By Nadine Matthews, Special to the AFRO

The BET series Boomerang doesn’t take place on a college campus but has the potential to be for this generation of young people what A Different World was for young adults in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Created by Lena Waithe (The Chi) and writer Ben Cory Jones (Insecure, Underground), It’s a smart, funny exploration of young African Americans starting to forge not only careers, but identities in 21st century Atlanta. With just a few episodes already aired, the show has already taken a look at issues such as sexuality, gender, and divorce.

Brittany Inge, who plays Crystal, the former co-worker and best friend of the main character Simone (Tetona Jackson), is rebuilding her life even as she supports her large squad of friends. Inge says she sees Crystal as being “In the midst of rewiring and discovering what she wants for her life. With everything that has happened to her, she’s now like, ‘What do I want for my life?’

Actress Brittany Inge (Courtesy Photo)

Inge, who grew up in Laurel Maryland and attended the prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. for high school, wanted to be a singer and not an actress. She went on to major in Music at Spelman College. All that time, she jokes, “My ultimate goal was to be Whitney Houston.”

They say necessity is the mother of invention and the necessity of landing jobs in an Atlanta entertainment landscape where musical theater reigned supreme, prompted Inge to train as an actress. To her surprise, she fell in love with it. “I started studying out of the desire to do more than just sing and I ended up falling head over heels in love with acting!” For someone who says she always knew she was “a storyteller,” it turned out that acting was a better fit. ”I found more truth and healing and felt like I made a better impact when I was stepping into people’s shoes. I connected with it almost immediately. Something about having to become someone else really helps you understand their story.”

After living in Atlanta for a decade and trying to forge an acting career there, Inge decided to give New York City a try. Fate soon stepped in and laughed in her face. “I moved to New York City in August and got the audition for Boomerang in September,” she explains.  She had to turn right back around and go back to Atlanta for the two-plus month shoot of the first season of the series. “I left Atlanta to go to a bigger market and then had to go back and film in Atlanta,” she says recalling the irony. Luckily, she hit the jackpot having castmates, she enjoys working with as well. The cast, she says, “is ridiculous in all the best ways. We have a lot of fun and spent a lot of time together on and off set.”

Although Crystal is down to earth and uncomplicated, as the season goes along viewers realize there’s a lot more to her than meets the eye. “She seems simple,” Inge says, “But she is human and humans have lots of layers and lots of joy and trauma and triumph that makes us who we are. We present ourselves to the world as we present, regardless of the things we’re going through.”

To its great credit, Boomerang has thus far managed to draw its women characters with agency, owning their stories without them necessarily being attached to romantic partners. “So many people see Crystal struggling,” Inge explains. “Just because she is second-guessing her decisions, it isn’t necessarily attached to a man. She’s just dealing with her own personal feelings of failure. She’s feeling ‘This is the vision I had for my life, and it didn’t work out’ and I think a lot of people can relate to that.”

The show is also drawing its women characters to more accurately reflect reality. Director Dime Davis was impressed with Inge’s audition and  went to bat for the curvy actress to get the part. “I found out,” Inge shares, “that Dime really fought to have a woman like me in the main cast. She thought it was important to have real women with real bodies represented. That’s another thing I love about Crystal. No part of her storyline is about her weight. She could be represented as obsessed with losing weight or she could be hypersexualized as curvy women are portrayed sometimes. I love that there’s none of that with her!”