A House Divided starring LisaRaye McCoy and Lawrence Hilton Jacobs speak to D.C. editor Micha Green on AFRO Live. (Screenshot)

By Micha Green,
AFRO D.C. and Digital Editor,
mgreen@afrocom

AllBlk TV’s Emmy-nominated show A House Divided recently premiered its fourth season with more scandal, drama and entertaining plot lines that will keep audiences wanting to tune in week-after-week and binge old seasons as a reminder of all the convoluted mess that makes for such good television. However, it’s the talented cast and crew that makes for the engaging entertainment and the show’s stars and legendary actors LisaRaye McCoy and Lawrence Hilton Jacobs shared how they bring the juicy storylines of A House Divided to life and make the plots seem so real. According to Jacobs and McCoy, it is through strong writing, directing and producing, hard work, collaboration and immense trust, that allows for A House Divided to resonate with audiences so deeply and recently garnered the Emmy nominee.

“I understand as a character, I’ve had to have that cultivated growth. I’ve been playing letting a little more venom come out, a little more toughness, letting a little more emotion out, and not afraid to show it, because this is life. I’m certainly, as a man, not afraid to cry. I don’t think it’s any less of my manhood, it’s my truth,” said Jacobs, who has been a star of the show since the first season, as the plot spawns from the mysterious death of his wife. 

“But to play that, and at the same time, be full of love. Myself playing alongside LisaRaye and the character, that’s a true love for me that has been rediscovered through this turmoil of time with this growth, but that’s the growth of how to play it for me. And how to let it happen as we go along. So the discovery for me, as well as for the audience is exciting and interesting. That’s my approach,” Jacobs added.

McCoy told the AFRO she entered into the world of the Sanders and A House Divided without knowledge she’d become a series regular. Thus, McCoy found herself relying on the strong work of the creative team to learn about the world in which these characters exist, and do her homework as well as collaborate on how she fits into that world. 

“First it starts on paper. Our creative producer and our writer, Dan Garcia, he’s done an incredible job at pinpointing these characters and keeping the audience invested in what we do season after season,” McCoy explained. “And so when I read the script for the first season, it was a cameo role, I was to pop in and pop out. But, our chemistry between myself and Lawrence was dynamic enough for them to say they wanted more. And the audience wanted more, and so that’s who we appealed to. The audience dictates it really. We’re only good if they’ve been watching, and they’ve been watching and we’re Emmy nominated,” the actress said proudly.

The chemistry between McCoy and Jacobs exudes in each scene. Without speaking, their love shows.

“Because it happens to be LisaRaye McCoy, that I like and have happened to know for a long time when you have that sort of natural rapport with somebody, there’s a certain way that you touch them, there’s a certain way that you look at them. We have a trust,” Jacobs said. “So I think for us, I think we’re being a little smart about it.  We’re letting ourselves grow and develop easily and the audience is coming with us on it. And they’re believing us because we’re bringing the truth,” he added.

“There’s a respect there that I have for him. His longevity speaks for itself. He is a director, so he has a different eye, so with him acting and having both, I get to be in a scene with him and this naturalism that he pulls out of me, he’s right, I have to trust,” McCoy said.  

“You want to always be on a set where you feel like you’re learning as well. I don’t ever want to get to the point where I’m like, ‘I know everything, come on, it’s time, I’m here, I’m ready, let’s go.’ I want to get to the point where we all are family, like we are, we’re working together, we respond to the team because we know teamwork makes the dream work and evidently it’s working because we are Emmy nominated,” McCoy added again, beaming her bright smile. 

Jacobs added, the collaborative nature of the crew’s work allows for the show to grow each season.

“We all get along to keep it strong, that’s what we’re about. The show’s a nice show, it’s showing Black people in a nice, varied light, and handling their differences, who happen to have money and power, but they’re like anyone else, they have their druthers, they have their variables, they have their drama. And that’s the entertainment of it,” he said.

From the pandemic, to grandmotherhood, to working on the Emmy-nominated show, McCoy has a new outlook on life.

“I’ve taken a different stance on my life, I’ve taken the reins and control on my life. I’m booked, busy and blessed and I am so incredibly thankful. That’s where I’m at,” she said.

McCoy and Jacobs also said they’re learning a great deal from working on A House Divided.

“I’m learning how to diversify my character. I’m learning how to be able to respect this body of work over here and trust my voice, trust my talent to be able to say, ‘you guys hired me for a reason.’ And so for that reason, I have to be able to have a voice…The ‘what’ that you’re bringing to the character is the reason why they hired you,” the actress said. “I learned to be able to let the small things roll off my shoulder. I’m learning how to collaborate with so many different people and make them family. I’m learning how to build different relationships and letting them work for me. I’m learning to be on an Emmy nominated show and know one day they’re going to hire me and I’m going to have an Oscar or something else and my paycheck is going to make me happily skip to the bank and say yes, because it is because of the body of work that I have done, that I am where I am and I’m going where I’m going,” McCoy emphasized. 

“For us as actors it’s allowing us to grow because there’s so many places you can take this. For me, I’ve gotten more sensitive as I’ve gotten older, at 68, and I don’t mind showing those emotions. I want to show them. And I don’t mind showing the tears, and the tenderness and the sweetness and not think you’re being a punk or a chump or anything. It has nothing to do with that, it has to do with being sincere. And also having performers to work with that are inviting that in as well. So that’s where the growth of the show is going,” Jacobs explained passionately.

“I think that’s part of the hook for the audience, is that they feel us. They feel us, and they don’t feel like we’re faking them.”

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Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor