DeKalb, IL — Netflix’s newest teen drama “Grand Army” displays the gritty life of being a teenager and the trials and tribulations that come with it. It features five students at a public high school in Brooklyn, addressing heavy topics such as racism, intersectionality and homophobia.
The show, which premiered Oct. 16, is loosely based on Katie Cappiello’s “Slut: The Play,” where a 16-year-old girl is assaulted by three of her friends. This is the first TV gig for most of the cast, and a majority of the teens are New York natives and were students of Cappiello.
"For me, it was always a goal to have as many young people that I’ve worked with over the course of my years of teaching involved in this project,” Cappiello said, according to The New York Post. “I’ve watched these kids grow up, I’ve watched their acting skills evolve. And the show would not be the show without their involvement.”
One of Cappiello’s students is Odley Jean who plays 17-year-old Dominique Pierre in the show. Pierre’s main goal in the show is to be the first in her family to attend college.
Maliq Johnson plays Jayson Jackson who is a sophomore at Grand Army High School and plays the saxophone with hopes of getting into Julliard. Johnson even learned how to play the saxophone for the role.
Amalia Yoo portrays freshman Leila Kwan Zimmer in the show and struggles with her identity as an adopted Chinese girl living with Jewish parents in the Upper West Side.
Amir Bageria plays Siddhartha Pakam, an 18-year-old from Queens who deals with a lot of pressure from his girlfriend, school and swim mates. Bageria has also appeared in “Degrassi: Next Class.”
Odessa A’zion plays Joey Del Marco, the main character in Cappiello’s play. A’zion told Nylon that the role has been challenging because she’s never been that vulnerable in front of the camera before. A’zion has also appeared in “Nashville” and CBS’ “Fam.”