“Star” is a production of 20th Century Fox Television in association with Lee Daniels Entertainment. Lee Daniels and Tom Donaghy are the creators and executive producers of the series.
Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award, Grammy Award and Golden Globe Award winner Queen Latifah stars as Carlotta, a surrogate mother to the young crew (Jude Demorest, Ryan Destiny, Brittany O’Grady) that also includes Cotton (newcomer Amiyah Scott). Emmy Award nominee Benjamin Bratt plays Jahil, a down-on-his-luck talent agent looking to revitalize his career, who’s taken a certain interest in Star. The series also features guest stars Grammy Award winner Lenny Kravitz and supermodel/actress Naomi Campbell.
We sat down with two of the show’s stars Queen Latifah & Benjamin Bratt to talk season 2. Catch our interview after the jump.
The Knockturnal: So season two, we’re in the prison system possibly and you guys just decided to take on management?
Queen Latifah: Oh okay. Yes. Carlotta takes over management of the girls and that’s an adjustment, but it’s something she really wanted to do. They had gone through so much and it wasn’t that she wanted to be their manager but they needed to just have someone that was on their side and didn’t want to just use them.
Benjamin Bratt: Are you saying that I was just trying to use them?
Queen Latifah: Well, no. Jahil has his goals that he’s trying to achieve, but in your absence, a few other people came to the game trying to use them for what they wanted and it was just enough already. You know, so, I think Carlotta’s moves from just being sort of a maternal figure to now a businesswoman and she hasn’t really been involved in the music business in a while, so it’s gonna be a little challenge for her, a learning curve for her to figure out how to represent these girls, get what they need and also acclimate to being a manager, not just an artist in this new music industry of today. You know, not back in the day when she had a record and was working with Jahil so that’s gonna present a lot of challenges with the girls who are very headstrong and independent and wanna do things their way anyway.
The Knockturnal: Jahil, as we recall from the end of the season, was in a whole heap of trouble.
Benjamin Bratt: But he essentially has to go underground, and he’s got cops looking for him, he’s got mobsters looking for him. And there are very few if any, people he can trust in life and what we come to discover is the old relationships oftentimes are the best relationships and he knows that Carlotta is someone he can literally trust with his life and then he does so. So, I’ll leave it there.
Queen Latifah: We saw Carlotta in season one called on Jahil when things hit the fan and she needed somebody who knew how to take care of business, you know? We see that that is a relationship that they will always have, I suppose.
Benjamin Bratt: And I hope you don’t mind me saying this much, but we’re both excited about the work we get to do together in season two. We didn’t get to do as much as we wanted to last season, but I think the writers have rediscovered that the depth of this particular relationship between these two people is vast and it’s deep and it’s very complex and that like family members they can go through the highs and lows together and they’ll always be bound together because of that history and so it’s been fun for us as actors to re-examine and explore anew, really, this deep, historic relationship they have and see that a lot of the old feelings, whether they were based in romance, based in friendship or based in a family dynamic, they’re still alive and well.
The Knockturnal: If either one of your characters could edit the past, what do you think they would change?
Queen Latifah: I think there’s a whole lot Carlotta would change. I think she would’ve just made better life choices because a lot of the choices she made caused her to lose important relationships in her life. Caused her to lose a relationship with her son at the time, which transitioned into her daughter, lose the relationship with the father of that child, lose a relationship with her best friend who OD-ed on drugs, and I think had she been able to tell her younger self, as you say sometimes, what to do and what to look out for, I think it would have been that same old self-esteem conversation. Believe in yourself, and all those kinds of things, because then you make better decisions. But she made a lot of bad decisions that she had to come back from and when we meet Carlotta in the very beginning of Star, she’s a woman who’s pulled her life together, who’s gone to jail, who’s trying to reconnect with her child and fix that relationship and then these girls show up on her doorstep and now she has a second chance of being sort of a mother figure to them in lieu of their own mom who was her best friend. So, you know, there’s a lot of rough things she went through that I think she would have changed, she would have done a lot differently and, yeah, I would just say those things.
Benjamin Bratt: I think Jahil would especially with where we find him these days, he would have strived to be more honest. Realized that a lot of his lying and his duplicity not only burned himself personally, but he burned a lot of people he cared about the most, not least Carlotta and also Mary. And that’s kind of a young man’s game, I think in hindsight he looks back and he realizes if I was just more honest with my feelings, whether I was trying to hide my heart from the intimacy of things or tryna drown them in drugs, I mean just put it out there on the table, I would have alleviated a lot of pain and that’s something that really only age can help you with, so I guess that’s part of being a young and reckless addict.
The Knockturnal: what would you say are or who are the women that you’ve pulled from to play Carlotta? Who’re your inspirations from?
Queen Latifah: I feel like anybody who comes from sorta the city grows up knowin’ Carlotta’s, if you African American for sure, even Latina. If you’re from New York, you know Carlotta’s cuz you get your hair done. You see her in the beauty parlor, she’s someone who has been through a lot but she knows how to work things out. She knows how to make a dollar out of fifteen cents. She’s somebody who wants to look a certain way even if she doesn’t have it like that. So sometimes we see her in these wigs, but these are her armor almost and as Black women, we can do that. Things are not alright on the inside, but sometimes we gotta hook up the outside a little bit just to feel good about ourselves. I know those women. I’ve been that woman, so I can relate to that. I have an aunt, her house is the house where everybody can go. You know that person that there’s always a bunch of kids spending the night or that’s the place you can give if you need to crash and Carlotta’s house sort of becomes that. She’s willin’ to open up her home to people and everybody’s not into that, you know what I mean? Some people are more private people and don’t want a whole bunch of craziness going on, but she can exist in that. Without it, sort of shakin’ her. She’s not gonna get caught up in every little argument going on in the salon because there’s gonna be another one tomorrow, so she’s one of those people who knows pick your battles, that kind of thing.
So, I relate to that type of woman and also a woman who’s made bad choices. I’ve made bad choices in the past and have hoped for that forgiveness and that second chance and I’ve been fortunate to get them at times in my life so I can relate to her being in that situation as well, and leanin’ on God to get it. And so, it doesn’t make your life perfect because you have a spiritual connection with your God and I think I know those women, we know those women who lean on God even though they know they’re gonna still make some of the same mistakes, it’s just one day at a time, they’re tryna make theirs live better and better but they’re by no means perfect.
So, I enjoy someone who is flawed in those many ways and complex in many ways because oftentimes we see this woman as not… I mean, years ago it was really more prevalent that it was, like, “Oh! I’m loud and I’m this and this and –” No. That’s not how we all are. We’re very complex and very different from one to the next, although we have a lot of things in common. And so to show her in all these ways, to show a woman who really relies on the Lord to get her through, but at the same time is a woman who has needs and she may sleep with a man outside of marriage, you know? So, she’s no saint by any means, but she’s a woman tryna make it day by day and tryna keep control of herself by helping her spiritual life guide her, but it’s a struggle and you gotta handle what you’ve gotta handle right then … you know, food on the table, don’t matter get what I gotta do to put food on the table. But if I had to do something wrong to do it, I ask forgiveness and please help me not to have to do that the next time, you know, it’s that kind of struggle, so. I enjoy playing that.