We all know Issa Rae started the whole wave of creating a hit web series featuring a black woman! The wave continued with people of color producing more and more content bringing in a new batch of above and below the line talent (television and film reference for those who don’t get it). My obsession with this content eventually led to me finding the hit show Tough Love, starring the Ebony Obsidian as Alicia Davis. Obsidian quickly became my favorite character in the show allowing me to relate to a young woman that was trying to define her womanhood, her voice, and her boundaries while balancing her love life.
So when I randomly met Obsidian in person several years ago at an event at Time Inc, I knew I had to interview her. Eventually our schedules realigned and I had the privilege of speaking to her about her new hit cable television show created by Tyler Perry, Sistas, and now her latest release Hunters on Amazon!
MEAH DENEE BARRINGTON: It’s really exciting seeing you from, where you come from, not that I know too much about you, but I came across you through Tough Love first. Do you feel like Tough Love was the opportunity that lead to all these other opportunities and prepared you for where you are now?
EBONY OBSIDIAN: I think that was definitely part of preparing me, in terms of being ready, continuous episodic type roles. Episode after episode, season after season, that gives you a good marker of what it’s like to sit with a character for a long time. So that was a beautiful part of that experience.
I’ve done several projects before Tough Love but it was definitely something that I think for 3 years made me focus on that character development. So yeah, for sure, I think it definitely prepared me for the things that came next you know from that to Master of None, to Beale Street, Wu Tang, Hunters and Sistas.
MDB: You’ve had a lot of first this year (2019) I was looking through your Instagram and you’re talking about how Hunters was your first recurring television role, and then you have your first nationally syndicated role. Are there any other first that you had this year? I think your first major picture was If Beale Street Could Talk. What other accomplishments have you hit this year because I know it’s been a busy year for you?
EO: Yeah I know for sure. Actually Wu Tang was the first occurring and Hunters came very shortly afterwards so they were kind of on the same time period. I think Sistas is the first lead as a series regular so that’s definitely a first and that’s you know 25 episodes, so that’s a big deal.
We just did a little bit of a tour for Sistas we just went to Chicago Memphis Atlanta, now in LA, so first tour for a project I guess you could say. A lot of new things popping up I think there’s probably too many first to name but definitely a good year.
MDB: Can you tell me more about the role you have now with Sistahs? How you came across the audition and how you felt throughout the whole process and finding out you got the role?
EO: So I play Karen who is a hair stylist in Atlanta. She’s one of four women and they’re basically trying to figure out why they are single! What is wrong with them? Or what’s right with them or whatever the cases, and they kind of lean on each other for sisterhood so that’s the premise of that story. I auditioned maybe a month and a half before we actually started. I got an email like any other email. They wanted to see me, so I went in and auditioned. Maybe a week or two later I got a call to come out to Atlanta to audition there for Tyler and his team and that was probably the most intense addition practice. It was about 60 pages of material which is more than I’ve auditioned with anything, like combined, probably in one sitting. So it was definitely, not high stakes, but the pressure was on!
MDB: This show has been compared to Girlfriends as being the new age version. Do you feel like there is validation in those comparisons, or the show stands out as its own story?
EO: No, definitely that’s a beautiful comparison. Girlfriends is a staple, it’s a classic. So to have already been receiving that type of comparison before the show even dropped was a big deal. I think it was beautiful. I think that this is just a different time, this is a different group of four women, in a different location. They’re going through different things in a day in age where social media is a huge part of life, dating included, so there’s all these new aspects that have to do with this era verses you know the early 2000s when Girlfriends was taking place.
MDB: How did you prepare for this role? Karen is actually 10 years older than you, did you have to find her in other women or do you feel like Karen is naturally apart of you and that helped you morph into the character?
EO: They’re definitely aspects of the character that I haven’t experienced. I had to kind of do my own personal research and then sit down and understand through and through. I think a lot of the things I could relate to, being in a relationship that isn’t the healthiest for you, trying to break from that and being hard on yourself, maybe too hard on yourself when you make a wrong decision and just trying to find your boundaries. Trying to set the tone for yourself, raise the bar for yourself, and reach for the things that you deserve and also saying No to things that are not good for you. I think when you are comfortable and when you’re used to things you kind of let them rock and then you wake up one day and you’re in a place that you weren’t intending to be in, and that can be very difficult. Most characters I’ve played I haven’t been through the same exact things they’ve been through so this is fairly similar to that.
MDB: I’m curious because I know you’re from upstate New York so how did you get that country accent, yours is more distinct than any of the other women? Was it just you being in Atlanta or was it a process for you to gain a country accent?
EO: So I did start prepping before going down there and funny thing I didn’t actually tell anyone I was preparing it. I just showed up and started and I remember Tyler pulled me to the side and he said when “did you start working on this?” I was like, Oh lord! He’s probably going to tell me to tone it down. Bring it back, do something, do that! But he was like “No I like it. I like it a lot! You put a lot of work into it.” That kind of gave me the confidence to continue on with that throughout the season.
I didn’t know before but Karen’s character is supposed to be the most noticeably from Georgia. That was something that Tyler mentioned a little later on, but it just ended up working out that way. It’s how I heard her, and it’s how I prepared for her.
MDB: I know previously in Tough Love you worked with Devale. How was that experience because before he wasn’t your love interest and now he is in Sistas, so how was working with him in this new way?
EO: Great! I mean he went from playing my friend’s brother to my love interest. It was awesome because I had known him before, I was comfortable with him and I also auditioned with him. I was reading with him at first as Karen so that was good, the chemistry was there. The comfort level was there to go and do certain things with him throughout the season so it was great. He’s a funny guy but he’s gonna shine so much in the show as a serious actor. So I’m excited for him as well. We just had a great time, we supported each other and we got through it.
MDB: I know you’re focused on Sistas right now but are there any other projects that we should be looking out for?
EO: Hunters is out now on Amazon, and it is basically a show about Nazi hunters in Brooklyn in the seventies, and I play a wonderful young woman who is trying to figure out what the heck is going on.
Make sure you support this dynamic actress on by tuning into Tyler Perry’s Sistas on BET on Wednesdays at 10pm, along with checking out Amazon’s Hunters streaming now!