On Tuesday October 15, we joined God Friended Me co-stars Brandon Micheal Hall and Javicia Leslie for an intimate macaron baking class inspired by various scenes of season 2 that were shot in Paris.
The class, led by Chef Pauline, took place at Mille-feuille Bakery Cafe in New York City. The bakery is a family owned establishment situated in the heart of NYU’s campus, offering authentic Parisian pastries and treats.
In between building the ganache and the shell of the macaron—almond flour, confectionery sugar and egg whites—we spoke with Brandon Micheal Hall and Javicia Leslie about filming in Paris and about how the stakes are raised for season two of God Friended Me.
The co-stars seemed to thoroughly enjoy the macaron making class and even shared a bit about their experience with cooking and baking.
The Knockturnal: What’s your specialty in the kitchen?
Brandon Micheal Hall: “Honey bun cake!”
Javicia Leslie: “Food. So like, real food [laughter]. I’m vegan and I’m gluten free! So that’s why I’m actually kind of hype. So, when it comes to baked goods, I’ll kind of cheat sometimes if it’s not vegan. I just can’t cheat if it’s not gluten free just because I don’t digest it. My stomach gets painful. But if I’m eating a baked whatever and it has egg in it, I’m fine with that. I just don’t cook with any meat products. So in my house, what I cook is strictly vegan, strictly gluten free.”
The Knockturnal: What did you notice/love about the French culture when you filmed there?
Brandon Micheal Hall: “One of the things I liked a lot about Paris is if you go to a cafe or spot to eat outside, your chairs face outward. I like that because in New York, everything is in a circle. In Paris, it’s more open. You’re there to have dinner, look at the sights, to be outside… And I like that about the place. Also, Paris or the French in general has this notion of being snobby but it’s not the case. If you know like three words in French, people are like ‘hey, you care about the language, you care about culture,’ and they open up more. I think it’s just like taking the initiative to understand where you are. I love Paris. I got this [chain] in Champagne because I love wine. I went out to Champagne, France and spent an entire day in the vineyards which was beautiful. I love Paris, it’s just expensive.”
The Knockturnal: How are the stakes being raised for your character this season? What can we expect?
Javicia Leslie: “She’s going through a journey as far as figuring out where she belongs as far as her church home. We’re on episode three, so it starts to kind of get revealed on episode two. But we’re going to go more in depth around [episode] four and five of her journey with the church. Because Ali is a believer and apart of the church, opposite of her brother. It just so happens that the life she ‘lives’ isn’t accepted by [other] churches she grew up in. But then there’s also this major secret that she’s hiding from her brother and her father that will come out soon. She has a huge secret that she’s hiding from her brother and her father that is really going to test all of her faith. It’s definitely going to hit close to home for Miles.”
The Knockturnal: On Arthur’s response to Ali joining another church…
Javicia Leslie: “It’s more so Arthur saying, this is your home. One thing I think the producers have done [well] is that there’s no disapproval of Ali’s life. There was never a moment where Arthur was like, I don’t like that you’re gay. It was always how she handled certain situations. So in season one, when the audience found out she had a girlfriend, Arthur already knew. He wasn’t trippin. He was trippin because they moved in together and she didn’t tell him. He would trip if any daughter moved in with their significant other and not say something. And so, it’s the same for this church situation. It’s not about the church being an LGBTQ church. It’s about, I don’t understand why you’re leaving your church home.”
The Knockturnal: I thought it was so important that the show made that distinction…
Javicia Leslie: “Yeah because especially in the black community, whether it’s all factual or not, when it comes to film and television, it definitely gets blown up even more—that black fathers don’t accept their gay children and that’s not the case [here].”
The Knockturnal: How did your beliefs intersect with your character’s beliefs? How do you personally connect to the subject matter?
Brandon Micheal Hall: “I think everyone needs something to believe in. I think at the end of the day, if you don’t believe in something, you kind of walk through the world unsure of maybe what the next thing is. And even for Miles, he believes in science, he believes in the now. So there’s something that he’s holding on to. So for me, it’s made me as well try to think of the same thing. I’m not worried about what’s happening tomorrow. This is what has happened yesterday and I’m going to learn from that. And today I’m going to use this as a new stepping stone to try to do something better, do something greater. So it’s made me look at my own life and that kind of perspective as well.”
The Knockturnal: How have your fans responded to these seasons and what connection do you have with your viewers?
Brandon Micheal Hall: “I think as an artist in general, you work so hard to find a project that makes people want to have a positive response or some type of connection to it. And so when you finally get a show or an opportunity to do that, you start to see that little kids are watching it with their families, watching it with their moms, their grandparents, their cousins and nephews and talking about it, and you’re apart of that art. You’re bringing it to the forefront. You can’t ask for anything better. Because that’s what you search for your entire career, these types of projects. So for me to get the positive response that we’ve been getting, the positive feedback, the fact that they were like, we’re going to give you another opportunity with second season to try again to bring that audience back to give them this positive message; it’s great.”
Javicia Leslie: “I feel like we all have our favorite shows and with our favorite shows we can feel a certain type of way. For me it’s Grey’s Anatomy, but I can sit and watch an entire series over and over and over and over and cry at the same parts and it still gets me and laugh at the same parts. And to know that I can do that for somebody else… That show brings me so much joy and to know that I can do that for somebody else’s heart and I’ve never even met them before… I think that’s freakin’ cool, it’s so cool. It’s cool when I’m out and about and my mom, who is like my biggest fan, we’ll be somewhere and no one will even know who I am but she has to yell out to everybody, ‘this my baby, she’s on this show.’ But then when I look at their reactions and how happy they are, it just shows that we’re doing something. It feels good.”
For more information on God Friended Me, click here.