Esteemed writer/director Ava DuVernay teams with Oprah Winfrey (who executive produces) for the emotionally charged new series Queen Sugar, premiering tonight on OWN at 10pmET/7pmPT. One of fall TV’s best new dramas, Queen Sugar follows the estranged Bordelon siblings, who come together in Saint Josephine, La., after their father has a stroke. Each sibling — Nova (True Blood’s Rutina Wesley), Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) and Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) — has their own personal struggles and socioeconomic status that has disconnected them from one another and their stories play out with deep emotion.
“I loved Charley from the first scene that I read of hers,” Gardner tells us. “I loved that she was sort of a superwoman. She has this incredible career. She has this incredible marriage. She’s worked for most of her life to build the brand of her superstar husband and she’s a mother and she’s got this sort of ‘I’ve got it all,’ then has to really confront herself … figure out who she’s going to be when all of that crashes and burns. … I’ve never encountered a character that I have loved and been heartbroken with and have wanted to smack sometimes, but would also fight to the death for.”
Charley has been somewhat blind to what her family’s current state of affairs truly is. Her sister is a world-wise journalist and activist, and her brother was just released from prison and can barely survive on his own, let alone take care of his young son. When Charley’s world crashes and her father takes ill, she’s finally exposed to the true struggles of her family.
“Because of who she is and how fiercely she lives a — it’s just incredible how she is, but I’m also in love with the moment that she’s in, and the ‘what is going to happen after that first episode?’” Gardner says. “So many things happen in that first episode that really shift her identity and shift what she has sort of planned for her life and boy. She was this monster strategist who had a strategy for how her life was going to go and then she has to rethink completely and that was the most exciting part of the show for me was where it was going.”
Where they are going is definitely an intimate journey well worth taking. Queen Sugar will have a two-night series premiere on OWN Sept. 6-7 and then will air regularly on Wednesdays at 10pmET.