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Netflix’s From Scratch chronicles the life and romance of Amahle “Amy” Wheeler (Zoe Saldaña), a Black American woman who puts her law school career on hold to study art in Italy. Amy falls for a Sicilian chef named Lino (Eugenio Mastrandrea), whom she eventually marries and begins a life with in Los Angeles.

Saldaña was the perfect actor to portray Amy since she had a special connection to the show.

Zoe Saldana as Amy Wheeler and Eugenio Mastrandrea as Lino Ortolano looking at a photograph over a picnic tablein 'From Scratch'
Zoe Saldana as Amy Wheeler and Eugenio Mastrandrea as Lino Ortolano in ‘From Scratch’ | Jessica Brooks/Netflix

‘From Scratch’ is based on writer Tembi Locke’s real life

Based on Tembi Locke’s memoir, From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home, Netflix’s From Scratch is based on Locke’s real-life experiences moving to Italy in the early ’90s and falling for a Sicilian chef named Rosario “Saro” Gullo.

While the names have been changed in the series, much of what is seen on-screen is what actually occurred. “About 20% of it is hardcore fact,” showrunner Attica Locke told Tudum. “Some places in our series — down to where things are placed on the set and where people are standing — are exact mirror images of what actually happened.”

Zoe Saldaña had a special connection to the show

Saldaña was cast in the show after dinner with Reese Witherspoon, whose production company Hello Sunshine produced From Scratch. However, the actor also had a special connection to the series.

“I lost my dad, so I remember grief from my 9-year-old self, and looking up at my mother, I saw how difficult it was for her,” she told Today. “So the book really kind of opened that scope of what it’s like to lose a partner. I know what it’s like to lose a dad, but not what it’s like to lose your partner.”

Saldaña noted that because she experienced this type of immeasurable grief as a child, not as an adult, she relied on Tembi’s guidance quite a lot. “There were certain emotional moments that, either because I haven’t experienced them as an adult or because I did experience them as a child — and due to trauma, shut down certain departments within me — I was unable to channel myself,” she told Tudum. “And Tembi was monumental in helping us all get there.”


‘From Scratch’: Reese Witherspoon Helped Zoe Saldaña Get Her Role in the Series

Tembi Locke trusted Zoe Saldaña to portray her in ‘From Scratch’

Though the losses they experienced in their lives were very different, Locke still trusted Saldaña to portray her in the limited series.

“Zoe and I had lots of talks about things, so I felt very confident,” the writer/executive producer told Shadow and Act. “By the time we would get on set, I was like, ‘Okay, this scene is in good hands.’ There were times when it was too much. It was a lot to relive. Some scenes are literally frame-by-frame recreations of things that happened. There’s a delicate balance, but I also had Attica there to say, ‘You don’t need to be here today. Go home.’” 

It was also helpful that Locke’s sister Attica Locke served as the showrunner on the series, which meant that she could step in when it was too painful for Tembi to do so. “The rain scene, that’s where it actually happened, the same block. It’s the same corner,” Tembi revealed. “When we got to Italy, that was happening over and over and over again both in Florence and later when we went to Sicily, these coincidences, non-coincidences, were sort of miraculous.”