When USA’s new Suits spin-off Pearson premieres on Wednesday, July 17, it will become the first network series to center and be created around an Afro-Latina woman. That is not a milestone that actress Gina Torres takes lightly.
“It’s overwhelming,” she told Essence ahead of screening the series’ premiere episode at the Ernest N Morial Center on Saturday. “When you start out as an actress, you really just wanna work and keep it honed in and personal. I want to be a good role model for my daughter, first and foremost, and for my parents who came to this country, committed to a dream and to instilling that dream to their children. [Because] I know my daughter is not the only little girl watching; and my parents, who are now watching from above, weren’t the only set of parents out there watching and looking forward to seeing a future in which they and their children are represented.”
In addition to leading the series on-screen, Torres is also pulling double duty as the show’s executive producer, after conceptualizing the spin-off and pitching it to the USA. Pearson finds Suits’ Jessica Pearson relocating to Chicago to pursue a career in local politics. As the titular character finds her footing as Chicago Mayor Bobby Novak’s right hand-fixer, Torres says the audience will get to know her on a much more intimate level than they did on Suits.
Torres is excited to bring Jessica Pearson’s complexities and nuances to the small screen. “I love being to executive produce this show,” she told the Essence Fest audience, “to be part of the storytelling and making sure that my vision – the truth I see in the world – is put on the screen. And to not just tell a story, but to do so in such a way that you all recognize yourselves in the story. That only happens if we can push for diversity not just in front of the camera, but behind the camera as well. And that was something that we were very dogged about pushing.”