Skylan Brooks has been learning about history. The 17-year-old actor plays Ra-Ra in “The Get Down,” a Netflix drama that depicts the lives of teenagers in 1977 as they follow their musical passions. For Brooks, that meant doing some research.
“We trained in dialects, researched war movements and really just the general time period and functions that took place,” Brooks told International Business Times.
With famous figures like DJ Grandmaster Flash and politician Ed Koch in the show, there is plenty of material to read up on. However, Brooks wasn’t just hitting the books. Ra-Ra and his friends discover hip-hop in the Baz Luhrmann-directed series. That means that Brooks had to listen to some old school music too, but it seems like he didn’t mind. He even added a few songs to his playlists.
“I played a lot more ‘Apache’ [by the Incredible Bongo Band] for sure and the music from the era is the foundation for hip-hop, so I enjoyed it,” he explained.
His real reason for wanting to play the character wasn’t about the music or the time period, though. It was all about how real “The Get Down” feels. “I liked Ra-Ra as a character first and foremost, but when I realized the truth behind the story, I wanted to pull through and bring it to life even more,” Brooks said.
Ra-Ra serves as the “intellectual and spiritual therapist” for the Get Down Brothers, according to the teenager. While he is one of the younger ones on the crew, he is one of the most mature. He helps them get through the many obstacles they face.
Brooks says he and his onscreen brothers, played by Jaden Smith and Tremaine Brown Jr., are close in real life now. Brooks usually has to share screen time with the boys, and the trio spent plenty of time together in episode 6, which was Brooks’ favorite episode. “The hype was real,” Brooks said. “The performance was awesome to see after all the hard work we had put in.”
Episode 6 is the final hour available to watch, but Ra-Ra’s story isn’t finished yet. “The Get Down” is different from other Netflix shows not just because of its originality but also because of its release. Rather than drop the full season at once, only the first six episodes were released. Part 2 will hit the streaming service in 2017, and Brooks would only hint at the excitement that’s coming.
“I can’t tell much, but I am in Part 2,” Brooks teased. “Let’s just say, the chaos becomes even more chaotic.”
“The Get Down” Season 1, Part 1 is available on Netflix now.