*Who’s bad? (Like Michael Jackson’s good-bad, though.) If you haven’t heard of Patina Renea Miller, she’s been putting in work portraying black women in charge. From the leader of District 8 rebels in the 2014, “Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,” to the president of Panem’s freer world in the same film (Part 2), and then to her role as Daisy, president Elizabeth McCord’s right-hand woman in “Madam Secretary,” Miller is no newcomer to playing strong and powerful women.
These days she’s taking it back to the streets, however, in her role playing a bad-assed drug-kingpin who doubles as mama (inspired by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson‘s late, real-life mom) to Kanan Stark (“Power Book III: Raising Kanan.”)
It’s a prequel that chronicles Stark’s early years (based on 50 Cent’s life prior to his fame and success), prior to becoming such the monstrosity of a man, as depicted in the first two seasons. The story is set in 1991 during the early post-Cold War era.
Those who were surviving or not surviving in the hoods back then, typically had no cause to zero in on news of the ending Cold War. Particularly, since there were hypnotizing street wars going on in American ghettos, still. Especially in the Big Apple (South Jamaica, Queens NY) where the Starz series, premiering this Sunday, is set.
As tense and as psychologically thrilling as those times were for urban Americans, it’s a part of history that deserves a good telling. And quite believably, in the Starz cable drama, Miller helps to take us back there.
“I read the script and as soon as I put it down, I was like, ‘OK, I can’t not do this.’ Like, ‘this character is me and I have to play this character,’” said Miller, reports Daily News. “And it just clicked, you know? Something about reading that script, where there’s a lot of that stuff that you never get as a Black female actress,” the 36-year-old Tony Award-winning actress (who plays Raquel “Raq” Thomas) said.
“You’re always on the search for three dimensional roles to sink your teeth in, a role that really gets to showcase all of the different things that you do,” she said. “All the things that you think of yourself as a Black woman, this character got to do. And I was like I have to do it… [Raquel is] a “beast of a character, Miller said.”
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In the sneak peak we see Raquel discovering her son bloody-lipped and crying on the bed. She questions him, finds out another neighborhood-kid jumped him and took his money, while other kids held back his companion “Jukebox,” rendering her unable to help. Annoyed that her son has let the stronger kid get away with money, Raquel reaches into the kid’s dresser-drawer, loads one of his socks with a few of his toys and orders him to come on. Together they head out to the park to make things “right.”
Likely, you’ve heard of similar tales from loved ones who grew up from the 60s through the 90s? And just like you might guess (based on those old stories): when the pair arrives to the park Raquel tells her son, a child Kanan Stark, he’d better deal with the bullies or deal with her. The scene is laden with relics from the era; from the clothing, to the cars parked on the neighbor hood-streets and everything else, including Raquel’s hair style, the way she stands (elbow bent with hand on her waist and hip-out) and even the menthol cigarette she smokes.
Of Power Book III: Raising Kanan – Miller said this:
“You know what I love about this character? she’s a bit of my mom. She’s a bit of a lot of people’s moms … It’s a story about a single Black [mom] making [it] work. Raquel just happens to be in the crime business.”
“It’s a mother-son tale,” Miller said. “It’s about that that unbreakable bond that love between these two people … It’s a crime drama, but it’s a family drama as well.”