Interview With Ryan Russell
What is going through Michael’s mind when he and James are pulled over?
This has happened to Michael in the past so that experience combined with the recent events involving Grace being stopped by a security guard has made him feel aggravated. He feels like the reason he and James have been stopped is because they are two black guys in a car and he also doesn’t get the answer he needs when he calls the police out on it. When the police don’t give Michael a valid reason for why he has stopped them, it solidifies what he is thinking.
What's the reaction from Craig when Michael tells him they are victims of an unprovoked racist attack and how does Michael feel about that?
Craig is initially the peace-keeper because he sees that James is under stress and he wants him to get some help and go to hospital. I think he naturally believes that James and Michael didn’t and wouldn’t do anything wrong because he knows their character, Michael and James are good guys. But Michael feels that Craig is taking the side of the other police officer and not necessarily standing up for Michael and James. Michael thinks that Craig is treating the situation like a misunderstanding and this is what upsets Michael because he thinks Craig knows them better than that, as friends.
Making a complaint to the police force is daunting, does Michael have any reservations or does he feel very strongly that that is what needs to be done?
Michael strongly believes that this is the right thing to do because he feels enough is enough. This situation has happened to him before and he knows that it has happened to many black men in the past and so he believes that James should use his platform and who he is in the public eye as a voice to really push for change.
Why does Michael feel more strongly than James that a complaint needs to be made?
Michael’s past experiences have made him very protective of his younger brother. He has also become a father and he is very protective of his daughter. He wants the world to change so that his daughter doesn’t have to fear that she may be discriminated against because of the colour of her skin. He really wants to champion that change.
How does he feel when James continues to refuse?
He is upset and doesn’t deal with James in the best way. He understands that it is a big ask of James but he also feels that James doesn’t realise how strong he is and that he can definitely deal with it and that they are in it together.
Talk us through the turning point that makes James decide to make a formal complaint and what is Michael’s reaction to this?
James realises that this issue is bigger than him and that the video online can be used as evidence as a way to complain and so Michael and James go to the station to make their complaint.
This isn’t the first time that Michael has felt he has been treated unfairly because of his race, there was the situation with the security guard. How does this make Michael feel that this is a regular occurrence?
It’s playing on his mental health and he is overthinking a lot because he does not know who to trust. He constantly has his guard up, especially since having his daughter and wanting things to change in the world. It’s one thing after another and although it’s not always necessarily affecting him, it is affecting the people around him who he loves so that is really getting to him.
Why is it important for Coronation Street to portray this storyline on screen?
It is important because these things do happen. I watched Jermaine Jenas’s documentary, The Truth About Police Stop & Search, and it was shocking to find out that some people have been stopped twenty times during a regular day. It affects people’s mental health. Statistics show that the police tactic stop and search is biased towards black people so it is something to have a conversation about and see how this can be changed and improved.
Are Grace’s feelings obvious to Michael and do you think Grace and Michael are a good match for each other?
He is oblivious to the situation! He doesn’t know she has feelings for him so when he finds out he is taken aback suddenly. I think they are a good match in terms of co-parenting but I am not sure about the romantic connection after their past history. But they are definitely working together for the love of their daughter.