OWN brought the “Queen Sugar” cast, executive producers, and all-female team of directors together at the network headquarters in Hollywood to celebrate the show’s second season finale. For the occasion, Oprah Winfrey effortlessly slipped back into her role as talk show host to emcee a special after-show with “Queen Sugar” creator and executive producer Ava DuVernay and cast members Tina Lifford, Kofi Siriboe, Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Rutina Wesley, Dondre Whitfield, Omar J. Dorsey, and Bianca Lawson.
Winfrey discussed the appeal of working on a scripted television show like “Queen Sugar” after her successes in daytime TV and feature films. “It’s taught me it’s another way to tell stories because, as you know, I sat down in a chair, listening to people’s stories for 25 years,” she said. “It feels like you can say more about child abuse or mass incarceration or what it means to grow older and face a debilitating disease, or you can have lots of discussions about what it means to be an African-American father or you can have the scene with Blue and his father and you can see and experience it. It feels like an elevated way of telling stories.”
Women drive “Queen Sugar” stories on and offscreen, and many members of the show’s all-female directing team attended the event, including Cheryl Dunye, DeMane Davis, and Kat Candler.
Dunye noted the bond between the women. “All of us became a family,” she said. “We all blend together and formed a coalition of women directors who help each other out. It’s like a new network. We’re all sisters.”
Davis also chatted about on her “Queen Sugar” directing experience. “You don’t have to bark to be a director,” she said. “I’ve done commercials and I’ve seen a lot of different styles. What Ava instills in her crew is that everyone is passionate, at the ready, and in service of the script.”
Candler, who also serves as a producer on the drama, noted, “It’s been a gift being able to support and be a cheerleader for all these phenomenal talents. It’s a beautiful experience to be so empowered, with Ava at the helm of it, giving us artistic freedom to put our own talent and our own imprint on screen.”
The men of “Queen Sugar” enjoy the abundance of feminine energy on set as well. Dorsey, who plays Aunt Vi’s soulmate, Hollywood Desonier, said, “I live in a house with a wife and two daughters; I’m so used to having people tell me what to do. Working with female directors has made me a better actor. I’ve become more sensitive, tapping into more of what a character is, instead of broad strokes.”
After the taping, the cast, directors, OWN president Erik Logan, and Peter Roth, president and chief content officer of Warner Bros. Television Group, adjourned to Soho House West Hollywood to continue the celebration with a handful of selected superfans.
The after-show will air on Nov. 15 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT, immediately following the “Queen Sugar” supersized season finale.