Yvette Lee Bowser on highlighting Harlem and evolution of Black women in ‘Run the World’
The series premieres May 16 on STARZ
Run the World was created by Leigh Davenport, who serves as executive producer alongside showrunner Yvette Lee Bowser, the mastermind behind iconic projects like Living Single.
She reunited with Living Single alum, Erika Alexander who takes on a hilarious new role in the show that boasts a long list of talented leads, including Amber Stevens West, Bresha Webb, Andrea Bordeaux, and Corbin Reid.
We’ll also see Stephen Bishop, Tosin Morohunfola, Nick Sagar, and Tonya Pinkins round out the cast.
Throughout the season, expect to see the ladies rocking some fierce fashion thanks to Emmy® award-winning designer stylist Patricia Field, who consulted on wardrobe alongside series costume designer Tracy L. Cox. Both designers are known for their iconic work on Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada.
The series follows a group of smart, funny, and vibrant thirty-something Black women – fiercely loyal best friends – who live, work and play in Harlem. As they strive for world domination, they each navigate career highs and lows, hookups and heartbreaks that cause them to re-evaluate who they are and where they are going.
At its core, it’s an authentic and unapologetic show about enviable friendship and not only surviving – but thriving together.
theGrio caught up with showrunner Yvette Lee Bowser to find out how she approached this new project with a familiar premise; four Back women navigating life, love, and friendship on their own terms.
“We continue to evolve and I think at the foundation, the DNA is very similar in saying we’ve always been fierce, we have always clung to our girlfriends in tribal ways. So those things are the same. But the world has changed,” she told theGrio.
“The world is a much more complex world now. People have more access to us. We have more things grabbing at our attention. It’s a faster-paced world. And I think that we kind of captured the tempo of that and and the pressure of that in this show.
“I think it’s wonderful to be able to kind of establish those new stressors in our lives, but then also depict these women taking the time to take a deep breath, get the help that they need, lean on each other in ways that we were more embarrassed to do back in the 90s to see those women in therapy like it ain’t nothing but a thing.”
The show debuts during mental health month, and that’s a fitting coincidence consider the strides we have made in normalizing the subject in our community since the days of Living Single and A Different World.
“Health care is really wonderful. You know, it’s been a fun journey for me to be able to kind of be able to depict the evolution of our journey as African-Americans and our relationship to health care. Going from Whitley Gilbert on “A Different World” who was, you know, like to too ashamed to get health care and to having then Jasmine Guy play Kadija/ Queen Latifah’s therapist on “Living Single” and she was too embarrassed to get to get help. She went in there with a wig on and that was like ridiculous to have these women just like,’ OK, Dr. Nancy, tell me what I need to be doing because I got some stuff to unload.’”
In Run the World, the women onscreen seem a lot more empowered and a lot more confident in their own skin than some of our most beloved characters from the past.
“We were just leaning into our realities and what our needs are and not being afraid to articulate like, I want more than what this relationship is offering. I want more than what this job is getting me right now. To just say this is who I am, unabashedly, unfiltered, and in this lush, lavish backdrop that is Harlem,” she explains.
“I so love the treatment that we were able to give Harlem; the hug that we were able to give Harlem with this show to really see it for the very rich, culturally rich, and lush place that it is. I mean, it’s just we often see it depicted in this very gritty way. But to be able to kind of get into those Harlem streets and put a more beautiful light on it was a gift for sure.”
Check out the full interview above.
Run the World premieres May 16 on STARZ.
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