Yolonda Ross will be returning to Showtime this month reprising her role as Jada in the hit Lena Waithe helmed series The Chi.
Aside from her work on television, Ross also starred in the film Bull which was screened at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. She recently chatted with The Knockturnal about both the upcoming season of The Chi, Bull and more. Season Three of The Chi premieres on June 21st on Showtime
The Knockturnal: Can you talk a little bit about your character’s growth last season to this new season of The Chi?
Yolonda Ross: From last season to this season, I would say Jada is now on a trajectory of a new chapter in her life. I think she has prepared herself and is ready to just fully go out there and I guess relearn herself again which I feel happens to parents a lot of times when their children grow up and leave the nest and they feel that they’re fine. It’s now time to regain your woman-ness, your femininity, just everything, and kind of get her life going again as a woman, not just as a mother.
The Knockturnal: And so I was speaking with Jacob Latimore in April about the upcoming season a little bit. He had mentioned one of the things that you guys want to touch on in the season is about girls gone missing. Can you talk about a little bit about why that’s important to touch upon during the season coming up?
Yolonda Ross: Well I feel it’s important period. Any time, because we do go missing. We go missing a lot. You don’t hear about us on the news. You hear about young white girls gone missing. When it happens, it’s terrible either which way. But for us, you don’t hear about us. And time is always of the essence. And that’s that kind of situation. So it just shedding the light on it, really. I think it just puts the importance of it on the whole situation, because it’s one of those things where every child is valuable. But when you start looking at who gets the shine on the situation, it makes it look as if children of color are not.
The Knockturnal: I agree. And so can you talk a little bit about your artwork? I know that you’re also an artist, visual art, and you do creative art. Talk a little about artwork that’s featured in The Chi.
Yolonda Ross: There are two pieces of mine in [Jada’s] house on each side of her couch, those paintings are mine and they’re from a series I did where I’ve been working on Aboriginal dot art. So they’re my impression of dot art. It’s using symbols and dots, the dots are symbols in themselves, in storytelling, in the way that I used [them] in those paintings. They’re not quite the story that Aboriginals tell, but they’re more just my perception. My take on it.
The Knockturnal: This season, you also have new cast members like Kandi Burress, Lala Anthony, and Luke James as part of the show. Can talk about having them as part of the cast this season.
Yolonda Ross: Well, I did have maybe one scene with Lala. I didn’t have any scenes with the others. I did see them on set [and] they’re great to hang out with while we worked.
The Knockturnal: Can you talk a little bit more about maybe what was different this season coming up in regards to filming? What was different about the process this time?
Yolonda Ross: I feel each season is a little different because you’re growing, your characters,and the stories are growing. I feel a little more complex. We got to have Lena on set a little bit this season, which was great because she’s playing Camille Holloway. And I just felt there was a really nice mix with the characters, because this season I felt like the characters end up in each other’s stories a little bit more, whereas before they were [like mines and Emmett’s] were one story and that story was over there, I feel like they dip into each others lives a little more, which I felt was great.
The Knockturnal: Switching gears a little bit to your film Bull, can you talk a little about that and what inspired you to be a part of that film?
Yolonda Ross: Well Bull is about a black bullfighter and a young kind of wayward girl. And the two of them are kind of like two lonely souls that are finding finally some sort of friendship amongst each other and learning a little bit from each other. For me, the whole idea of black cowboys was something I really wanted to jump at because my grandfather was a cowboy and my dad grew up on a farm. And I think it’s important to see these different images of us because I don’t think I’ve seen any real black cowboys in film and television. So I think it’s important to see us in different ways and also just the opportunity to work with Rob Morgan, because he and I have been friends for a really long time and we’ve never gotten the chance to work together. And I’m a huge fan of his work. So that is the biggest reason.
The Knockturnal: So now How To Get Away With Murder just ended, and you starred on a few episodes. Please talk about what that series meant to you.
Yolonda Ross: I was in several episodes for two seasons. I was really happy to be a part of Viola’s work as we had done a film together Lila & Eve right before she started the show. So it was exciting to be there at the beginning of it and to get somewhere towards the middle because I was like two seasons ago. And just to be a part of the chapter of her life. It’s like a major chapter. It was a fun show.
The Knockturnal: And so my last question to you would be, what else do you have coming up?
Yolonda Ross: Hopefully more Chi,[and] I would say, my first feature directing. I’ve been working on getting the financing together for that because development is so crazy. But we’re looking closer to getting it fully financed so that I can get it in the can. And that’s myself and Clark Peters starring in it [Scenes From Our Marriage] and get some of my other projects going. Film and television.
photo credit: Photo by Violeta Sofia