“We were literally just one episode into filming when we had to shut down because of Covid,” Queen Sugar executive producer Paul Garnes says about Season 5 of the Ava DuVernay-created OWN series executive produced by Oprah Winfrey and hailing from Warner Bros Television. “We used that opportunity to reset and repivot the show to be more relevant to the audience and I think to all of us involved.”
In fact, Oscar nominee DuVernay and showrunner Anthony Sparks rewrote most of the planned season during the production’s down time to focus on the pandemic and much more of what was happening in America 2020 – from the political to the personal and back again.
“I think that every character in some ways is a reflection or at least a part of Ava,” notes Dawn-Lyen Gardner, who plays Charlotte “Charley” Bordelon West on the multiple NAACP Image Award-winning show.
Focusing on the three Bordelon siblings and their lives, struggles and successes, the February 10-debuting 10-episode fifth season of Queen Sugar chronicled the ravages of Covid-19, police violence, the death of George Floyd on Black America and the nation at large. Already renewed and in production on a sixth season, Season 5 ended April 20 with the siblings of Nova, Charley and Ralph Angel, their offspring, extended family and rural Louisiana community in an optimistic place.
“I really loved the intimacy of those scenes, I feel like they were such a true reflection of what so many of us found ourselves doing, which was having such deep conversations that maybe would never have happened had it not been for the pandemic with those closest to us in our worlds and in our homes,” Gardner said of the relationship between Charley and her near-adult son Micah, played by Nicholas L. Ashe, regarding speaking out against injustice and letting a boy become a man.
“It was a conversation that Ava wanted to explore … it deepened and broaden and reflected back this larger social conversation that we all needed to have,” Gardner added.
Check out the conversation in the video above.