Is Sandra Bell A Real Person On 'For The People'? Brit Robertson Just Might Play The New Meredith Grey
Meredith Grey, Olivia Pope, Annalise Keating… the fierce leading ladies of Shondaland are about to welcome a fresh new face into their club with the arrival of Sandra Bell this Tuesday, March 13. But is Britt Robertson's For The People character Sandra Bell a real person? Fans of the 27-year-old actor from shows like Life Unexpected, The Secret Circle, and Under The Dome may be curious to know who exactly Sandra is and what to expect from the character when she makes her primetime debut.
Robertson actually took on the role fairly late in the process; the pilot was originally filmed with American Horror Story alum Britne Oldford portraying a very different version of Sandra. After the pilot was officially picked up to series by ABC, the two lead roles were recast, with Robertson taking over for Oldford and Jasmin Savoy Brown (The Leftovers) replacing Lyndon Smith (Parenthood) as Sandra's best friend and fellow defense attorney Allison Adams. Production was temporarily put on hiatus as the show was reworked to reflect the different dynamic between its two new stars… and the version of For The People that viewers will see when they tune into the first episode on March 13 was born.
So, does the character of Sandra find inspiration in any real-life litigators? Or is she an original creation that sprang from the mind of creator Paul William Davies, a Shondaland veteran who has worked on the past three seasons of Scandal? There's no indication among any of the show's press materials or official website that For The People is based on a true story or that its characters are based on real people. In fact, it would be a bit of an outlier of it were, given that none of Shondaland's previous shows — including the current TGIT lineup of Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, and How To Get Away With Murder — have been directly adapted from real life. (Olivia Pope is based on a real crisis-handler, but in job description only.)
It seems reasonable to assume that For The People will exist in the same heightened reality as those other shows, dropping a large cast of young, beautiful, talented, and ambitious people into a high-powered workplace, where their personal and professional lives will collide in exciting and soapy ways. Most likely, the show's relationship to real life will be limited to cases that are "ripped from the headlines," as some of the most memorable patients on Grey's or trials on HTGAWM always are. Indeed, Davies teased at the show's Television Critics Assocation panel in January that some of the hot-button issues his show would tackle in its first season include "entrapment, mandatory minimums … the war on drugs, foreign vs. U.S. jurisdiction, espionage," and more, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
But just because Sandra Bell isn't a real person — or necessarily even based on one specific lawyer — doesn't mean that she doesn't have any inspirations in the real world. Much like the show's timely court cases, it's entirely possible that Davies pulled from various real-life sources when crafting his characters. In 2014, former Assistant United States Attorney James D. Zirin published the non-fiction book The Mother Court: Tales Of Cases That Mattered In America's Greatest Trial Court, about the history of and his time serving in the very same district in which For The People takes place.
Although there's no official connection between Zirin's work and the ABC series, it's hard to imagine that Davies didn't at least look to the recently-published book for inspiration when crafting his own take on the Mother Court. Could Sandra be an amalgamation of real-life figures encountered in of Zirin's book? Fans who quickly fall in love with For The People may want to read it for themselves to hunt the pages for clues.