Tyler Perry’s latest BET series Sistas isn’t short on drama, and in the first season much of that came from Chido Nwokocha’s character Gary. Originally just a guy cheating on his wife with Andi (played by KJ Smith), he wound up embroiled in a messy divorce as said spouse was revealed to be crazy, and as if that wasn’t enough, he wound up getting arrested.
With Sistas season 2 having premiered on Oct. 14, I connected with Chido to talk about how he made Gary into a character the audience would want to watch and not one that they’d openly dislike. Plus, what has the second season been like for him, and what was it that originally connected him to the part? Learn the answers to those questions before a new episode of Sistas airs at 9:00 p.m. tomorrow on BET.
Brittany Frederick: To say that Gary went through some things in Sistas season 1 is an understatement. What was it like returning to the character for season 2 after all of that?
Chido Nwokocha: It was actually a lot of fun to come back in and dive back into that character again. There’ll be a lot of changes that will be happening, a lot of things going on [in season 2]. But just getting back into that mindset and the frame of mind of this guy, I couldn’t wait. I literally couldn’t wait. We had pushed back filming, and then once we finally got the date and got going, I was like, all right. It feels good to be back.
BF: Gary could have been a really unsympathetic character, considering that when we met him, he was cheating on his wife. How did you find something in him that you could connect with, and that the audience would connect with?
CN: I remember when I first read it, I was like okay, yeah, this could easily just go in this direction, but I just thought about what could be relatable as I was diving into it. And I thought about pulling from people’s relationships…as far as people falling in love and then they fall out of love and some people not really knowing how to manage those types of situations.
I was saying okay, I’ll come from a place where this guy doesn’t really know how. He does have control, he doesn’t know how to go about it, sometimes may not go about it the right way as far as trusting his emotions and moving forward. He could have just cleared it up with his wife and moved on from that instead of [cheating] with Andi. Really just diving in and finding the pieces that make us all human.
BF: The first season of any TV show is a process, so was there an episode or a scene where you felt like you’d dialed in to Gary and were comfortable with him?
CN: Violence is never the answer, but there was a moment where he comes to defend [Andi] from Boris, in a parking lot scene where they get into a fight. And it was a lot of fun to just kind of see that guy. For you to go and say I’m going to fight someone for this woman, it says a lot about how much he loves her and what he’s willing to do for her. That was one of those things where I was kind of like oh wow, didn’t think we were going there. So that particular one kind of caught my eye. I know there were plenty of others that went on, and when I read I was like this guy, he’s really trying to make this work.
BF: What do you want to know about him as we go into Sistas season 2? Are there questions that you have about where he goes or who he is?
CN: Absolutely. You have to do your own character-building. You have to wait for the story to be told, but you also want to explore his upbringing, how he came to be. Because when you see a guy like that, who works very hard to be successful and has a specific role, he has a certain way he carries himself and a certain way he moves, and certain things that he’d like to have situated. And for someone who always seems so well put together and then kind of comes unraveled a little bit, it’s very interesting to see. But I want to see his upbringing, how he came to be, how he came to accumulate his success and then just kind of where it went wrong…to where he leaves with Andi.
BF: This is a role that’s very different from much of what you’ve done before. Was that part of the appeal of Sistas for you?
CN: There was definitely appeal because it’s a different character than I typically play…There’s a lot of things he has going on. To just kind of steer away from the clean-cut good guy so as to have other things going on with him, so that you’re fit to say, “I don’t know if I believe him, but I guess he could be telling the truth.” There’s so many different opinions of who he really is and what he’s like, or not.
BF: The pace of Tyler Perry shows is very fast, as well, so how does that inform your process as an actor? Because it’s not just that Gary has a lot happening, but you also move through it quickly.
CN: It’s very, very fast-paced. We’re moving at lightspeed. You kind of have to do your homework beforehand before you get to set, but it’s a lot of fun for me. [Perry] makes a very actor friendly set. You get a chance to make choices and really understand your character and do how you perceive your character to be. My castmates are a lot of fun that I get to work with and really explore the characters with. It’s fast paced, but it’s not anything I can’t handle once I get in the groove of things. It took me, I think, a day to kind of understand how we were moving. From there on, it’s just a ball.
BF: What other role of yours would you recommend to Sistas fans who’ve now become fans of yours?
CN: I really enjoyed this show called Murder in the First. I think it’s still on Hulu. It was actually my first role I booked, and I played a lawyer on there. That was a lot of fun.
BF: One thing people may not know about you is how you became an actor to begin with.
CN: Even though it’s something that I always wanted to do, the path just to get here was very interesting. I always say it was like a winding road getting here. My family was very supportive. My siblings are my people that I was able to bounce off ideas, worries and things off of.
Sistas airs Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. on BET.