The main cast of Girlfriends, (Tracee Ellis Ross, Golden Brooks, Persia White and Jill Marie Jones) recently sat down with radio host Charlamagne Tha God to speak about the Girlfriends reunion that happened on last night’s black-ish episode “Feminisn’t.” They also discussed more of the behind-the-scenes issues regarding the show within the Hollywood landscape circa 2008.
Ross talked about how Girlfriends set a precedent for shows with a diverse cast and crew. The show was led by Mara Brock Akil and that the writers’ room “was majority Black women,” she shared.
“…Our director of photography was a Black man…and it changed the way I go forward in my career because it was such an assumption [that diversity is the norm] and that’s not the way it is everywhere,” she continued.
Ross also later said how the media at the time didn’t support Girlfriends. While today’s TV critics have written about the rise of the natural hair movement on screen and regarding storylines about Blackness on television, and more diverse topics.
“There were so many things that didn’t exist then–and we were talking about and doing–but we as a show were in a landscape that did not support us in that way. It was not celebrated. On my entire eight years on Girlfriends, I was never on a late-night talk show. And we never went to the Golden Globes, Emmys, nothing.”
They also discussed Jones’ departure from the show when her contract was up. “One thing you cannot do is tell someone or project how you would do something onto someone else. She made a choice that was right for her. That was her choice and we have to respect that, and we did,” said Brooks.
Jones denied speculation of beef with the other cast members. “I booked Girlfriends at 25. So now, not only am I a woman, I’m a Black woman. So I’m thinking, ‘I’ve got to get stuff going.’ Because I don’t know what’s next. So fear played a part. Studios and networks, they can fire you at any time but we have a contract. There was something I loved about having the conversation with myself, ‘Do I want to sign a new contract? Where do I want to go in my personal career?’ I have that choice and at the time, it felt right for me,” she said.
The cast felt like the show did not have closure, and even revealed that Jones was supposed to come back to give that. “The last episode we actually shot was during the writer’s strike, I directed it. None of our crew and regular people were there. So it was so no closure. We had no party, nothing,” said Ross, to which Brooks and White added that they didn’t really know about what was happening and just got phone calls.
“I had like five, six lunch meetings with Mara. I was to come back for four episodes at the end,” said Jones.
The discussion was prompted by black-ish, who invited Charlamagne to talk with the Girlfriends cast. While a lot of people loved the conversation, there were some who felt it was disturbing that Charlamagne was invited to discuss feminism instead of a Black woman. Other Twitter users also brought up Charlamagne’s past controversies regarding sexual assault.
Source: Shadow & Act