What do women really want? “Single Ladies”, a new romantic comedy series on VH1 addresses the age old question from the perspective of Val, Keisha, and April—three best friends with different philosophies on sex and relationships. Actress Charity Shea plays April, who seems to have it all with the perfect husband and the ideal marriage, but all that glitters is not gold. Unbeknownst to most, April is entangled in a steamy extramarital affair with the mayor of Atlanta (played by hip-hop dynamo Common), but as she soon learns, nothing stays in the dark for long.
The Urban Daily caught up with Charity to discuss her ‘stormy’ audition, her new BFF co-star Lisa Ray McCoy, and what it’s like being man-handled by Common.
TUD: Tell us about your character April on Single Ladies.
Charity: April is the assistant to an A&R rep. She’s really passionate about breaking artists into the industry. She has a mean boss named Wes. She’s one of the three best friends of Val and Keisha. She’s a little bit lost right now. She had her fairy tale thing with her Prince Charming come in and sweep her off her feet and she’s sitting in her perfect little married life and suddenly realizes she doesn’t know who she is and what she wants to do in life and is a little bit confused. April has a really good heart, very kind, very loving but she’s confused and makes mistakes. She has to find her way through those mistakes and do the right thing.
What was the audition process like?
It was actually kinda crazy. I had missed pilot season due to a problem with an agency, so this was the first pilot I was going out for, so I was excited going out to audition. I walk into the waiting room and it’s all blondes! So I’m like “Am I at the right audition?” since I’m a brunette. The casting director tells me I need to dress really glamorous. I put this tan make-up all over my body and dress up, and it starts to pour outside. So when I walk in, the tan make-up is streaking down all over my legs and the wind blows my umbrella upside down and I come in looking like a wet dog flying through the door and (co-star) D.B. Woodside was there, saw me and nicknamed me “Romantic Comedy” from that day because it was just out of control. But the screen test went well and when I got the role they said “Great! Now we’re gonna dye your hair blonde.”
Queen Latifah is the executive producer of “Single Ladies”—did you get to meet her on set?
She was. She gets to play a news reporter, which she to be wanted to be in real life, so that was fun. But I was out that day so I didn’t get to meet her in person. But from what I heard and what I read from the script, it was hilarious.
What’s the chemistry like working with LisaRaye and Stacy Dash?
It’s been great. LisaRaye has taken me under her wing. I really look up to her she has taught me a lot about being a businesswoman, being a lady. She’s a total sweetheart. She and I clicked from my first audition. Stacy is a sweetheart but I don’t know her too well because she goes home on the weekends and I don’t see her unless we’re working on our scenes together.
What’s it like working with your two leading men, Anthony Montgomery (Darryl) and Common?
Anthony is an amazing actor who will really bring you into the scene. I just love him as my (on screen) husband. We have this unique chemistry I didn’t think we would end up having. I knew I liked him, but I didn’t think we’d have that type of chemistry. Anthony is very fitting for my husband–he treats me like a wife, he would rub my feet.
Common was the opposite. It was very hot and heavy because he’s my affair. Common to me is very sexy. He has these intense eyes that stare right through you. When I found out he was my love interest I just about fell over. I was really giddy in my scenes with him. In one of our scenes we were just supposed to be talking to each other and he just grabs me and pushes me up against the wall. And I couldn’t say my lines anymore like “What’s happening?” The director comes up to me and says “Charity I get it, but you can’t laugh.” But yeah I enjoyed working with Common immensely.
In one of your interviews, you stated that your character, April has ‘single lady moments.’ What does that mean?
April is married but she thinks she’s single. She has her fling with the mayor and making comments like “Ooo, he can get it.” She runs around with her friends like she’s single. Then again she’s young and she doesn’t understand the consequences, but she’s about to find out.
How comfortable were you portraying a character that was being unfaithful to her husband? Were you concerned that her actions might alienate the viewers?
When I found out I thought “Ok, so I’m going to be the mean girl.” Being the villain is always scary to play, but there are people in affairs and they don’t mean to. Some of them get lost or caught up. I do think people can relate to that. The best way I can portray it from April’s point of view, and show some vulnerability and not just be a horrible person. I want the audience to see why she’s doing it. It comes out later that April feels stifled, that she never got to be her own person. Darryl basically told her how to dress, where they were going to eat, and where they were going to live. It’s his house but not hers. I think she woke up one day and asked herself “Who am I? Where am I in all this?” and instead of doing the right thing she got caught up in a vulnerable moment.
So I had to show some vulnerability and humility
We’ve had quite a few public figures like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tiger Woods, and John Edwards who’ve been caught with their “pants down” so to speak. Since you play a cheating spouse, do you now have a certain insight or empathy into their mindset?
I do. It’s really weird. When you hear the news you think “How terrible!” When you go through something like that there’s a lot of mixed emotions. It was very eye opening to go through that with April because we have to breathe life into these characters. So I need to come from a certain perspective. I haven’t ever been on April’s end. I’ve never had to apologize. I don’t know how to get someone to forgive me. I’m always on the other side saying “You jerk! How dare you?” So everything my character is saying to Darryl, I’ve been there.
“Single Ladies” will undoubtedly be compared to “Sex and the City.” What do you think makes your show different?
I think “Single Ladies” is its own unique show. The characters are different and it’s more urban. Whenever I read through the scripts I’m like “I’ve had this conversation. Now I’m about to act it out.” Our head writer Stacy A. Littlejohn uses her own experiences—a lot of these things happened to her. I’ve definitely been able to relate to certain things. I think people will find themselves yelling at the T.V. screen—the show will take you on a roller coaster ride. It’s one of those fun, addictive shows where you have to find out what happens next.
“Single Ladies” features quite a few interracial relationships—you and Darryl, as well as Stacy Dash and Tilky Jones (K.C.). Do you think that’s something else that differentiates “Single Ladies” from “Sex and the City”—that’s it’s more reflective of 21st century relationships?
People might label it as an African-American show but we have different ethnicities. The show is about people loving people. “Single Ladies” is more about love, sex, relationship and fashion than anything else.
‘Single Ladies’ is helmed by an all female creative team (Stacy Littlejohn, Queen Latifah, Tamra Davis ). Do you feel that female-centric shows that are written and directed by women have a different insight then when they are written and directed by men?
Yes I do. It’s been interesting working with all women. It’s coming from our feelings and what we really think about it. I think it’s fantastic, it shows the power of women.
“Single Ladies” airs Mondays 9/8 PM CST on VH1. Check your local listing for airtimes.
For more behind the scenes exclusives, check out ‘Single Ladies’ on VH1: http://www.vh1.com/shows/single_ladies/series.jhtml