Atlanta actress Danielle Deadwyler plays key role in HBO Max’s ‘Station Eleven’

Danielle Deadwyler as Miranda in HBO MAX's "Station Eleven." HBO MAX

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Danielle Deadwyler as Miranda in HBO MAX's "Station Eleven." HBO MAX

Her Miranda character’s graphic novel ties the entire season together.

[This story includes spoilers about “Station Eleven”}

Atlanta actress Danielle Deadwyler only appears in three of 10 episodes of the critically acclaimed HBO Max drama “Station Eleven.”

But her character Miranda Carroll is the driver of the entire series.

Miranda, an often stoic yet mesmerizing logistics executive with an artist’s heart, spent years obsessively writing a graphic novel called “Station Eleven,” a way to cope with losing her family as a child during Hurricane Hugo. The novel also drives a wedge between her and husband Arthur, a thespian who dies of a heart attack on stage portraying “King Lear” in the opening scenes of the series. Her book lands in the hands of the show’s protagonist Kirsten and also influences Miranda’s son Tyler, who becomes a prophet.

Deadwyler, an Atlanta native who graduated Grady High School and Spelman College, has been a local stage actor for many years and has found increasingly juicier roles in TV and film. She was a main character for a time on OWN’s “The Haves and the Have Nots” and landed a key role in the 2021 all-Black Western film “The Harder They Fall,” which also starred Jonathan Majors and Idris Elba.

Now Deadwyler is receiving strong raves from critics for her role in “Station Eleven.” Libby Hill of IndieWire calls her performance “magnificent” and writes that she “deserves every possible acting award she’s eligible for.” To Hill, Miranda “radiates a warm, if wary, energy.” Kathleen Newman-Bremang in Refinery29 lauds Deadwyler’s “physicality and precision as a performer that elevates Miranda’s contradicting personality traits from simple quirks to a fascinating dissection of human complexity.”

Deadwyler, in a recent interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, explained how she embodied Miranda. “I’m interested in discomfort,” she said. “With ‘Station Eleven,’ there’s a level of discomfort in investigating what it means to be human, what it means to be an artist.”

She continued: “How do we make our world? How do we care for each other? How do we do more than just be there? How do you do more than just survive? That’s what Miranda explores. It’s something I try to do in my work as well.”

Deadwyler said she considers herself a “part of the artistic fabric of Atlanta. It’s just manifesting itself currently on a broader scale.” She has worked with all the major theater groups in town including the Alliance, Aurora, Theatrical Outfit, Synchronicity and True Colors. She has also spent some time in Vancouver and New York refining her craft.

“I state that I am an artist,” she said. “That is intentional for me. I don’t take it lightly. It’s truly a privilege and a gift.”

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The cast of "Goodnight, Tyler" at the Alliance includes Danielle Deadwyler (from left), Chris Harding and Alex V. Gibson. Contributed by Greg Mooney

Credit: Greg Mooney

The cast of "Goodnight, Tyler" at the Alliance includes Danielle Deadwyler (from left), Chris Harding and Alex V. Gibson.
Contributed by Greg Mooney

Credit: Greg Mooney

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The cast of "Goodnight, Tyler" at the Alliance includes Danielle Deadwyler (from left), Chris Harding and Alex V. Gibson. Contributed by Greg Mooney

Credit: Greg Mooney

Credit: Greg Mooney

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True Colors Theatre's "Smart People" features Danielle Deadwyler and Neal Ghant. PHOTO CREDIT: Greg Mooney

Credit: Greg Mooney

True Colors Theatre's "Smart People" features Danielle Deadwyler and Neal Ghant. PHOTO CREDIT: Greg Mooney

Credit: Greg Mooney

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True Colors Theatre's "Smart People" features Danielle Deadwyler and Neal Ghant. PHOTO CREDIT: Greg Mooney

Credit: Greg Mooney

Credit: Greg Mooney

And she isn’t just an actress.

“I’ve done a lot of experimental stuff in an effort to garner some control of what I was doing as an artist,” Deadwyler said. “I segued into performance art and visual art. That proved to be a really significant development. These different mediums inform each other. I’m investigating stuff that rides across the fine line of media.”

“Station Eleven” uses a common fictional device of recent yore that may hit a bit too close to home: a pandemic that nearly ends the world. It’s dubbed the Georgia Flu but references the country, not the U.S. state. It’s also based on a 2014 best-selling book of the same title by Emily St. John Mandel that long preceded COVID-19. The 10-episode series toggles with time, including periods before the pandemic, leading into the pandemic, the weeks and months afterwards and a period of time 20 years later.

With life imitating art, the series shot its first two episodes in Chicago right before the real pandemic began. She recalls sitting in the Chicago L train system and wondering about germs, much as her character does on a bus in Malaysia in episode three. “I wasn’t frantic the way Miranda was,” she recalled. “But I was concerned.”

The pandemic shut “Station Eleven” down and Deadwyler didn’t return to set until March of 2021.

Miranda’s graphic novel, which is an over-arching presence throughout the series even when she is not on screen, was never published. “I appreciate her need for it to be a private thing,” she said. “Some things are just for me.”

Her biggest spurt of anger, in fact, is when she finds out Arthur had shown her graphic novel to his mistress. “That’s the merit of burning down a pool house,” she said, referencing a major scene from episode three. “She’s trying to do something to get to the root of who she is, as is everybody in this series.”

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Miranda makes a toast. (Photo by Warrick Page/HBO)

Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

Miranda makes a toast. (Photo by Warrick Page/HBO)

Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

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Miranda makes a toast. (Photo by Warrick Page/HBO)

Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

WHERE TO WATCH

“Station Eleven,” all ten episodes available now for HBO Max subscribers

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