This week, the fall TV season kicks off with a new series on OWN called Queen Sugar. Trust us, you’re going to want to add this show to your primetime roster. The Louisiana-set drama follows the lives of the estranged Bordelon siblings: Nova (Rutina Wesley), a journalist and activist; Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner), a wife and manager of a professional basketball player; and Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe), a young father recently released from prison. After their father suffers from a stroke, the three reunite and must figure out how to run their family’s ailing sugarcane farm in the South.
We caught up with the show’s star (and former True Blood staple), Rutina Wesley, who told us exactly why we need to tune in. According to her, there’s so much more beneath the surface. “I think Queen Sugar is very relevant to where we are right now in the world,” Wesley tells InStyle. “As far as the police brutality cases, the prison system, the Black Lives Matter movement, there are a lot of things that we tap into. There’s also just general human relationships that I think viewers will engage with. It’s universal and I’m hoping that people will feel a sense of familiarity when they meet the Bordelons and see a connection that maybe will remind them of connections they have in their own family."
As if we needed any more reason to watch, Wesley shares eight more Queen Sugar facts that have us super excited for the show's debut. Check them out below. Then, be sure to tune in to OWN for the two-night premiere on Sept. 6 and Sept. 7 at 10 p.m. ET.
1. The show is created by Ava DuVernay and Oprah
Talk about a dynamic duo! The show hails from famed female director Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey. "Oprah is full of hugs and grace and kind words and advice every day," Wesley tells InStyle. "And Ava is definitely one of the best directors I've worked with. She's very collaborative and yet she's a fierce leader, and that's a delicate balance to have, because I think as a woman in this industry, there are times when we do have to be a little stronger and I feel like she does that really well. She balances being a fierce leader with being the most compassionate woman I've met. They're both so gracious and comfortable in who they are that it makes for a consistent energy on set that's so genuine."
2. Every episode is directed by a female
"It's glorious!" Wesley says about the show's female directors. "The fact that Ava was like 'I'll open the door, come on in, let's do this, why not?' It's nothing to say about male directors, but there really was something special about a feminine touch and sensitivity to the material. It's really interesting to see each of those women come in with their perspectives and yet, it was really collaborative, too. It was just like any other set, except it was full of women and many, many colors of the rainbow."
3. Rutina Wesley's character is multi-layered
"Nova's your modern day woman," Wesley says about her role in the series. "She's an avid journalist and people really do trust their stories with her. I admire that about her. On one hand, she has a fist in the air because she's a proud black woman, but then she also goes home to her white lover. People are going to be like 'What's up with Nova?' She says one thing and then she does something else. But she's a beautiful mess. That's how I sum her up: a beautiful mess. I love how textured Ava has made her. She's created a beautiful character."
4. Her love story is complicated
Just wait until you see the opening scene of the series! "People will first see it as cute, but then it's like, wait a minute," Wesley says about her complicated onscreen romance. "It's a relationship that's built on many things and as the series unfolds, you'll understand it. It's one of those page-turner romance novels, you know? I'll just say it gets juicier!"
5. Kofi Siriboe is one to watch
Keep your eyes peeled for newcomer Kofi Siriboe, who stars in the show as Ralph Angel Bordelon, Wesley's onscreen brother. "Kof kof, that's my bro!" Wesley says about him. "He's so lovely. What's been really great is being able to watch him grow from the first day of rehearsal. Ava sent us out on an errand during production and I think that really helped us to break the ice. We could really just talk and get to know each other without any pressure."
6. The whole cast bonded immediately
"I've never felt like an ensemble has soared so high together," Wesley says of her castmates. "Everyone really has something incredible to work with throughout the series and that's a testament to Ava and the writing team. I truly feel that this is an ensemble show that will draw people in because our connection is so real and genuine. We did all hit it off right off the bat and that's something that will hopefully come across onscreen."
7. It's shot on location in New Orleans
"We shot in New Orleans and around Louisiana as well," Wesley tells us about the show's Southern roots. "We were there for about five months and it was hot, raining, and there were bugs. It was so lovely though because we are talking about New Orleans here! You'd be out there sweating in that humidity, but it's so mysterious and mystical and beautiful that you'd stop thinking about what was going on around you and all you'd have to worry about was just telling the story."
8. The series is shot like a film
"The cinematography is great and it's like watching a 13-hour film," she says. "You really see the colors—the true colors of our skin tones. It's so vibrant. You see those sugarcane fields and they look as crystal clear as when we were standing there, if not more clear. How did they make it even more beautiful onscreen?"