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Greenleaf Actresses Talk About Their Character Development And Work Relationships

Have you been watching Season 4 of “Greenleaf” on OWN? We’ve been loving it so far. The acting is impeccable, especially from the legendary Lynn Whitfield who plays Lady Mae, the Church’s First Lady. We love ALL the ladies of “Greenleaf” though and that’s why our Sr. Content Director Janeé Bolden was so excited to sit with Deborah Joy Winans (Charity Greenleaf), Desiree Ross (Sophia Greenleaf), Merle Dandridge (Grace Greenleaf) and Lynn Whitfield (Lady Mae Greenleaf) at the start of the season.

Check out the interview below:

Janeé Bolden:So much has changed from Season 1 to Season 4, what are you most proud of in terms of your character’s development and what surprised you most, because so many allegiances have shifted?

Lynn Whitfield: I think from where it started in the very beginning with Lady Mae being this really grand sidekick who kinda ran the show, but from behind, to now her really stepping into the role of not just running things as a wife but really feeling that she can save souls, really feeling that she has a calling on her life to actually preach. From where it started, because I don’t think it was ever even expected by the writers or anything, it just kind of evolved. It was just very surprising how the evolution of Lady Mae happened, and then I think also just the evolution where I never ever thought that we would lose the church, even temporarily. That never entered Lady Mae’s mind that there was a possibility of losing it. It was just always keeping all the superficial things straight and keeping it, so it really went to the wall with this one.

Deborah Joy Winans: I think I just love watching Charity grow. I loved watching her walk through these trials. I loved her handling it not so great, because that’s real. I loved seeing her humanity. And this season I loved that she stands up for herself regardless of what anyone else things.

Desiree Ross: Sophia has changed a lot of ways. If you watched the previous three seasons you know she’s had quite an arc. She started out atheist and then she was Christian, then she lost her ovaries, and then this season it’s kind of nice to see how she’s coping and kind of trying to deal with making sense of this world and why is this happening. I think she’s acting out of anger just a little bit, out of resentment and it’s been an interesting ride to say the least. But it’s definitely been fun watching her shift. She’s definitely growing and realizing the world is not as perfect as she made it out to be when she first found Christianity.

Merle Dandridge:For Grace, I find her really searching for identity and purpose this season, because previously it had been about outside circumstances and how she’s going to put out this fire, or how she’s going to manage that or how she’s going to attack a situation, you know, whether it’s her business or not, she’s going to put her foot in it right? And now that she’s in the pulpit and she has slayed many of her demons, suddenly it becomes time for her to look within. When you are on the platform, you have to come with your heart bare and your conscience clean and her conscience is not clean, and some of her secrets and her skeletons come out and she has to contend with that. And in so doing, she clears out the extra cobwebs so that she can see clearly, ‘What has God purposed me for?’ And how is Grace going to, after she has mended these relationships with her family, how is she going to function normally, because they’ve never had that ‘Oh yeah, let’s come over for dinner.’ They never had that. Suddenly when we start to find a connection, a common purpose and we’re slaying a common enemy, how does that change their dynamic and who is she then? It’s very interesting to me, her growth, I think she’s become a little less hotheaded and a little more responsible for her own actions.

Ladies of Greenleaf

Source: Janeé Bolden / Janeé Bolden

Janeé Bolden: Desiree, as one of the younger cast members, what have you learned from your co-stars?

Desiree Ross: I could say so many things that I’ve learned. I’ve learned to have fun. I guess on set when I started off I was kind of a perfectionist and I learned that it’s okay to make mistakes and to move past them and to try to do better next time. I learned to have fun from Lynn.

Lynn Whitfield: Awww that’s so sweet.

Desiree Ross: Merle, I don’t know how to describe. I work with Merle so much, she’s taught me so many different things. I think I learn a lot by watching her. The way she does everything, just the way she moves her eyes, it’s like perfect timing. She makes me feel really calm on set. So if something were ever to go wrong I feel good.

And DJ, that’s my Auntie.(everyone laughs)That’s my Auntie. DJ really calms me.

Desiree Ross: I think all of them kinda taught me. I feel like when you start off acting you come in a little stiff, and I think all three of you have taught me about messing with the character, don’t get too stuck, be able to move, be flexible with everything, and just to brighten up, have fun, you’ve taught me to look at multiple perspectives, not just looking from my own. Just from watching all the little nuances that you’ve added to your characters. I don’t know. There’s just so much. The last four years, there’s no limit to what I’ve learned.

Deborah Joy Winans: We learned from you.

Merle Dandridge: We love you as well. You’re just as open to us.

Lynn Whitfield: That’s so sweet.

Desiree Ross: And you know what else I’ve learned from them? That when you have good people around you, that’s really what you need. It’s very essential to keep really good people around you. To have a strong foundation. People that are uplifting you, people that are pushing you towards God, people that are pushing you to be better motivated and to just have more fun and enjoy your life. I feel like all of these women do that for me.

Deborah Joy Winans: What a sweet little baby.

Lynn Whitfield: A safe space.

Desiree Ross: Yeah. They feel like my safe space. I love going to work. I love staying there even when I don’t have to be there.

Love it! A new episode of “Greenleaf” airs tonight, Tuesday, October 1 at 10/9 c on OWN



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