Let’s start with Lovecraft Country, because it’s a fantastic watch! You have an incredible cast and the likes of Misha Green and Jordan Peele behind the scenes. It seems like a dream job scenario for any actor.
Absolutely. I was totally stunned and in shock when I got offered the job. Even when I got the recall, I was like oh, wow! Truly, you always do your best in an audition. Even if it’s terrible, you’ve done your best in the moment. So I came out and was like I did my best, but I wasn’t like man, I smashed it. When I got offered the job I think I was on the last two pages of the book, and I just really loved the book and I really loved the pilot. I had never seen, read, heard of anything quite like it. I’m not massively into horror and sci-fi, but there’s one book called Flowers for Algernon, which is set in the past but has a sci-fi element that I just loved and [Lovecraft Country] has the same things, being set in the past but having this futuristic quality. I just loved it and I was so excited to work with everyone involved.
Then I had my audition with Jurnee, and we really grew in that audition. You come in, you know, you’re nervous, she has the job, I’m testing for it, it’s my final round, I just signed the contract, and I’m meeting everyone properly for the first time, and you come in, and sometimes it can be quite polite. The thing about Ruby and Leti, though, is there is no politeness between them, they are just honest, they are sisters, they hate each other, they love each other, they find each other hilarious, they find each other infuriating, and by the end of that audition process me and Jurnee were having this huge, like, row. We had gotten into this heated exchange and it was just exhilarating. The whole process was exhilarating. There is so much passion and so much fire in [this show], it feels like a pressure pot.
I was drawn to your character Ruby Baptiste right away. She has such an unapologetic spirit about her. I know when first auditioning for these projects you sometimes get very little information on your character. Do you remember what stood out to you about Ruby from the details you did have?
For the first round, all I had was the pilot and it was just the relationship between Ruby and her sister Leti. I have two older sisters and I’m the baby who refuses to be babied and to be bossy, so that kind of dynamic between siblings and sibling rivalry, it’s so normal for anyone with a sibling. It was so complicated and I was like who are these two [women]? The first scene with her and Leti it’s like, oh they have a deep history with each other. You know that they are not in sympatico, that they spend time apart, that they have different responsibilities, and that’s just in literally one scene. And then getting told what happens to Ruby throughout the show, I was like She does what now?! And how are we going to do that? I was so intrigued by it, because it feels like a betrayal. To try and get my head around why she does what she does, how she fits in, how she takes to the race thing, it feels like a betrayal of all things Black and beautiful and wonderful. But you know, it was the 1950s, so I get it.