Bittersweet bosses: Celebrating the female characters of ‘Queen Sugar’
After what feels like an eternity of a wait, Queen Sugar finally returns to screens on June 12th. Ava DuVernay’s show will continue to boast an all-female directing team as it has done for the past seasons.
Queen Sugar will also continue to showcase some of the most incredible female characters currently on TV, making it essential viewing for any woman eager to see more women behind the camera and more well-developed female characters in front of it. Here’s our ranking of the five strongest female characters in the show, and why they’re so important.
5. Chantal Williams
Chantal (Reagan Gomez-Preston) only appeared in a handful of Queen Sugar episodes and frankly we were left wanting more. The character strikes up a romantic relationship with Nova after the two meet at a radio interview concerning the Black Lives Matter movement.
Tenaciously opinionated and unwilling to back down when it comes to her principles (even when it means losing a relationship over it as is the case when her and Nova breakup), Chantal definitely deserved more screen time and a little more exploration than we received. However, what we did see of the character was ferocious, inspiring, and tenacious.
Depicted by the apparently ageless Bianca Lawson (Save the Last Dance), Darla offers a sharp insight into mental illness and recovery from drug addiction. Authentic and resolute, the character faces the challenges of her sobriety head-on while also challenging stereotypes regarding mental illness and addiction.
Lawson herself once stated Darla’s “survival instincts and her resiliency” are what drew the actor to the character and they’re also the qualities that keep us loving the character too.
3. Charley Bordelon West
As Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) herself once said in an episode, “One of the most important things a woman can control is her own story” and in Queen Sugar that’s part of where the character draws her strength from.
There’s a swagger to the character that could be misinterpreted as arrogance if it wasn’t for her work ethic. In Queen Sugar Charley uses money to control and maintain her truth and there’s something incredibly emboldening about seeing a female character proudly and unapologetically do that on screen.
2. Violet Bordelon “Aunt Vi”
As the default matriarch of the Bordelon family, Aunt Vi (Tina Lifford) is affectionate and supportive without falling into a trope of being little more than a maternal figure. Instead Violet is forthright and complex and isn’t afraid to ask for what she wants in life and to take it, too.
Speaking to Bustle, Lifford suggested the character is so powerful because Violet shows a side of an older woman rarely expressed on screen. “She’s this three-dimensional character with her own life, feelings, and aspirations, who’s still able to give ‘motherly’ tough love.”
1. Nova Bordelon
Depicted with complexity and depth by Rutina Wesley (True Blood), Nova is nothing short of revolutionary on screen. The journalist and Black Lives Matter activist is highlighted as taking care of her community and though she’s strong, she isn’t without her flaws. The way in which Queen Sugar has carefully depicted Nova’s sexuality as free and fluid has also been a revelation to witness on screen.
As Paste Magazine highlighted in their celebration of the character, Nova demonstrates “the fullness and complication of a human experience” but is also “fearlessly black, while showcasing blackness in relations with self, with other, with family, with love, with work, and with society, and meets it at a place that is both real and indefinable.”
Speaking to the Huffington Post, Wesley further elaborated upon the genius of the “fully fleshed out” character. “Getting the chance to play a beautiful gorgeous black woman with dreads, smart, funny, witty, a little chaotic. She’s everything. It’s a brown girl’s dream because she’s a real human being.”