'She's Gotta Have It' star Ciera Payton says show tries to ensure every voice is heard, regardless of nationality
Spike Lee’s 'She’s Gotta Have It' follows the life of Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise), a Brooklyn-based artist who is trying to stay true to herself and discover her artistic voice, all while navigating love, friendship, and her career. In the second season of the show, Nola begins truly exploring her art and finding her place in the world.
'She's Gotta Have It' season two touched on a number of social issues including the gentrification of traditionally black neighborhoods and the "trauma" that comes with living as a black person in America. It also faced a certain amount of controversy when it brought up the topic of black British actors taking roles in Hollywood.
Speaking exclusively to MEA WorldWide (MEAWW), Ciera Payton, who plays savvy businesswoman Jameelah Hawkins on the show, suggested that the series did not intend to pit one group against the other, rather it wanted to encourage conversation on both sides.
"I think it does open the door to just have the conversation and for both sides to be heard," Payton said. "I know it's a really sensitive topic for anybody to talk about, especially, black actors in entertainment. And, I don't think Spike or the writers were intending to have black British actors versus black American actors. I don't think it was intended that way. I think it was just intended to bring the conversation to the forefront, talk about it, talk about each other's feelings on it and go from there and not just operate in a naive way."
"It's not the first time that this topic has come up or even been addressed," she added. "Other actors have talked about it. It's been mentioned in the media over the last, maybe, 10 years. There are some valid points on both ends, and, at the end of the day, I think, it's great that so many actors of color are working in the industry."
She continued: "I think what the cry for help is, if you want to call it that, is to just create more opportunities for everybody and not just limited to one nationality or type; to just create a space for everybody to be represented and that takes time and I appreciate people like Spike for being brave and bold enough to just present some of these conversations, to bring some clarity, some understanding, and some compassion and empathy, on both sides. Hopefully, we can come together and create more stories where every voice is heard regardless of nationality," she said.
Payton also spoke of how the show plays an important role in the world by opening the conversation on social issues that people face in everyday life. “You know, I think it's really cool that we touch on just all these different themes in 'She's Gotta Have It'," the actress said.
"I think it's really important to talk about some of the things that we see in everyday life, as far as gentrification goes, and the art world, how women aren't fully seen or respected there. It's hard for them to get their artwork seen, you know, and the dynamic of UK black actors versus American black actors, I think it just all opens up the door for healthy communication and discussion on all these issues. So, I applaud Spike Lee for going there with it and having such a great cast to touch on it."
Season 2 of 'She's Gotta Have It' is currently streaming on Netflix.