Is Nicole Steele a Real Person? Wunmi Mosaku's 'We Own This City' Character Explained

We Own This City recounts the history of the Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) and the crimes they committed in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, in the name of justice.

The HBO true-crime drama does this by examining the rise of ex-sergeant Wayne Jenkins (Jon Bernthal) in the Baltimore Police Department, his and the GTTF's actions, and the two-year federal investigation that resulted in their arrest and imprisonment.

Although it is based on a real case some viewers are no doubt wondering how much of the story is true and what, if anything, is created for the purpose of the story, which was developed for the screen by The Wire's David Simon and George Pelecanos.

One such character whose origins remain unclear is Wunmi Mosaku's Nicole Steele, an attorney at the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) researching the impact the GTTF's crimes had on the community.

Here is everything you need to know about the character, and if she is real or not.

Is Wunmi Mosaku's 'We Own This City' Character Nicole Steele Real?

We Own This City
Wunmi Mosaku as Nicole Steele in "We Own This City." Paul Schiraldi/HBO

The show does look back at the real GTTF case and many of its characters did exist and commit the crimes laid out in the drama; Jenkins and the members of the plain-clothed police unit were found to have planted evidence, stolen money, and even resold drugs they had seized back onto the streets.

Mosaku's Nicole Steele is one of the few characters who did not actually exist in real life, and the actor spoke to Newsweek about what inspired her, and the research she embarked on to inform her performance.

"No, Nicole didn't exist [in real life]. She is, I guess, an amalgamation of DOJ civil rights lawyers and, yea, I think that's who she is," Mosaku told Newsweek.

"But my research was really about learning about the judicial system in the [United] States and understanding what a consent decree is, how it came about."

The 35-year-old British-Nigerian actor added: "My research was more about how things work in America, and in Baltimore specifically.

"Learning about the DOJ, the Attorney General and the Mayor, there was a lot of that stuff that I didn't understand or know about, and learning about the War on Drugs and how that's affected the community and the government role in that."

The Loki star also explained that her character represented the audience in many ways, and so while she wasn't real she was just as important a character as her real-life counterparts.

"I just felt like she was this moral compass in the middle of it, and this perspective of trying to change things from the inside out. Inside the system," she said.

"I loved how strong she was in her conviction and moral compass. And that if she thought that something was wrong, she would pivot and she had no shame about that."

We Own This City airs Mondays on HBO, and is released the next day on HBO Max.

We Own This City
Jon Bernthal as Wayne Jenkins in "We Own This City." Paul Schiraldi/HBO