‘Twenties’ is one of the best new shows on TV right now. HL sat down EXCLUSIVELY with the three stars of the BET series to talk about their characters, Lena Waithe’s influence, and more.
Twenties follows the lives of Hattie, Marie, and Nia as they pursue their dreams and love in Los Angeles. The series, created and executive produced by Lena Waithe, stars Jonica “JoJo” T. Gibbs, Christina Elmore, and Gabrielle Graham as Hattie, Marie, and Nia. At the start of the series, Hattie finds herself homeless. She’s introduced to a powerful writer and producer who gives her a job as an assistant on the show Cocoa’s Butter. Throughout the season, Hattie, a masculine-presenting lesbian, will be trying to find her voice and the right girl. JoJo hopes her confident character is an inspiration for viewers.
“I really hope that people take from this the influence that you should be yourself. You should be uniquely you. You should be confidently you, and that you should live in your truth,” JoJo told HollywoodLife. “And that the people around you who love you the most will still support you. They’ll love you regardless of however you present yourself to the world. I’m excited, especially as someone who is a part of the LGBTQ community. Having grown up, I watched a lot of television. I read a lot of books. I was very much that child that was in my imagination and sought out stuff like watching television, watching movies, and I never saw someone who I could directly relate to what I was feeling internally. I hope Hattie can be a representative to whoever is out there that’s looking for answers, or trying to figure themselves out, or not necessarily dealing with just sexuality with this, it’s dealing with your confidence in general. I hope that they take from this character someone who is adamant about being themselves, and I hope that inspires people to be themselves.”
Lena Waithe is one of the most sought-after figures in Hollywood right now and one of the busiest. Even if Lena wasn’t on set every day, her influence was felt by the cast. “Even if she’s not physically present on set, I know she has a presence, either through a text message,” Gabrielle said. “I’ve seen them send videos to her. I think that she is constantly helping influence or directly influencing the decisions that are made on set. And then when she is there, of course, if she has something to say, she’s going to say it.”
Christina revealed the best advice she’s gotten from Lena is “watching her work and watching how gracious and professional she is. But then also how focused she is on her vision. She has a vision for the show. She has a vision for everything she does, her outfit, everything. And she stays true to that.”
Christina’s character, Marie, is struggling at home and at work. When she and her husband take Hattie in, that disrupts Marie and her husband’s seemingly perfect relationship. At work, Marie is pitted against the only other black film executive for a promotion. Marie’s arc over the season will explore whether or not she’s fulfilled in her life. “I think we’re going to explore that throughout the season, whether she’s truly happy or whether she just feels like, ‘Oh, I’ve checked all the boxes. Shouldn’t this be enough? I have the boyfriend, I have the house and I have the job. Why isn’t this enough and why don’t I feel like I’m actually doing what I’m truly passionate about instead of just the things I felt like I was supposed to do?’ So I don’t know, I think we’ll find out,” Christina said.
The Twenties will face their fair share of drama this season, but it’s not going to tear them apart. “The drama on the show doesn’t stem from cattiness within the relationship, which I think is a really refreshing take on friendship onscreen, especially between three black women,” Christina said. “It’s not about the drama between us. It’s more about the hard work and the drama it takes to get to where we’re trying to go.” JoJo added, “I think, if anything, there’s frustration amongst us about not reaching your potential.” Twenties airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on BET.