Queen Sugar’s Violet Bordelon and Hollywood Desonier have a relationship fans are rooting for, and despite some recent rocky revelations, viewers are still hoping the two can come out the other side stronger than ever.
In real life, the chemistry between actors Tina Lifford and Omar J. Dorsey is undeniable, like best friends cracking jokes and playfully roasting each other. While speaking with ESSENCE, the two revealed that the first time they met on a random Saturday for a screen test, things didn’t go as planned.
“Dorsey was maybe the first person hired, that tells you how much Oprah and Ava love him. I didn’t know any of this, I didn’t know who Dorsey was,” Lifford said, laughing as she recounted meeting Dorsey for the first time, seeing him walk down the hallway and thinking, “Oh, this will be easy. This man is fine.”
But, Lifford’s first encounter with Dorsey was not what she expected.
Dorsey didn’t even look up from his phone when Lifford greeted him, acknowledging her with a lackluster welcome. She laughs, “I’m the one trying to get the job, he’s the one who’s had it for months so he’s a little annoyed that he has to come in on a Saturday for yet another actress. Barely giving me any attention, that was the beginning of our relationship.”
Dorsey admits though that prior to the audition, he was a bit tired and just grumpy. “It was Saturday morning,” he laughed, “God knows what I was doing Friday night. I was struggling that day.”
Fortunately, things turned around and following their screen test, Dorsey immediately called show runner Ava DuVernay to let her know the search for Violet Bordelon was over.
“When she said the first line I was like ‘AHA!’ I called Ava as soon as the audition was over and told her we found her [Violet]. We got this one, don’t audition anybody else.’’
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Dorsey and DuVernay were right about Lifford, she steals every scene she’s in and portrays Violet flawlessly. When she finds out about Hollywood’s secret (spoiler alert) — that he’s still married to a woman with mental illness — we’re devastated right along with her. Thinking of her character’s reaction and how things might have gone if the situation was different, Lifford says, “If Hollywood had told Violet that same night, he initiated the conversation and it was just the two of them, it would have been a completely different thing.”
“They spent all this time together and it never came up. I had to come up with a rationale myself, how can somebody hide a wife for four or five years?” says Dorsey. He goes on to say that if the shoe was on the other foot, he’s not entirely sure how he would have reacted. “If I knew there was nothing going on I’d listen, I’d make her work, but I’d take her back. I don’t know, when you’ve been with someone for four or five years, you’ve got to figure it out.”
Lifford adds, “In fairness to Hollywood, you know [his wife] LeeAnne means nothing to him. The fact that he could so easily not mention her is because she wasn’t a factor in his life. But, when you think you know your man better than anybody else, it shatters you.”
Hollywood’s relationship with his estranged wife LeeAnne also sparked conversation online about mental illness and how it’s treated in our society.
“Ava knows a lot about all of us and she knows this is something I’ve dealt with before in my life,” said Dorsey, “So, a lot of people on Twitter have engaged and we’ve had very good exchanges.”
“I come to this project very passionate about inner health and inner being, and our society has not given the kind of attention to our inner well-being that we really require. Putting the same amount of attention on our inner well-being and inner fitness that we do on physical fitness could really help our culture, our society in being healthy,” said Lifford, adding that both Oprah and Ava focus on the well-being of women. “When Ava was given a camera it came with a political lens, so it is very exciting that we get to participate. She’s actually attracted people who can resonate with characters and know the stories she wants to tell.”
As the season progresses — the last episode of season one airs Nov. 30 — viewers watch with bated breath and hope there aren’t any more surprises in Hollywood and Violet’s future. When asked if they can give us a little glimpse at what’s to come, Lifford and Dorsey playfully responded, “Watch the show Wednesday’s on OWN!”