Season 2 of Harlem is back in full effect, and things are spicier than ever. In an exclusive interview with Baller Alert, the cast discuss lessons they’ve learned from their characters, season two advice, and more.
Written and executive produced by Tracy Oliver, the sophomore season picks up where they left off: Camille (Meagan Good) has to figure out her career and love life after blowing them up last season; Quinn (Grace Byers) goes on a journey of self-discovery; Tye (Jerrie Johnson) reconsiders her future after last season’s relationship mishaps; and Angie’s (Shoniqua Shandal) career takes a promising turn as she continues to prove her “star potential” to everyone around her.
Meagan Good, Grave Byers, Jerrie Johnson, Shoniqua Shandal and Tyler Leplay joined BA for a Harlem Season two discussion. Checkout their interviews below.
Camille comes off as slightly selfish when getting the things she wants, but it genuinely seems like she doesn’t want to be that way. How do you change something about yourself that you don’t necessarily like?
[Meagan Good] “Acknowledge those things first, own them, and don’t make excuses. Even in the details, you have to own what you did and be self-aware of what was going on in your mind and how it affected other people. And then, you begin to grow from that place and make different choices. I try to be self-aware and conscious of how I affect and make other people feel.”
The cast finds themselves being vulnerable several times throughout seasons one and two. Although it can be terrifying, what makes Vulnerability beautiful?
[Jerrie Johnson] “I think it’s scary because of what we’ve learned culturally. It’s quite natural to be vulnerable. When we prevent ourselves from being vulnerable, that’s when we create dis-ease or disease internally in our body because we’re holding on to so much emotion. And so I think it’s beautiful to be vulnerable, and I encourage it. In my life, I realize many black women apologize when they cry or get emotional — I can see them wanting to express it in a big way but not wanting to take up too much space with their emotions. So I encourage all black women to take up space with their emotions and lean into Vulnerability because it adds to our collective liberation.”
[Tyler Leplay] “Vulnerability is beautiful because, beneath the service, that’s who we truly are. Especially as a man. When we (men) have deep feelings, we often get put in this light where we’re not allowed to marry the virility that comes with some of the strength of a man. It may get looked at like it’s a weakness. Still, when you’re able to articulate how you feel effectively — you realize that Vulnerability helps you with your communication and it helps you within your relationships. You start to realize it is a strength. It’s been a blessing to portray a character that is shown in this light. Hats off to the writers
What have you learned about yourself through your character’s experiences?
[Meagan Good] “One of the things I’ve learned that I really love is that plans will change, and you have to be ok with that. When we grow and change, our plans change too. You have to know If God allowed it, then it’s ok for things to change, but I also have to be excited about what’s next and know that God always had my best interest.”
[Tyler Leplay] “A lot of these experiences, whether they seem positive in the moment or even when they seem negative — it feels like it’s a loss, but it’s there to help mold you and make to make you stronger. We can’t get strong unless we face some of those things. So I feel like that’s probably what I’ve learned most through my experiences while working in this role. A lot of times, the losses are lessons.”
[Jerrie Johnson] “What I’ve learned from playing Tye is how to express my androgyny outwardly — because I’ve always felt androgynous internally, but I don’t think that was ever visually apparent. I think I’ve leaned into my more masculine energy on an aesthetic level.”
[Grace Byers] “I would say to allow myself more opportunities in life where things aren’t perfectly placed together. And to allow myself to be in it and flow through it instead of needing to understand it. You just need to go through some things — and then understanding and clarity are in retrospect. I think I definitely learned that from Quinn this season for sure.”
[Shoniqua Shandai] ” I think what I’ve learned the most from Angie is about self-value. So much of our value as an artist can be attached to what we’re doing at the time, and with Angie — she knows her worth as a human being and as an artist. Even if it’s not reflected in the jobs around her. Just like being a black woman in America — so much of who we feel like it should be attached to our productivity. Having someone like Angie, who’s saying I might not be the most productive right now, but I’m still worthy, is very validating. It’s something I want to carry with me at all times.”
Angie seems to fall in lust with every man she runs into. Do you think she’ll ever be able to be in a long-term monogamous relationship?
[Shoniqua Shandai] “I love that you said she falls in lust with everyone she meets because I think that’s a beautiful thing she has in common with Quinn that people don’t usually pick up on. I think they are Yin and Yang, but they also beautifully share some of the same beliefs. I do think Angie’s bar and expectations for men are extremely high. I think she’s so fulfilled in her life, friends, and family that for a man to come into her life and seemingly tie her down — he’s got to be amazing, spontaneous, creative, and as dynamic as she is. I think she’s capable of a long-term relationship — it’ll just take a wonderful type of man to do that.”
During the season, Angie has to be honest with the guy she’s dating about his sex game. Do you think that’s a conversation that women should have with men more often?
[Grace Byers] “I think this is regulatory of how well you know yourself. When you know who you are and you’re able to express yourself in that way sexually — you can communicate that to people, and you want them to communicate that to you too. It should definitely be normalized.”
[Shoniqua Shandai] “Yes! Absolutely! Let’s normalize talking about your performance.”