DeWanda Wise Talks “She’s Gotta Have It” On Netflix
By now, you’re probably already on seconds and maybe just beginning to binge on Netflix’s new Spike Lee joint, “She’s Gotta Have It,” an updated, more fleshed out version of the 1986 classic film that dropped its first season today. If you’re unfamiliar, the story follows the dating life of Nola Darling, as she juggles three men in a rapidly changing Brooklyn neighborhood.
We caught up with actress DeWanda Wise, the new Nola Darling, at the show’s official premiere and asked her who Nola Darling is in the new era, the pressures of portraying an iconic character, and what it’s like doing all those steamy sex scenes with a hubby at home:
You had some pretty big shoes to fill playing an urban icon like Nola Darling. What did you feel that you had to do differently in this role to update Nola for 2017?
Thankfully, they didn’t shoot this show episode-by-episode. I had all ten (scripts) so, I had a real chance to go through and do some work. Spike was super open, because one of the main things was updating some of the language — little things, nuance, behavior. [If I changed something] Spike would just walk up and say “What’d you say? What’s that mean? Oh, okay.” It was a collaboration. Just trusting my voice and trusting my expertise as a Black woman figuring sh*t out in 2017.
DeWanda also weighed in on the difference in the ‘norm’ of how women date 30 years after the original film…
Being that dating around and having multiple partners is much less taboo now than it was in 1986, what do you feel like a modern woman– who may even be in a similar situation herself — could take away from Nola’s story in this day an age?
I think what’s revolutionary about Nola — in BOTH iterations of Nola, and ours specifically — is how transparent she is. And once you get to the tenth episode, you’ll see the full manifestation of that. I don’t want to call it a “lesson,” because that’s so preachy, but…it’s aspirational.
It’s definitely inspiring because, it’s one thing to have a roster and date multiple people, but how are you doing it? Are you this person who’s out here like “Oh, I want to be in a relationship,” when really you don’t and [you have all these other people on the side]? It’s really that, getting to this point of ‘say what you mean and mean what you say.’
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And as far as her family’s reaction to hearing that she would play the controversial, sexually free Nola Darling in the new film…
My Mama said, “Oh my goodness, I’m Nola!” (laughs) So that was good. And my husband [actor Alano Miller] — well he didn’t say anything. The full story: I auditioned for the role, had a director session, and then I said “Oop — I didn’t talk to my husband about this! Just kidding, I gotta go.” And Spike was like “Oh, alright.” Five days later, I get a text from Spike Lee. So I turn to Alano and I’m like “Cool, cool, cool, so…I got this text message from Spike Lee.” And he said “Of course, you did.”
So then we spent a Saturday in deep conversation. It goes back to transparency and communication, and honestly finding a partner who is FOR YOU. If you have that, then these conversations are a lot easier. From there, we figured out what was in this nudity rider, Spike gave him dap every time he was around — my husband was on set sometimes, but often because he was still filming ‘Underground.’ A lot of large and little things put him at ease. But he’s good. I’m proud of my husband!
The show deals with a lot of topics through both men’s and women’s’ lenses…so expect to get into it when talking about the show with friends and family.
We’re sensing that the show will spark a LOT of debates across gender lines. How do you feel women and men will each react to the new Nola — particularly if they aren’t familiar with the source material?
You can look at Spike’s Instagram and already see two things; You see women like “Yaaaas!” and you see guys saying things like “We don’t need this” or “we don’t need women to aspire to live like this.” It’s pretty intense.
It’s fascinating. You know, I’m mischievous, so I welcome it all. I can’t wait. I’m very interested in the conversations that are going to arise. The difference between ’86 and ’17 is that our “It” has changed as far as what Nola’s got to have. So hopefully men will be surprised and inspired and whatever…but what I care about because I am a Black woman is representing and making sure that the women I play at all times are done with all the love. I think that will translate.
We’re loving the series so far. Will YOU be catching “She’s Gotta Have It” on Netflix this evening?