The OWN Network’s “Queen Sugar” continues to captivate viewers every single week, and while Ava DuVernay’s latest hit series entertains, it also draws in on serious themes and issues that are dominating our newsfeed.
One of those topics being sexual assault.
Timon Kyle Durrett, who plays Davis West — a successful professional basketball player and husband to Charley Bordelon West — finds himself in the middle of a scandal when a woman accuses him and his teammates of rape.
Durrett’s fictional NBA character is troubled when confronted with the accusation (and his admitted infidelity), all while tending to his anguished wife.
The issue of rape and sexual assault falls parallel to recent stories dominating the news cycle — from Nate Parker‘s 1999 rape case to the recent rape acquittal of New York Knicks star Derrick Rose. The controversies have sparked national dialogue about consent and what it actually means.
Durrett, whose character struggles with the repercussions of being an accused rapist, says consent is something all men should educate themselves on.
“Men need better instruction on consent,” Durrett tells theGrio.com in a phone interview. “Not only that, but I think better instruction on the choices that we make.”
Durrett says it’s especially important when one’s reputation — particularly for black men — is on the line.
“In this country, and in this judicial system, situations like that very rarely go the man’s way. If you are accused, you are instantly put under a negative light. You are under the eye of scrutiny, and you will be persecuted, and possibly prosecuted if the slightest bit of evidence is found against you,” he says.
“You have to be careful, especially as black men, because historically, the system has never provided an opportunity for black men to survive, let alone thrive.”
“Black men need to be very careful in the choices that we make,” he continues. “Once your name is out there as having done something, whether you’re accused or convicted of it, you can become a pariah of sorts.”
Despite playing a disgraced ball player who cheats on his wife, Durrett says he isn’t concerned about giving athletes a bad rap.
“We’re all storytellers at the end of the day,” he explains. “Davis is a fictional character that depicts real life. All you have to do is go on the internet, or scroll through social media, and you’ll see certain cases that are going on that are depicted on Queen Sugar right now.”
“My concern was not about whether athletes would be put in a bad light,” he says. “There are bad apples in each bunch. There are some athletes out there that don’t do those things and it doesn’t effect them.”
However, he does admit “there are others who have made poor choices, and are paying the consequences,” adding, “I look at it more of a wakeup call. There are things that you do, and things that you don’t, whether you are a professional athlete or not. There are certain consequences that come from actions regardless of your social status.”
With Duvernay working her director magic, it’s easy to see why fans and critics love the “Queen Sugar” series. It’s already renewed for a second season ahead of its television premiere next September.
Durrett says he’s grateful for the role. “It’s a wonderful feeling. Seeing where it has gone, and the attention and notoriety it has gotten has been a little overwhelming in a good way,” he says.
“Seeing one of your dreams come through is an awesome feeling. But to be a part of something, and see all the love and the passion that was put into this, and what has come from what we accomplished, is so dope.”
Catch “Queen Sugar” on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.