Jackée Harry is fully aware of her solid place in Black pop culture. She’s known for a couple of the roles she’s played in her very long career, but one of those roles that stands above the rest is that of Sandra Clark in the classic 1980s sitcom, 227.

While iconic roles are usually desired by most actors, it sometimes becomes a burden for actors and entertainers.

“I used to hate myself; the fact that I was just doing a part. I didn’t know it would last this long,” Harry told ESSENCE of the series, which ran for five seasons. “After it was over, I thought it would be gone.”

“The goal is to be a working actress, not to go to Hollywood,” Harry continued. “I had down-to-earth dreams, not [dreams of] being a character. I don’t want to get too deep about it because I’ve come to grips with it. But I was sad for a good five years straight.”

It was Harry’s fellow working actress and friend, Chicago Med star S. Epatha Merkerson, who sat her down to explain that she’s important, needed and fierce. And thank God she did because it became the boost the 62-year-old actress needed to keep pushing.

Promotional portrait of American actor Jackée Harry from the television series, ‘227,’ circa 1985. (Photo by Fotos International/Getty Images)

Now, you can catch Harry in Lifetime’s Pride and Prejudice: Atlanta as Mrs. Bennett, a mother of five beautiful daughters who she’s desperate to see marry well. Yes, this is a melanated remix on the classic Jane Austen novel.

Check out the video above to see Harry talk about her new role, how she pushed through hating herself and why Black actors have to strive for excellence.

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