Queen Sugar

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Queen Sugar
Queen Sugar Title Card.jpg
GenreDrama
Created byAva DuVernay
Based onQueen Sugar
by Natalie Baszile
Starring
Theme music composerMeshell Ndegeocello
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes66 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Running time37–65 minutes
Production companiesWarner Horizon Television
Harpo Films
Forward Movement
Array Filmworks (Season 4)
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
Release
Original networkOprah Winfrey Network
Picture format480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original releaseSeptember 6, 2016 (2016-09-06) –
present (present)
External links
Website

Queen Sugar is an American drama television series created and executive produced by Ava DuVernay, with Oprah Winfrey serving as an executive producer. DuVernay also directs many episodes. The series is based on the 2014 novel of the same name by American writer Natalie Baszile.[1] Queen Sugar centers on the lives of three siblings in rural Louisiana (Rutina Wesley, Dawn-Lyen Gardner, and Kofi Siriboe) who must deal with the aftermath of their father's sudden death and decide the fate of his 800-acre sugarcane farm. The mainstream themes in the series often accompany episodes centered on racial profiling, the long reach of chattel slavery in American history and the inequities in the criminal justice system, and other issues related to African Americans.[2]

The show holds a 93% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes and has won two NAACP Image Awards and 12 total nominations.[3][4] Critics have praised the racially progressive show for storylines that tackle universal issues such as culture, class, and gender, while highlighting elements that address specific concerns of African-American society as expressed by the show's predominantly black cast.[5]

Queen Sugar airs on Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and premiered on September 6, 2016.[1][6][7] In September 2019, OWN renewed the series for a fifth season, which premiered on February 16, 2021.[8][9] In January 2021, ahead of the fifth season premiere, the series was renewed for a sixth season.[10]

Plot[edit]

The series follows the lives of three siblings in rural Louisiana: Nova Bordelon (played by Rutina Wesley), a formidable journalist and activist from New Orleans; Charley Bordelon (Dawn-Lyen Gardner), a working wife and mother in Los Angeles; and their brother, Ralph Angel Bordelon (Kofi Siriboe), a single parent struggling with unemployment and raising his son alone. Their father has recently died and unexpectedly bequeathed to Charley an 800-acre sugarcane farm in Louisiana. Recently divorced, she takes her teen-aged son Micah and moves to the heart of rural Louisiana to operate the farm.

Cast and characters[edit]

Main[edit]

  • Rutina Wesley as Nova Bordelon, the eldest Bordelon child. She is a journalist, activist and healer in New Orleans.
  • Dawn-Lyen Gardner as Charlotte "Charley" Bordelon West, the second Bordelon child. She was conceived when their father Ernest moved west and married a white woman. She is the biracial half sibling to Nova and Ralph Angel, sports manager, mother of Micah and ex-wife of Davis West.
  • Kofi Siriboe as Ralph Angel Bordelon, the youngest Bordelon sibling. He is looking to better himself after recently being released from prison. Tied strongly to his family land.
  • Nicholas L. Ashe as Micah West, Charley's and Davis' teenage son.
  • Omar Dorsey as Hollingsworth "Hollywood" Desonier, a much younger oil rig worker, husband to Violet, and friend of the Bordelon family.
  • Dondre Whitfield as Remy Newell, an irrigation specialist who was a friend and confidante to Ernest. He soon tries to help Ernest's grown children and soon becomes Charley's love interest (seasons 1–3; guest season 4).
  • Timon Kyle Durrett as Davis West, a charismatic star basketball player, ex-husband of Charley, and father of Micah. His involvement in a sex scandal resulted in the end of their marriage (seasons 1–2; recurring season 3–4).
  • Greg Vaughan as Calvin Gaston, a married police officer and Nova Bordelon's longtime secret lover (season 1; guest season 2; recurring season 4)
  • Ethan Hutchison as Blue Bordelon, Ralph Angel's and Darla's six-year-old son.
  • Marycarmen Lopez as Reyna Velez, Blue's elementary school teacher (season 1)
  • Tina Lifford as Violet Bordelon, the younger sister of Ernest Bordelon. She acts as the matriarch of the family and lives with her husband, Hollywood.
  • Bianca Lawson as Darla Sutton, Ralph Angel's wife and Blue's mother, seeking to reconnect with them both as she is in recovery from a drug addiction. (seasons 2–present; recurring season 1)
  • Henry G. Sanders as Prosper Denton, a lifelong friend to Ernest and fellow farmer (seasons 3–4; recurring seasons 1–2).
  • Walter Perez as Romero, a doctor and love interest to Charley (season 4; recurring season 3)
  • Tammy Townsend as Billie (season 6)[11]

Recurring[edit]

  • Glynn Turman as Ernest Bordelon, the late patriarch of the Bordelon family and older brother of Violet (season 1)
  • True O'Brien as Stella, Micah's girlfriend in Los Angeles (season 1)[12]
  • Reagan Gomez-Preston as Chantal Williams, Nova's friend and love interest
  • Issac White as Devonte "Too Sweet" Bonclair, a teen who after being falsely imprisoned becomes the main focus of Nova's current crusade on how the parish DA has been railroading African-Americans (season 1; guest, season 3)
  • Tanyell Waivers as Keke Raymond, a teenage friend of the family who becomes Micah's girlfriend
  • Deja Dee as Sierra, Nova's college roommate
  • Sharon Lawrence as Lorna Prescott, Charley's mother
  • Michael Michele as Darlene, Darla's mother
  • Roger Guenveur Smith as Quincy, Darla's father
  • Alimi Ballard as Dr. Robert Dubois, an activist who is briefly Nova's love interest in the second season
  • Lea Coco as Jacob Boudreaux, a member of the Landry family who takes a special interest in Charley
  • David Jensen as Samuel Landry, the owner of the most popular mill, the Landry mills, in the parish, who Charley and Ralph-Angel go up against
  • Brian Michael Smith as Toine Wilkins, Ralph Angel's childhood friend. He is transgender and influences Ralph's acceptance of his son Blue's differences (guest seasons 2–4)[13]
  • Vivien Ngô as Trinh Phan, a young woman who returns to help her parents with their seafood plant who becomes Ralph Angel's love interest (season 3) [14][15]
  • Tony Aidan Vo as Khanh Phan, the younger brother to Trinh and son of Mrs. Phan (season 3) [14]
  • Elyse Dinh McCrillis as Mrs. Phan, a Vietnamese American refugee and the mother to Khanh and Trinh; also Ralph Angel's boss at the seafood plant (season 3) [14]
  • Erica Tazel as Deesha Brown-Sonnier, a public defender and Ralph Angel's love interest (season 4)[16]
  • Paula Jai Parker as Celine (season 6)[11]
  • Marquis Rodriguez as Isaiah (season 6)[11]
  • McKinley Freeman as Dominic (season 6)[11]
  • Erika Ashley as Liza (season 6)[11]

Guest[edit]

  • David Alan Grier as Jimmy Dale, Violet's abusive ex-husband (season 4)[17]
  • Cree Summer as Octavia Laurent (season 4)[18]
  • Bryan Terrell Clark as Darla's love interest who is also in recovery (season 4)[18]
  • Amirah Vann as Parker Campbell, corporate lobbyist and bi-racial daughter of Sam Landry (season 4).

Episodes[edit]

Series overview[edit]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
113September 6, 2016 (2016-09-06)November 30, 2016 (2016-11-30)
216June 20, 2017 (2017-06-20)November 15, 2017 (2017-11-15)
313May 29, 2018 (2018-05-29)August 22, 2018 (2018-08-22)
413June 12, 2019 (2019-06-12)September 11, 2019 (2019-09-11)
SpecialFebruary 8, 2021 (2021-02-08)
510February 16, 2021 (2021-02-16)April 20, 2021 (2021-04-20)

Season 1 (2016)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
11"First Things First"Ava DuVernayAva DuVernaySeptember 6, 2016 (2016-09-06)2.69[19]
22"Evergreen"Ava DuVernayTina MabrySeptember 7, 2016 (2016-09-07)2.14[20]
33"Thy Will Be Done"Neema BarnetteJason WilbornSeptember 14, 2016 (2016-09-14)2.00[21]
44"The Darker Sooner"So Yong KimKay OyegunSeptember 21, 2016 (2016-09-21)1.52[22]
55"By Any Chance"Victoria MahoneyAnthony SparksSeptember 28, 2016 (2016-09-28)1.59[23]
66"As Promised"Tanya HamiltonMelissa CarterOctober 5, 2016 (2016-10-05)1.44[24]
77"In No Uncertain Terms"Neema BarnetteDenise HarkavyOctober 12, 2016 (2016-10-12)1.68[25]
88"Where With All"Kat CandlerTina MabryOctober 26, 2016 (2016-10-26)1.71[26]
99"Next to Nothing"Kat CandlerJason WilbornNovember 2, 2016 (2016-11-02)1.69[27]
1010"So Far"Salli Richardson-WhitfieldAnthony SparksNovember 9, 2016 (2016-11-09)1.50[28]
1111"All Good"Salli Richardson-WhitfieldKay OyegunNovember 16, 2016 (2016-11-16)1.64[29]
1212"Far Too Long"Tina MabryMelissa Carter & Ali Gordon-GoldsteinNovember 23, 2016 (2016-11-23)1.50[30]
1313"Give Us This Day"Tina MabryAva DuVernayNovember 30, 2016 (2016-11-30)1.91[31]

Season 2 (2017)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
141"After the Winter"Kat CandlerMonica MacerJune 20, 2017 (2017-06-20)2.31[32]
152"To Usward"Cheryl DunyeJason WilbornJune 21, 2017 (2017-06-21)1.69[33]
163"What Do I Care For Morning"Aurora GuerreroAnthony SparksJune 28, 2017 (2017-06-28)1.55[34]
174"My Soul's High Song"Maryam KeshavarzAva DuVernayJuly 5, 2017 (2017-07-05)1.46[35]
185"Caroling Dusk"Amanda MarsalisDavita ScarlettJuly 12, 2017 (2017-07-12)1.52[36]
196"Line of Our Elders"DeMane DavisMimi Won TechentinJuly 19, 2017 (2017-07-19)1.56[37]
207"I Know My Soul"Kat CandlerMaria Elena RodriguezJuly 26, 2017 (2017-07-26)1.57[38]
218"Freedom's Plow"Amanda MarsalisAnthony SparksAugust 2, 2017 (2017-08-02)1.59[39]
229"Yet Do I Marvel"Julie DashJason WilbornOctober 3, 2017 (2017-10-03)1.74[40]
2310"Drums at Dusk"Julie DashValerie ChuOctober 4, 2017 (2017-10-04)1.20[41]
2411"Fruit of the Flower"Cheryl DunyeDana GreenblattOctober 11, 2017 (2017-10-11)1.31[42]
2512"Live in the All Along"Garrett BradleyMimi Won TechentinOctober 18, 2017 (2017-10-18)1.14[43]
2613"Heritage"Liesl TommyMonica Macer & Davita ScarlettOctober 25, 2017 (2017-10-25)1.34[44]
2714"On These I Stand"Christina VorosJason Wilborn & Anthony SparksNovember 1, 2017 (2017-11-01)1.28[45]
2815"Copper Sun"DeMane DavisMonica Macer & Dana GreenblattNovember 8, 2017 (2017-11-08)1.22[46]
2916"Dream Variations"Kat CandlerAva DuVernayNovember 15, 2017 (2017-11-15)1.33[47]
Note: This episode is 90 minutes.

Season 3 (2018)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
301"A Rock, a River, a Tree"DeMane DavisKat CandlerMay 29, 2018 (2018-05-29)1.48[48]
312"Of Their Sojourn Here"Patricia CardosoAnthony SparksMay 30, 2018 (2018-05-30)1.04[49]
323"Your Distant Destiny"Lauren WolksteinErika L. JohnsonJune 6, 2018 (2018-06-06)0.92[50]
334"No Haven in My Shadow"Maria GovanMike FlynnJune 13, 2018 (2018-06-13)1.13[51]
345"A Little Lower Than Angels"Shaz BennettChloé HungJune 20, 2018 (2018-06-20)1.14[52]
356"Delicate and Strangely Made"Christina ChoeChanning Godfrey PeoplesJune 27, 2018 (2018-06-27)1.17[53]
367"Study War No More"DeMane DavisAnthony SparksJuly 11, 2018 (2018-07-11)1.20[54]
378"Come, Clad in Peace"DeMane DavisErika L. JohnsonJuly 18, 2018 (2018-07-18)1.01[55]
389"The Tree and Stone Were One"Nijla MuminAnthony SparksJuly 25, 2018 (2018-07-25)1.05[56]
3910"Here Beside the River"Ayoka ChenziraChloé HungAugust 1, 2018 (2018-08-01)1.02[57]
4011"Your Passages Have Been Paid"Rachel RaimistChanning Godfrey PeoplesAugust 8, 2018 (2018-08-08)1.05[58]
4112"The Horizon Leans Forward"Kat CandlerMike FlynnAugust 15, 2018 (2018-08-15)1.05[59]
4213"From on the Pulse of Morning"Kat CandlerAnthony SparksAugust 22, 2018 (2018-08-22)1.01[60]
Note: This episode is 90 minutes.

Season 4 (2019)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
431"Pleasure Is Black"Cheryl DunyeAnthony SparksJune 12, 2019 (2019-06-12)1.02[61]
442"I No Longer Imagine"Carmen MarrónChloé HungJune 19, 2019 (2019-06-19)0.97[62]
453"Where My Body Stops or Begins"Lacey DukeMike FlynnJune 26, 2019 (2019-06-26)1.08[63]
464"Skin Transparent"Numa PerrierValerie WoodsJuly 3, 2019 (2019-07-03)1.03[64]
475"Face Speckled"Heidi SamanLisa MoralesJuly 10, 2019 (2019-07-10)1.18[65]
486"By The Spit"Bola OgunFelicia PrideJuly 24, 2019 (2019-07-24)0.95[66]
497"Of Several Centuries"Tchaiko OmawaleAnthony SparksJuly 31, 2019 (2019-07-31)0.95[67]
508"All The Borders"Deborah KampmeierChloé Hung & Valerie WoodsAugust 7, 2019 (2019-08-07)1.07[68]
519"Stare at the Same Fires"C. FitzLisa MoralesAugust 14, 2019 (2019-08-14)1.15[69]
5210"Oh Mamere"Cheryl DunyeChloé Hung & Felicia PrideAugust 21, 2019 (2019-08-21)1.02[70]
5311"I'm Sorry"Stacey MuhammadMike Flynn & Valerie WoodsAugust 28, 2019 (2019-08-28)1.02[71]
5412"Here"Pratibha ParmarAnthony Sparks & Alison McKenzieSeptember 4, 2019 (2019-09-04)1.05[72]
5513"I Am"Ayoka ChenziraAnthony SparksSeptember 11, 2019 (2019-09-11)1.10[73]

Special (2021)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
56-"Never Let Go"TBATBAFebruary 9, 2021 (2021-02-09)0.32[74]

Season 5 (2021)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
571"Late-February 2020"Lauren WolksteinAnthony SparksFebruary 16, 2021 (2021-02-16)0.75[75]
582"Mid-March 2020"Lisa FranceLisa MoralesFebruary 23, 2021 (2021-02-23)0.64[76]
593"Late-April 2020"Lauren WolksteinNorman Vance, Jr.March 2, 2021 (2021-03-02)0.68[77]
604"Early-May 2020"Cierra GlaudeAva DuVernay & Anthony SparksMarch 9, 2021 (2021-03-09)0.62[78]
615"May 19, 2020"Lauren WolksteinNorman Vance, Jr. & Ava DuVernayMarch 16, 2021 (2021-03-16)0.56[79]
626"May 27, 2020"Cierra GlaudeAnthony SparksMarch 23, 2021 (2021-03-23)0.63[80]
637"June 1, 2020"Lisa FranceNorman Vance Jr. & Ava DuVernayMarch 30, 2021 (2021-03-30)0.60[81]
648"June 3, 2020"Cierra GlaudeAnthony Sparks & Autumn Joy JimersonApril 6, 2021 (2021-04-06)0.59[82]
659"In Summer Time To Simply Be"Lauren WolksteinAva DuVernay & Anthony SparksApril 13, 2021 (2021-04-13)0.69[83]
6610"Onward"Lauren WolksteinAva DuVernay & Anthony SparksApril 20, 2021 (2021-04-20)0.66[84]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

On February 2, 2015, it was announced that Oprah Winfrey Network had ordered a straight-to-series TV drama based on Queen Sugar, the 2014 novel by Natalie Baszile.[1][6][85][86] Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey, who worked on the 2014 film Selma, co-created the series, with DuVernay was set to write and direct the initial episodes.

The first season began filming in February 2016[87] and contained 13 episodes. DuVernay announced on January 27, 2016, that the series would feature an all-women directorial team.[88] On February 15, 2016, Neema Barnette joined the series as director and producer.[89] Award-winning director Tina Mabry is a producer and will also direct two episodes, and Anthony Sparks,[90] an award-winning TV writer and professor, began as a co-executive producer for the series in its first season and is now the head writer, Executive Producer, and Showrunner.[91] It was later announced that singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello would provide the score for the series.[92] Queen Sugar is said to be the first television series in which female directors direct every episode of the series.[93]

Casting[edit]

On January 13, 2016, Rutina Wesley was announced to play the role of Nova Bordelon.[94][95][96] Further casting was announced January 27, 2016. Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Kofi Siriboe, and Omar Dorsey, who co-starred in Selma, were all announced in leading roles.[97][98] On February 1, 2016, it was announced that Emmy Award-winner Glynn Turman will guest-star as Ernest Bordelon, the patriarch of the family who dies in the first episode.[99] On February 16, 2016, it was announced that Tina Lifford, Dondre Whitfield, Timon Kyle Durrett and Nicholas L. Ashe were cast as series regulars.[100] On February 23, 2016, Bianca Lawson and Greg Vaughan joined the cast as regulars, while Henry G. Sanders joined in a recurring role. Oprah Winfrey Network said that Winfrey, who earlier was announced as a recurring character, would not have an onscreen role.[101] On March 11, 2016, it was announced that Marycarmen Lopez also was cast as regular.[102] On April 6, 2021, Tammy Townsend joined the cast as a new series regular while Paula Jai Parker, Marquis Rodriguez, and McKinley Freeman joined cast in recurring roles for the sixth season.[11]

Release[edit]

On August 1, 2016, the series was renewed for a second season ahead of the series' television premiere, which aired in a two-night premiere on June 20 and 21, 2017.[103][104] The second season premiered on OWN in a two episode special on June 20 and 21, 2017.

The show was renewed for a third season on July 26, 2017.[105] The third season premiered in a two-night special on May 29 and 30, 2018.

On August 8, 2018, the series was renewed for a fourth season. Following the renewal, co-executive producer Anthony Sparks was revealed to be the new showrunner, replacing Kat Candler.[106] The fourth season premiered on June 12, 2019.[107]

On September 12, 2019, OWN renewed the series for a fifth season which premiered on February 16, 2021.[8][9] On January 14, 2021, ahead of the fifth season premiere, OWN renewed the series for a sixth season.[10]

Reception[edit]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 93% approval rating for the first season, with an average rating of 7.4/10 based on 41 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "With an authenticity of culture and place and strong performances throughout, Queen Sugar rises above melodrama in this alluring, unhurried and powerful portrait of a fractious black American family."[3] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 75 out of 100 based on 25 critics for the season, indicating what the website considers to be "generally favorable reviews".[108] A 100% approval rating for the second season was reported by Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 8.03/10 based on 7 reviews.[109]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result
2017
48th NAACP Image Awards[4] Outstanding Drama Series Queen Sugar Won
Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series Kofi Siriboe Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Rutina Wesley Nominated
Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series Ava DuVernay (for "First Things First") Won
Anthony Sparks (for "By Any Chance") Nominated
2017 Hollywood Music in Media Awards[110] Original Score – TV Show/Limited Series Meshell Ndegeocello Nominated
2018
49th NAACP Image Awards[111] Outstanding Drama Series Queen Sugar Nominated
Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series Kofi Siriboe Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Rutina Wesley Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Dondre Whitfield Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Tina Lifford Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Youth (Series, Special, Television Movie or Limited-series) Ethan Hutchison Nominated
Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series Ava DuVernay (for "Dream Variations") Nominated
Anthony Sparks (for "What Do I Care For Morning)" Nominated

Novel[edit]

UCLA graduate Natalie Baszile started writing Queen Sugar, the novel, in the early 1990s, but the text was only completed ten years later. She first presented the manuscript to publishers in 2009 but without any success. After revising the book for another two years, she resubmitted the text, with one agent agreeing to represent her.

Baszile took part in a women writer's retreat in Hedgebrook. A friend of hers who was also at the retreat, the novelist Sarah Manyika, suggested that she read part of Queen Sugar to fellow residents. Leigh Haber, O, The Oprah Magazine's book editor was attending and loved the novel and passed it to people at Oprah's Harpo Productions. A few months after that, Harpo called to say they wanted to option the book for a project.[112]

The book was published by Penguin in 2014 as Baszile's debut novel and, a few months later, OWN negotiated the deal to turn the book into a television series.

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Greene, Adrienne (June 24, 2017). "Queen Sugar Deepens Its Complex Family Portrait". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
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External links[edit]