Kofi Siriboe & The Cast Of “Queen Sugar” Talk Self Love & Police Brutality

I was honored to have received press credentials for this year’s American Black Film Festival (ABFF). A highlight of the week was the screening of season 2 of one of the most powerful series on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) “Queen Sugar”. Check out the exclusive interview with the cast including the man that every woman wants to call “bae”, Kofi Siriboe. The 23-year-old pays homage to the men that helped him to believe that there was a place for him in Hollywood.

The cast of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) series “Queen Sugar” (l-to-r Dondre Whitfield, Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Omar Dorsey, Kofi Siriboe, Nicholas L. Ashe, Rutina Wesley, Timon Kyle Durrett and Tina Lifford) at the 2017 American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in Miami, FL.

Zon D’Amour: You’re really stepping into the title of “sex symbol” especially in your new film, “Girls Trip”.It seems as if it’s taken Hollywood a while to appreciate darker skin actors in leading roles. Have you always been so confident in your complexion? And if you haven’t, how did you get to a place of self love and wholeness?
Kofi Siriboe (Ralph Angel Bordelon): People like Taye Diggs, Larenz Tate and Omar Epps were great representations for me as a kid. When I saw “Love Jones” and “Brown Sugar” I felt like I could be [an actor] so that’s why it’s important for me to carry the baton and show young people that it’s possible. I’m 23-years-old but I have so many friends that question are they valued or valuable enough to an industry that doesn’t always represent them and all the colors that we are. But being as black as I am, I feel like I do a good job at representing that just by living my truth—which isn’t easy but I feel like if you put in the work, you get the results.

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Zon D’Amour: Have you always been so confident in your complexion? If not, how did you get to a place of self love and wholeness?
Rutina Wesley (Nova Bordelon): It took me a while to embrace my darkness and my beauty. Viola Davis and Angela Bassett were the two women that I looked up to. Seeing them thrive and be confident and comfortable in their own skin gave me hope and made me know that it was possible. And now I have little brown girls look up to me and tell me the same thing. It’s overwhelming to know, ‘wow, you look at me like that?’ It’s come full circle and I’m happy that I can be this confident and be a role model for young girls who may not have that same confidence until they see something like “Queen Sugar” and all of the hues that we have within our show.

As black as I am, I feel like I do a good job at representing just by living my truth. -Kofi Siriboe

ZD: The premiere episode of season 2 tackles police brutality in an amazingly delicate way that really shows how being racially profiled impacts the victim and their family. What’s the significance of addressing social injustices within “Queen Sugar”? How can a television show be a catalyst for change?
Timon Durrett (Davis West): When I looked at that episode, it represented something that I think is very important for people to see, a lot of times people don’t know about certain things because it’s not popular. With “Queen Sugar” being a very popular show, people are able to see the universal issues that we tackle in a different light. When you see a scene like [Micah being pulled over] you understand what things really are and that’s why I refer to the show as having so much “artistic deliciousness” because you can gorge on it and when you see it in the real world, you’re familiar with it and you know how to understand it and deal with it even better.

Nicholas Ashe (Micah West): As actors we get to emulate different aspects and subjects of life. When I read the scene, I thought it was super important that we were telling the story but nothing prepared me for being there on that day, driving the car, getting pulled over and the cop talking to me; it was a different experience. I’m so grateful to be apart of “Queen Sugar” to show these stories outside of the courtroom because by the time these stories get to us, it’s a 10-second Facebook video. I’m glad that the series unraveled that and the audience is privy to how that really affects and shapes someone especially someone as young as my character. It’s not just a one and done thing, it lives with you; I’m really honored that we’re telling this story so patiently and as sensitively as we are.

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Dawn-Lyen Gardner (Charley Bordelon): What I want from this storyline is for their to be a recognition and an empathy for the reality that they’re are emotional consequences to all of these events. We receive them oftentimes through news cycles as very cut and dry “facts”, we’re told THIS is exactly how it happened but the reality is those emotional consequences don’t end. They live on forever—they ripple out and effect not only that person’s family but entire communities, neighborhoods and countries. What I’m hoping for is that we begin to explore the long lasting affects of these events whether or not they end as tragically they still have an emotional affect that’s complex, painful and the truth of so many people. If you don’t know that, then you can’t fight for it to end.

Representation is SO important. I'm so glad @kofisiriboe is getting allllll the love he deserves for being such a beautifully chocolate man…and a talented actor! Regardless of what you've been told throughout your life, whether it's that you're too dark, too light, too big, too small, hair too natural–whatever, never compromise because success comes from being authentically you. And there's someone waiting on you to become who you were meant to be so that they can become the best version of themselves! Thank you to the phenomenal PR team @OWNTV @kjoyrobinson @jameswardiii & @americanblackfilmfestival #ABFF for this awesome opportunity! To read the full interview with the cast of #QueenSugar on self-love & police brutality, visit: DirectedByDAmour.com #LinkInBio #SiriBaes #GimmeSugar

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“Queen Sugar” airs Wednesday nights on OWN (The Oprah Winfrey Network) at 10/9c