Photo by Jonny Marlow
The Rob McElhenney-led Mythic Request returned to Apple TV Plus on Nov. 11. Season 3 sees combative best friends/business partners Ian Grimm (McElhenney) and Poppy Li (Charlotte Nicdao) launch an all new video game company, while the rest of the team from Mythic Quest takes on their own battles. However, fan-favorite Dana (Imani Hakim) remains working alongside Poppy and Ian, working her way toward becoming a programmer amidst her bosses’ constant bickering. Ahead of the season premiere, Hakim spoke with LA Confidential about Dana embracing her future hopes, why people love Mythic Quest and her film, Dinner Party.
When season 2 ends, Dana is rejected from Berkeley, so Ian and Poppy offer to pay for her to go to school and learn how to program. Why do you think it was important for audiences to see Dana hit this obstacle and not be accepted into Berkeley?
We can all relate to the fact that life ebbs and flows, and especially being a woman and stepping into who you are and trying to discover where you're going to end up, it might be challenging to take these leaps. And in season 2, we get to see Dana really take her life by the horns by walking up to Poppy directly and being like, “I want to study under you. I want to be a protege,” and then putting herself in a situation where she's gonna be like, “I'm gonna go to school and really take this seriously” and then all the dominoes just fall before her and don’t work out.
It shows perseverance and that to get to where you want to be, it's never a straight line and you will fail along the way, but it's really important that you have a strong community around you with people who are willing to bet on you and to help you reach the next level. And Dana finds that with Poppy and Ian. And even though they're both crazy bosses, they're willing to pour into her because they they see her potential.
What’s in store for Dana in season 3?
She’s really excited when we last see her in season 2 because gets to study under her mentors. And then season 3, it’s not really living up to her expectations. Instead of doing the work of engineering and working directly under Poppy, it's more so she becomes the mediator between Poppy and Ian. She becomes this like maternal figure for her bosses. It's quite weird.
Also, everyone's divided, which we don't really get to see. Poppy and Ion have formed their new company, Grimmpop, and Dana is now working directly with them. We don't really know where Rachel is, Brad is freshly released from prison and so we get to see how people get back on their feet. Outside of just the bickering with my character in particular, Dana, she is really stepping into where she's going to end up. We plant the seeds in season 2, and now in season 3, she's working under her bosses, but there's some question marks behind there. She really steps into her own power by finding her voice within the company of Grimmpop. So that's really exciting. Not only is she working directly with the two characters that we love so much, but she's finding her own voice and you can see all these layers of her personality that we hadn't seen in season 1 and season 2. She's not just nice or sweet. She has a vision. She has a perspective, and she's not afraid to step into that.
How are things between Dana and Rachel? For the first time since we met them, they no longer work together.
We've gotten to know Rachel and Dana as a couple. And what's really nice with this is, again, they're individuals. So through this new season, they're supporting each other and loving each other. They're in love and they're going strong, but they are separate. They're onto their own careers, which is really nice to see young, queer women support each other on screen and have a strong foundation while working in tech.
Critics and general audiences love Mythic Quest? Why do you think people gravitate to this show?
People love a great ensemble show. And also, our show came out 2020, right before the pandemic hit and so people wanted that comedic relief. And we're also highlighting a community of people that hadn't necessarily been represented on a large scale like this, and that is the video game community. It's the largest business in the world. The video game industry makes so much money, and yet they've been underrepresented up until this point, so I think we're just tapping in and holding a mirror up for that community of people. And also the diversity and inclusion of the people that you're seeing on screen.
You star in and co-produced Dinner Party, which will be available to rent and stream at the end of the year. How did your experience being part of an indie project compare to Mythic Quest?
You're very well taken care of on a show like Mythic Quest. Everything is well-oiled. You don't really know the ins and the outs. There's no questions asked because you're like a child in a much bigger picture where your parents are shielding you from all the things that could be happening behind the scenes. Whereas when you're involved in the indie film as a producer, you’re boots on the ground and very much involved in everything and you have to protect your cast and look out for your crew. The hours are much longer and you just have to have more trust and communication and clarity with your team members.
It really gave me humility and appreciation for both sides of this big massive machine and the indie world and the indie community because our crew just doesn't get as much praise as they deserve. They worked so hard and we really couldn't provide content without our crew. It's definitely a learning curve. But there's something so thrilling about being able to build something from the ground up and see it through and share it with the world.
What attracted you to tell this story?
It's raw. It's unapologetic in exploring these layers of taboo subjects. It's a topical film that deals with microaggressions and sexual assault. And so in this climate, especially being in the industry that I'm in and watching the Me Too Movement really just explode and feeling seen, I felt like it was a no brainer for me to be a part of this. And when we were doing our research and interviewing other women in our lives to accurately portray something like this on film, it just felt so important.
I want people to feel confident in having these conversations with friends that they've gotten to know over the years, but I felt like they couldn't necessarily tackle something like this because our climate has changed so much. We did this film because it's a conversational piece and we just want people to have the confidence to talk with their friends and family about their different views. The main question of the film is, “If you make your childhood friends today, would you still f*** with them? Would you still be friends with them? Would you still connect with them if you knew them today?” After we had a screening a couple months ago, people stuck around and they were just sharing their own personal experiences, which if you can do that, we've done our job with the film that we made.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photography by: Jonny Marlow; Courtesy Apple TV Plus