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Polished Edge: Ato Essandoh of ‘Copper’ on BBC America
Q: Is you character, Dr. Freeman, the smartest physician on TV?
A: I look at Dr. Who; you know, he time travels, and I don’t even have gauze. It’s all deductive reasoning.
Q: What’s his back story?
A: We are still working it out. He is an ex-slave whose owner happened to be a slave and let Freeman accompany him. In many ways, he is self-taught. I looked it up when I got the role. I thought there were no black doctors in 1864. There were six or seven.
Q: What did you study at college?
A: I was in chemical engineering at Cornell University. My girlfriend at the time dared me to do a play. I knew there was something I wanted, not necessarily engineering. What’s nice about having an engineering degree is everybody thinks you are smart.
Q: Was getting that degree at an Ivy League school expected in your family?
A: My parents are from Ghana. Until I was 17 I thought you had to go to college. I had no idea. I didn’t know it was not an option.
Q: Have your parents been accepting of your career in acting?
A: My mom called and said, “Now that things are going better ... .”
Q: Did you talk to doctors for research to inform your character?
A: Another benefit of going to Cornell is that 90 percent of your friends are doctors.
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