Meet The Cast Of 'Grand Army', Your Latest Netflix Binge

Get to know the actors behind your latest Netflix binge – introducing the cast of new TV show, Grand Army, in their own words.

Get to know the actors behind your latest Netflix binge – introducing the cast of Grand Army, in their own words.

Grand Army contains every prerequisite needed to become your next great Netflix obsession: there’s lots of secrets, plenty of unexpected twists, and a group of relative Hollywood newcomers ready to capture your attention. Arriving on the streaming platform on October 16, the series, based on Slut: The Play by Katie Cappiello, examines life at high school in Brooklyn, New York. As expected, these teenagers’ stories are filled with drama, growth, explorations in sexuality, and a few surprises.

The series centers on the trials and tribulations of adolescence that ultimately bond five wildly different students. Beginning against the backdrop of a girls' locker room filled with pranks and chatter of an evening party that promises to bring everyone together, Grand Army High soon finds itself at the center of unexpected tragedy: a nearby bombing. The traumatic event serves as a catalyst for Joey Del Marco (Odessa A’zion), Siddhartha Pakam (Amir Bageria), Dominique Pierre (Odley Jean), Jayson Jackson (Maliq Johnson), and Leila Kwan Zimmer (Amalia Yoo) to explore racial injustice, sexual identity, and the power of using your voice to enact change.

Though the show presents viewers with in-depth portraits of its characters, it also marks many of the featured actors’ first major TV roles. MTV News met the stars bringing the delightful drama of Grand Army to the small screen, discovering their journeys have included failed commercial auditions, nationwide theater tours, and, in one instance, a tenure on Degrassi.

Odessa A’zion

MTV: How did you begin acting?

I don’t know exactly when I started acting but, when me and my siblings were younger, we would make up stories and perform them for our family. Then, when I was in middle school, I went on these camping trips, and it was mandatory that you had to do skits. I had a lot of fun with it. In school, I went to a performing arts high school, and you had the option to do a Drama Academy. I tried it for about a month, and I enjoyed it, but I was like, why would I be in Drama Academy and not get out there and audition? I started auditioning when I was 15 and that was that.

What was your first-ever audition like?

My first audition was for American Housewife. My manager and my agent had told me, and I was under the impression, that you’re supposed to wear black, skinny jeans and a white shirt to every audition. So, that’s what I did. I walked into the room, and I felt so uncomfortable and so not like myself. My legs started trembling right away and I forgot all my fucking lines, and then I left the room. It was so embarrassing.

What have you been streaming lately?

I have two shows right now, I May Destroy You, and you might laugh, but Adventure Time. It has some really amazing storylines.

Amir Bageria

How did you begin acting?

It all started back in third grade. My teacher put on an annual child-friendly version of Macbeth, and I ended up getting the title role. It was only for a few of the acts, not the whole thing, but I remember rehearsing for so long, and then I had anxiety. But when I stepped out on that stage, I had this feeling of euphoria that I hadn’t ever experienced in life. I never really forgot what it was like to be on that stage, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

I kept up with acting intermittently since then, and then in ninth grade, I did my first audition. It was for a television show called Degrassi, and I ended up booking that, and doing that for a number of years.

What was your first-ever audition like?

Professionally, it was Degrassi. Shout out to y’all, because I don’t know why they cast me – to this day, I have no idea. My first audition for anything was in high school, and that was nerve-wracking.

What have you been streaming lately?

Avatar: The Last Airbender is kind of having a resurgence now, which is cool, and Master of None is one of my favorite shows ever.

Odley Jean

How did you begin acting?

I started really young, acting in church plays. Every year for Christmas, the church youth would make a play, and I would perform in it. In middle school, I was really interested in taking acting classes, but I couldn’t afford to, so I waited until high school and joined a film and theater program that got defunded a few weeks after I joined.

After that, I joined another nonprofit theater program in my school called Opening Act. I was performing off-broadway, creating plays at the end of every semester, and that’s how I met Katie [Cappiello], through one of the Opening Act students. Since then, I’ve been acting, doing theater, and touring plays around America for almost eight years. Now, I’m here.

What was your first-ever audition like?

My first big audition was for a film, and I was already having a bad day, and I had never auditioned in person prior to that, so I went. I hadn’t even memorised, something had happened before, and I was already running late, and I was upset and crying. Once I got there, I didn’t even really want to audition. They saw that I wasn’t with it. My first self-tape that I did was for 13 Reasons Why, and I didn’t see myself on that show.

What have you been streaming lately?

I May Destroy YouP-ValleyLovecraft Country, and Sex Education.

Maliq Johnson

How did you begin acting?

I went to this kind of open house and I got blessed. My dad took me to this open house in the city where a bunch of actors can go and get seen by managers and production. People take pictures, and it’s about seeing what you’re like in front of the camera. I started off doing modeling and print work – I was in ads for Target and Macy’s. I did my first commercial at age five, and after that, I continued in commercials, and then I graduated to TV and film.

What was your first-ever audition like?

I don’t remember my first audition. I don’t know if I got it or not. I do remember an embarrassing one. It was a screen test, and it was my first one, and I went in there with the lines written in my hand. I didn’t even know you weren’t supposed to have the lines written. I wasn’t as dedicated as I am now, I’ll be honest. As soon as I got out, my manager called me, and asked, ‘Did you go in there with the lines on your hand? You might as well chalk it up, and go back home now.’

What have you been streaming lately?

Ozark. Now I’m watching Blacklist, but I actually fell asleep. You know how when you’re watching a Netflix show, but you fall asleep, and then it plays for like five episodes? I lost my place, so I had to start over. Plus, any Marvel shows.

Amalia Yoo

How did you begin acting? 

I took my first acting class in elementary school because one of my friends was doing it and I thought it sounded fun. I had so much fun then, that I kept taking classes from that point on. I did have a manager at one point, and I was doing commercial auditions and stuff, but I didn’t like doing that. I didn’t like going into those auditions because I had acne and braces, and I felt all these other people were so primed, proper, and perfect. It made me feel horrible about myself.

I stopped working with my manager. I wanted to only do theater and act, and I went to a performing arts high school. I went there for drama and studied theater. During that time, I was also working with Odley [Jean] and Katie [Cappiello]. I was doing shows and plays across America, and then Grand Army happened.

What was your first-ever audition like?

My first audition was when I was really little. It was an open call for the ensemble The King and I. You know, that problematic musical. I had never been to an audition before, so I went in with my folder of sheet music, and I don’t think I even had a headshot yet. I was shaking, and I went into the room and probably sang a horrible rendition of “On My Own” from Les Miserables, and then I left.

What have you been streaming lately?

Pose, it’s one of the best shows ever, and we got to work with some of the directors.

Season one of Grand Army is available to stream on Netflix Australia right now. 

This article was written by Lauren Rearick, and originally appeared on

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