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Tina Lifford Speaks On “Queen Sugar”

One of the standout stars of Ava Duvernay’s hit series is speaking on the show ahead of its premiere. Tina Lifford who expertly portrays family matriarch Violet “Aunt Vi” Bordelon on “Queen Sugar” will return to television today, June 20, when the acclaimed series returns.

Ahead of that, she spoke with BOSSIP about the complexities that make her vivacious character one to watch, from her fiercely protective nature over the Bordelon siblings to her coupledom with her young lover Hollywood.

She also dished on fan reactions to Aunt Vi, her on-screen chemistry with co-star Omar J. Dorsey [Hollywood] and season 2 surprises.

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What kind of character development went into playing Aunt Vi? 

“In our culture, we all know Aunt Vi,” said Lifford. “We are either Aunt Vi or we love Aunt Vi. What was exciting to me when developing this role is that Ava recognized in her own mother these qualities and looked out into the world of television and really didn’t see Aunt Vi.

We see mom, we see the grandmother but we haven’t seen that archetypal auntie that we all can relate to. She is me but she’s also a fixture in our community that has not truly been recognized and celebrated on television. That’s very exciting. That’s why when I walk down the street we actors are getting this immediate feedback, the women are absolutely loving seeing themselves. I just happen to be their mirror.

The most important quality that I feel Aunt Vi has that makes her that kind of Auntie in our community is that she has an unconditional love nature that really leaves space for who the person is. It’s strong enough and flexible enough for the necessary tough love if it’s important. Aunt Vi is a place where people feel safe, seen and heard and not judged.”

Do fans speak to you as though you’re Aunt Vi in your everyday life? 

“The part that’s the most precious is the young people in their 20s, who come up to me and they just want to be hugged by Aunt Vi,” said Lifford.

“That touches my heart every single time. It’s interesting that the women, the way they greet me is; ‘Oh my God, oh my God! You’re Aunt Vi, you’re the actress that plays Aunt Vi!’

They want a hug, they want to take a picture or they tell me, I’m Aunt Vi or you remind me of my Auntie. It’s always a good feeling and that’s what’s really gratifying.”

Should viewers remain hopeful that things work out between Aunt Vi and Hollywood?

“We should in our lives in general always be hopeful because that’s how our good comes to us. But yes, remain hopeful because it is through the door of hope that we really do realize what’s possible. The point is, I’m not gonna tell you whether or nor we get together!” [laughs]

Tell us about your on-screen chemistry with your co-star Omar J. Dorsey.

“Omar J. Dorsey, he and I talk often about the magic that exists between us. He auditioned with a number of fine actresses before they’d gotten to me. He was one of the first people hired and because Vi is fashioned around Ava’s mother, Ava was really clear about the type of energy that Aunt Vi should have.

What happened when we tested was he came into the room and I saw him coming down the hallway and I looked up and saw all that bald headed chocolateness and said, “Oh my God, this will be easy.” Then being respectful prior to the audition, I asked if he wouldn’t mind if I touched his bald head during the audition and he said, ‘No problem.’ Once the camera started rolling on our test [shoot], we flowed with such ease and such grace with one anotehr that he wound up massaging my feet. He was massaging my feet in the improv and I was massaging his head. When that test was over, he called Ava and said ‘I think we have found her.’ Ava went back and watched the test and said, ‘Oh my God, you all were on fire.’

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But I said to him, because Omar is married to a wonderful woman by the name of Conisha Dorsey, ‘Omar just know that I do not believe in messing with a married man but know that when that camera is rolling I’m going to love you up one-side and down the other.”

“Queen Sugar” will debut with a two-night premiere on Tuesday, June 20 and Wednesday, June 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The series will then air in its regular time slot, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Will YOU be watching???


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