Meet Being Mary Jane’s Newest Rival (Things Are Heating Up In NYC!)By Tsadiqwah | January 24, 2017 | Entertainment
Tonight, a brand new episode of Being Mary Jane airs on BET! Here’s every bit of reason why this show is sizzling hot and we’re in love!
Now in its fourth season, Gabrielle Union (Top Five, Think Like A Man) continues to serve up life on a platter as the sassy lead character Mary Jane relocates to a new city, snags a new job promotion and even manages to finally hold onto a new boo (no shade)!
However, just as things are starting to, or at least seem like it could possibly be falling into the right place, an arch nemesis pops back up on the scene, along with some friendly competition from a mentor. In walks Rhonda Sales, played by Valarie Pettiford (Half & Half, One Life To Live), a highly-respected industry veteran who is anything but corporate clean! Will Rhonda let Mary Jane win in this game where there’s only room for one winner, or will she coach Mary Jane on how the game is played?
We talk exclusively with the Tony-nominated actress about her new character this season, what it’s like to finally work with Gabrielle (and yes, we said FINALLY) and how she manages to stay clear of negative vibes in real life!
I love the show! It is hands down my favorite show on television. I feel like I am Mary Jane! Have you been hearing that a lot since coming on this season as a new character?
Yes, and it’s so great because people can actually relate and I love hearing that!
How did you get introduced to Being Mary Jane and what drew you to the project?
I auditioned as a working actress, you know we’re always looking for the next job and so this happened to came across my table and I auditioned just like everybody else. But before that, Gabrielle Union and I are friends. We’ve been friends for years! We’ve hung out together, we’ve been through life together and I’ve always loved her but this is our first time working together. I auditioned for her and it was a dream come true. I was up against some incredible women and those women can do this role easily but I guess it was just my time, and to work with my friend who I’m even more impressed with because of her work ethic, and being an actress, producer, wearing a lot of hats. It was just professional and wonderful and we laughed, danced, and sang on set all the time!
Let’s talk about your character this season. You as an actress are described as sultry and powerful and coolly elegant. How does that tie into the dominant character that you play in this show and the competition you put forth?
This particular character, I kind of likened her to Diane Sawyer, someone who is at a certain age, at the top of her game, she is a master at what she does. She has won awards for it, she’s living her life, she has a husband and two kids and foundations, so she’s at the peak and at the top of her game. She now has this newbie who comes into her playing field, her part of the sandbox. She’s a mentor, and Mary Jane says it on the show, “this is somebody I look up and stole some stuff from.” That’s what we do when we love somebody and covet what they do, but I think she realizes it’s not as easy as one thinks, she’s still a little wet behind the ear.
You’re always a student and with every new project you learn something new about yourself. Who are some cast mates you’re working with on the show that you’ve learned from or has helped you grow? Is there anything new that you’ve learned about yourself?
First of all, such a great question! And yes! I learn something from everyone. I learn from Michael Ealy… he’s a premiere, he’s a movie star. He’s done a lot of television but he’s also a movie star. And there’s B.J. Everybody comes with their own history, package and training. Ashton Holmes plays a producer, we did a little project together, and just learning from these brilliant actors and then you have these incredible directors because you have different directors for each block and so they also test you and help you grow and get more things out of you. It’s such a great working relationship because it has to happen so quickly. It’s like, “hi, how you doing?…let’s get this show together like we’ve been doing it for years.” A lot goes into it.
Working in this business for nearly 30 years, how have you balanced being a professional with the cattiness and jealousy that often comes with chasing your dreams and climbing the ladder of success?
Excuse my French but I’ve worked my ass off for this stuff! It was handed to me, yes, and God has given me these gifts and being at the right time and the right place…but I work really hard, I continue to study, I continue to work, I go back to class, and I learn from wherever. I always come from a place of love and usually it works out in the end. You can’t argue with someone who’s being nice to you…I eventually turn them around!
Being Mary Jane is one of the very few shows on television that showcases a black family still together and still handling issues together. There’s this high-powered, very established black woman as a lead character, trying to figure out life on top of all the social justice issues being touched upon…do you think that this show is taking longer than expected with getting the recognition it deserves?
Unfortunately, it’s not one particular answer where I can say because of this, this is going to happen. I do know being black/African American, we have to work harder and it takes longer, especially since it’s still on cable. All cable shows whether black, white, green…sometimes it takes longer to get a worldwide audience. Black folks know who Being Mary Jane are there, but as far as globally they might not know and as a result of that… that is unfortunately dealing with stereotypes and cable TV. It’s a really hard question to answer and I do agree she should get more props and the cast members because they’re pretty delicious! And you know just with some shows it just takes a bit.
Were there any bloopers on set, any off camera moments you can share with us?
I tell you this cast and crew we did nothing but sing and dance! Oh my God if you know anything about Gabrielle and those crazy ladies, they love to sing. They love to sing and dance. They can quote lyrics from songs from back in the day like nobody else. It’s fantastic, so because we all love music and I’m musical theater, in between takes we sang and dance. We gave shows to the cast and crew on many occasions. The hair and makeup room was bumping! First off, the team there is just extraordinary. Especially when Lisa is in the trailer, oh my God, it is nothing but incredible music and incredible joy! We just break out in song and dance and choreography!
Check out Being Mary Jane every Tuesday at 10 p.m. on BET!
photo credit: BET