Dominique Fishback Says ‘Swarm’ Had Her Doing Things ‘That I’ve Never Done Before’

Dominique Fishback has arrived. That much was clear when the Emmy nominations were announced on July 12 and Fishback, who’d shone in recent years in the movies “The Hate U Give” and “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was among the nominees for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series for her off-the-chain performance in “Swarm.”

Fishback stars as Dre, a single-minded devotee of a Beyoncé-like pop star. Dre becomes a brutal serial killer hunting down people who speak ill of her idol, with the series serving as a searing indictment of toxic fandom with greater systemic roots. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Swarm lives and dies on the strength of Fishback’s performance.

“Just the response in general was a blessing, because we’ve never had a Black, female serial killer, so we didn’t know if it was going to land,” Fishback said in an interview conducted the morning nominations were announced, before the SAG-AFTRA strike.

“And I was doing things that I’ve never done before physically, in my body, my face. I’m very used to doing drama, that’s a sweet spot for me, where the nuances and the actions and physicalities are smaller. (With Dre,) I just went full force in the direction that my body was going and didn’t try to fight it. There were moments were I was like, ‘Damn, I don’t know. Is that gonna work? Is it gonna land?’ But I had to have faith in the fact that I was honoring Dre the best I knew how and if it was meant to be, it would be.”

Dominique Fishback
Photographed by Jeff Vespa for TheWrap

Though the role was far outside her comfort zone, the actress found that it allowed her to fulfill a long-standing dream even before scoring an Emmy nomination. “When I was in college, I used to say that I wanted to perfect my craft, so that even if somebody doesn’t like a project that I do, they at least think, ‘That girl can act.’ So when ‘Swarm’ came out, all I kept seeing on Twitter and Instagram was, ‘That girl acting her ass off,’” Fishback said, laughing. “It was literally like I had spoken a thing and it was coming to me in such a beautiful way.”

Throughout much of her experience with “Swarm,” Fishback has found a kind of cosmic balance—in the universe, yes, but perhaps more importantly within herself. While pleased with the attention and accolades, she ultimately sees them as cherries on her existential sundae.

“I try to live my life not based on external validation and for me, this nomination means that the impossible is possible,” she said. “To come from the neighborhoods that I come from, the situations that I’ve found myself in that I’ve gotten out of by the grace of God, I felt like it was a manifestation and actualization of God’s promise. It meant that everything that I put into it, all the ‘nos’ I’ve had in my life, all the times that I may have felt overlooked or underappreciated, where it felt like this is my time and then for some reason it just wasn’t—it all felt like an amalgamation of divine timing.”

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