Tyler Perry’s Sistas seems to have already held a mirror up to what some women are going through in their romantic lives and one character whose experiences have already begun to take flight is Karen Mott, played by Ebony Obsidian.
We spoke with the actress about her unapologetically outspoken on-screen persona and what she thinks she can both use and lose in order to grow into her best self.
How did you find out you booked the role of Karen in Sistas?
I had initially auditioned in New York. Got the call back, went to Atlanta and auditioned for Tyler Perry, Mark Swinton… everybody was in the room. I was on set for another show, and I got the offers and two days later, they wanted to start flying us out and get started on promo stuff for the show, so it was a pretty quick turnaround.[I] had about a month to prep before flying back out to Atlanta for a short few weeks to shoot the full 25 episodes.
Some are calling it the millennial equivalent to Girlfriends. How do you take this comparison and how does it feel to hold that voice for Black women?
I was so surprised when I first heard the comparison because it came right after the trailer dropped. So, no one had really seen the show but here we were being compared to this incredible classic. Girlfriends — that’s major praise, you know? So I thought it was beautiful. When I think of Girlfriends, I think about #BlackGirlMagic. I think about friendship, I think about loyalty, I think about ambitious women being career-driven and walking in their purpose even when they’re falling short, so I thought it was a beautiful comparison. I think that Sistas is definitely a new age. We’re in 2019, we’re in a time of social media. We’re in a time of a lot of very woman-forward movements as well, so I think it’s a beautiful comparison and I hope that people enjoy it as much as they enjoyed Girlfriends.
Karen appears to be the strong one of the group who’s dealing with her own tough times in private. She also knows how to keep a secret. Are you the “strong friend” and confidant in your own friend group?
Absolutely. I think all of the women are the strong friend… We are all the strong friend in our friend groups. I think the relationship that Karen has with each of these women, which we’ll see as the story unfolds, is so beautiful. She knows who to talk to about certain things and she knows who not to bring up certain things with because everybody can’t handle different things. Everybody has a different take on different things. It gets her and the other girls in trouble every now and then, but that happens in every friend group. I think, regardless, you have to be strong because she is the friend that says, ‘This is what I deserve and I’m going to have to walk in my own words until I feel them to be my truth.’… As the series unfolds, you’ll see how she’ll say things and mean it to an extent but it can still be very difficult to fully live in that space.
Of each of the characters, which are you most like in real life and why?
I’m probably the most like Karen, to be honest. I think I’m a little bit of all of the girls, but I think I’m the most like Karen because I’m outspoken. I think I take a lot of time to reflect on the things that I am a part of and whether or not they’re healthy for me and then I try to implement that going forward.
I think I’m different than Karen in the sense that I don’t necessarily handle things the same way. She’s very blunt in some ways, aggressive in how she tries to make her changes. I’m a lot more subtle. I’m more quiet in terms of shifting things and people in and out of my life.
What does “sistahood” mean to you?
“Sistahood” is about having someone to depend on and to call on no matter what the circumstances. With my best friends in the whole world, there’s been time periods when we haven’t spoken to each other for months on end or even like a year and the thing is, I can pick up the phone and call them and know that they’ll answer and listen and give advice or sometimes even listen and not give advice. I think it’s important that the core of a person, the core of your sister, is the same as the core of yourself, because if we have a falling out you’ll still call me and I’ll still call you and we’ve still got each other’s back. So, I think loyalty, trust and real love and just the core value of who you are has to be the same.
Tyler Perry’s Sistas airs Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m. ET on BET.