Gerald L Whaley is the creator of the new show Shrader House, here is a link to the web-site:
Q: What is Shrader House about?
A: Shrader House is a television Drama about Juvenile Offenders placed in a Brooklyn NY group home faced with multiple challenges. These challenges range from drug abuse, gang activity and even corrupt social service workers, police officers and government officials. The first season follows Troy Daniels who gets a second chance at making his life right when he is placed at Shrader House group home. But little does he know the very group home that is supposed to help reform him is under serious investigation and in the red to being shut down.
Q: What inspired you to create it?
A I have over 12 years of experience working with “Troubled Youth” in the Juvenile Justice system. For several years I lived in Brooklyn and I have witnessed and experienced so much. I felt like the youth weren’t getting a fair shot and their side of the story and their voices weren’t being heard. Also, there were only a hand full of good staff workers much like myself and they were being shut out and overpowered by corrupt executives.
Q: What is the most misunderstood thing about juvenile offenders?
A: I think that most people looking from the outside in think that these youth are not reachable or “lost causes”. We as an adult society tend to give up too easy. We get a stereotype in our minds that what we see on television or on the street and we think that is what it is. If you took one day to spend time with these young people and listen to them, you would be surprised. Some of these kids are very intellectually talented however the things that they have been through or exposed to causes them to put a wall up and you can’t see that at first glance.
Q: What are some of the benefits of living in a group home?
A: Some of the advantages of being in group home placement are that the youth may have the opportunity to take advantage of good counselors who really care. Youth can get the opportunity to go to school and further whatever career they choose to pursue if the staff take the time to really put in the effort to get through to these kids. The concept of structure and responsibility for your
own life is mainly what is supposed to be instilled in each youth in placement. However that doesn’t always happen due to the lack of staff that care.
Q: What are some of the challenges of being in a group home?
A: Well peer pressure is a huge challenge in placement for young people. Trust is another challenge because a lot of youth in placement learned not to trust because of prior years of abuse. Maintaining in a structured environment can be challenging to a teen that is used to an unstructured environment where they have had to build up that survival instinct. Often times rival gang members are placed in the same detention center or group home which makes it a hostile environment. Coping in that type of environment can be a life or death challenge.
Q: What qualities did you look for when casting the delinquents?
A: I had a picture in my mind of what each character looked like when I wrote the script. When we were casting actors I wanted to cast actors that had that youthful look yet were mature beyond their years. I also looked for individuals that came as close as possible to the characters I had pictured in my mind when I wrote it. I am very happy with who we casted.
Q: Do you think the criminal justice system is racially biased?
A: To a degree I think that we see a lot of racially biased cases that come out in the news and even cases that don’t get the press. I think most would agree that race plays a part in the criminal justice system. Take racial profiling for example. I won’t say that it’s only black people who get racially profiled because white people can get racially profiled by the police as well. For example, a young black teen with a back pack walking down the street in Brooklyn at 1am gets stopped and frisked and is profiled as “suspicious”. Now take that same street at the same time but it’s a white teen, he too would get stopped and frisked because he is seen as “suspicious” because he’s a white kid in that particular neighborhood at that time. I think that one of the reasons profiling happens is because cops would rather be safe than sorry but it still doesn’t make it right.
Q: What is you strangest on set story?
A: I think the strangest story on set so far was when we were shooting the police department scenes with Detective Bailey and Detective Cooper. There was a huge glass water jug sitting on a stand in the corner. First of all it was
strange because usually those jugs are made of plastic, anyway, when we wrapped the set without anyone touching it, the glass jug tipped over and shattered on the floor with a huge crash! There was a dead silence and one of the producers Leila Almas says “Well that’s just a sign for good luck”. We all died laughing. Seems she was right because God has been doing great things with Shrader House.
Q: What shows would you compare Shrader House to?
A: Honestly I can’t say that there is anything on television right now that I can compare Shrader House to. I think it is safe to say that THERE IS NOTHING LIKE “SHRADER HOUSE” ON TELEVISION.
Q: Would Lohan benefit from a group home?
A: Judging from the group homes I’ve worked in……she’d come out worse. (laughing)
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)