Deborah Ayorinde On Riches, Them Season 2, And Black Trauma

Dec 21, 2022


That is so true! With every job, your coworkers can definitely influence the experiences you have. I’ve noticed a lot of the projects you attach yourself to highlight Black stories and the Black experience, and I love that. There were some critics who referred to Season 1 of Them as Black trauma porn. How do you feel about criticism like that and where do you draw the line between trauma porn and mirroring horrific realities?

I hate that term “trauma porn.” It’s so icky for me, because who in the world gets off on something like that? I think, for me, the way that I pick any role is if it’s grounded in truth. I’m all for diverse representation of us as Black people. So, if you’ve looked at my body of work, you know that my roles go from A to Z. They talk about the Black experience, because I am Black, but I play everything from a nurse to a side chick in Girls Trip. People don’t recognize me for just one role, because I’ve done so many different roles, and that has been on purpose to show that we are not one thing. For me, I try to do roles that talk about our fun ridiculousness, drama, family drama, as well as the real issues going on in our community. It’s important to have both. I’m all for intelligent critiques, but that’s not something that I take in personally, because I know what I have done and what I continue to do. I don’t think people realize how smart Little Marvin is. He makes sure that every single bit of the story is real. Even though it’s a fictional story, it’s real. It’s grounded in truth. I have had projects come across my desk, that speak about our pain, but in ways that don’t feel very grounded in truth — they don’t really see us from the human experience, if that makes sense. And those roles I pass up very quickly. I’m very, very particular, and I will continue to be because I’m very protective over my portrayals of my representation of us on screen. Especially when it comes to portrayals of Black women — I don’t take that lightly. The sad thing is that we’re still going through a lot of things that happen in this series. We’re still dealing with the after effects of them. So, if we stop talking about it, then what happens? We can’t heal what we don’t acknowledge. We would love to see a day where we don’t have to talk about certain things anymore. 

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