Before landing his recurring guest role on Netflix’s new limited series Boo, Bitch, Michael Solomon had another show listed on his IMDb page. When the actor sat down with Casting Networks — via Zoom — he told us that after a year and a half of filming his episodes of the Snapchat series Solve, the project got canceled and his performance in it “never did see the light of day.” The unfortunate occurrence may feel all too relatable for actors who know that “overnight success” oftentimes comes after years of hard work. Coming off the release of his biggest breakthrough to date, Solomon made time to share with us the casting story behind booking the new limited series that cracked Netflix’s coveted Top 10 list.
It’s great to virtually see you, Michael. Before we dive into your casting story, I’d love to hear how you’d sum up your character of Jake M. on Boo, Bitch.
Sure. So, the show, itself, centers on Erika Vu, a girl who realizes when she has just two weeks left of high school that she never really lived it up. The night she finally decides to live a little, she dies. And that’s how the show starts. It’s interesting how my character fits into all that, which I think is comparable to something in the superhero genre. Think about Superman, for example. Some people just know him as Clark Kent and have no idea there’s this other side to him. That’s how my character is with Erika Vu — he only knows the Clark Kent side of her and doesn’t realize the supernatural part of her story. Jake M. is just very focused on getting through high school unscathed. He wants everyone to keep doing what they’ve been doing and gets so stressed when even an inkling of something different than what he’s used to happens. I call him the “Sharpay” of the group.
Thanks for that summary, and I can tell this is going to be a great interview already, based on the High School Musical reference alone. Now, what can you tell us about the process of booking the role?
Okay, strap in — it’s story time. So, I booked this role off of one self-tape, and when I saw the audition come in, I recognized that there were some big-name filmmakers attached to it. It was a huge opportunity, and my friends and family were adding some pressure, as well, telling me that the role seemed really good for me. I was like, “Don’t say that and get me in my head about it!” [Laughs] But even with all that, I kind of threw it away, in the sense that I didn’t prepare for the audition as much as I normally would.
The night before I taped it, I went through the sides and was just giggling while I read the character’s lines. I was outside my apartment building and decided to sit down on a bench and really familiarize myself with his words. I was there under the night sky, going over the audition and just really happy about it all. Then I slept on it, and when I woke up the next morning, the lines were there. It was the most different approach I’ve taken to doing a self-tape, but it ended up being one of my sharpest auditions to date because I was so alive and present during it.
It’s fascinating to hear how you altered your normal audition process for this role. And how did you find out you’d booked it?
I didn’t hear anything for a while, so I literally forgot about it. That’s how it goes with self-tapes — you send them off into the ether and move on. A month or two down the line, I was working with a friend on a two-day project when I got a call from my agent and manager telling me that I was first-priority pinned for Boo. I was just freaking out when I got the news — while in the green room for this other project — and they told me we’d know within the next two weeks if I booked it or not.
What followed was the worst week of my life. [Laughs] I was lying to myself on day one, believing I would be able to just not think about it. I couldn’t really eat or sleep or focus on anything during those seven days of hearing nothing — it was absolutely terrible. I kept my phone on and by my side constantly, and the moment I stepped away from it for 20 minutes to hand wash some dishes, that was when my team called me. And then once I gave them a ring back, our call dropped before they could update me, so there was another lull while we tried to get everyone back on. At that point, I didn’t even care anymore — I just needed closure one way or the other. When they told me I’d booked it, I didn’t even scream or celebrate. I was too exhausted. [Laughs] But once the ball finally started rolling and I heard from production, things started moving really quickly.
Wow. It sounds like it was an emotional rollercoaster, and I’m glad it had a happy ending! Can you share a bit about your experience filming the series?
I’ll talk about my first day because I individually FaceTimed roughly 10 friends and family members, effectively creating my own little tour route on set. I called my mom, for example, while I was still inside my trailer and then showed her the outside of it. Next, I took her to the wardrobe trailer, and last on the tour was crafty. Then I said, “Alright, I gotta get ready — bye!” I hung up, called my brother, and did the whole thing over again. Then I called my other brother and gave him the same exact tour. [Laughs] People watching me on set could definitely tell it was my first big project, but I didn’t care.
I love it! I’d imagine it would be tempting to “fake it ‘til you make it” your first time on such a big set, but you weren’t afraid to show your excitement to be there.
Oh, no. Please hear me on this. Deep down in my soul, I am an auntie. [Laughs] I was constantly taking photos and videos on set — I captured things. If someone did something funny, I said, “Oh, sweetie, hold on and squeeze in for a photo real quick.” [Laughs] I love seeing behind-the-scenes content of projects I like, so I wanted to pay it forward and show people who find that stuff fascinating a look into Boo. From day one, I was like, “Yo, auntie mode activated.” And then from there, I just fell in love with the other cast members, every single one of them. They’re all so talented, and it was a nice blend of people who had done big things before this and people who landed their first big project with Boo, like me. We had some really cool bonding moments along the way, and it was a pretty amazing first experience of filming at that level.
Speaking of which, how has working on Boo, Bitch impacted your career so far?
I mean, they say that getting real-world experience is the best acting class out there, and it’s true. My experience on Boo taught me that it really is all on the actor when it comes to the performance. No matter how big the lights are or how immersive the set is, you need to be prepared. You have to do whatever it is you need to do in order to give a good performance. You truly need to learn your craft and be ready — just because the set gets bigger doesn’t mean your acting gets better. There were a few takes where I felt like I just wasn’t there, and it was a really good wake-up call to always do the work beforehand so you can be present during filming. You have to be ready to dive in.
That makes sense. And has booking such a big project led to other roles?
It did jump me straight into another project, which was also a guest recurring role. I can’t talk about that one yet, but it should be coming out somewhere down the line. What’s really fun, though, is that I picture-wrapped that project on the same day that Boo came out on Netflix. So, while I was celebrating the release of my first big show, I was also celebrating the wrap of my second big one, which was an amazing thing to experience. I’m just very grateful that Boo paved the way for me to work more frequently because who doesn’t like consistent work?
Those interested in finding out more about Solomon’s onset experience can check out his Instagram page, which houses the afore-mentioned behind-the-scenes content from filming Boo, Bitch.
This interview has been edited and condensed.