Dominque Fishback

Dominique Fishback

Shane McCauley
March 21, 2023
In The Mix

Dominique Fishback's Fan Fiction

The actress plumbs the horrors of intense fandom in Prime Video's Swarm.

Malcolm Venable

It's kismet that Dominique Fishback is a huge Eminem fan. This spring, she stars in Prime Video's Swarm as Dre, a woman whose obsession with a Beyoncé-type superstar drives her to take disturbing actions. Viewers might label Dre an archetypal "stan" — the term for an overzealous fan popularized by Eminem's 2000 song of the same name — but Fishback is reluctant to make judgments about Dre.

"I would describe her as a person who has a lot of love, a lot of grief and doesn't know where to put it," says Fishback, who's won attention for roles in The Deuce (HBO), The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey (Apple TV+) and the film Judas and the Black Messiah, which earned her a BAFTA best supporting actress nomination. "I was like, 'I'm not going to play her as if she's crazy.' I'd describe her as lost."

You wouldn't describe Fishback as lost; she's been sure of her aspirations since childhood. Growing up in Brooklyn's sometimes harsh East New York neighborhood, she remained certain she wanted to be an actor, even after a guidance counselor told her she didn't have what it takes — when she was just twelve. Rejection from the prestigious LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts didn't stop her either; she earned a theater degree from Pace University in 2013 and then debuted her one-woman off-Broadway show, Subverted, which was nominated for a New York Innovative Theatre Award in 2015. "I want to elevate the opportunities I'm given," she says. "In my neighborhood, that's not very common."

The seven-episode Swarm marks Fishback's first time as a series lead. No surprise, she landed the part through tenacity and New York City-grown grit. Initially, she'd been tapped to play Dre's sister, a part that ultimately went to Chlöe Bailey. "I read the script and was like, 'Yeah, I gotta play Dre.'" So she reached out to Donald Glover, who serves as cocreator and executive producer alongside showrunner Janine Nabers, who was a writer and producer on Glover's Emmy-winning show Atlanta.

Embodying the wisdom of her hero Eminem, who famously rapped that "opportunity comes once in a lifetime," Fishback made her case. Suffice it to say, her pitch worked.

"I never want to catch up to my own self with what I can do as an actor," she says. "I don't want to be imprisoned by my own fears. I want to give it my all."

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine issue #2, 2023, under the title, "Fan Fiction."

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