When co-showrunner and executive producer of “Daisy Jones & the Six” Will Graham asked author Taylor Jenkins Reid what she wanted to see more of in the show that wasn’t in her book, Jenkins Reid’s answer was Simone’s (Nabiyah Be) story.
“She’s Gone,” the seventh episode in the Prime Video television adaptation, explores Simone’s pursuits after she leaves Los Angeles for New York in Episode 4. Directed by Graham, this episode breaks from the narrative of rock band Daisy Jones & the Six after they’ve hit the jackpot with their “Aurora” album, taking viewers back to the start of Simone’s success in 1975.
“We knew we wanted to explore this moment in history that doesn’t get talked about a lot, which is the moment that disco came out of these queer predominantly Black clubs,” Graham said. “And we knew that we wanted to take a moment and give the audience a breath and change the POV of the show.”
Choreographer Mariana Benenge helped reclaim the disco narrative with waacking, a dance style that came out of queer clubs in the show’s time frame.
“Part of this for us was sort of reclaiming a little bit of the disco story but also the look and the feel of disco. People think disco and they just automatically do [gestures in Disco Finger dance movement] And I think in reality, it was cooler than that,” Graham said. “We wanted to highlight a different kind of dance and a different sort of way of moving because underneath that story is the idea that people dismiss disco as substance-less because it’s saying just dance. But for people who come from a marginalized background, especially at this moment in history, saying ‘We’re just gonna dance’ is actually a revolutionary statement. That’s part of the feeling we were trying to capture.”
Simone goes to New York to be with Bernie (Ayesha Harris), a woman she met at a party years earlier who DJs at such disco clubs.
“Simone’s someone that in the first few episodes of the show has been trying to find her voice and been trying to find where she fits and I think without realizing it has sort of been doing a little bit of code-switching, as we all do, in environments that they kind of aren’t set up for us,” Graham said. “And then she finds this opportunity to really speak with their own voice and sing with her own voice and find her people and, and kind of fall in love.”
When Simone visits Bernie, Bernie plays an arrangement of Simone’s vocals, which is met with enthusiasm from the crowd dancing. These New York set scenes were shot in Athens, Greece. Better Days, Bernie and Simone’s home base club, is based on a real predominantly Black queer club from New York.
“We wanted to feature real, queer people as extras and give that feeling of authenticity to the club, so we wound up working with a lot of the African immigrant communities in Athens who came to set and got to live it up,” Graham said. “I think a big part of it for them was that like, those clubs and spaces don’t really exist in Athens for them right now. In a way, it became a real parallel of the experience of the characters. And it was pretty emotional for everybody.”