Dolla $ign serving as the executive music producer, ATFH looks to captivate audiences with its authentic story telling infused with animation set against an inner-city landscape.
Before the series airs, BSO sat down with creators Akil Muhammad and Wood Harris to discuss the show’s concept, their relationship and why they believe the show will resonate with all viewers, not just those native to the urban sprawl.
BSO: After watching the trailer, the essence of the show is still fairly elusive. On one hand it sounds like Cops and on the other like Luke Cage. What can you reveal right now that won’t spoil the experience when it airs?
AM: Without giving it all away it’s kinda like a fresh kinda heroic, kinda street kinda, like a real look at the characters you just mentioned. Real guys, what they would experience and a fresh perspective on the world I’m in. I don’t think anybody has ever seen this before.
BSO: The show focuses on your and your work as a fugitive hunter. When did you know you wanted to shed light on these often-untold South LA crime stories?
AM: Shedding light on the stories wasn’t really my focus. I thought it would be more interesting to let people see what I actually see. I’m not really a guy who cares about being on the stage like that. I’m just allowing people to experience what I go through on a daily basis. I think people will find it refreshing and enjoy it.
BSO: Avon Barksdale was such an iconic role for Wood [Harris] so his narrating the show adds a second layer of richness to a show rooted in real life experience. When you started planning was that a ‘must have’ on your list or did it happen organically?
AM: I think it was more the icing on the cake. It was more realistic because Wood knows me and I’ve known him for quite some time. I don’t think anyone could tell the story or be able to shed light on my world like he could. He’s been there, he’s been around me, I just don’t think there could be a better person plus people already admire the work he’s done.
BSO: Shifting to Wood, audiences have seen you tackle a variety of characters in recent years (Avon, The Breaks, NE Movie). As the narrator you’re still an essential to moving the story along but not a traditional character. Does that make the preparation easier, more challenging or just another day at the office?
WH: The preparation happens more organically. Like Akil said, knowing him was part of the preparation.
My career [so far] has me ready to be on a stage like that. I’ve narrated for ESPN’s 30 for 30, films and other things like that. I kinda realized what the voice needs to do from a technical stand point. When I do the narration I’m trying to be proper to the scenes and to the storytelling but I’m also trying to keep an involved ear. You don’t want the narrator to just get up there and read. They have to seem like a character too.
Creating the show happened over a course of a few years. It’s important with the narration to give the people a familiar voice. Kinda like comfort food. I’m a good storyteller for the project because I know all the people involved and I know what we are doing, so I’m a good torch carrier for the project.
BSO: In a show that is reality based, how did animation become a tool of the story telling?
WH: The animation is part of the evolution of the show. We had this idea some years ago and it just took time to develop it since I’ve been gone away a lot [filming the New Edition Movie, The Breaks] while we were in the process of creating this show.
The animation is something we created together. The heroism of the show is something we wanted to illuminate and not just necessarily focus on capturing people. We wanted people to really see the heroics of his character.
It became necessary because we use it to cover the b-story [back story] and the b-plot. It’s never really been done the way we are doing it. We wanted to make sure we highlight that he is a hero, not just some body catching bad guys. Highlighting that does’t automatically men you’re heroic.
BSO: As all these elements combine to bring Akil’s heroism into our living room what do you hope people walk away feeling after they watch the series.
WH: I’m expecting people to tun in and find the unique qualities of the show captivating. I think they’ll find his lifestyle thrilling and action-filled. You can feel it when it’s just sitting there because there’s so much tension in the air. I think we’ve done a good job in capturing the energy of those communities. So when the viewers come to spectate they will love it. There’s a lot to experience.
Akil the Fugitive Hunter airs July 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on A&E. Check your local listings.