Anika Noni Rose: The black queer love story on Little Fires Everywhere ‘felt honest’

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Mild spoilers for Little Fires Everywhere that will not spoil the main plot
Anika Noni Rose was interviewed from home for People Now on her work in Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere. She played Mia (Kerry Washington’s) art mentor from college, as seen in flashbacks. My friend Lola_Lola (Z) convinced me to watch LFE when I wanted to give up after the first episode. The characters were intense at first and I didn’t like anyone. About midway through episode three I was hooked, so if you’re on the fence about it like I was, give it a chance. She also told me that the actresses who played the young versions of Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon’s characters were amazing and they are! They’re played by Tiffany Boone (Mia/Kerry) and AnnaSophia Robb (Elena/Reese). Somehow they both nailed their voices and inflection, it was so impressive and made me wonder if they had an on-set voice coach. Anika plays Mia’s college professor and mentor who has a relationship with young Mia. She spoke to People and had nothing but praise for what a great set it was, especially compared to other sets she’s worked on.

On guest starring and not getting scenes with the leads
Our director [Nzingha Stewart] was fantastic. It was such an inclusive set that you didn’t feel like you weren’t connected to people [or] were dropped into a space. They made certain that everyone felt welcome [and] necessary. What you saw in front of the camera with all these amazing women, you also saw behind the camera, which was fantastic and very different. Reese [was welcoming]. That doesn’t always happen. Sets are not always pleasant.

On her character’s love story
It felt complete and true and honest.

[From People Now via Twitter]

I really enjoyed this brief interview and it sounds like such women-centric sets are rare. It reminded me of working in the tech industry in the late 90s and early 2000s and how toxic that was. I do wonder about the way she characterized that relationship. It felt that Anika’s character was grooming young Mia, because they were a professor and student! Others saw it differently, and I wanted to quote this piece from The Advocate about how the relationship felt genuine.

For Boone, Mia and Pauline’s relationship is “a very complicated thing, because there is a maternal element there,” she explained to O, the Oprah Magazine. “Mia, she had such a fraught relationship with her mother — she never felt truly seen. Then she meets Pauline, someone who really sees her, understands her, supports these decisions that she’s making. This relationship that she’s been looking for with her mother is suddenly there with Pauline.”

She continued, “In an earlier script, Mia says, ‘You’re like a mother to me. Or a friend. Or a mentor. What is it?’ All of those things, together with Mia being in a vulnerable position, pregnant and alone — I think that’s what makes her fall for Pauline. I can’t speak for what Pauline sees in Mia — maybe a little bit of herself, and someone she wants to take care of. That’s how I think they fall for each other.”

The presentation of their love story is subtle, but the power of seeing two black women in love on our television screens is momentous. Through their relationship, we also discover the backstory behind Mia’s prized possession, a stunning black-and-white photograph of her pregnant in a bathtub. Mia and Pauline’s relationship is gentle, understanding, and poignantly brought to life by Boone and Rose.

[From The Advocate]

It was nice to see a relationship between women, and women of color, that wasn’t played salaciously. It also seemed like Mia’s choice, but again the power dynamic threw me a little. You could definitely tell that Little Fires was made for women by women, which is hard to find. That show delivers a lot of entertainment, twists and 90s nostalgia and I loved the music! If you’re looking for another series it’s on Hulu.

Here’s part of Anika’s interview!

— People (@people) May 5, 2020

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