First of its kind, Ava DuVernay's drama on OWN, "Queen Sugar," has given us the double dose of drama and just the right amount of sweetness we need every Wednesday.
Led by an all-female directorial team, "refreshing", is the word Timon Kyle Durrett uses to describe what it feels like to star in Queen Sugar. Durrett plays Davis West, a successful professional basketball player and husband of Charley Bordelon West. Speaking on the emotion that the show evokes, Timon puts it best: “It’s like television and film had a baby.”
NBCBLK had the pleasure to interview the Chicago native and on-screen heart breaker. Standing at 6'5, his presence on screen leaves nothing to be missed. Always playing the clean-cut role on camera, Durrett shares what type of character he really longs to play.
And if you've been wondering, yes, in a past life Timon did have a short career in basketball. He shares how his past experiences paired with working with an all-female crew pushed him to explore the different layers of Davis. Although he wasn’t able to give us any specifics, Timon lets us in on what viewers can look forward to with Davis, (whom he plays in "Queen Sugar") and his estranged wife, Charlie.
"Queen Sugar" is a contemporary drama set in the fictional town of Saint Josephine, Louisiana and chronicles the lives and loves of the estranged Bordelon siblings. After a family tragedy, the Bordelons must navigate the triumphs and struggles of their complicated lives in order to run a struggling sugarcane farm in the Deep South. "Queen Sugar" is executively produced by Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey, and Melissa Carter.
How did you get into acting?
I always wanted to do storytelling and be on television as a child. And, one day I came in from playing basketball and my mother said, “Hey, I got some information for you for a movie.” And it was for a major television movie called, "There Are No Children Here," starring Oprah Winfrey. And they were doing a casting call, for extra roles. And I said cool – I got the address, got on the bus and the train and I went downtown and I got booked for one of the extra roles. And, right then just when I knew that wanted to be an actor. I was on set and the bug bit me, as they say.
Wow, so it is kind of like full circle. You’re doing a role again for Oprah’s Network
That’s right, yep, getting right back at it.
So, you know I’m a fan of Queen Sugar. I’ve been watching and I just want to say, how could you?! Have people come up to you and kind of been angry about what has happened on the show?
Yea, but playfully. Most people can separate the character from the actor. But I’ve gotten a few jabs and a few sneers and jeers. But like I said, it’s all in fun. And generally, when I get those kinds of responses or things like that, when people get so emotionally attached to the story the atrocities that Davis has committed, it just lets me know that they believe in the story.
They believe me and that’s what I want. That’s all I ask when I’m acting - is that I can convey a true or clear message that can evoke the emotions that they’re supposed to evoke. So, I like it when people give me the little sneers and jeers. It’s pretty cool for me.
So, do you think that there is still a chance for Davis and Charley?
Hmm….I can’t say. I will say this for all the viewers – just keep watching. There are a few more surprises in store.
Has filming for the second season begun?
No not yet. I’m not sure when we go back. I know it’s some time in 2017 – the earlier part of 2017. I’m looking forward to it. I can’t wait ‘til we get back.
It seems to be a good story so far, but I’m kind of curious to the way it’s going to keep going for more seasons. What do you think is to come - what do you think the viewers should have to look forward to for another season?
Well, I mean for the viewers, you know, I would say just keep looking for cinematic greatness, great writing, storytelling, and exceptional acting by my fellow cast members. I think that they can look forward to a little more controversy. A little more conflict between Davis’ atmosphere, if you can call it that, the things that are surrounding him – Charley, the farm, the legacy is still hanging in the balance.
I understand that this show of all female directors. So what are the benefits, you think, with having an all-female directing team?
I think that it’s long overdue. It’s groundbreaking. It’s trailblazing. It helps open doors to women, who may not have otherwise been given the chance. Because none of the directors, from what I know, have ever directed television before and I think that led to the great cinematic quality of "Queen Sugar," when you watch it.
I tell people film and television had a baby, and they named it "Queen Sugar" because it’s a mixture of both. And I haven’t seen anything on television like it, but with an all-female directorial team – It allowed me as a man to see both perspectives. It made me look forward to working with more females on camera, off camera. Very refreshing.
I also have to ask you, what is it like to work with Ms. Oprah Winfrey? Is she hands on with the series?
Well, when she can be. When she’s there on set, she’s very warm and welcoming. She’s hands on, but she just sits back and she watches it, you know.
Oprah Winfrey is not the type of woman to have to try to act like she’s in charge. Everyone in the building knows that she’s Oprah Winfrey, but she has this way of just putting you at ease. I’ve adopted her as my aunt. She doesn’t know it yet, but I have. She lets the creative people create.
What’s been the biggest takeaway for you so far in doing a show like "Queen Sugar"?
Learning that I have more as an actor. There were certain times when I didn’t know if I had anymore, you know, emotionally, as far as Davis goes. What more can I bring to the table? And, working with these different directors, you have these different viewpoints. And they would evoke different things from me as an actor, but also as a person.
So, what I took away from it was understanding that there was a lot more to me as an actor than I had previously understood. And I’m able to reach down into those different parts of myself and dig in and bring more from within myself and with the help of another director and the actors.
It allowed me to see more into the layers of Timon Kyle Durrett, which allowed me to see more into Davis West. It’s been a magical thing – so what I took away from it was the further exposure of my inner self as well as Davis West.
What do you do on your spare time, when you’re not filming?
I like working out. I work out quite a bit. I’m working on my novel - I’m writing a science fiction novel. And, no you cannot know what it’s about. I’m a big nerd. I love documentaries, I love watching Anime, and I’ve just been catching up on a lot of the great television that I just haven’t had the time to watch, you know, all the different shows and things, as well as "Queen Sugar."
What type of on camera projects do you want to work on next?
I want to play someone kind of grimey and edgy and dangerous and intimidating. Because normally I play the well-dressed, clean-cut, well-to-do guy and you know, I want to play that grimey, grungy thing where when I leave set I’m sore and hurt from running and punching and doing gunplay and things like that — and green screen and wires and stunts. I want to do that stuff so bad. I love action, that kind of stuff.