Anika Noni Rose plays the dynamic Pauline Hawthorne in episode six of the Hulu hit series “Little Fires Everywhere”. Hawthorne has a tremendous influence on a young Mia, played by Tiffany Boone, and helps her step fully into her role as an artist. We caught up with the actress to chat just before HULU debuted her big episode (Episode 6) to discuss!
BOSSIP: What brought you to “Little Fires Everywhere”?
Anika Noni Rose: It was an offer. Kerry and I had worked together before so it was really nice to work with her again and see her in this space, which was a new and different space for her, but it’s always lovely when we get to see each other out of the place that people tried to keep us in, once we announced ourselves. That’s exciting. And as somebody who also has properties that they’re producing, it felt really good to see her step into herself in that way.
I was really pleased to be part of the set. Reese and I didn’t really work together, but she was lovely and she made it a point to come and meet me and say hello. And so it was nice to be with those kind of people on a set because so often you can be on a set and not meet anybody. But when people make the effort to be inclusive to people who aren’t necessarily in every episode — when you’re an actor who is not in every episode, when you’re in 6 of 8 or 2 of 8 or 4 of 8 or whatever it may be, you get in the trailer and it always feels like you’re the new kid in school. It’s nice when you get on a set where people are actively welcoming and that was really great. So it came to me as an offer and I thought, oh this is somebody I haven’t played before. This is interesting, and look at all these fantastic women that I get to work with! So it wasn’t a difficult decision for me.
BOSSIP: So tell us about your character, you make your first appearance in episode 6?
Anika Noni Rose: You get to see a peek of me in Episode one, then I swing back through in Episode 6 and I think you can see me in some more flashbacks in other episodes. I haven’t seen them yet either to be honest. Here’s what I will tell you. I think the story is very compelling. I think that Kerry and Reese put together a production which was a really good place to be, very woman friendly and supportive. When you look around on the set. I was directed by Nzingha Stewart who was very phenomenal, and beautiful, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen her.
BOSSIP: We just interviewed her as well. She said to give you her love.
Anika Noni Rose: I adore her! I was like ‘Oooh this is going to be my friend.’ She was really fantastic and it was just a really good set. I play an artist named Pauline Hawthorne who was Mia’s art teacher when she was in school. I’m a photographer and I do other things as well, so I was sort of the inspiration for Mia to really grab ahold of her artist self. So you saw a lot of me with Young Mia, played by Tiffany Boone who is FANTASTIC, she was such a delight to work with, such a professional, so you always know you’re going to be met at net with her, which is a lovely thing when you are working with somebody. You’re going to get to see our relationship evolve as student/teacher and then student/friend when you realize you have something in common with somebody who sees you and believes you which is what Mia got from Paula Hawthorne. She’s a very, like, very artsy woman, things flow on her and there’s jingly jewelry, she’s one of those women you see on the street and you go, ‘OH she is absolutely an artist! Or she’s totally a dancer.’ You see it in her pores, she exudes artistry. I consider myself an artist, I wish I was one of those people who could dress and look like art. I’m not one of those people. I actually loved putting her on. It was a really great time.
BOSSIP: This series is very unique in the diversity of the cast and crew, it’s a very unique, female-led production, and a lot of the focus has been on race on the show, which is not so much of the case with the book.
Anika Noni Rose: I think you’re ultimately telling the same story, but there are layers involved when you have a black woman who is living in her car. What do people automatically think? Are they more likely to be judgmental? Are they going to call the cops or are they going to offer to help? If they call the cops, what does that mean? And when they offer to help, what does that mean? If they offer to help does that mean ‘Oh, I’m going to call a friend of mine who is hiring, OR ‘would you like to come clean my house?’ There’s so many elements, which is very very interesting I think. It makes people either put their nice face on or they take their nice face off and you can see who they really are.
You get to see Kerry’s character Mia and her daughter Pearl who is played by Lexi Underwood and is really lovely, and you also get to see what it means for them to move into this neighborhood where they are essentially the only ones and how careful do they have to be about the way they’re living. And you know a lot of people feel you know, ‘I’m just going to be myself.’ But some people feel they have to show up as the best version of themselves they could possibly be because everyone is watching. I think they are very interesting in the way they step into this neighborhood and people make such an effort showing them that they belong, that the undercurrent is that you know that they don’t really. I think there are lovely layers that are added to that, that don’t really change the story in any ways that make it unrecognizable from the book, they just show that there’s much more for many people to connect to.
Love it. Have you seen the latest episode of “Little Fires Everywhere” this week? What did you think of the Pauline Hawthorne character? We’re looking forward to seeing more flashbacks because we couldn’t believe what happened to Pauline by the end of the episode! Hopefully more is explained. Also if you haven’t caught up yet you NEED to because so much is explained about why Mia and Pearl mover around so much. Oh yea and also Jesse Williams and Nikki Beharie are featured in this episode as well!