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'Keep The Think Pieces To A Minimum': The Cast Of ‘Queenie’ Reminds Viewers 'This Is One Black Woman’s Story'
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'Keep The Think Pieces To A Minimum': The Cast Of ‘Queenie’ Reminds Viewers 'This Is One Black Woman’s Story'

Hulu’s Queenie, based on Candice Carty-Williams’ 2019 novel of the same name, sets audiences in South London and inside the world of Queenie Jenkins (Dionne Brown), a 25-year-old British-Jamaican woman figuring out life, love, and how to let go. Yet while there’s humor to be found in watching Queenie navigate disappointments in those areas amid pressure from her traditional Caribbean grandparents—The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Joseph Marcell portrays her grandad Wilfred—the coming-of-age story takes a serious look at trauma, particularly Queenie’s resulting from being abandoned by her mother, and how that trickles down into other aspects of her life.


“Queenie's relationship with her mum is the through line of the whole thing,” Carty-Williams tells xoNecole. “It's always really interesting for people to focus on the men or work. It's like, fine because those things are there, but this is literally a book about a girl and her mum and how she wasn't loved in the way that she should have been by her mum, and her mum having to understand that. Anything that Queenie does, there's a direct link to her not being loved enough by that central relationship in her life.”

L-R: Tilly Keeper, Candice Carty-Williams, Dionne Brown, Bellah

Disney/Jack Henry

When Carty-Williams wrote the original source material, she noted the book wasn’t autobiographical but rather borrowed themes from her life and the lives of her friends. The subject of estranged maternal relationships among Black women, she says, is one that isn’t acknowledged enough.

“As I get older, I meet Black women who have really great relationships with their mum. But actually, I don't think it's that commonplace. Our mums, a lot of the time, were surviving and just trying to make their way in Britain. There isn’t a handbook for raising daughters, a handbook for being Black and raising a Black daughter in a country that doesn't really want you there. And that's what this is about. This is about thinking about that relationship and also being gentle on both sides. I never wanted to present Queenie's mom as a villain. I wanted to present her as someone who is also finding her way.”

Lionsgate/Latoya Okuneye

The gentleness Carty-Williams applied to her storytelling is the same lens through which British singer-songwriter Bellah, who plays Queenie’s bestie Kyazike in the series, would like audiences to look at Queenie’s experiences. Be it her inability to properly communicate her feelings with her friends and family or the journey of sexual exploration she finds herself on with a slew of white male suitors.

“I just feel like the self-righteousness of it all, on a fictional character, like, let's all get a grip a little bit,” says Bellah. “Yes, [the episodes] are based on real events that can happen to people and do happen to people, and it's inspired, but Queenie is a fictional character. Let's go outside and touch grass. Just a little bit. Do you know what I'm saying? There are important stories to be touched on. Incredible themes, hard themes, traumas, all of that to be explored. Life imitates art and so on and so forth but keep the think pieces to a minimum.”

Adds Brown of Queenie’s romantic choices, “This is one Black woman's story. It's not everybody's story. You don't know until you know, so leave it alone.”

The Cast of ‘Queenie’ Reminds Viewers “This is One Black Woman’s Story”

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Feature image by Disney/Ramona Rosales

 

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