Cast members of The Team practice their drills.
It's a Friday afternoon at Anacostia Senior High School, and a soccer ball is being kicked around. But the players aren't students, they're actors filming the pilot episode for a web series called The Team, a project by the nonprofit Search for Common Ground.
The Team is a TV show and radio drama that teaches people how to transcend their differences through teamwork. It's been produced in 17 countries around the world, and now it's coming to the U.S.
Executive Producer Deborah Jones says, "the idea is that footballers from all ages and backgrounds come together, and in order to score goals they have to learn to cooperate, so it's all about co-existence."
Jones says that concept applies whether you're a high school soccer player or a member of Congress.
"The show itself is a metaphor," she says. "It's a metaphor for our country. Can we overcome our differences and our polarization in order to move the country forward? I mean, what's it gonna take?"
She says The Team is a coming of age story that looks at social cohesion and identity. The show centers on three teenagers from very different backgrounds who wind up playing soccer together at a D.C. magnet school. The characters deal with stereotypes, class differences, and bullying, specifically over the Internet.
"It's all about sort of creating a dynamic and a respect for one another, which is a big issue," Jones says. "It's a lot about self-respect; it's about respect for the other, which I think, in this day and age, particularly with things like Internet bullying, society has kind of dropped a lot of filters that I know didn't exist when I was a teenager."
Lance Lemon says his character Jackson isn't a bully, but he is a bit abrasive.
"Jackson is a stuck-up, cocky, know-it-all soccer player," he says. "You know, he is the best at his sport and he loves to flaunt it."
But when he's bested by a female teammate, Jackson learns that there's more to others than meets the eye.
"He really steps back and is amazed by how much more there is out there in this world and how much more there is to people," Lemon says.
Jones says she wants viewers to ask questions about themselves and how they see others. She says it's especially important in a diverse city such as D.C.
"We're not against each other," she says. "We can make another choice, but we all have to take responsibility... to reach over the aisle, wherever that is, to reach out to somebody who might not look like you... who might be wearing a hijab for example. Why is that threatening? Let's look at that and let's talk about it. Let's talk about it on the Internet. Let's talk about it on our blog."
The Search for Common Ground production team partnered with American University, which holds the license to WAMU 88.5