The buzz around Amazon Prime Video’s «Swarm» was nearly impossible to escape when the Donald Glover and Janine Nabers-created series premiered on March 17. If viewers weren’t talking about Dominique Fishback’s spirited performance as serial killer stan Dre or Chlöe’s viral sex scene, they were definitely captivated by all those undeniable Beyoncé references — and trust, there were many.
«Of course, it had the fun parallels of certain things where you’re like, ‘Is this not who we think it is?'»
«Swarm» follows Fishback’s Dre on a cross-country quest to meet her favorite
obsession singer of all time, a mega-pop star named Ni’Jah who bears an awful close resemblance to Queen Bey. Viewers were definitely convinced that «Swarm» purposely alluded to Beyoncé and any reference to her life, aesthetic, and real-life scandals for shock factor. Almost every episode of «Swarm» was even prefaced with a disclaimer: «This is not a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is intentional.»
However, Nirine S. Brown, who plays «Swarm»‘s Ni’Jah, informs POPSUGAR that she had no idea her character would be such a strong reflection of Queen Bey when she was cast in the show, as her «breakdown didn’t have a lot of information.» According to the Queens, NY native, she believes her icon-like character could be inspired by any mix of A-list artists — from «the Janet Jacksons» to «the Lizzos.»
«Of course, it had the fun parallels of certain things where you’re like, ‘Is this not who we think it is?’ But yeah, inspired by, meaning that it didn’t have to be specifically her, but inspired by the dedication of the fans to people out there,» Brown notes. However, the actor also acknowledges that those Easter eggs were «put into the project to get the people talking» and «true stans would find the references playful.»
Brown didn’t realize «how crazy impactful» her «Swarm» role would be. She started dancing at the age of five and grew up to pursue a career in it professionally, performing as a principal dancer for big-name artists like Janelle Monae, Mary J. Blige, Shakira, Lauryn Hill, Nicki Minaj, and, funnily enough, Beyoncé for 2018’s Beychella (as seen in Netflix’s 2019 «Homecoming» documentary). So in a way, Brown says «it felt full circle» to portray «such an iconic superstar with such a big fandom like Beyoncé» in «Swarm.»
«What was most important for me was to ignite the superstar within me and say I was seen as a star, [too]. I think that was the cool part of it,» she adds of her TV role.
«They did not tell me, ‘Oh, you have to make sure you do this or make sure you do that.’ They just wanted my true essence to shine through.»
Brown’s other full-circle moment also stems from her Coachella experience, as the actor, who previously starred in Tyler Perry’s «Ruthless» series for three seasons, crossed paths with the Hollywood creator at the festival before being cast. «I never said anything to him because I was just like, ‘No, I don’t want to meet him like this. I want to meet him at a different time as an actress. I don’t want to seem like I’m bothering him when he’s relaxing. He’s at a festival,'» she shares. «I finally got the chance to tell him that story, that I saw him and I didn’t approach him because I wanted us to have a moment where he met me as an actor. I said, ‘Here we are. You hired me as a series regular on «Ruthless.» You didn’t even know that I saw you at Coachella.'»
Much like her time working on Perry’s «Ruthless,» Brown says Glover and Nabers gave her free rein to mold «Swarm»‘s Ni’Jah into what we see in the show. Her costar Fishback has expressed similar sentiments in previous interviews as well. «They were very open to us as the actor, or artist, to be authentically who we were and the creative freedom in doing those things,» Brown reveals. «They did not tell me, ‘Oh, you have to make sure you do this or make sure you do that.’ They just wanted my true essence to shine through . . . They trusted the creative process of their actors.»
Up next, Brown hopes to dive into something more lighthearted than «Swarm,» like comedy following her small role in season two of «Abbott Elementary.» «I was blessed enough to do [that] and I hope more is to come from that. I hope for more shows and just more good work,» she says. «I want to leave behind work that I’m proud of.»
«Swarm» is now streaming on Prime Video.