Queen Sugar returned to OWN last week with plenty of drama, but the surprises aren’t over yet because Tammy Townsend is joining the cast of the hit television series. Tammy makes her debut as Billie in this week’s episode, and recently joined me for a conversation to preview Billie’s arrival and discuss coming aboard the critically acclaimed show.
Brittany Frederick: Queen Sugar has been on for five seasons, and it’s originally based on the book by Natalie Baszile. In landing this role, were you aware of the series or did you have the time to go back and read the novel?
Tammy Townsend: I knew about the book and I knew about [creator/executive producer] Ava [DuVernay]’s work and what she was doing with Oprah [Winfrey], but I didn’t entirely know. I had to do a lot of catching up!
I did not read the book. The audition caught me the day before I was going to Atlanta to film a movie, so I was in the middle of filming [when] my manager called me and was like you booked Queen Sugar, and I was like “What?” (laughs) I didn’t have time to do anything. I finished the film, came home and flew right to New Orleans, so it happened pretty fast.
BF: Did that work to your advantage, though? Since Billie is also a newcomer to town and so she isn’t aware of everything that’s happened herself?
TT: It did for me as an actor. Even though I’ve been in this business forever, I tend to get a little nervous, especially when I know a show is really good and has really good actors and really good writing. I can kind of do a self-sabotaging thing to myself so it was better that I didn’t know. I made myself a little familiar but not too much, where I could kind of mess up the newness of Billie coming into this whole established family and friendship.
BF: What resonated with you about Bille? Why should Queen Sugar viewers care about her?
TT: I think she puts on this tough woman façade, but then you find out later she’s really vulnerable, and this person has been hurt. When I come out, I come out hot. It’s like “Who is this woman?” But then the layers start to come down, and I love that about any character. What I love about characters is that they’re complex. No one person is one way. When you really get to know and understand what’s behind the layers, you find a real soul and human being. That’s the main thing I loved about Billie.
BF: What was your favorite experience filming Queen Sugar season 6?
TT: I wasn’t able till towards the end of the season to be with the entire cast, and it’s not really the stuff that you’ll see on camera. The whole cast really embraced me as a new member. They’ve been together forever and they’re a family, and so there were a bunch of jokes going on and there were really fun things happening behind the scenes. That’s the stuff that I cherish most.
BF: What other project of yours should Queen Sugar viewers check out if they fall in love with Billie and want to see more of Tammy Townsend?
TT: I do have another show that I came off of before this one called Stuck with You on a streaming site called ALLBLK. I’m starring in that one, and it’s a really cool show about a celebrity couple who is putting on this façade that everything is okay. That’s their whole brand, but behind the scenes you find out that not everything is so great. It’s not just them; it’s a bunch of couples in different stages of their relationships. Some are married, some are separated, some are newlyweds. I really enjoyed it. I was in another show a few years ago with Zendaya called KC Undercover. I played her mom, and that was a really fun show.
BF: What are the shows or other things that you love personally?
TT: I love Ozark; that’s a great show. And then this is going to sound so random, but Netflix has these documentaries that come out every week on a show called Explained, and they just have random stuff on there. It’s thirty-minute [episodes], but it’s everything from climate change to how dogs morphed into pets. It’s so many really cool things in little chunks that you can absorb and they have different celebrities that narrate what’s happening. Those are two that I can definitely recommend for sure. I love TV series, but I’m really getting into docs now.
I love to travel. I am a crazy person when it comes to anything physical. I’ve done fly-boarding, I’ve done four-wheeling. It’s funny because most people look at me and think oh, this woman who’s really dainty and she’s very put together, and they have no idea I’m the biggest tomboy. (laughs)
Queen Sugar airs Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on OWN.
Article content is (c)2020-2021 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.