Hightown: Atkins Estimond talks about Osito’s character journey and more

Atkins Estimond - Photo Courtesy of Josh Stringer
Atkins Estimond - Photo Courtesy of Josh Stringer /
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Hightown – Courtesy of Mark Schafer/Starz /

We chatted with Hightown star Atkins Estimond about his role as Osito!

Tomorrow we’ll officially be treated to the highly-anticipated finale of Hightown. While we’re sad the show will soon be off the air for a while, at least we don’t have to stress about renewal since it was already given the green light for Hightown Season 2!

Plus, we’ve got this awesome interview with show star Atkins Estimond, who plays one of the central antagonists (and one of the show’s most compelling characters) Osito.

We chatted with him about his attraction to the project, his behind-the-scenes relationship with Shane Harper (Junior), his thoughts about Season 2, Black Lives Matter and much more!

Show Snob: Diving right in, what first got you attracted to Hightown as a project?

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Atkins Estimond: When I initially got the script, just seeing the character, it was completely different from all of the other roles I had.

I was super excited about the opportunity to show my range and to do something a little different — actually not a little different — really different from what I had been doing.

That opportunity really kind of drew me to the project. After reading about the character and the role and the story, that definitely pulled me in deeper.

Show Snob: Yeah, before this you kind of did more comedic roles, how did you kind of get into the headspace of a character like Osito?

AE: I had really had to start with him before all of the gangster [life], like literally before — you know how I talk in the show about “that first kill,” I had to think about the person who he was before that.

Because I think like a lot of people in that situation, had different opportunities been presented to him, he could have been a completely different person. I started there and thought about what would bring a person to the place we are currently with Osito. How does that inform how he interacts with the people around him and the decisions that he makes and how he carries himself?

Show Snob: When I first started the show I was a little unsure about seeing another Black character playing a drug dealer, especially in light of the Black Lives Matter protests. What are your thoughts on that, did you feel any hesitation in taking the part?

AE: Yeah, looking at the role, especially being that he is of Haitian and Dominican descent and Haitians have not had a really good run with representation in the media. That’s something that is important to me and something I would like to do in the future is to be able to have a hand in helping to tell more diverse stories about Haiti and its people and its culture.

The idea of playing a drug dealer and a gangster and a killer — initially there was definitely some hesitation on my part, but after seeing who the character was and seeing that he wasn’t just a stereotype or just this scary figure, but a complete person and the opportunity that I had to flesh that out even more, that put to rest a lot of my concerns as far as taking on the role.

Atkins Estimond – Photo Courtesy of Josh Stringer /

Show Snob: I mentioned in my piece that Osito is such a layered character and you bring a lot of nuance to your portrayal, you don’t really know what he’s going to do next which makes him really fun to watch on-screen. 

AE: Absolutely, and that was also on the page, the fact that he has a code, and he’s not a killer just for the fun of killing. This is very much a business for him. He doesn’t take it personally, he doesn’t take any joy in it, it’s just his job.

Those things, and also the fact, as you see in later episodes, he has some hesitation in carrying out some of these deeds that he’s tasked with. So many times when you see these characters, they’re just bad and there is no other motivation besides them just being bad. But with Osito, you see that he is a real person and he has thoughts, concerns, and decisions that have to be made and he’s doing the best he can with it.

And that person exists in the community as well. For me, I wasn’t just like “let’s not have them,” I think bringing some real, genuine, grounded representation to that person was important. We don’t want to think about them in society but they’re there.