For fans frustrated with Charity Greenleaf’s betrayal of her family, all hope is not lost. Deborah Joy Winans hints that her character isn’t beyond redemption.
It’s the fifth and final season of Greenleaf and two episodes in and it seems that Charity just can’t catch a break with her family.
Fans watching the June 30 episode will have seen [SPOILER ALERT] the bishop’s daughter try to offer her sister Grace (played by Merle Dandridge) an olive branch in the form of a letter.
Deborah Joy Winans, who plays Charity, teases that it won’t be the last time that her character tries to make amends with her family after betraying them in her Season 4 bid to become Associate Pastor. “I do think that Charity sees the hurt and the pain that she has caused,” the 36-year-old Greenleaf star tells HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. She adds, “I would just say that this letter that she gives her sister and that goes backwards [is] not her last attempt to figure out how to make things right.”
Even Deborah Joy will admit to finding Charity incredibly frustrating at times. “Sometimes I look at [her and] I’m like, ‘Girl, are you really going to go this far and sell out your family for a [job] as an Associate Pastor?’” she says.
Fans watched in horror last season as the mom-of-one threw her family under the bus in a bid to clinch the position of Associate Pastor at the Memphis mega church. That included telling her lover Phil (Sean Blakemore) that Grace had lied to the police about her long-lost son AJ’s involvement in a robbery.
It all backfired in the season finale when Phil revealed that he was taking back his marriage proposal in his own craven attempt to get a senior position at the church. He dumped her to marry his ex, Judee Whitmore (Valerie Jane Parker), the daughter of Greenleaf family rival and enemy, Bob Whitmore (Beau Bridges).
“There are many things that she needs to figure out and get right,” Deborah Joy says. “But she’s also not going to be a pushover. What I do love about her is she made this choice. She went against the family. It wasn’t the best thing to do. It was a bad choice, but she’s also recognizing, OK, that wasn’t good but I’m still not going to let you control who I am or what I do. I am a woman now that knows what I want and I know what I’m going after.
“She will not be held hostage to her past mistakes. I love that about Charity. She’s a fighter. She’s very determined and she will not let Phil, her parents, her siblings, her duty, she won’t let anybody hold her hostage to her past to push her off her game.” Deborah Joy adds, “She’s going to try to make things right, but she’s going to stand for what it is she wants and it gets really, really, really good.” The actress teases, “You’re going to see parts of Charity that make you say, ‘Ooh.’”
Like her character, Deborah Joy has a famous last name and is part of a family dynasty. Her aunt, CeCe, and uncle, BeBe Winans, are Grammy-winning gospel singers. Singing was never part of their niece’s plan (even though Charity brings down the house on-screen with her phenomenal voice). But now Deborah Joy is promoting her debut single, “I Won’t Stop Breathing.” Written by her brother Juan Winans and his wife Lisa Kimmey a decade ago, it has special significance now following the May 25 death of George Floyd. The video for the song features her co-stars, including Merle and Keith David (who plays Bishop James Greenleaf) holding up signs with the song’s title.
“I do believe that there is power in what you say,” Deborah Joy says about the single, which has arguably become a protest song. “We have to tell people that we will not stop breathing. It doesn’t matter what they think about us. It doesn’t matter if they think we’re worthless. We know we’re worth it. We won’t stop breathing.” Greenleaf airs on OWN on Tuesdays at 9pm ET/PT.