There are certain celebratory moments in life that you never forget where you were when you heard the good news. Today, many actors and actresses will recall their location when they found out they were nominated for Primetime Emmys by the Television Academy for the 73rd annual award show airing on CBS this evening. Ryan Michelle Bathe is one of them, and she remembers exactly where she received word of Sylvie’s Love‘s nomination for Outstanding Television Movie and the most congratulatory message she received that day.
“I was in my kitchen where I am most of the time,” says the actress who played Kate in the Amazon Prime movie. The sweetest text I got and the most excited text was from Nnamdi [Asomugha]. He’s the producer and the star of the film and he was like, heart, smiley face, big stars, and 17 emojis,” she says laughing as she shares the actor then asked via text, “‘Are these enough emojis?’
“It’s good to know that the nomination is for people who really appreciate it,” Bathe adds. “It’s even more of a yay moment.”
Bathe was enamored with the script for Sylvie’s Love from the moment she first read it. The drama, which stars Tessa Thompson opposite of Asomugha, follows the couple’s love story across decades, familial changes, and career highs and lows. “I have never seen us like this,” Bathe admits. “I’ve never seen a period piece with Black people that was so incredibly specific and simply just about love.”
While the film begins in 1962 which, historically, is the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, the story doesn’t center Black pain and trauma. “Listen, we know what was going in the background,” Bathe states, “but there were those moments and those times and spaces when our parents and our grandparents and our aunts and uncles just lived their best life. We think that we invented that, but we did not. They lived their best life. … You could go back to any time in history and do a completely different movie. But the fact that we had just never seen that, and that it was such a complete film, and so well executed artistically and musically, that’s why it meant so much to me.”
Playing the role of Kate, a Black woman who was a powerhouse television producer, was also particularly significant for Bathe who grew up around Black women who were pioneers in their field.
“I was in an organization called Jack and Jill, and where I lived in Connecticut, the mothers worked. A lot of the mothers that were in our chapter were those firsts or some of the first. They were some of the first women in finance. They were some of the first Black women in the publishing industry. They were some of the first Black women in producing,” she explains.
“It was an amazing opportunity to get to play someone who is of that lineage because there are a lot of Black people that did a lot of amazing things that we’ll never know about,” Bathe adds. “It’s not just the Daniel Hale Williams, or the Lewis Latimer, or Martin Luther King Jr. The only reason why we are where we are is because of the unsung heroes. So for me, I just felt like this was the proper venue to really give those unsung heroes their flowers.”