Queen Sugar at ATX Television festival: Cast member reveals he had to drop project about black mental health because of internet outrage
The show's actors Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Rutina Wesley and Kofi Siriboe along with showrunner Kat Candler discussed the concept of the series at the recent ATX Television Festival
'Queen Sugar' is well into its third season now and the Oprah Winfrey Network show really is one of a kind. Set in the countryside, 'Queen Sugar' revolves around the Bordelon family who struggle to find footing after their father passes away. It is set in New Orleans in the fictional town of St Josephine.
The show's actors Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Rutina Wesley and Kofi Siriboe along with showrunner Kat Candler discussed the concept of the series at the recent ATX Television Festival.
Gardner, speaking on what makes the show special, said: "It’s radical. It's radical to see black people on landscapes like that. I don't know of any show ... where you literally see a black person in context of farmland. That to me is such a revolutionary thing because it opens up the possibilities of black people and how they see themselves. We associate black people with only urban life, but that's just not the case," she said, before expressing her gratitude for her part in the critically acclaimed series.
"I'm really excited and proud to be part of something that in that way sort of put a spotlight on a culture that has elements of the city life, but it's informed by so much more. It's informed by their relationship to the weather, it’s informed by history and generations who have done what they’ve done. That is such a special special thing," she said.
The actor also expressed her sadness about the fact that in some parts of the country racism is totally normal. "People talk about everyday racism. You can experience that anywhere in America, but in places like the South, it's normalized and accepted," she said addressing the audience.
"And as of right now, I think it’s being pushed a bit. We're seeing people being very vocal and having no problem with people knowing who they are and what they think and want."
The show isn't afraid to speak out about things that are real, which is perhaps why it has been so popular among its viewers. But that also means that it gets its fair share of badmouthing.
Kofi Siriboe, the actor who pays Ralph Angel Bordelon on the show, recalled an incident that led him to get caught in a squabble.
"I just dropped a project about mental health, and Huffington Post said it was specifically about black mental health and there were a lot of comments like, 'What do you mean black mental health? We all experience mental health.' But you never lived the black experience and everything that comes with it. So the fact that people feel like it's right to stand up for something like that ...It's obvious that this world has been constructed not for us but against us, it's very necessary for us to be specific and deliberate when we're talking about how to deal with our community."