5 reasons to watch ‘Harlem’

Check out the top reasons to tune into Prime Video's latest series, starring Meagan Good, Grace Byers, Tyler Lepley and more

Harlem, created and executive produced by Tracy Oliver, follows “four stylish and ambitious best girlfriends in Harlem NYC, the mecca of Black culture in America. Together, they level up from their 20s into the next phase of their careers, relationships, and big city dreams,” according to the official synopsis.

At first glance, this show may sound familiar. However, Harlem is bringing laughs, love and lifestyle that makes it stand out from its counterparts. With help from the series’ stars, theGrio is breaking down the top five reasons to tune in to Harlem this weekend.

Meagan Good’s Leading Lady Status

(Credit: Sarah Shatz/Amazon Studios)

Meagan Good stars as Camille in Oliver’s Harlem and she truly dominates the role. The 40-year-old actress has been in Hollywood for over 25 years and it shows with her stellar performance. Good shows off her comedy chops—a truly underutilized skill of hers—and the depths of her character are evident by season’s end. In one standout scene, Camille addresses the “strong Black women” myth, unpacking all the ways in which Black women need support as well.

In an exclusive interview with theGrio, Good revealed she was most attracted to Camille’s “messiness”: “I think what I related to her the most was the fact that it’s messy. As she was working this thing out called life, she’s really, really hopeful and someone who will reset her mind and be like, ‘No, it’s OK, I’m going to figure this thing out.’ Then she’ll fail miserably, and then, you know, one second, she will be a complete boss and be super strong. Other moments she’ll just be completely vulnerable and insecure. I love that messiness because that really is what life is like for all of us in our own ways.”

Tyler’s Talent (and Fineness)

(Credit: Sarah Shatz/Amazon Studios)

Fans may know Tyler Lepley from Starz’ P-Valley but the 34-year-old actor truly shines in his role of Ian, a chef who is also Camille’s ex-boyfriend, in Harlem. Lepley’s acting range is expansive in the series and he brings weight to many of the scenes he’s in. The fact that he is also bringing the sexy to the screen doesn’t hurt either.

Lepley told theGrio that he relates to Ian in many ways, but most especially to his years-long struggle to establish himself professionally: “Our biggest similarity is our fearlessness and [ability to] chase what it is that we want in life. Our passion for trying to figure out who we are. [Ian] left everything that he knew in Harlem—the city, his girlfriend. He left everything that he knew to chase his passion. Five years later [is] when he came back.”

“It just prepared him for everything that he was facing. For me, 10 years ago, I left Philly doing the same thing. I didn’t quite know exactly what I wanted to do, but I had a purpose that I was chasing going out in L.A. I went against everything that everybody told me—my familiarity of my city, my relationship. I went and chased my dream.”

Grace Byers in a Whole New Light

Grace Byers‘ character, Quinn, is truly the heart of Harlem. In the series, Quinn is an up-and-coming fashion designer who comes from money, but still maintains a sweet and charming demeanor. Having previously starred on Empire, Byers is showing an entirely different side with this new role. She’s whimsical, flighty and fun, not to mention whip-smart and laugh-out-loud funny with several one-liners.

Byers, 37, explained the importance of not only her character but the series itself, which highlights four Black women in their 30s who are finding happiness without husbands or children: “There’s a saying, if you ask a man who he is, he’ll describe himself by what he does. If you ask a woman who she is, more than likely she may describe herself through her relationships. I’m so-and-so’s wife, I’m so-and-so’s mother.”

“Not everybody answers it that way, but I think it’s the way in which we look at the roles of how we were, the society that we grew up in and what we were taught growing up. I think that it’s so wonderful to be able to define ourselves, not as someone’s something, but as our own something. I think that we really put a focus on that in Harlem by kind of fading those aspects into the background for a bit, and just showing who we are to ourselves, for ourselves and for each other.”

Jerrie Johnson’s Fluidity

(Credit: Sarah Shatz/Amazon Studios)

Jerrie Johnson stars as Tye, a queer tech entrepreneur who just hit it big with a LGBTQ dating app for people of color. Tye is pragmatic, smart and funny, but she’s also complicated and layered—this is especially true when it comes to her relationships and dating history. Johnson finds the perfect balance between Tye’s womanizing ways and her search for meaningful connections and vulnerability, whilst dealing with a hidden past.

Johnson told theGrio that she wants audiences to learn that “not all queer women exist the same.” “Tye’s got that big d**k energy. You can’t deny it, is what it is. So she’s with the s***s, and I want people to know that not every queer, masculine-performing woman is like down and out about the fact that they’re queer or closeted or, like, whatever the stereotype is. I want her to flip that on its head and just bust wide open.”

Shoniqua Shandai’s Self Assurance

(Credit: Sarah Shatz/Amazon Studios)

Shoniqua Shandai stars as Angie, a struggling singer with out-of-this-world confidence, resourcefulness and a healthy sex life with some of Harlem’s finest brothers. Angie’s “take me as I am” attitude is #goals for all the Black women out there hoping to accept themselves as fiercely. Shandai’s portrayal is vibrant, exciting and, most importantly, unbelievably hilarious.

The New York native shared that while she enjoyed working on Harlem, her major takeaway from the experience wasn’t a stronger acting resume or a revamped reel. Instead, it was what the series taught her about friendships: “Honestly, I learned so much about how to be a girlfriend from this series. I just learned so much about how to communicate healthy in a relationship, how to create space for each other, how to communicate when things aren’t necessarily agreeable—but also knowing that the relationship is the first and foremost most important thing.”

“Putting egos aside and really nurturing the love in spite of how something might happen. Remembering at the end of the day that we are a unit, we are a family and, in a sense, that’s the most important I think. I learned so much from these women.”

Harlem is available to stream now on Prime Video. Fans can watch theGrio‘s interviews with the Harlem cast above.

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