The Slow Hustle is a story about corruption and a story about persistence. The HBO documentary, directed by Sonja Sohn, is technically focused on the unsolved murder of Baltimore police detective Sean Suiter. But the story that emerges is a portrait of a police force so weighed down by corruption and other issues that it’s incapable of finding the truth behind what happened to one of its own — raising the question of what function the police serves in our society.
The project is Sohn’s second documentary, following the 2017 film Baltimore Rising, which she directed after spending time in Baltimore after the uprising that occurred after Freddie Gray’s death — though it hadn’t originally been her idea to direct that film.
Instead, after getting to know some of the activists involved in the uprising, she alerted producer Marc Levin to the potential of doing a documentary about the unrest, and he encouraged her to take it on herself. “I didn’t expect that Marc would suggest that I direct it, and that HBO would give me the opportunity to do so, based on his word and [Baltimore Rising producer] Anthony Hemingway and all of them. So yeah, I’m just really grateful,” she says.
Sohn, of course, had a relationship with HBO prior to this as a series regular on The Wire, playing Baltimore police detective Kima Greggs — while she stepped back from acting in recent years to focus on activism, she’s made recent appearances on shows including The Chi and Star Trek: Discovery.
As she tells Consequence in this one-on-one Zoom interview, edited and condensed for clarity, she’s at a bit of a crossroads right now when it comes to her career, but she’s very passionate about using this documentary as a way to contribute to the conversations America is having now about law enforcement in our society.