VSB Interview with Queen Sugar’s Kofi Siriboe » VSB

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VSB Interview with Queen Sugar’s Kofi Siriboe

(Courtesy of Frazer Harrison / Getty Images)

(Interview edited for clarity and length.)

The mid-season finale of OWN’s hit show, Queen Sugar, is tonight and VSB had the opportunity to speak with Kofi Siriboe on his breakout role as Ralph-Angel, toxic masculinity and why for come he couldn’t have been in every scene in Girls Trip.  Kofi Siriboe’s Ralph Angel is a riddle of a man. Tender yet selfish. Forward-thinking on ideas of gender-fluidity and sexuality yet vulnerable to the same fuckboi-ish tendencies of misogynoir that did many a Hotep and Breakfast Club host in. Last season of Queen Sugar saw his character wrestle with what it meant to be a free man recently released from incarceration, with all the pitfalls and disappointments that come along with it. It also saw R-A reconcile with not only the death of the Bordelon patriarch but the recovering drug addict-mother of his child.

VSB: Congratulations are in order to you and the rest of the cast! Queen Sugar was picked up for a third season.

KS: Thank you!

VSB: Kofi, first and foremost, thank you so much for speaking with us today! Everybody here at VSB loves Queen Sugar. I especially love your character, Ralph-Angel. You do such a wonderful job humanizing a character who is quite different than the character in the book. I actually can’t stand Ralph-Angel in the book.

KS: [laughs] You can’t stand him?

VSB: Not at all.

KS: [laughs some more]

VSB: Your character has been through a lot this season and last. Can you talk to me about Ralph-Angel’s struggles as a black man with a record and how that dictates the moves he’s able to make in the world?

KS: I feel it is very important to tell this type of story of Ralph-Angel as a character and a black man. You don’t see this type of character, this type of black man,  portrayed on t.v. Not only Ralph-Angel’s journey, but I feel like we are telling the story of many black men. I feel like all of us [in the black community] have or know or have been a Ralph-Angel at some point. I’ve been in the industry for a very long time – since I was little – and I’ve been waiting to play a character like this for years.

VSB: I’ve definitely known a couple of Ralph-Angels in my own life. And what they tell me is with reentry it’s very hard and you notice the little things like wanting to regain the intimacy of touch that you aren’t allowed as a man behind bars.

KS: Definitely.

VSB: So Ralph-Angel has done a lot right this season with his treatment of the Kenya situation (Editor’s note: Kenya is a doll that belongs to Blue, Ralph-Angel’s son) and your scenes with Brian Michael a few episodes back.

KS: That was a powerful moment. Shooting that scene…

(Suddenly Kofi’s reception gets bad on his end.)

KS: Ma’am. I’m sorry, I’m having trouble hearing you so I’m going to hang up and call back in.

(Did he just call me “ma’am”? Suddenly I’m reminded of Kofi’s age.)

[Calls back in moments later]

KS: Sorry about that, ma’am.

(There it goes again. So chivalrous but so defeating at the same dayum time!)

VSB: No problem! So we left off with you talking about trans rights and the importance of including that in the dialogue for this season. Can you talk about toxic masculinity for a bit and how you’ve seen it play out in your own life, in the life of others and how it’s playing out in your character’s life?

KS: Toxic masculinity is something that I’ve seen in my own life. We as men are afraid to be vulnerable, afraid to show emotion. And in the black community the way we are portrayed in the media often times, it’s like we can’t cry, we can’t show fear.

VSB: I think it’s often seen as being a “black” problem when it’s not.

KS: Exactly.

VSB: How did you conceptualize the character Ralph-Angel from the book to the small screen? Was this something that you collaborated on with Ava and Oprah? How did you bring him off the page?

KS: Ralph-Angel is very much adapted from pieces of me and the things that I have been through in my own life. Working with Ava is just…it was a blessing. We came together and I learned so much from her in this experience.

VSB: Talk to me about your character’s relationship to his son, Blue.

KS: The love they share is something special that we are able to portray: The love of a father for his son and he accepts him. Especially his understanding of the relationship between Blue and Kenya and how he doesn’t question. And how protective he is of Blue while still allowing this child to be a child and to experience innocence.

VSB: Let’s switch gears for a moment. Talk to me about your experience shooting Girls Trip with Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish?

KS: Did you have an opportunity to go see it?

VSB: We saw it over the weekend and everybody in the theatre lost their minds during your scenes.

KS: [laughs] Thank you. It was just a blessing getting to work with these actors that I looked up to so much and they were so welcoming on set. So I’m glad that they are getting the recognition they deserve and the movie is doing well.

VSB: Kofi, here at VSB we’re really big on talking about unapologetic blackness. Tell me, what does black boy joy mean to you?

KS: Well, you just said it. Black boy joy looks like unapologetic blackness and being able to stand in your truth.

VSB: That’s the blackest thing we’ve heard all week.

 

Jordan Kauwling

Jordan Kauwling is an early thirties Philadelphian but she tells everyone she’s in her late thirties because she doesn’t understand how math works. When she’s not busy writing, singing, eating all the falafel or unsuccessfully finishing another craft project you can catch her talking junk on Twitter.

  • Janelle Doe

    You bring good gifts Jordan. Thanks.

  • NonyaB?

    O-oh! Has AM/LadyIbaka/Lady Siriboe fainted yet from seeing her mans up on VSB?

    • Alessandro De Medici

      When is the wedding happening already…

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3S4S-2sMS5w

      • NonyaB?

        Ahahaha! #OhMyPeapos Was at a naija wedding last wknd. Good times.

    • Tam

      She will freak.

      • LadySiriboe

        Over him? Nah mama. You’ve got to make such feel like they are just a-okay.

    • LadySiriboe

      Lmao. I’m here oo.

      • NonyaB?

        About time you got here, the competition is fierce! Comment section melting down from all the heat.

    • MsSula

      I was literally typing this before reading and I thought, sure someone has already mentioned this. And there! Loll.

  • MsCee

    I saw his name and immediately started daydreaming about….things. Let me scroll back up and actually read now. Lol

  • Lisss
  • Michele Gilliam

    Can I leave my number here for him?

    • Lisss

      He sais he wished he had a girl yesterday for #NationalGirlfriendDay
      I say we leave resumes with pictures and full home adresses.

    • LadySiriboe

      Please don’t.

  • rikyrah

    good interview

  • BM, Superman

    I wonder what’s the secret to being that attractive.

    • Lisss

      Melanin.
      Everytime i see him, all i can imagine is licking his *signal fades*

      • BM, Superman

        Fan mail envelopes?

        • Lisss

          Sure! Let’s go with that.

          • BrothasKeeper

            Ole fass áss.

            • Lisss

              Don’t you judge me, sir !

    • Push ups and buying plenty of drinks.

    • Michelle is my First Lady

      He’s humble.

      • BM, Superman

        Humility is overrated, most people are humble.

        • Michelle is my First Lady

          I mean, for someone like Kofi to be so young, grounded, and not a THOT (yet, or that we know of) is an achievement. The amount of panties he gets thrown at him is crazy.

        • LadySiriboe

          No! Real talk. It is NOT.

        • Monica Harris

          What? I reject this completely. That has not been my experience

    • Alessandro De Medici

      Hehe, it’s just his moment to shine…

      It ain’t gonna last though, just ask this guy:

      http://68.media.tumblr.com/6ce077e8fdfcdb1530671a73e15688df/tumblr_n54bc606bk1snykyxo1_500.gif

      • Lisss

        Hater.

      • NonyaB?

        Bwahaha! Cold.

      • LadySiriboe

        God. Satan. Weren’t you cast into the pits of hayle. How did you make it up here to comment?

        • Alessandro De Medici

          My name is Michael.

          • LadySiriboe

            Satan. I bind you in the blood.

      • Mary Burrell

        The public is a fickle creature.

      • Monica Harris

        Don’t try to pour cold water on this man! He could be the next Idris! You never know.

        • Alessandro De Medici

          Hehe @ “Next Idris”

          Look at you proving my point.

          • Monica Harris

            Wait. Idris is mad popular. I might have missed your point.

    • cysinblack

      You’ll never be that melanin rich beloved. But you’re adorable and light with kissable smiley lips.

  • miss t-lee

    I don’t know if I would’ve kept this interview professional.

    • Mika

      at all!

      • miss t-lee

        Not for a second. All of the harassment.

    • You Know I’m Sawcy

      “Question number 1: Do you like my boooody?”

      • miss t-lee

        “Can you put it on the glass?”

      • Michelle is my First Lady

        “Question number 2: Do you like grapefruits IRL?” lol

        • BM, Superman

          Lmfao.

        • You Know I’m Sawcy

          “‘Cause I got these two right here and I ain’t makin fruit salad.”

          • Simms~

            Hahahaha.

          • Michelle is my First Lady

            Ha!!! You wit it, or nah, Kofi?

          • flatline

        • NonyaB?

          Hahaaa! That poor boy better not visit this here comment section. Otherwise he’II be so shook at feeling so nekkid after reading through.

          • Michelle is my First Lady

            LOL!!! I’m sure he gets worse in his DMs…..lol

    • NonyaB?

      *Cackle* Maybe that’s why he uses “ma’am”; to keep excited damsels in check!

      • miss t-lee

        That wouldn’t have done a thing to keep me in check…lol

        • You Know I’m Sawcy

          Yes, kween.

      • Junegirl627

        Sheeeeeet I would show him how experienced seasoned women put it down. “Ever been on a tilt a whirl?” No you haven’t but if you stand right here I’ll show you…. ;)

    • Jae Starz

      I KNOW I wouldn’t have. LOL!

      • miss t-lee

        AYE!

    • Michelle is my First Lady

      Ha! “Can I just……touch it?”

    • Maaaaaan listen…. “Kofi, do you like grapefruit in real life or are you a mango kind of brother?”

      “Do you like thick girls?”

      “I make jollof rice (Ghanaian is better though) but I got you.”

      “Do you like older women?”

      “How much older?”

      I have a laundry list… he looks like he might get offended if asked ” What that d do? ”

      I would keep that to myself though..lmao

      • miss t-lee

        HAHAH!!
        I would’ve led with the “do you like thick girls?”

      • NonyaB?

        “I make jollof rice (Ghanaian is better though)”

        Ma’am, don’t do this. -Naija embassy

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5b2fb2c9a60a4bb63e639a4f0ca130491d5529cd9ac050e6dbe48024c955cafb.gif

        • Alessandro De Medici

          It’s like explaining Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream to someone who has only eaten Fan Ice all their lives.

          • NonyaB?

            Sho you right! Bhet, one would think that even if you’d not experienced the wonder, all the reports would let you know that there’s more out there.

          • Love Heals

            YOOOOOOO!!!!! Shots friggin’ fired. That hurt my feelings but I’m still cackling. Smh. Well done.

          • NonyaB?

            NWT, NWT, NWT!!! *Sighs loooong and deep in Nigerian while slowly shaking head* Why?

            • We could’ve had it all.. but you won’t let my rice be great.

              • NonyaB?

                I’m sure your rice is great but it hurts me deeply to see you align with the wrong side when I only want the best for you.

        • miss t-lee

          Since I have no dog in the jollof rice fight, I’m always entertained by it.

          • Me too!

            Though I will say that working at a place with a lot of West Indian and African American women, the Thanksgiving potluck can be…emotionally fraught. The hurt feelings over rejected macaroni and cheese and peas and rice. Think of it as part of the legacy over the diaspora.

            • miss t-lee

              I’ve had Nigerian jollof, but I can’t be an impartial judge until I try the other…lol

              • I wouldn’t admit to trying other jollof rices unless you’re armed to the teeth. Like school shooter armed. People don’t play with their jollof over there.

                • Alessandro De Medici
                • miss t-lee

                  I ain’t scared.

                • Alessandro De Medici

                  The rice fight is actually pretty civil. (We’ve had great times kicking each other out of their own countries)

                  Let there be a football match at the African Cup of Nations:

                  http://i29.tinypic.com/iz80wg.gif

                  • And it’s gotten worse as African nations are doing better for themselves. Damn…

                    • Alessandro De Medici

                      Funny thing is, when it comes to football, we’re far more civil than the Europeans

                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHnfR_4R1gY

                    • I learned that through my lab jobs. The world looks at American fans like they’re wimps who just want to sit, eat and watch. That’s how I developed a respect for the game, even though my dad assimilated by running from soccer as fast as he could. Anything that could get people that amped must be special.

                    • NonyaB?

                      I was just about to say: Naija fans ain’t got NOTHING on European and S. American ones! *Shudders*

          • As a South Carolinian by birth and blood right I pep up at the mention of all things rice but this fight is so petty at times one would think that it’s #deeperthanrice . I guess this is the African version of the BBQ debate.

            • miss t-lee

              I think it is #deeperthanrice. i’ve seen plennay shots being taken in the name of this debate…lol

            • Love Heals

              Meanwhile the true creators of the dish (Senegalese & Gambians) are rarely the ones arguing the point.

              • NonyaB?

                *Shrugs* Because they agree that while they started it, Nigerians perfected it.

                • Love Heals

                  Na lie !!!! But I can’t front on Yoruba versions I’ve had with hot pepper.

                  • NonyaB?

                    Na true o. Let the truth set you free.

                    • Love Heals

                      Copy, copy no work. I said it first.

                    • NonyaB?

                      LMAO. *Notes LH may be more naija than she thinks, on account of her feistiness*

                    • Love Heals

                      LOL. You just reminded me of reporter Komla Dumor’s (r.i.p) TED Talk. Some Nigerian big shot was shocked that he was Ghanaian, saying ” And you’re so confident?!” LOL!!!

            • NonyaB?

              It’s deep Wu, deep!

          • NonyaB?

            She who picks Nigerian side never goes wrong, though.

            • miss t-lee

              LMAO

              • NonyaB?

                I always want best for you. ?

        • Michelle is my First Lady

          Yall been talking about jollof rice for a minute, I need to try it out for myself.

          • NonyaB?

            See, if I was in your city, I’d have fixed this. But I hope you have friends who can make or recommend a good restaurant for it.

            • Michelle is my First Lady

              I’m pretty sure I can find a restaurant to make good jollof rice in the A. I’m on a mission..

        • Love Heals

          Abeg, wetin? Let the woman speak truth. Grins at NegraWithTumbao then tries to look neutral.

          • NonyaB?

            Et tu, Love Heals? *Makes notes in record book*

            • Love Heals

              Actually, blood-wise I have distant Naija ancestry. Nervous as I just got, I’d have been more worried had you threatened to flog me. But still, madam mek you no vex.

              • NonyaB?

                Ehen! So, you even have small Naija blood but you’re acting like dis? #Turrible Are you also Ghanian?

                • Love Heals

                  Kai! You could NOT have concealed your Naija identity just based on that spelling. But the proper mispronunciation from someone rocking Green-White-Green proudly is “Ghana-niyan”. Here’s the thing- I’m apparently somewhat contrarian. For all this wahala I’m giving you, I frustrate fellow Ghanaian folks by rubbishing Ghana’s pidgin. Naija, Sa Lone, L.I.B., I understand the patterns. Ghana’s??? Not so much. And so I need to be careful which Ghanaian-American’s fufu, tuwo or jollof I consume. As for you, na which side you comot for Naija?

                  • NonyaB?

                    Hahaaa! I’ve always hated that mispronunciation – if they can properly say Nigerian, Libyan, etc, then why can’t my peopos say “Ghanian”?

                    Which naija side I be? The side whose jollof you can’t front on. ?

                    • Love Heals

                      Eh, is dat so? I have relatives who speak that language fluently-born and raised in Ghana. Please, we continental Africans all have the words we make messes of and letters we leave out or add for no blasted reason. Embarrassments abound and (unintended) hilarity ensues.

        • Tam

          I shall be observing. I got bandages ready though

          • NonyaB?

            Hah, Tamstigator in full effect!

            • Tam

              hahaha. I got no dogs in this fight plus I can not chose a side.

      • LadySiriboe

        Girl, that’s the only legit queshooooon, the last one. What does it do,and *trying to find signal*

      • Love Heals

        Just telling him Ghanaian jollof is better would get you points because…ancestry.

        • LadySiriboe

          Only jollof I eat is Ghanaian.

          • Love Heals

            Uh, my greedy behind can’t say that AT all. If it looks good, I’m eating the jollof.

          • NonyaB?

            Ewooo! What a pirry. If I was your city, I would have remedied this – errybody deserves the goodness of naija jollof. Kontinu!

            • LadySiriboe

              Lissen. Is Kofi Naija, no? Why would I be eating Naija rice? I’m loyal.

              • NonyaB?

                *Cackles* Which kin agent be dis? You’re supposed to stealthily indoctrinate him until he is singing praises of Naija jollof!

          • Nortey

            YESSS THANK U

        • And I got Ashanti, Akan and Yoruba and Bantu from the Congo….

          You want an African girl, Kofi… here you go! ?

          • LadySiriboe

            I have to battle YOU? You ma peeps!

            • never…. you want me to have him!

              • LadySiriboe

                Getting Vaseline ready. Tying them dreads!

          • Love Heals

            You better let him know! Lol. That’s the beauty of claiming all sides of our people. Let him have been Cuban. Id’ve been all about “Soy sabrosa tambien, mi rey”. Goes back to drooling.

            • There would be no diasporans if not for these tribes….I REP MY SHYT IN EVERY WAY.

              Speaking of which.. that article about black Americans appropriating African culture was complete bullshyt.. I’m so annoyed by that.

              • Mary Burrell

                I heard about that same thing on NPR Code Switch. I heard the two black sisters talking about how many Africans get offended at black Americans wearing dashikis and other African attire. They talked about a British- Nigerian author who said it was ignorant and disrespectful to do that.

              • Love Heals

                I’ma have to look into that article. My people are MY PEOPLE. Period. We have fly and wack in all sections of the globe but I damn sure will NOT claim allegiances based on White/Arab divisions. I belong to Jazz and it to me. African-American history is part of my worldview and experience. A brother who swore I was from Colon told his wife as I was helping her, that he KNOWS when he sees them. Mind you they’re both Panamanian. Lol. And if someone thinks I’m a fellow Tanzanian returning home, sho ya rite. Around the world our commonalities and shared destinies greatly outweigh petty bs. Another thing despite efforts to emphasize our real and perceived differences, we’ve impressively made efforts to reconnect and communicate. One can hear this in rumba influenced Congolese music my parents dig. “Nwa Baby” by Flavour is a remake of Rex Lawson’s “Sawale”. Both Nigerian songs. Strictly Soca has the same rhythm in “Nine inch banana”. Yet all came out of “El Manicero”. We’re family. Period.

              • truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

                IKR.

      • MsSula

        “I make jollof rice (Ghanaian is better though) but I got you.”

        And he is Ghanaian too, so you would have been in there like swimwear.

    • Freebird

      Simmer down T.

    • LadySiriboe

      I wouldn’t have either. He’d have to hang up the phone or pretend there was bad reception.

  • Darkchloe144

    I see the appeal, now. *swooooony-swoon*

    • LadySiriboe

      You didn’t have on your glasses before?

      • Darkchloe144

        I guess not, I was meh just lil’ while ago. Not anymore, lol.

        • LadySiriboe

          Utilize those glasses, ALWAYS.

  • Mary Burrell

    I have not gone to the movies to see the film but I listen to all the different podcasts and it’s funny when the host describe the scene with Siriboe and describes how all the women in the theater are lustily swoon and sigh. He is an attractive gentleman.

    • LadySiriboe

      He sho is. Lord Jesus please oo, don’t let my intuition come to be true oo. Imma leave it at that.

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