From prison scrubs to a badge, this Pretty Hard Cases star looks to personal connection for inspiration

The former star of Orange is the New Black, Adrienne C. Moore, talks about playing a cop in 2021.

The former star of Orange is the New Black, Adrienne C. Moore, talks about playing a cop in 2021.

Adrienne C. Moore is an accomplished television, film, voice over and theatre artist. She stars as the tough, unapologetic Drug Squad ‘Detective Kelly Duff’ in the new female buddy cop drama Pretty Hard Cases for CBC and NBCU. (CBC)

Actress Adrienne C. Moore may be known for playing touch-talking inmate "Black Cindy" but now she's hitting the streets as a Drug Squad detective in Pretty Hard Cases, a fun, irreverent female buddy cop series. 

Moore says whether it's for the personality of Cindy in Orange is the New Black or Kelly Duff in Pretty Hard Cases, she always grounds her characters with herself, what it is she connects to, and what she is interested in exploring. 

"Being an African American woman dealing with my own views about the police force, and now I'm portraying that as an actual cop, it was important to me to bring humanity to that and not bring my own trauma and experience, but to be open," says Moore.

Specializing in undercover detective work, Kelly Duff (Adrienne C. Moore) recognizes that the rules meant to protect the vulnerable don’t always work, and she tries to go by her gut more than the rule book. (CBC)

Moore started acting in theatre at an early age, and has come a long way since. Her work on seven seasons on OITNB earned her an NAACP Image Award nomination, as well as the Vanguard Award. Both Adrienne and her character Kelly are mid-level in their career, their jobs are very important to them, and so is their personal life. 

"I struggle with that," says Moore, "so it was very easy to give those traits and qualities to Kelly Duff."

As artists we always draw on our experiences we draw on what's going on in the world around us.- Adrienne C. Moore

Kelly is also dealing with the moral dilemma of whether her job is about law and order about serving and protecting the community, says Moore. 

"She's dealing with a community of police officers that are intimidating and bullying her in certain aspects of the season." 

"By being open to someone who is the complete opposite of her, she learns that she actually can benefit from trusting, being vulnerable and open, very much like her burgeoning partner Sam Wazowski," says Moore. 

Lone wolf investigators Samantha Wazowski (Meredith MacNeill) and Kelly Duff (Adrienne C. Moore) are forced to collaborate when their individual cases involving illegal gun sales cross paths in Pretty Hard Cases. (CBC)

The PHC star also spoke with real female detectives to better understand her role.  

"When I see cops in my own life, I wonder what that person is like when they're not a cop, when they're not carrying their badge and gun and dressed in their uniform," says Moore. 

Moore and her co-star MacNeill bonded over small-town sensibilities

On Pretty Hard Cases, Kelly Duff teams up with Samantha Wazowski (Meredith MacNeill, Baroness von Sketch Show), and they are forced to put their differences aside to dismantle a Toronto street gang. But as co-stars, the actors had many similarities.

A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Moore was raised in Atlanta, Georgia, while her co-star MacNeill is from Pictou, Nova Scotia. Although they're from geographically very different places, Moore says what connected them was the fact that they are from small towns. 

"Pictou is probably smaller than Nashville, but we all know Southern small-town sensibilities," says Moore. 

"I think it was in that similarity that we found a deep connection in humanity, what's important to us as people, as women, and what's important to us to get across as a black person and as a white person."

Not your grandpa's buddy-cop comedy

Moore's favourite buddy cop comedies are Turner and Hooch, Lethal Weapon, and Cagney & Lacey

"I think what's different about our show is that it's female-led," says Moore. 

"It's current and poignant, funny yet procedural. One minute you could be laughing, the next minute you know you're heading to a very poignant serious moment, and the next minute you're chasing the drug dealer. It's all over the place."

"I want people to laugh and not be bogged down," Adrienne C. Moore says of series Pretty Hard Cases. (CBC)

"Our world has dealt with a lot, emotionally," says Moore. "In the beginning when we started this show, I was just like 'We have to show what's going on in the world.'"

But Moore says she wanted the series to present joy "in spite of all the difficulties that we face in our personal lives."

"Entertainment and television and film has been the one thing that I think has kept people afloat during this time. In creating the show, I thought about how I want to be timely and relevant, but I also want to evoke joy."

There were 'unexpected circumstances at every turn' during production

Moore says there were many obstacles in creating Pretty Hard Cases during a pandemic.

"We were obviously not able to see everyone's faces and create and foster relationships with our cast and crew that we normally would have had we not been under these circumstances," says Moore. 

Pretty Hard Cases was hit with unexpected turns when maintaining COVID-19 rules, as well as the creative integrity of the show, says Adrienne C. Moore. (CAMERON PICTURES INC)

There were also several evolutions of the script changing, says Moore. 

"We were always going back to the drawing board and asking, 'What is it we're trying to say with what we've been given to say?'" 

"Meredith and I come from the theatre, so we're used to the community coming together to build the production, and yes, the community did come together to create Pretty Hard Cases."

Watch Moore in Pretty Hard Cases on CBC Gem.