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‘Of Kings and Prophets’ Brings the Story of David to TV

Actress Jeanine Mason talks about playing a daughter desperately looking for purpose and imagining the lives of  women in Biblical times. 

Of Kings and Prophets
Credit: © 2015 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

Pegged as the Biblical Game of Thrones, ABC’s latest drama, Of Kings and Prophets, follows the books of Samuel, specifically the story of King Saul and a shepherd named David who find their lives intertwined thanks to an impending war and the words of a prophet.

The show and its cast have big hopes for the new series, one that focuses on family, betrayal and the strength it takes to truly live out your faith. Those qualities are what drew actress Jeanine Mason to the project months ago.

Mason might be famous for her skills on the dance floor – she was crowned the Season 5 champion of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance – but it’s her latest role as King Saul’s eldest daughter Merav that she’s especially proud of.

“I love this character,” Mason tells Guideposts.org.

Describing her  as somewhat coddled and impressionable – she is a princess after all – the actress filled us in on where her character finds herself when the season premieres.  

“She’s really inexperienced in the realities of life beyond the palace and then this tragedy happens to her in the first episode. “Her life purpose has been to marry well, to help unite the 12 tribes for her father, King Saul,” Mason explains. “When that is taken from her, she’s lost. This entire first season is her figuring out what her greater purpose is.”

Much of this season’s focus will be on Saul and his quest to unite the tribes while scrambling to hold onto the throne and combating David’s anointed destiny. However, Merav also has a central role in the story.

Jeanine Mason and Maisie Richardson-Sellers in ABC’s Of Kings and Prophets

“It was something I felt could’ve been lost if this show had been done at another network because ABC is such a women’s network,” Mason says. “The Bible leaves us with such little information about these women, we get to really expand upon their lives and try to honor what they must’ve been going through being alongside these men.”

It was a responsibility Mason took seriously.

“Our show runner and I were always looking at the script and going, ‘Okay, where are we being lazy?’ Where are we just making her princessy, if that’s even a word?” the actress says. “We wanted her to have a clear objective. Even if she seems selfish, it’s because she’s been hurt or  she feels like God isn’t with her.”

The show has gotten attention recently thanks to its graphic violence and fair share of steamy sex scenes, but Mason says it’s all part of the series’ plan to be as authentic and true to the time period as possible.

“The Bible’s the most famous story of all time. It’s exciting to approach this with such authentic intentions, which is really what this show is trying to do,” the actress explains. “As someone who grew up having a relationship to the Bible, to see this first episode, it just absolutely changes your perspective. You see what was at stake back then, what it took to fight for what you believe in. It was our duty to do this show in an authentic way, in a way it’s never truly been approached.”

While she took the responsibility of telling the story seriously, she also valued the show’s diversity.

 “I’m very proud of the fact that I get to be a part of this cast and that I get to represent the Latin community in our very mixed world here,” the star says. “It’s just the biggest blessing.”

Of Kings and Prophets premiere March 8th at 10 p.m. on ABC. 

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