The Red Line star Aliyah Royale on ‘conversations that needed to be had’

Aliyah Royale stars as Jira Calder-Brennan in CBS' new limited series The Red Line. Photo Credit: Flygirl Photography/Courtesy of CBS.
Aliyah Royale stars as Jira Calder-Brennan in CBS' new limited series The Red Line. Photo Credit: Flygirl Photography/Courtesy of CBS. /

The Red Line’s Aliyah Royale tells Hidden Remote why the CBS limited series is far more than just another crime drama and how it’s relevant today.

Tonight CBS unveils its new limited series The Red Line, which investigates the hot-button issue of police shootings through three different perspectives. But it’s not just another cop show, as series star Aliyah Royale explains.

Aliyah portrays Jira Calder-Brennan, whose world is destroyed by a police-involved shooting. Jira embarks upon a journey to pick up the pieces, while also figuring out things about herself and the world she lives in.

This important series also stars Noah Wyle (Falling Skies, ER), Emayatzy Corinealdi (Hand of God), and Noel Fisher (Shameless). It’s an impressive piece of spring drama, and the eight episodes roll out over four consecutive weeks.

Learn more about Aliyah Royale and The Red Line in our interview below, then watch the first two episodes starting at 9 p.m. tonight on CBS.

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Hidden Remote: What about The Red Line appealed to you? Why should people watch it?

Aliyah Royale: What was different about The Red Line was I felt like we were going past physical TV or film entertainment and going into a real world of conversations that needed to be had.

I love the fact that it’s still storytelling, it was still all the elements of entertainment that I love. But I felt like being part of The Red Line, I was talking about something that actually needed to be said and that can actually mean something to the world, rather than just being part of another procedural or any other type of show.

The series starts with Jira suffering this terrible loss. How would you describe your character and what she has to go through?

I feel like a lot of times, life happens to us. We feel that we don’t have the right to process it and we don’t have the right to feel all the negative emotions of sadness and despair and confusion. We always feel like we have to let life happen to us. Jira’s not that girl.

She’s finally opening her eyes to a world of race and problems that she did not know existed, and rather than sitting and sulking about it, she goes through all the stages of grief she possibly can while she’s sitting in that anger. It’s not just being an adolescent; it’s the anger that there’s real problems surrounding the color of her skin and she didn’t know about it.

Now it’s who am I in this world? And what identity do I have if everything about me comes down to the color of my skin tone? It’s so much more than your typical adolescent temper tantrums. She has a right to be angry, and what she does with that is she turns it into a motivation to find out more, and to get more knowledge and get educated about who she is as a black person in America.

The Red Line
“We Turn Up This Music Louder than a Mother’s Cry” — Daniel fears for Jira’s safety after receiving a threatening phone call warning her to stop speaking out about the shooting. Also, Jira rallies her classmates to walk out of school to march against police brutality, on THE RED LINE, Sunday, May 12 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured (L-R): Noah Wyle as Daniel Calder and Aliyah Royale as Jira Calder-Brennan Photo: Elizabeth Morris/CBS ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved /

The series deals with some of the most talked-about and controversial issues in the country today. Was it difficult or challenging to film?

It is intense. And I can understand the subject matter and the context, but it honestly feels very real and very grounded. The great thing about The Red Line is we have amazing writers. [Creators] Caitlin [Parrish] and Erica [Weiss] took their time to create words that didn’t seem like a sob story or overly emotional and depressing in a way that wouldn’t be beneficial for a real audience to connect with the characters.

You’re talking about really heavy stuff, and you’re going to go through many different emotions along with the characters, but in the end it really is a story about healing and love and community and family. If people can get [through] the slightly heavier moments they’re definitely going to feel that.

Is there any particular message or thought that you’re hoping audiences take away when they get to the end of the series?

We are very open. We are very excited for the audience to come to their own conclusions about The Red Line. The most important thing is that they share that. We want them to talk to each other. There’s a real problem in America with people not talking to each other, and I think that’s why there’s so much confusion or hate or just misinterpretations of who people are—because we don’t talk to each other anymore.

We don’t share ideas the way we used to. We don’t share experiences the way we used to. And through The Red Line, you’re seeing these three different families who are forced to connect with each other because they’re connected by this shooting. They have to talk together and become like a community in a way they weren’t before.

It’s a good thing to share [viewers’] feelings and thoughts for making life better for all of us. Then how can things not get better?

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The Red Line airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. For more on this and other CBS series, visit the CBS category at Hidden Remote.