EXCLUSIVE: Queen Sugar is coming to an end with its seventh season in 2022.
“It’s a radical act that it lasted this long, and it’s a testament to every single pair of hands that touched it and I am so proud of that,” series creator Ava DuVernay told Deadline today of the acclaimed OWN drama executive produced by Oprah Winfrey.
With tonight’s Season 6 finale, the 2016 debuting rural Louisiana-set series will return next year for what is expected to be a 13-episode final run.
Check out our full exclusive interview with DuVernay below for more on why the Warner Bros TV and ARRAY Filmworks produced Queen Sugar is concluding and a taste of what the final season will be like.
Based on Natalie Baszile’s 2014 novel of the same name, the culturally and politically charged Queen Sugar focuses on the trio of Bordelon siblings, played by Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Rutina Wesley and Kofi Siriboe, and their extended family in the fictional community of St. Josephine. Helmed by an all-female directing staff, the Paul Garnes EP’d NAACP Image Award-winning series also stars Tina Lifford, Nicholas L. Ashe, Omar Dorsey, Bianca Lawson and Amirah Vann.
“Queen Sugar is a truly extraordinary series brought to life by Ava’s leadership, her brilliant creative team, and the incredible cast and crew,” OWN boss Tina Perry said Tuesday.
“Our audience has seen themselves reflected with nuance and care through the story of the Bordelon family, including their triumphs and challenges, and most importantly, the love they have for each other through it all,” the cable exec added. Queen Sugar has been an unparalleled success for OWN, garnering critical acclaim, awards recognition, and a loyal and dedicated audience. We are so grateful for Ava’s partnership and are looking forward to a fantastic final season.”
The now penultimate sixth Season of Queen Sugar premiered on September 7, 2021.
DEADLINE: So, what made you decide it was time for the series to end?
DUVERNAY: As a storyteller, the bravest thing to do is know when you’re done.
Queen Sugar being my first series where I’ve had to consider when I’m done, I’ve had to push myself to say do you have anything more to say that needs to be said with these characters? And I’m so proud of what we’ve done and I’m proud that I’m brave enough to walk away.
DEADLINE: How do you mean?
DUVERNAY: Well, because it’s tempting, you know, when the studio and network are saying keep going, it’s easier to say yes than to say no. But, I know, in this case, no is the most positive answer.
It’s also remarkable to me that this show has seen a big regime change both at the studio and the network over the seven seasons. Yet, across the board anyone who has worked on this show at the studio and the network has been, whether it was Erik Logan and Tina Perry at OWN or Peter Roth or Channing Dungey at Warner Bros Television Group, and others, has become the biggest cheerleader of the show, which is not always the case when people come in and out.
DEADLINE: Based on the fact that you’re now ending Queen Sugar’s sixth and now penultimate season tonight, going into that final season, have you thought about how you want to end this?
DUVERNAY: Yes. Yes. I know what the end will be.
DEADLINE: And can we get a taste?
DUVERNAY: (LAUGHS) I will say it’s about envisioning the best path for that end. I didn’t think about how to get to the end, I just know what the end will be
I’m excited about where it’s all going, so, as we start writing more, the adventure will be to take steps to the get to the end of the journey.
I think it’ll be surprising, but also, my hope is that this is like some of the best series where the end feels like a surprise and it also feels like the only thing that could’ve been done. That’s my goal, you know? We’re definitely studying the great ends of series that we love, and something that feels unexpected but inevitable in the best way is what we’re striving towards.
DEADLINE: So, are we going to see Nova, Ralph Angel, and Charley wake up in a bed with their former selves saying I had this weird dream?
DUVERNAY: Absolutely not. We are learning from our fellow artists’ past mistakes and successes.
DEADLINE: One of the things that’s been so groundbreaking about Queen Sugar is the commitments that you, Oprah and the production made very early on in terms of gender, in terms of gender representation, in terms of opening up the aperture. So, you had a series of showrunners of various backgrounds over the various seasons. You had all female directors, some of whom were looking at their first or maybe only second episodic television experience. Going into a final season, what does that mean to you now?
DUVERNAY: A lot. You know, Queen Sugar works on two levels.
DEADLINE: How so?
DUVERNAY: Well, it works on a level of the storytelling, the characters, the fans who, you know, have been such, ardent supporters of the story and the themes, But, it also works on a level of a disruptor to industry practice that needed to be shaken up, and in a concrete way not a theoretical way.
So, for me it was an exercise in story and an exercise in systems and how we could disrupt both So, to answer your question directly Dominic, I feel wholly satisfied in what we were able to do on both counts.
I mean, I never thought it would go this far, even though I always hoped we’d get to seven seasons. I never could imagine when we started that six and now seven seasons later a story about a modern Black family living everyday life, nothing spectacular, everyday working-class people mixed with folks who might have some notice or be known would find such a deep audience.I know this kind of collision of different types of Black people all within one family, both by color, gender, you know, sexuality, physical ability, all of that in one family, this melting pot of the Black family, it’s rare. Taking all that, and making contemporary to the modern day, it’s a radical act.
It’s a radical act that it lasted this long, and it’s a testament to every single pair of hands that touched it and I am so proud of that.