Bianca Lawson radiates on screen. Becoming Darla on the stunning OWN series Queen Sugar has been an exceptional gift for the actress. A veteran in the television and film industry, Lawson has been delivering stellar performances in everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the ever-popular Pretty Little Liars. On Queen Sugar – where she plays a young recovering addict, Darla who is trying to rebuild a life with her son Blue (Ethan Hutchison) and his father Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) — Lawson has had to expose herself in ways that she hasn’t ever had to previously.
Infectiously effervescent, Lawson’s personality is very different from the quiet and anxious Darla. We spoke earlier this week, just a few days before the premiere of Darla’s much-anticipated reunion with her estranged parents. “There is something about this particular character, she’s completely unlike anything else I’ve ever played — you have a really visceral experience with her,” Lawson explained to me. “It’s analytical for me. I think when I started acting it’s something about feeling the security of hiding behind a character — and for her, I’ve had to actually reveal more of my true self. With Darla, there’s something very interesting about her where the things that she’s gone through even though I haven’t gone through the exact same situations, I’ve had to process things about myself or confront things about myself or at least expose certain aspects of myself to do her justice. This has probably been the most personal character for me, and definitely, I’d say the most complex and intricately layered. I feel like she’s made me a better actress. I feel like she’s made me a more empathetic human.”
Accustomed to creating her own back-stories for her characters, Lawson was not aware of the complicated layers that shaped Darla’s past when she first read for the role. Embodying this young woman has brought forth an arresting fierceness not often seen on television – especially in a role that has historically been portrayed stereotypically. “Ava and I had a long call before I officially came on,” Lawson recalled. “She told me a little bit about her thoughts about the character, and why she wanted to write this character. She really wanted to tell the story of a young Black woman getting sober in a way that hadn’t been done before — in a way that was more real and true to life. There’s a real loneliness in that journey.”
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