Making a name for herself over the last several years with films including How to Tell You’re a Douchebag and plays like LAByrinth Theater’s Sunset Baby, actress DeWanda Wise found she made a strong impression in particular with the executives at Netflix, who suggested her to Spike Lee for his television adaptation of his iconic ’80s feature, She’s Gotta Have It.
In the series—which has been picked up for a second season—Wise plays Nola Darling, an incredibly self-assured, independent artist balancing three lovers with her bohemian lifestyle in New York City.
“I consider myself an indie darling, so Spike [Lee] is kind of like the penultimate dream, right?” Wise told Deadline yesterday, reflecting on her initial attraction to the project. “I taped a really ballsy self-tape, ‘cause I taped it as a selfie, as if to say, ‘This is who Nola Darling would be in 2016.’ And that was that.”
For Wise, a large part of the attraction to She’s Gotta Have It was the fact that Lee was decades ahead of his time in the making of his original film, and remains so today, crafting strong, compelling female characters like no one else. “I just feel like there’s so few black female cinematic icons, and Nola Darling, she’s one of them. It’s like Nola Darling and Nia Long’s character, Love Jones,” the actress said. “There’s just so few.”
In conversation with Deadline, Wise discussed her most memorable interactions with Spike Lee to date. “I remember I had a director session with him, and any time I would do a direct-address moment and I would look away, like a normal human, he would call cut,” Wise remembered. “I didn’t care, and essentially it was such a test, because when I got to set and it was time for those direct-address-to-camera monologues, he would let me do the whole take, and he was super open and gracious and generous.”
To hear more from Wise about the making of Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It, click above.
The Deadline Studio at Tribeca is presented by Nespresso.