Skye Leighton was a very crucial member of Payton Hobart’s team as they tried to nab Dede Standish’s state senate seat in Netflix’s The Politician season 2, which debuted on July 19. In the end, Payton & Co. were successful, giving Payton a much-needed win. By the end of the season, Payton seemed content with his life in New York alongside his team, Alice, and their son. However, big moves are being made, and now Dede wants Payton to be her vice president after Payton’s mom, Georgina, leaves office.
This means that Payton, Skye, McAfee, James, and Alice are most likely headed to Washington in a potential season 3. HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with Rahne Jones about that twisty ending, Skye’s loyalty to Payton, and Skye’s own political aspirations. Rahne also opened up about going from Homeland Security to Hollywood. Read our Q&A below.
The season ends with quite the twist. Payton has the state senate seat, and he’s perfectly happy now. He thinks this is it for him. He’s going to stay where he is. And then we learn that Dede wants to become the president and is going to ask Peyton to be her VP. Do you think Skye, McAfee, and Payton and the rest of them are ready to take on Washington?
Rahne Jones: I think they’re ready to take on anything. I think that they are some of the bravest individuals and obviously fearless. I think they’re up for any challenge. I think it would definitely be a lot of learning for them to do and, if they thought that the world of New York City state politics was hard, I think it’ll be interesting to see how they handle the mentality of DC.
What was your reaction when Dede just gives up her seat to Payton? I thought it was going to be some knock-down, drag-out fight.
Rahne Jones: I was definitely shocked. I was like, wow, she’s willing to give up something that she’s worked so hard for. But I was also like, she knows what she’s doing because she has a bigger game to play. So while I was shocked that she would actually give up her seat, I think she did recognize that maybe it was time to hand it off to the next generation. But her time is not done. She’s way more calculated than we give her credit for.
A lot of the focus in the later episodes was this ballot box. Payton and the team think that since it was at the nursing home, the votes were going to go Dede’s way. However, they eventually learned Payton actually won this election. Before you read that in the script, did you think Payton had won or did you think he’d lost?
Rahne Jones: You know what? I thought that he would win. Because the big issue is that he feels like he never really wins anything. Somebody always gives up. In season 1, Astrid really won that and quit. His big thing was that he never really wins. We see that in one of the episodes where he’s like, I actually didn’t win this. And then we find out that the people at the nursing home really did swing his way, and he actually won something. I think it was giving Payton a win and also the confidence to keep going. This is a kid who has these aspirations and, if he keeps winning by default, how passionate will you be if your drive is based on winning? For me, I was thinking they had to let this kid win.
A major aspect of this show is loyalty. At this stage of the game, how loyal and ride-or-die do you think Skye is for Payton?
Rahne Jones: That is a great question. In the first season, Skye was all over the place. I think she was a by-any-means necessary type of person to drive her cause and the cause of marginalized communities. She was going to try to put herself in a position of power no matter what, so her loyalty was nonexistent. I think this season Skye has done a lot of soul-searching and she’s grown. I still think that she has that bite to her, but I would like to believe that she’s loyal to Payton. I do think that she also has her political ambitions and her causes that she’s still passionate about. We see her really wanting to tap into voters of color and reading Payton the riot act over cultural appropriation and things like that. Her voice is still very strong, but I do think that she’s Team Payton for now. We’ll see if anything changes.
In the midst of all of the backstabbing and the election race, I loved the McAfee/Skye/James storyline where McAfee had to take a break from the trio for a bit. I feel like they could be the next throuple.
Rahne Jones: Totally. It’s funny because James and McAfee were a unit in season 1. They were Payton’s right-hand, so for Skye to join on to make that throuple is really interesting. I think that they play well off of each other. Each of them brings totally different things to the campaign.
Obviously, there were a ton of twists and turns throughout season 2. Was there one that just caught you by surprise more than the others?
Rahne Jones: I think by surprise and thoroughly entertained are synonymous for me with the show, but I loved when Tino McCutcheon’s wife wakes up from a coma and really blasts her husband after she heard every single horrible thing that he was saying to her. I figured that she would wake up at some point, but I didn’t know that she would have the capability of like fully remembering every detail of what he told her. I thought it was hilarious. I was like, get him!
Skye was your first TV role. What’s it been like being a part of the Ryan Murphy universe?
Rahne Jones: When I got the breakdown for the role, I was excited. But then to learn that it was a Ryan Murphy production, I was just like, are you kidding me? I’ve seen everything that Ryan, Brad [Falchuk], and Ian [Brennan] have ever done. To work with heroes of mine… it was real. I got extremely lucky, and I don’t take this opportunity lightly. It is an honor. Not only that, but I also get to work with some amazing people. My cast is phenomenal. Phenomenally talented but also just phenomenal people. I got to learn from such amazing people. I got to learn from Ryan, Ben [Platt], Brad, Ian, and Jessica Lange in season 1. I got to learn from Bette Midler and Judith Light. It’s very surreal for me, but I’m unbelievably grateful, and I can’t wait to continue to grow as a performer and to continue to learn from everyone I encountered.
You worked in Homeland Security before getting into acting. When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
Rahne Jones: I always say that I live several lives. I was a student-athlete. I played a little bit of basketball in college, and then I transferred to another school. I graduated and started working for Homeland Security. So I’ve done a lot of different things, but I’ve always loved watching people perform. I love going to the theater and watching people just give it their all and be unbelievably vulnerable. I love watching movies and TV to just watch people do their thing. I’ve always loved watching other people do it, and I always wanted to try it myself, but I was always afraid. I didn’t go to school for it. I thought I had no chance, but then I turned 30 and was like, forget it. I’m going to try. I’m not getting any younger. So I gave it a shot, and the universe was looking out for me. But I’ve always wanted to do it. The fear was just blocking me, but now no time for fear.
What has playing Skye on The Politician meant to you?
Rahne Jones: It’s meant a lot. The Politician is a White show. A lot of my classmates are White, and Skye’s the Black series regular. I feel honored to be able to represent people that look like me in this space. If I can give an opportunity to another person looking at Skye, who wants to stand in their power and to use their voice or even wanting to get into the business and hold their own, then I’ve done my job.
Is there anything you would like to explore with Skye in a potential season 3?
Rahne Jones: I’ll go on a personal level, but I hope that we get to learn a little bit more about Skye and why she is the way that she is. I would like to see her continue to be the powerful person that she is, and I hope that she gets her time to shine as well.