EXCLUSIVE: ‘Swagger’s Cast & Creator Get Real About Social Media & How It’s Used


Social media is a gift and a curse. No show details that more than Apple TV+’s original series Swagger.

Greats like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Kobe Byant, and Shaquille O’Neal didn’t have to worry about the millions of voices sounding off about something they did on or off the court during the height of their careers.

On the other hand, today’s athletes face tremendous amounts of scrutiny, not just from sports writers and fans in the arenas at home or on the road but also on platforms like Twitter or Instagram. NBA superstar Kevin Durant, who the show is loosely based on, often finds himself engaging with trolls on Twitter, most recently joining a Twitter Space where the topic was he sucks. Durant also has burner accounts where he engages with fans who get really froggy on the app.

Just recently, Zion Williamson’s off-the-court escapades with an “IG model/adult actress” has social media all in his mentions. She isn’t helping matters either with her constant trolling as social media eggs her on.

So, basically, it’s hard being an athlete nowadays, especially a young one where the weight of decision could elicit responses from everyone. Swagger perfectly encapsulates that by its use of social media in the show and how decisions that Jace, Crystal, or any of his teammates make could have them judged in the court of Twitter.

We spoke with Swagger’s cast, Isaiah Hill (Jace Carson), Quvenzhané Wallis (Crystal Jarrett), Orlando Jones (Dr. Emory Lawson), Tristan Mack Wilds (Alonzo Powers), Shinelle Azoroh (Jenna Carson) and series creator Reggie Rock Bythewood about social media and its impact on today’s society.

Reggie Rock Bythewood Wanted To Capture Social Media’s Influence In Swagger

“I mean, it’s just a part of everybody’s life. My oldest now is 22, and the youngest is 19. And I mean, it is amazing when you see them when they’re not on their phones but social media plays. It’s just a big part of everyone’s everyday life,” Bythewood tells Cassius Life.” And there’s just, even in the basketball stuff, we’ve seen a lot of sports movies where there’s, like, you hear this announcer voice throughout the entire sequence. And I said, ‘Why not just flip it? I’ll just make it the social media voice.’ And so that’s where a lot of the social media comes from as well.”

People love to see people rise and win, and people love it just as much as when they go down.

He continues, “Yeah, I mean, it’s just an amazing thing. People love to see people rise and win, and people love it just as much as when they go down. And just the vitriol that people can have against a young player because they missed the shot or made a decision that they wouldn’t have made. It’s really amazing to see people go after people in the sort of high school age. And so I really just wanted to bring that to the surface. But again, one of the things that we were really deliberate on doing at Swagger is seeing characters faced with insane obstacles but never leaning into them being victims.”

Quvenzhané Wallis & Isaiah Hill Admit They Don’t Interact As Much On Social Media


Source: Apple TV+ / Swagger

“If I’m on social media, I’m scrolling, I’m not looking at my page,” Wallis reveals to Cassius Life.

Hill adds, “I got a time limit, and I can either ignore it for the day or 15 minutes, but I definitely got to … I find myself throwing my phone all the time because we have to be present in our day-to-day life. We have to be present and really understand what that means. So we all figuring out what that means all over again as a society.”

Shenille Azoroh Says She Will Not Allow Her Daughter To Have A Phone Until She’s 21


Source: Apple TV+ / Swagger

“It seems like social media is an extra bully because you have to take care of the people, the peers that you’re around. And then everyone on the phone don’t have a face, but they have things to say, Azoroh begins.

“And I think for my children, I have introduced my daughter to Roblox, thanks to him, but she will not be on Instagram for a while. I don’t think I’ll put a phone in her hand until she absolutely has to because I keep telling her I didn’t have a phone til I was 21. Because it could be very detrimental to their growth, to their confidence if not handled well.”

Tristan Mack Wilds Is Terrified His Daughter Will Face Constant Scrutiny

“Yeah. I’m terrified. I’m not going to lie to you. I am honestly, truthfully, wholeheartedly terrified because it doesn’t matter whether your children are on social media or not. They’re still going to be, especially in this business, ” Wilds admits. “The more prominent you become, your children are constantly under the scrutiny of the world. So I think the biggest thing for me is just to make sure that I, instead of letting the social media monster influence them to make sure that this house is enough influence, that they understand who they are, what they are, and why they are in this house before they walk outside and something or someone else can try to shake their identity.”

The more prominent you become, your children are constantly under the scrutiny of the world.

Orlando Jones Says Social Media A Tool & How It Affects You Depends On How You Use It

“I mean, look, it takes a village,” Jones states. “But that village is an in-person village. It’s not a virtual village.”

“So social media is a tool at the end of the day, and like all tools, it’s meant to be used a certain way. And you have generations of people who don’t know how to use social media.”

Jones continues, “100%. Exactly. So again, I think if you know how to properly use the tools, the tools can be extremely effective. If you don’t, the tools can be quite detrimental. So hopefully the gig is to teach people how to properly use the tools. And one of the great things about these tools is it gives us access to a diversity of opinions, so we can inform ourselves better about what things are rather than go simply off of what we think it is, which is often mired by our own misunderstanding.”

Season two of Swagger is now streaming on Apple TV+. 

Photo: Apple TV+ / Swagger