Is Snowfall’s Franklin Saint Inspired by a Real Person?

Image Credit: Ray Mickshaw/FX

FX’s crime seriesSnowfall’ revolves around Franklin Saint, who emerges as the young kingpin of Los Angeles’ drug scene in the 1980s. Franklin starts as a marijuana distributor of his uncle Jerome Saint, only to realize the potential of crack cocaine in the streets of the City of Angels. He teams up with a CIA agent named Theodore “Teddy” McDonald, who supplies him cocaine in return for the money to fund the war against communism in Nicaragua. Since the crime drama is extremely realistic, the viewers can’t be blamed for being intrigued to know whether the protagonist is based on an actual peson.

Franklin Saint is a Fictional Character Who Resembles a Real Person

Franklin Saint is not based on a real person, at least as far as creators John Singleton, Eric Amadio, and Dave Andron have revealed. However, Singleton was inspired by his own upbringing in Los Angeles to conceive the protagonist of the series. “This is kind of like my formative years,” the co-creator told the crowd while attending ATX Festival in 2017. Like Franklin, Singleton also attended a school in the Valley, away from his friends and relatives in his community. He noticed the lives of his fellow community members in South Central and schoolmates in the Valley, which inspired him to co-create the series years later.

Image Credit: Ray Mickshaw/FX

“Kids from the ghetto smoked weed and my friends from junior and high school did coke. But this is before crack, so it was an interesting thing to see how the transition was where that drug was accessible to people in the ‘hood,” Singleton added about the foundation of the series. Singleton and his team explored the same through Franklin. Several storylines are allegedly true, apparently including the CIA operating illegally within the United States. Singleton and other writers relied on first-hand accounts to conceive the same storyline. Through the fictional Franklin, the creative heads of the series manage to connect the reality and fiction that form the narrative of ‘Snowfall.’

Franklin can be considered a fictional tragic hero conceived to narrate the tale of the crack-cocaine epidemic that happened in Los Angeles in the 1980s. “It’s an untold story. It’s the story about how cocaine changed Los Angeles. There’s a whole kind of oral history, folk tale about this era. And no one has dramatized it. I wanted to do that. It’s a nostalgic show. But very, very edgy,” Singleton told Los Angeles Times. Since a protagonist figure helps the writers of the series to drive the narrative forward with an emotional attachment with the audience, Singleton and others must have created Franklin to represent the distinct individuals who were a part of the real-life drug empire of the time.

The Real Person Who Reminds Us of Franklin

One of the real-life figures who share unignorable similarities to Franklin is Ricky “Freeway Rick” Ross. Rick managed to build a drug empire in Los Angeles in the 1980s. The convicted drug trafficker even accused Singleton of stealing his life story to create Franklin Saint and his saga. “And all of a sudden, Snowfall came out. I was very disappointed in John. I thought that he was different,” Rick said while appearing on Lord Jamar’s ‘Yanadameen Godcast.’ In the podcast, Rick revealed that he had dealings with Nicaraguan rebel operatives who were funded by the United States government. Singleton, however, couldn’t confirm Rick’s claims since he died on April 28, 2019.


Since Rick did build a crack cocaine empire in Los Angeles during the exact period ‘Snowfall’ is set, one may not be able to completely disregard his claims. Still, Franklin isn’t a fictionalized version of Rick since the two of them share several differences. Ultimately, Franklin can be identified as a fictional character with parallels between real-life figures.

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