Dominique Fishback and Chloe Bailey have been at the top of their game and in their bags for the last few years, and this only continues in the Amazon Prime Video original series Swarm. Fishback first burst onto the scene in shows like Show Me A Hero and The Deuce and in films like Night Comes On, The Hate U Give, Project Power, and Judas and the Black Messiah. The rising star has continued to impress audiences with her vast range in Swarm, wherein she plays a “stan” who takes her levels of obsession to deadly levels. Soon to be seen in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, Dominique Fishback clearly has so much more to give us, and if Swarm is any indicator, we are ready for whatever else she has coming our way next.
Her Swarm co-star, Chloe Bailey, is also giving audiences her best. From her glowing solo and shared music career with her sister Halle Bailey to her on-screen performances in shows like Grown-ish, Chloe always shines bright no matter what project she finds herself in. As Marissa in Swarm, Bailey continues to surprise even her most dedicated fans as she gives a nuanced performance that explores the dangers of co-dependence. From the minds of Donald Glover and playwright Janine Nabers, Swarm on Prime Video is a tale of obsessive fandom mixed with grief and loss. We follow a young black woman named Dre (Fishback) and her love for songstress Ni’Jah (Nirine S. Brown), who is loosely based on iconic singer-songwriter Beyoncé. Dre worships Ni’Jah above all others, and her best friend and sister Marissa (Bailey) is a Killer Bee in this cult-like “Swarm” as well.
Swarm takes aim at obsessive stan culture which can manifest itself in extremely unhealthy ways. If you’ve ever been on the internet and social media, you’ve likely seen this kind of behavior ranging from various music fans like the ARMY, the Barbz, and what Swarm seems to be taking aim at, the BeyHive. But when an insurmountable loss takes Dre by surprise, her dedication to Ni’Jah spirals quickly from fangirling to killing. The cast of Swarm is jam-packed with recognizable talent, including Damson Idris, Rory Culkin, Paris Jackson, Kiersey Clemons, Byron Bowers, and pop star Billie Eilish in her on-screen acting debut. Together, though, Dominique Fishback and Chloe Bailey elevate Swarm to another level.
We had the chance to sit down with the pair for an exclusive interview to really dive into the Prime Video original series. We cover how the duo formed their sisterly bond and if they would consider themselves “stans.” Additionally, Chloe Bailey manifests her Emmy hopes for Swarm with us.
Exclusive Interview with Dominique Fishback & Chloe Bailey for Swarm on Prime Video
Swarm provides a wild viewing experience, to say the least, and this is huge thanks to its main creators. So I was wondering what it was like to get to work with Donald Glover and Janine Nabers?
Dominique Fishback: The pilot was interesting because as specific as the show is, I was thinking that they were going to be like, “She’s like this, she’s like that” and very meticulous. And they really weren’t. I was trying to figure out, “Okay, is she like this?” and they weren’t like, no. They really didn’t give that [kind of approach] and they allowed me to find her and play in the moment. I really appreciated it.
I found that what I ended up doing was kind of expanding myself, challenging myself to do things outside of the box and outside of normal physicality, and then seeing if I got a reaction out of Donald. Sometimes he would be like, “Oh, that was strange.” And I’d be like, “Cool!” I was just kind of stretching myself because what is it if not to play in and figure out and just try? It was cool that they had that approach with it.
Chloe Bailey: When I got to read the script for the first time, I had no idea what it was about. I just knew it was an untitled Donald Glover project. And I’ve always been his biggest fan! I’ve always said that – not only when it comes to him in the music world but his acting, scriptwriting, and directing. I just think he’s a genius and so brilliant. So when I knew I had the opportunity to work with him, I had no idea what to expect. I was like, “Yeah, yeah – send me the scripts, send me the scripts!” So even before I read them, I was told to watch The Piano Teacher and to make sure I’m well versed on Atlanta episodes, which I was. I’m an ATLien, and I love that show.
Like I’ve already said, I love Donald Glover. It’s funny because I know after [Swarm] comes out, people will find past interviews where I was like, “I met him at The Lion King premiere, I love him, I’ve had a crush on him since I was little.” The crush is gone. He’s now like my big brother (Laughs). So we worked together, but I had no idea what to expect. When I read the scripts, I cried. I truly feel like this show is quite groundbreaking. Because when you peel back the layers of what people think this show is about, you see that it’s dealing with mental health, sisterhood, and how we all deal with trauma.
So this is Dre’s story of how she deals with her trauma, and Dominique did such a phenomenal job with her. It was pretty damn cool to act and have her as my scene partner, as well as Damson Idris, and to learn and soak up their beautiful talents. All of our synergies were just so magnetic, and it was the best two weeks of my life when I shot on that set with them.
Speaking of that really beautiful sisterhood between Dre and Marissa, what was it like creating that bond with each other?
Dominique Fishback: We just started texting each other back and forth in the beginning. I was like, “Hey, Donald, can I get Chloe’s number since we’re going to be in this together?” So he added us on a chain and then we just started texting. Then she and I went to the Atlanta premiere together, and that was cool. We got to just hang out and check in on each other. When I was still filming on days when she wasn’t, she would FaceTime me. For my birthday, she bought me a necklace and that was nice. She’s very sweet. She loves her sister Halle so much that she was able to bring that into the role too. I think you need a very specific Marissa for it to carry Dre on through the show, and I appreciated Chloe’s non-judgment of Dre.
You know how sometimes in friend groups when you’re growing up, you might’ve had a friend that was just so mean to you? You’re like, “Are we even friends?” and your mom’s like, “Is that a friend? Would a friend do that to you?” And you’re like, “No, Mom, she’s my friend.” It could be so easy for an actor to go in that direction because Dre is so weird. She’s so, “not normal” that it’s easy to pick on her. But Chloe as an actor never gives that energy. She only ever gives love. And that’s a great motivator for Dre and for me as an actor to know that was a really dope and sweet person that I got to act with.
Chloe Bailey: It was quite easy – and that’s how you know it’s meant to be. Dom and I had seen each other in passing, I think maybe one time, or she knew Halle in passing maybe once? When we finally met up – it was Damson, us, and Donald – and we instantly clicked. It’s not like we had a whole few weeks of bonding time and getting to know each other. It just felt right. It felt like a puzzle piece finally connecting together, and Dom is talented. I was telling her, “You’re going to get an Emmy.” I was like, “This show’s going to get an Emmy!” I’m all about manifesting… so I hope I don’t put my foot in my mouth. But, I’m really happy to be a part of such incredible art that will spark conversation about mental health.
For sure, and diving deeper into their characters, Dre and Marissa are part of this obsessive fandom. I have to ask, were there any specific or particular inspirations that you sought out or would you consider yourselves to be part of any fandoms?
Dominique Fishback: To be honest, no. I didn’t take any person or anything. I just decided to be in the moment and to be present with the other characters knowing that she cares about a person so much is enough. Personally, I don’t know what it’s like to stan like that – I don’t. But I know what it’s like to love somebody a lot. Dre just takes her love to another level. So I kind of came at it from love, if anything.
Chloe Bailey: Me? I’m a BeyHive stan, I am a Barb, I’m a Clover – those are mine; shout out to the Clovers. Without the fandoms, there would be no me. There would be no sis. We need them because those are the ones riding for us and buying our records and, you know, making us the artists that we are. Without them, we’re just another person singing on the side of the street. So I’m really grateful for them, and what I think people will realize as they watch the show is that this isn’t about attacking a fandom. This is about one girl’s mental health journey. She uses the one thing she and her sister bonded on to keep them connected. In her crazy way that I would not prefer – I’m a lover, not a fighter – but in her way, that’s how she was fighting for her sister.
For Dominique, you’ve worked in so many different film and television genres like the upcoming Transformers: Rise of the Beasts or The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey. Are there any particular ones you haven’t tackled yet, but cannot wait to have a chance to work in?
Dominique Fishback: I want to do a rom-com, baby! To be honest, I really don’t watch a lot of TV, and I really don’t watch a lot of the things that they say are “films” (Laughs). I was watching Vampire Diaries on repeat, you know? I love New Girl and things like that. Those are the type of shows I watched when I was younger. I was watching actors really. I would watch I Love Lucy when I was 10 and say, “I want to be like Lucy. I have to do something like Lucy.” So I would really want to get my hands on a lovely little rom-com. That would be nice for sure.