’13 Reasons Why’ fans, prepare yourselves for a new side of Sheri. HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with Ajiona Alexus about the evolution of Sheri in season 2, playing Gabrielle Union’s daughter, and more!
13 Reasons Why season 2 drops May 18, and Ajiona Alexus is returning as Sheri Holland. Sheri was one of the focuses of Hannah’s tapes, and she played a key role in the sequence of events that led to Hannah committing suicide. She abandoned Hannah after crashing her car into a stop sign that later caused Jeff’s death.
The second season will pick up 5 months after Hannah’s suicide, and Sheri’s not going to be the “happy go-lucky” cheerleader she was in the first season. Ajiona also talked to HollywoodLife about juggling music and acting. Just weeks before 13 Reasons Why season 2, she released her first single, “Baggage.” In addition to 13 Reasons Why, Ajiona currently stars as Gabrielle Union’s daughter in Breaking In and plays the younger version of Cookie Lyon on Empire. She’s one busy girl! Check out our Q&A below!
What can you tease about Sheri’s role in season 2?
Ajiona Alexus: I’ll say that this season you get to see a different side of Sheri. You won’t see her in her cheerleader skirt and all happy go-lucky. But you’ll also see that Sheri’s always had a good heart, and you’ll see her helping people and always doing what she feels is right for others.
The first season was primarily through Hannah and Clay’s eyes. Will the new season be through other perspectives?
Ajiona Alexus: Yes, 100 percent. You will for sure see where most of the characters are coming from and their side of the story and how it affected them in the long run from before and after.
The first season was very heavy. What would say is the tone of season 2?
Ajiona Alexus: I think it’s going to be just as heavy as season 1. There are such serious topics and there’s a lot going on. You have to attack it in a way where it is going to be a little hard, but I think it’s necessary for people to see.
The 13 Reasons cast is so close. What was it like being back together to continue this journey?
Ajiona Alexus: It was just as great as season one. I felt like the dynamic was a little different, because like you said, we’re so close. I feel like with season one, we didn’t have a big following or supporters, so to have a big following this year has really affected us in how we go out and where we go out to eat, so it’s more private than anything.
You’re also working on an album. How do you juggle recording music and acting?
Ajiona Alexus: It’s just something I love, so I make time for it. I never like to take days off, so I’m working 24/7 for the most part. I recently dropped the lyric video for my first single. I worked really hard on this project, and I wrote all the songs and helped with everything, so I’m excited to see how people respond to it. It shows a different side to me.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Ajiona Alexus: Well, for one, I come from a background of singers on my dad’s side, but I think it’s also something I grew up around. Growing up, I loved Beyonce, Aaliyah, Michael Jackson, and Janet Jackson. It’s a lot of performers because I’m a big performer when it comes to music. Anyone who has a high performance level, I’ve always loved those people.
You’ve also played the younger versions of Taraji P. Henson’s characters in Empire and Acrimony? What’s that been like for you?
Ajiona Alexus: It’s really exciting. She’s amazing. I love being able to work with people like her in the business. I think I can learn a lot from them. But actually, when I got the role in Acrimony, Tyler Perry didn’t know that I was the younger version of Taraji in Empire. So he just watched my audition tape and said, “Wow, that’s the girl.” And then when he cast Taraji, she said, “You know that’s the girl who plays me on Empire.” It just worked out perfectly. It wasn’t just like, oh, she already played Taraji. I was able to bring the role to life and make it my own.
We need to see you sing on the show. We’ve never heard Cookie sing!
Ajiona Alexus: I know! We’ve been trying to make that happen. That’s been something a lot of people have been trying to push for. That’s something we definitely think would be a good idea.
You’re starring alongside Gabrielle Union in Breaking In. You play her daughter. Was it easy for you and Gabrielle to strike up a mother-daughter vibe?
Ajiona Alexus: Yes, for sure. We got along very well when we first met. She was already a fan of me, and I was big fan of hers. We were already super in love with each other, so we kicked it off right in the beginning. It was more so like she was my sister, but it came off on camera as a mother-daughter dynamic.