Street Legal’s Yvonne Chapman on the Passion that Drives Mina

@cbcstreetlegal
@cbcstreetlegal

Olivia Novak (Cynthia Dale) may have been a named partner at a law firm on Bay Street, but she’s now left that life and joined forces with the young lawyers at RDL. Started by Mina Lee (Yvonne Chapman), Olivia is also joined at the firm by Adam Darling (Steve Lund) and Lilly Rue (Cara Ricketts). In this week’s episode of Street Legal, airing Monday at 9 p.m. on CBC, Mina takes on a troublesome client who keeps making things worse for himself and Adam responds to a desperate call from his mother.

Through the first two episodes, it’s quickly became clear that Mina’s specialty is organization, preferring to do work behind the scenes and focusing on things like research and strategy. To get a deeper look into Mina, The TV Junkies recently spoke to Chapman, who has previously appeared on shows like The 100 and The Crossing. She previews Mina’s relationship with her partners at RDL, and how the reappearance of an ex may give viewers a bigger glimpse into Mina’s past.

 

The TV Junkies: What can you share about Mina and why you wanted to be a part of this show?

Yvonne Chapman: Mina is the one who actually starts RDL firm. She’s incredibly smart, introspective and a really intelligent and sharp lawyer. She’s more introverted and someone who doesn’t need to shout ‘hey! Look at me!’ That’s just not how she is, but unfortunately, working in the corporate world, it’s the ones who make the most noise who get the most reward. Being on Bay Street, she just wasn’t recognized for her talent, who she was and what she has to offer. In the millennial way, she forged her own path and new firm with her friends Adam, who she knew from law school and is basically family, and Lilly, a star litigator. The three of them have the same passion and drive for law.

TTVJ: Mina and Adam have a history and went to law school together. How does that benefit their current working partnership and will we learn more about that history?

YC: In the first season we definitely allude to the fact that they have each other’s backs. They love each other very much and I viewed Adam as a brother. He’s family for sure. It will benefit them, but it hinders things as well. Mina isn’t the best at picking up social cues or understanding the right things to say, and I think she really leans on Adam. They really compliment each other and he leans on her for technical stuff. She’s really good at her job and later you even find out she wrote his papers in law school. While they compliment each other, because they are so close, when things get heated between them it really gets heated. You’ll see that personally and professionally.

CBC
CBC

TTVJ: What then about her relationship with Lilly? How do they get along?

YC: Before Lilly gets close to Adam, she’s closer to Mina. Mina went out and sought her, and the only reason why Mina would do that, and that Lilly would come to the firm, is that they share the same motivations as to why they practice law. Both of them are incredibly passionate about what they do, even though they do it differently. They both want justice for their clients and they care so deeply for the people they take on and cases they champion.

TTVJ: I love that Street Legal is putting a queer POC as one of the main characters on the show and it looks like we’ll learn more about Mina maybe through one of her exes? Can you share anything about that?

YC: I love that too! You are going to meet one of her exes and there will be a relationship on the show. It’s so great that it’s included, but what I’m really proud of is how they show her relationship on screen. It just so happens that yes, Mina is a lesbian, but she’s a human being who loves another human being and it happens to be a woman. There’s no huge attention to it because it should be normalized. Love is love. It’s awesome because she’s going to have a relationship, but it’s treated like any other relationship.

CBC
CBC

TTVJ: In the first couple of episodes, we learn that the major case you guys are on is focusing on the war on drugs. How does the show make that fight unique?

YC: What I loved most about seeing this case unfold in six episodes, and what I really appreciate about it, is the focus they have on the victims. They portray them in a realistic way. There’s a problematic stigma about what and who drug users are, but we show who these people truly are and how they are being affected. It’s people like Adam’s mom who went to a doctor, got a prescription and got addicted. Sometimes people tend to think negative about drug users, but they are truly victims too of the system.

TTVJ: Did you know anything about the first Street Legal and what was it like getting to work with Cynthia?

YC: Admittedly, no. I didn’t know anything. I was still on Sesame Street when the original was airing. [laughs] I quickly found out though because it’s such an iconic Canadian television series. Funnily enough, my grandmother who lives in Hong Kong and visited Canada all the time during it, remembered it as “a very good show with a really beautiful woman on there with bangs,” who she liked because “she was feisty!” I told her I get to work with her now and that enthusiasm she had was so great.

It was really quick though that fans of the original came out on social media to say they can’t wait for the show. That was so awesome and invigorating to have. Cynthia, Eric [Peterson] and Anthony [Sherwood] are amazing and I can’t say enough about those guys. They are masters of what they do and the heartbeat of the original show. Having them there and coming back, with that tone of familiarity and nostalgia for fans hoping to see it, you can’t replace or ask for more.

 

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Street Legal airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on CBC and is available on CBC Gem.