- Sarah Catherine •
Getting the part was easy.
It was no secret that playing Juliette was essentially just me playing myself with the additional vampire antics. After going from such a big production on The Conjuring, my agent, Julio, assured me that we would be shooting for the stars next. A-list, blockbuster movies with the likes of Spielberg and Nolan.
It wasn’t until I saw the disregarded pitch for First Kill sitting on Julio’s desk that I found myself pushing that possibility to the back burner. I read over the concept and trial script for the audition, and even with Julio’s gentle suggestion that this wasn’t a project I should be concerned with, my mind was already made up.
I wanted to be Juliette Atwood Fairmont.
Aside from this being a project with two explicitly lesbian leads, something never happens unless we’re talking about The L Word, the representation for Juliette’s love interest caught my attention as well.
I was no stranger to the racial bias in the filming industry. I’ve witnessed it happen to non-white people, from lead roles to something as simple as an extra, and many times I’ve been called difficult for intervening and calling out casting directors or other peers within our production teams.
Julio gives me mixed reactions whenever this happens, with him being a person of color himself, and coming from a wonderful family that immigrated from Cuba, but also having the job of being my agent. His reaction is usually both a shake of his head, wordlessly telling me to tone it down, but also a flash of appreciation in his eyes.
Having those small milliseconds of a moment where he and other people of color like him can feel seen, makes it all worth it to me.
In terms of First Kill having a black lesbian lead, that was something I needed to see happen on television. I grew up seeing myself represented on the screen my entire life, so I could only imagine how important it would be for black girls, especially queer darkskin black girls to be represented the way they I have been growing up, a privilege I’ve never had to worry about not having.
I would do everything in my power to make sure they got that experience as well. I would do everything I could to make sure not only was this show could not only be successful, but shine a light on that representation that is important to me and so many other people.
So yeah, getting the part was easy.
Playing a nervous wreck who happened to be a raging homosexual wasn’t particularly a challenge on my end. Now I was just waiting on Calliope to get cast, so I could finally see the character come to life and shine.
And boy, did she shine alright.
Imani Lewis is amazing. There’s no other way to put it, to be quite frank with you. From her acting ability, to the way she was able to so easily portray Calliope, become Calliope as soon as she walked into the room, it was something you just had to see with your own eyes.
Even down to her appearance, which I had to remind myself not to focus too much on lest I get caught openly staring, was impossible not to admire. She had long, dark brown hair that was split down the middle into two french braids, beautiful brown skin, and intense, expressive eyes that could keep you rooted in place while she captivated you.
Watching Imani move, speak into the room with confidence and conviction, and holding your attention with those piercing eyes, it wasn’t just a performance. It was an otherworldly experience.
I knew from the moment I laid eyes on her that she was Calliope, and our showrunner, Felicia Henderson, thought so as well.
Imani still had to do the chemistry read, which I was nervous for, but not for Imani. I considered myself a pretty good actress, but even someone of Meryl Streep’s caliber couldn’t have stopped the short intake of breath that Imani pulled out of me when I saw her the second time around.
Our chemistry read was short, but conclusive. When Imani looked at me, gazed into my eyes for our heartfelt dialogues, and ran her eyes over my body appreciatively during our heated moments, I wasn’t even acting anymore.
Every gasp, every flutter of my eyelashes, every tug of a smile on my lips and low, barely concealed groan I released when she talked in just a slightly lower pitch, that was all me.
Felicia didn’t need to see anything more.
Imani Lewis was Calliope Burns, and I was going to have to make it through months of filming pretending like I was only attracted to the fictional version of her.
. . .
We were now about two months into filming, and I found myself outside of Imani’s apartment with my folded script and a takeout bag.
I shifted my weight from one foot to the other, gulping down a wave of nervousness as I heard Imani’s footsteps coming towards the door.
Tomorrow we were shooting our first kiss scene, where Calliope sneaks Juliette into her house and they kiss upstairs in her bedroom.
Production wanted us to start off with one of the lighter kisses, so not only we could get to know each other better physically, but also build up to the heavier kisses later on. We were shooting them out of order, so I didn’t know what episode this kiss was supposed to be in yet.
Imani, being the compassionate and thoughtful human being she is, offered to let me come over to her apartment so we could practice the scene off-screen first, both out of courtesy and probably sensing my own nervousness for the scene. Imani was already so good at reading me.
It wasn’t uncommon for costars to do this, but the thought did nothing to help ease the butterflies going around in my stomach.
The door opened and revealed Imani, looking as radiant as always even in the comfort her own home, and greeting me with a bright smile.
“Sarah, hey! Come on in,” she said, ushering me in with a gesture and heading towards the common area, as I trialed behind her and closed the door shut behind me.
“I hope I’m not too early… or late. I brought us bagels,” I said, holding up the bag for her to see.
Her eyes shone with excitement and her smile widened, as she strode towards me.
“Aww, you’re such a sweetheart!” she said, taking the bag from me and gazing down into my eyes. I tried my best not to blush at the praise and stare from her, which was only intensified by our height difference.
“And you’re fine, just go ahead and have a seat on the couch,” she said, “I’ll be over in a second.” She ran her hand down my arm and gave a light squeeze, something she does whenever she’s trying to ease my nerves on set, and headed towards the kitchen.
I took a brief moment to pull myself together, trying to calm down the shocks running all throughout my body from Imani’s touch, and forced myself to go towards the couch.
I took a seat just as Imani came in once again.
“Okay, so you have the script?” Imani asked, taking charge of this session out of the gate.
“Never leaves me hand,” I replied with a laugh, to which Imani responded politely with a laugh as well, and giving a small shake of her head. “I have it memorized, though.”
“Perfect, me too. Let’s get started,” she said, standing up. I looked up at her in confusion before realizing that not only did she not have a script in her hand, but that the scene began standing up as well.
“Right, uhm, so yeah we just…” I stuttered.
“Whenever you’re ready,” she said reassuringly, with an encouraging smile.
I nodded in response and closed my eyes for a brief second, imagining the scenario in my head and opening them to see Calliope standing in front of me.
I stared into her eyes which were showing nothing but love, admiration, and an intensity so strong it made me wanna reach out to keep myself upright.
I took a breathe before I spoke.
“I just wanna live my life. I’m not really even sure what that means for me but, I just know that I wanna figure it out for myself.”
Calliope regarded me with a sweet smile, eyes twinkling as she listened to every word that fell off my lips.
“What?” I asked, laughing nervously.
“Nothing,” she replied, laughing to herself too, easing the tension and making me feel at home. “Nothing I mean… I just love the way you’re talking about your life.”
I stared up at her as she gazed deeply into my eyes, making sure I knew she meant everything she was saying.
“Like it’s your life,” finished, “It just makes me feel like I’m supposed to be with you.”
A wave of longing rushed throughout my body so fast and hit me so intensely, I immediately just needed to get as close to Calliope as possible. The feeling of being even an inch separated from her was too much for me to handle.
“I’m supposed to be with you too,” I replied, reaching behind Calliope’s neck and bringing her down to my level.
Our lips met in a fierce kiss, it made my knees buckle immediately and I couldn’t help the gasp I let out when her hands flew down to my waist.
She tilted her head to get a new angle and licked at my bottom lip, testing the waters.
I allowed her entry and when our tongues met, I simply melted. I wrapped my other arm around her neck and hung on as she dominated the kiss.
Her hands ran up and down my back causing me to lean into her touch, getting impossibly closer, and my own hands caressed her cheeks. Begging without saying words that I needed this to go on for as long as possible.
Calliope ground into my body, causing me to roll my hips into hers instinctively. Both of us moaned at the friction and suddenly our clothes felt a little too intrusive for my liking.
Calliope’s hand took hold of my jaw, tilting it to the side and attacking my neck, caressing it with her hand. I threw my head back immediately as she kissed feverishly, and if I wasn’t enjoying it so much I would’ve been embarrassed at how loud I moaned.
She kissed at my pulse point and sucked, tightening her hold on my neck, and my eyes rolled.
“Cal…” I gasped.
She responded by scraping her teeth against my neck, causing me to grip onto her clothes and it took everything in me not to just rip them off right then and there.
She switched sides and gave the other side of my neck the same attention. Ecstasy was coursing through my body and I lost track of whether it was Juliette or myself responding to Calliope’s touch.
Calliope’s hands reached down to my backside and took a hold of my ass, giving both cheeks an appreciative squeeze.
“Fuck,” I moaned out, breaking character as suddenly I was being picked up and my legs instinctively wrapped Imani’s torso.
Imani didn’t seem to notice, still intensely focused on the scene, but I know that the wetness in between my legs was not caused but just Calliope.
Imani’s deep groans in my ear, her strong body holding me up and absolutely ravishing me was making me lose all sense of control to put a stop to this while I still had coherent thoughts.
She walked us back to the couch and dropped me down on it, staring at me like a predator examining her prey. Her eyes ran down my body and I know she saw the shiver that happened when she did it.
She smirked and crawled on top of me, settling in between my legs.
I tugged down on her shirt and brought our lips back together, the heated kiss picking back up right where we left off. Imani’s hands found their way under my shirt as I arched into her body.
She responded by grounding down, hard , into me.
“Fuck!” I yelped, tightening my hold on her shirt and turning my head to the side as she reattached her lips to my neck. She ground down again and I felt a rush of wetness go between my legs.
“Cal…“ I tried but she shut me up with a searing kiss, grinding into me now with abandon and I was responded with just as much intensity, nearing the edge already and we were just dry humping on her fucking couch. Her lips went back to my neck.
“Imani-“ I started.
“What do you want, Sarah?” she growled.
That was when the dam broke and I decided I couldn’t care less what was happening anymore. Hearing my name, hearing how much she wanted this, Cal, Jules, or whatever, was out of the window and I needed Imani to touch me, now.
“Imani fuck I- I need you,” I managed to get out.
One hand started on unbuttoning my jeans while the other went up to my mouth and prodded at my lips.
I took the hint and took her fingers into my mouth, sucking on them, coating them with my saliva and holding eye contact with her darkening eyes the entire time.
Imani looked like she wanted to fuck me until I couldn’t walk.
“Spread out for me, baby,” she said in that husky voice, accent coming in just slightly thicker and just the sound of it almost made me come right then and there.
I opened my legs wider to make room for her, as her hand trialed down my body until it reached the waistband of my underwear and dipped under. We both gasped when she met my wetness.
“Fuck!” I exclaimed as she ran her fingers up and down my slit, coating them in my cum and bringing them up over my clit, swiping over it teasingly. I moaned loudly and arched into her, begging for more.
“You’re so fucking wet,” she husked into my ear, swiping over my clit again and making me cry out in pleasure.
“Mani stop… stop teasing,” I begged her.
She gave me a quick peck on the mouth before whispering in my ear.
“How many?” she asked, circling my entrance with the tips of her fingers.
“Two,” I rushed out.
She dipped her fingers into my heat and filled me up slowly, allowing me time to adjust to the length inside me.
“Oh my god,” I groaned.
I grabbed onto both of her shoulders as she waited, before I gave her a squeeze and arched slightly into her.
She took that as a sign and slowly pulled them almost all the way out, before pushing and filling me back up again.
“Fuck,” I squeezed harder. She responded by speeding up her thrusts, using her hips to add more force as she pounded into me.
She was cursing profanities into my ear while I did my best to hang on and take everything she was giving. Having Imani inside me felt so fucking good I felt like I was about to pass out.
She changed her angle and starting fucking me deeper, causing me to buck into her wildly, almost trying to get away as it was too much.
“Don’t run from me,” she said, and I tightened around her fingers, getting close off of just her voice alone.
“Fuck Mani just, fuck- please!” I yelled out.
Imani doubled her efforts and started fucking me mercilessly, so hard the couch started shaking. She shifted her hand so that her palm brushed against my clit with every thrust. I met her rhythm and my body seized as my orgasm hit me like a freight train.
“Fuck, Imani!” I came hard as I cried out, tightening my grip on her shoulders so much I’m sure my nails would leave a mark, and hiding my face in Imani’s neck.
She slowed down her thrusts until I was a shaking mess, legs quivering as I held onto her for dear life. Imani rolled off of me to catch her breath and looked at me after a few moments, a cheeky smile on her face.
“How’s that for a chemistry read, huh?”
. . .