*The second season of “The Quad” kicks off Tuesday night (Jan. 23) and it picks up with the sexual assault on campus from last season but centers on how Sydney (Jazz Raycole) is living under a cloud of suspicion that she wasn’t raped due to her promiscuous reputation. Meanwhile, her mother Eva (Anika Noni Rose) struggles between helping her daughter and protecting the crumbling university.
“Sydney starts off in a very specific place in the pilot of season one and I think the fun of it is watching her character grow and kinda find herself., Jazz says of her character’s journey. “She kinda gets grounded in this second season and you see a whole different side of her. She’s not perfect and she hasn’t figured everything out yet, and I don’t think most college kids have but where she starts off and who she’s becoming is just a beautiful thing to be able to play.”
This new season will find Sydney reconnecting with her mother and going on a healing journey together but the process “doesn’t really go as planned,” Jazz reveals.
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Where will viewers find Sydney this season? What types of obstacles does she face?
Jazz: I feel like Sydney is facing a lot of stuff this season. She’s facing the reconnection with her mom and starting to lean on her mother. She’s facing issues with her best friend Madison, and there’s a lot of friction there. She’s also dealing with the sexual assault and the healing and the recovery from that. So Sydney goes through a plethora of stuff this season.
Sydney’s mother struggles with helping her and protecting the school. Anika recently shared her connection to the storyline and that she was sexually assaulted. In what ways do you relate to what your character is going through?
Jazz: After I did the first season I found out that two of my best friends, that I’ve known for over a decade, had both been raped and they never told me. I had not a clue and these are people that I hang out with and see every day. After they watched the first season, they felt really open and kinda courageous, which was very interesting for me and hearing the stories in detail and in-depth and how it has changed them. That gave me a lot of insight into why they are the way that they are and how that shaped them for the majority of their adult life. And when you hear that from someone that you love and care about, it becomes immediately personal.
I realized the magnitude of what it was when we were doing it and after I watched a ton of documentaries, like “The Hunting Ground,” which is a phenomenal documentary. It’s very hard to get through. I had to stop it a couple of times and cry and get back into it. But reading all the message boards and YouTube and watching all these documentaries, you understand the gravity of all of that but it doesn’t become personal to you until someone you know has dealt with it. So yes, it is personal to me. I am very very lucky to never have gone through anything like that. I’ve been sexually harassed, especially being in this business, quite a few times, but being sexually assaulted is a very different thing. It’s a violation of body and of self and it’s really hard to recover from that.
Considering how sexual assaults are prevalent on college campuses across America, this first episode left me hoping that viewers treat it as a teachable moment and that it keeps the conversation going long after the show ends.
Jazz: Absolutely. I think that’s something we’re all really passionate about. We’re filming on these college campuses and so we hope that message is getting across. 1 in every 5 women on a college campus will be sexually assaulted by someone that they know. And I hope that as people are watching this they’re getting an awareness of the detriment that can be done to someone who is sexually assaulted. And the recovery that they have to deal with and just protecting that person because there’s a part of that person that will never come back. I think the whole cast shares that sentiment of really hoping that the storyline, and all the storylines that we have, but specifically the sexual assault, that we’re actually saying something that’s getting through and that’s making it different.
“The Quad” is the most compelling show about HBCU culture since “A Different World.” What’s your opinion on why it resonates with viewers?
Jazz: I didn’t go to an HBCU. My brother did. He went to Howard, and he was 14 years older than me. I didn’t really understand the magnitude of what an HBCU was until we started filming. We film at Morehouse and Spelman and Morris Brown and the community aspect of an HBCU, it doesn’t matter which HBCU you went to, it is a big community. And there’s so much love and pride and Black excellence that I think is so important and valid and we have to show it. I’m so grateful to be on a show like “The Quad.” There’s a big gap between “A Different World” and “The Quad.” There’s a whole generation that has no idea what an HBCU is and what that stands for. So I think it’s very very special.
Catch the Season 2 premiere of “The Quad” TONIGHT on BET at 10/9c.
You can also binge-watch every episode of Season 1 for FREE here.