For almost three years, we’ve all been on an emotional rollercoaster, courtesy of Ava DuVernay’s Queen Sugar. The lives of the Bordelon family have become our lives, and we’ve become invested in their highs and lows.
If you’re a fan of the show, you know this family has its fair share of drama. You begin to see various aspects of your own family in the cast. Whether it be the warmth and simultaneous “don’t take no shit,” mentality of Aunt Vi (Tina Lifford) that reminds you of your own aunt, or those family members like Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) or Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) who are trying to get their lives together, but it seems life loves to throw them for a loop. Maybe you have a Nova (Rutina Wesley) in your life—you know the type—she’s the one who puts her family first but has a tendency to lack a filter and tends to overstep boundaries ... but she means well. However you relate to this show, one thing will remain true: Queen Sugar represents all aspects of the black community.
“For Season Four, the writers wanted to test the limits of loyalty and love,” says Gardner at a plantain chip-laden Queen Sugar luncheon. Season Four launches with the family drama, as Nova has aired their dirty laundry for the world to read.
Alexa, play Kelly Rowland’s “Dirty Laundry.”
In the black community, we like to keep things “in house.” We don’t speak about various traumas as a way to protect our family’s “good name.” We don’t want people in our business, but this tactic of keeping things on the hush has ramifications that can be passed down from generation to generation. Siriboe says one of the reasons for this is because “there’s a lack of safe spaces for us to deal with our trauma and for us to transform and talk about what we’ve been through and get to a place of peace.” The creation of these safe spaces can be a vehicle towards healing and dealing with various afflictions.
For the actors, shooting the emotional scenes of Queen Sugar can take a toll on their bodies. They have to dig into places they never knew existed to tell stories that impact our community. That process is emotionally taxing. It weighs on your life like that last bite of food you knew you weren’t supposed to consume or like a cement brick tied to your feet.
Rutina Wesley prioritizes self-care as mental practice. Wesley shares that she is a woman of a certain age, and with that knowledge comes knowing when to sit down and be still. She states that she’s received an immense amount of clarity from sitting with herself. “I, Rutina, never like to sit in silence, it’s uncomfortable but you’ve got to get through the discomfort so you can recharge,” she says.
Wesley ads to her testimony by saying that having a show like Queen Sugar has forced her to look into herself. “I see myself in my character and in various other roles and I’m thankful for it because it’s rare that you have a job that allows you to heal as yourself.”
“I believe it’s our secrets that are killing us,” Wesley’s character, Nova, states in the opening of this season’s trailer. After watching it, it is evident that DuVernay has no respect for our emotions. Given this fact, I will still be glued to my screen with a box of Kleenex readily available. The Bordelon family seems to be in for a rocky season, but hopefully, Nova’s reckless act will be the vehicle towards the healing that this family needs and deserves.