Baton Rouge native Gillian Sonnier and the two lead characters in "Good Trouble" have something in common: They all headed to Los Angeles to pursue their dreams after completing their education.
Sonnier made the jump in 1999, four years after earning her bachelor's degree from LSU.
The lead characters — sisters Mariana and Callie — moved to LA in 2019. Mariana, played by Cierra Ramirez, hit the West Coast after college, while Callie, played by Maia Mitchell, came following law school. In the second season of the Freeform drama series "Good Trouble," which launched in June, Mariana's landed a job at a tech company, while Callie starts out clerking for a federal judge. They both live at The Coterie in downtown LA, where they share a kitchen, bathrooms and the day-to-day drama of their lives with other young Coterie tenants.
Sonnier is one of the show's producers. Viewers will see her name at the beginning of each episode this season.
"Yes, I got to bump up this season," Sonnier said, referring to her name appearing at the show's start rather than at the end, as was the case for first season.
"It was kind of nice, to get the front credits," she said. "… you usually start out as associate producer, then co-producer and then producer, and keep going from there, depending on how long you're on the show, of course. And this network, every few seasons you get a bump-up in title."
Sonnier has a history with the show's two female stars, whose characters originated on "The Fosters," which aired on Freeform from 2013 to 2018. Sonnier associate-produced or co-produced on the last four of the series' five seasons.
Midway through shooting Season 2, Sonnier said spin-off "Good Trouble" is proving both challenging and satisfying.
"The show's much different from 'The Fosters.' There are a lot more moving pieces coming together, so it's a much harder show to put together, on the post- (production) side, but on the direction side, too," Sonnier said. "It's more of the style. 'The Fosters' was very much of a standard-shot show, where there's a scene of people talking and you've got a couple of camera angles, and that's it. This show we've got a bunch more camera angles and moves, so a lot of it is in the panel work, and the sound design is a lot more difficult and just more; everything is more."
Sonnier explained that on "The Fosters" there would be about 400 cuts (or changes between shots) per episode.
"On this one ('Good Trouble'), we're averaging about 1,100. The function of that makes it more difficult, but more exciting at the same time," she said.
And critics are loving it.
"'Good Trouble' is what all spin-offs should be," according to TVGuide.com.
Digital magazine Paste called it "the first great TV show of 2019.”
“This is one show you can’t afford to miss,” ET Online said.
That bodes well for Sonnier's job security.
"Once you get on a show that keeps getting renewed, then you don't have to worry about finding the next job, especially in post- (production), because post takes longer to do than the set crew, so the set crew can go off and do another show, but with post, you don't," Sonnier said. "So I'm pretty much on this show all year long."
Her first years in TV production required Sonnier to jump from one project to another, in somewhat of a freelance capacity. Temporary work on movies and specials, along with short stints on series meant she was always looking for that next job.
After gaining years of experience on series including "Bridezillas," "Ravenswood" and "E! News International," she's more established in Tinseltown.
Sonnier bought a house in the Studio City area two-and-a-half years ago. In her precious free time, she goes hiking with Riley, her 2-year-old female Brittany spaniel.
Back at work, she said there's no such thing as a typical day.
"My days are different depending if we're shooting or not shooting on set," she said. "If we're shooting on set, then I'm in meetings for the current episode, the next episode or episodes, we're prepping for those. I might be needed on set for certain things, for individual effects … I've got the editor working on cutting the shows that are currently shooting or episodes we haven't finished cutting yet. I could also be, once we locked pictures, I go and I have to do all the color timing and visual effects, and ADR (automated dialog replacement) with the actors, and the sound mixing and everything else. So I'm kind of everywhere all the time."
Show writers attempt to incorporate current events into each episode, such as the "Black Lives Matter" subplot in season premiere on June 18.
"I love working with this cast and crew," she said. "It is a diverse group from all walks of life that helps to keep the show very topical to current events. They each bring their unique talent and creativity that when blended together creates a wonderful show."
WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesdays
CHANNEL: Freeform (cable Channel 32)