Actor Christian Keyes recently debuted his latest role as a public defender in BET’s In Contempt. With four episodes already aired, the show premiered not too long ago on April 10th. It depicts the lives of public defenders and the obstacles that they face while representing their clients.
“In Contempt is a witty, funny, intelligent, sexy legal drama. If you can imagine a younger and flier Law & Order”
In In Contempt, Christian portrays Charlie Riggs, an arrogant public defender. Charlie is the guy who’s in it to win it. Though his attitude can be smug at times, his talent and passion are never questioned. He’s a witty guy who never afraid to tackle a challenge and it’s that type of determination that helps him get what he wants.
“Charlie Riggs is a piece of work. If he was a real human being, I’d have a beer with Charlie. He’s unfiltered and self-serving. He’s a little cocky but he’s good at what he does. He doesn’t want people to think that he works as hard as he does or he cares as much as he does. He wants it to come off effortless.”
While the show mostly follows Erica Ash’s character Gwen Sullivan, Charlie her colleague and direct opposite. He is in constant competition with his Gwen. They often clash with each other, especially when it comes to their jobs. However, their passion also brings them together romantically. Even if it’s for a quick booty call.
Starring alongside Christian and Erica are actors Richard Lawson (For Colored Girls), Megan Hutchings (Reign), Mouna Traoré (Murdoch Mysteries), Ronnie Rowe. Jr. (Star Trek: Discovery), Tobias Truvillion (Empire). They all work together to create this world that provides an inside peek into this country’s legal system. Creating a narrative that not only shows the hard work that is contributed daily by public defenders, but also the unfair circumstances that they face when the fate of their clients is placed in their hands.
“I think the show will give people the opportunity to understand public defenders a lot more, because they are underpaid, understaffed, and over assigned. They have way too many cases to give legitimate attention to. Sometimes public defenders will show up to court and in 8-10 minutes talk to you about the case, and that’s all.”
With relevant ties to the current socio-political climate of today’s society, the cases in In Contempt not only depict everyday situations but also magnify cracks in our legal system. Traditionally, minorities have increasingly found themselves in unjust situations, and without adequate resources have looked to public defenders as their only line of defense. The show highlights their plight, along with cases involving police misconduct, racism, systematic discrimination, and an array of topics that affect the United States justice system.
This role is completely different from anything that we’ve seen Christian do. Unlike his past roles, he must rely solely on his character’s charisma and sharp mind to win over audiences; while also winning cases. In Contempt also gives him an opportunity to participate in a dialogue about the impact of the legal system in the lives of everyday people. Defendants are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, lack of adequate representation or insufficient resources for that representation can often determine their sentence before they ever step into the courtroom. Fortunately, the defendants on the show have Charlie Riggs and Gwen Sullivan in their corner.
Watch Christian Keyes light up the courtroom as Charlie Riggs in BET’s In Contempt on Tuesdays at 10 pm ET/9pm CT.
Photographer: Tony Tyus
Wardrobe Stylist: Julian R Lark
Groomer: Jackie Lynch
Creative Director: Shenae Moore
Assistant: Tashia Napier