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Exclusive: Courtney Kemp Agboh On Power Finale, What’s Next For Ghost, And If Tasha And Angela Will Ever Do Battle
You know Courtney Kemp Agboh. If you don’t know her name, you at least know her brain. She’s the mastermind behind the hit Starz show Power, the fast-paced drama (which she co-executive produces with 50 Cent) that’s part nightlife glitz and part drug-life gore.
As fans of the show will attest, Power is addictive. In fact, I’m sure that plenty of you, dear MadameNoire friends, will miss your fix this Saturday. It seems as if last week’s Season 2 finale came too soon, but what a finale it was! It’s no wonder fans have been hooked on Agboh’s show since it first aired last year, but Agboh has had me hooked on her work for nearly 15 years.
I first saw her magazine byline in 2001. I’d just begun my writing and editing career when I heard about a young Black woman who wrote a story for GQ doling out advice to White guys about how to date Black women. (The advice was stuff like assuring GQ readers that if they ask a Black woman on a date and she says “I have to wash my hair,” she really means it. Because a night of hair washing for us could include heat caps, flat irons, flat twists, rollers, etc.) Agboh’s voice was daring, hilarious and honest. Keep in mind, too, that she published that story in a pre-Scandal time, aka, pre-Olivia Pope being the apple of the president’s eye. As it turns out, that GQ story launched Agboh’s television writing career. “Writing that one piece changed the direction of my life,” she says.
Agboh is proof that you never know where your talent will take you. In our interview, the LA-based wife and mom talks about recharting her professional path (from magazine writer to showrunner of a hit TV show). She also shares her thoughts about Power—the show and the word itself. And, yes, we tried to get spoilers from Season 3, but she’s pretty tight-lipped about what’s in store. However, she does offer a few hints here and there, so keep reading.
MN: What was the toughest part about leaving New York and your career in magazines to make a fresh start in TV writing in Los Angeles?
CKA: I had very much wanted to be the very first Black female editor-in-chief of Vogue. Barring that, I wanted to work at Entertainment Weekly. But those things were not happening. Obviously, now I know that God had a different plan for me. But at the time, the thing that I really wanted wasn’t working. Was. NOT. Working. So, I didn’t have anything to lose by going. My dad was still alive at the time, and he said, “There’s no point in going out there. You’ll be back in a year anyway.” He predicted my failure because that was the kind of dad he was. But it didn’t seem like a huge leap of faith to me. I had an agent because I’d gotten an agent after writing the article [for GQ] and trying to write a pilot [based on the GQ article]. I had an agent, so even though it’s a leap of faith, it’s not the same leap of faith than if had I come out here with nothing. I think that’s important, too. I had a couple friends out here. I slept on some couches, the whole thing that everybody does. But I had an agent—and she’s still my agent.
Congratulations on the record-breaking success of Power. With the increased attention that you and the show have been receiving, do you feel more powerful these days?
Oh, I am powerless. Completely. God is in control of everything. I do my best, and I show up. It’s great that the show is really successful; I’m thrilled about that. The flip side of that, though, is that I have no control over whether people tune in. So no, I don’t feel more powerful, because I didn’t make all this happen. There are so many different things that create an alchemy of success. Just like there are so many different things that create an alchemy of a failure.
My daughter is a very pretty child and she’s also a very smart child. People are always like, “Courtney, you did that!” I’m like, “No. No, I didn’t!” I did the same thing I would’ve done had I had a child that was not as attractive and average. I didn’t have anything to do with it. When human beings say they have power, it always makes me laugh a little bit. It’s like sure you have all this power. “Oh my God I’m the president of blah, blah company,” but then I drive across the intersection and some jerk hits me on the side and all of a sudden I’m a paraplegic. I have no power. By the way, this is exactly what Ghost’s storyline is about. Ghost is always like “I have all control over everything.” But no. No, he doesn’t.
What is power? How would you define it?
Illusion. Power is illusion.
The phrase “powerful Black woman” is almost used as often as “strong Black woman.”
Oh, God. And they’re both so tiresome, aren’t they?
But I do think power is something that many Black women are eagerly and sincerely chasing. So what’s your advice to women who might be on a power chase?
I think there’s a difference between power and direction. And there’s a difference between power and ambition. And there’s a difference between power and intention. Your ambition, your direction and your intention—those are all things that you can really deal with. I’m in a situation in my personal life where I’m realizing that I haven’t been heard by someone. The choices are that I can continue in that relationship and know that I will never be heard or I can decide to go elsewhere because I deserve to be heard. I don’t have any power over whether that person hears me or not, but I might choose my direction based on my ambition to be heard and my intention to be good to myself.
When I think of Black women chasing power, it sounds to me like the Black women who say to me, “When is Tasha going to beat Angela’s ass? She needs to snatch that girl up!” And I’m always like, “What the hell are you talking about?” If you have to resort to physical violence, you’re the least powerful person ever. And the women who are looking for that [from the show], I’m always like, really? Like, you would do that? Like, really? There are children involved! You’re gonna beat a b***h down? That’s what you’re going to do? You’re going to beat a federal prosecutor down? This ain’t the girl at the Duane Reade. This ain’t the cashier Shaneisha who stole your man. This is someone for whom assaulting them is a federal offense. So, when women say that to me, I’m like, “Really? That’s what Tasha should do? Okay, okay. Sho. Sho nuff.”
So the Season 2 finale just aired and fans are drooling to find out what will happen in Season 3. What’s next for Ghost?
Penny, I love you, girl, but if you’re trying to get a Season 3 preview out of me, you’re barking up the wrong tree. I will say this: I just pitched the Season 3 arc to the heads of PR and Marketing and their teams. Everyone was on the edge of their seats like “Oh, my God! No Way! You’re not going to f**king do that! Noooo!” They’ve been my only audience so far, but they’re pretty excited.
It just that it seems like all of Ghost’s former allies are against him now. So who can he trust now and who can trust him?
Part of that we’re in the process of figuring out. I don’t want to tell you anything that’s going to change. But I also think it’s important to really acknowledge that our friend Ghost has made some stupid choices. Not stupid. Stupid’s the wrong word. Let’s say myopic. He really did believe—and this is something that’s very important—that if he explained his course of action to Tommy after the fact that Tommy would actually sign off on it.
You almost feel badly when you see Ghost’s hurt expression because Tommy is so dumbfounded.
Right, you almost feel badly for him. But Ghost killed their entire network! You can’t be mad at Tommy for being mad. In terms of Ghost having allegiances, he doesn’t feel like he needs them. He feels like he’s going to be legit.
Is Ghost really that delusional? It seems so obvious to everyone else that he could never be legit.
That’s the point of powerlessness in the show. It’s the thing that I’m always trying to underscore: You don’t know what’s happening behind your back.
Is Kanan alive?
Anyway! Girl, next!
Do Angie and Jamie keep attempting their delusional happily ever after?
What I’ll say is this: They have set up a bad bargain. Their bargain is “You don’t be you and then it’ll all be fine.” So, he’s like, “Ghost is dead. That’s cool. I don’t have to be Ghost anymore. I can be Jamie and it’ll be fine.” But for both of them, this is a completely ridiculously bad-faith bargain that they’ve set with each other. But he had that bad-faith bargain with Tasha, too. Tasha wanted him to be a drug dealer and that’s it. The core of the show is that dilemma of Ghost trying to be two different people, or trying to be one person when he’s really two.
Will Angie and Tasha meet or have words?
There will never be a physical fight between those two women on the show as long as I’m running it. You can put that in print and you can underline it. I can’t promise there won’t be gunplay and I can’t promise that there won’t be knives. But there will definitely never be a physical fight.
What do you mean gunplay and knives? Are you dropping a hint?
I’m just saying this: If there came to be a situation where Angie or Tasha needed to die because the other one felt that way, then as a result of strategy, I don’t know. But in terms of like, “B***h, I’m gonna pull your hair. I’m gonna snatch the weave off your head,” y’all are going to have to find a different show for that.
Who’s your favorite character on the show?
I’m not gonna answer that one either. At the end of the day, I am the boss of a whole bunch of people who depend on me and who depend on the idea that their character is being fought for and being supported when I’m writing it.
All the characters are parts of me. At 3 a.m., when you have to do rewrites, the characters have to speak from inside you. So I’m identifying with different parts of them at different times. In some ways, Ghost is my favorite, just because he’s the most fun to write. He’s always kind of lying, which is always super fun. I think he says the truth, but it’s his truth and his truth is so colored. Like when he says to Angela “I love you,” he means it. He loves her. But it’s just that his love comes with a whole bunch of other crap.
May I tell you my favorite character? Tommy.
Tommy’s great! Tommy and Tasha are actually the most honest characters.
I get weak in the knees for Tommy. He’s a got all kinds of a Cutie White Boy situation going on.
Listen. Joe [Sikora] is fine. And I love the character Tommy because he does stuff I would never do. He just goes for it. He’s not innocent, obviously, but there’s something that’s very pure about him.
With the recent news about your overall deal with Starz, what other shows can we look forward to from you?
The next show that I want to do is about my upbringing and how I grew up, because Power is not that.
You grew up in Westport, Conn. right? I read that yours was one of three Black families in town?
You did your research! For a while the other large Black family were my first cousins. There was just nobody there. So I do want to write about that at some point.
And any plans to resurrect that old GQ story again for a TV project?
Interracial dating has changed so much since then. At the time that I wrote that, I’m not going to say it was taboo, but there were guys out there who were just on a safari, so that’s where that was coming from. Now you see White guys walking down the street with sisters with huge afros. You see all different kinds of people all together, all the time. I’m always interested in issues of dual identity and interracial dating is definitely up there. But I have more of a sophisticated idea about it all now. I was 23 when I wrote that. I’m 38 now. God, I’m old. How did that happen?
Ask three people who Draya Michele is and you’ll likely receive three completely different answers. Over the years, we’ve witnessed the 30-year-old reality star transform from reality TV underdog to respected swimsuit designer, and Queen Bee as far as all things “Basketball Wives: LA” are concerned. Recently, we were able to catch up with the savvy businesswoman to discuss her success in the fashion world, a potential “Power” cameo and her eventful relationship with on-again, off-again beau Orlando Scandrick.
MN: Mint Swim has really blown up. Typically, we see reality stars come out with a product line and we don’t hear anything else about it after a season or two. What did you do differently from a branding standpoint?
“I came out with something that a bunch of different celebrities weren’t coming out with. There weren’t a lot of us who had their own swimsuit line. I didn’t want to do the same things that everybody else does. Now, the times are different. We have social media and it’s like this monster marketing tool. And I use it more than any other marketing tool. Without Instagram and Twitter, I’d be using like traditional billboards and stuff. Instagram is like the king of marketing right now.
MN: You also have a clothing line, Fine Ass Girls. Any updates on that?
“Fine Ass Girls is just on hold until the holiday season. We’re going to put new things out. I mean, well, it’s not really on hold. The website is open, and there are things on the website to purchase, but as far as the new collection, it isn’t coming out until November.”
MN: I’ve been following you on “Basketball Wives: LA” since the beginning, and it’s hard to ignore how much you’ve grown. Personally, I kind of feel like you’ve outgrown the show completely. Do you think you’ll be a part of the series for much longer or are you closer to chucking the deuces?
“I’m closer to chucking the deuces. I agree, I feel like I’ve outgrown the show. I just don’t want to argue with people anymore.”
MN: Speaking of television, we saw that you shared a photo of yourself and “Power” star Joseph Sikora. There were rumors that you’ve been cast in the series. Any truth to that?
We were just in the same place at the same time; however, I did have my people reach out to the “Power” people to see what we can get cracking because I would love to be on “Power.”
MN: As you stated earlier, social media is major these days. And without going into detail, we both know that there’s currently a lot of cattiness going on with you and a cast member. Are you ever concerned that these types of issues will taint your brand and your image as a businesswoman?
Yeah, every time someone gets me to respond negatively, I think, “Oh my gosh, there are people who don’t even know that I’m on a TV show that are just following me because I make swimsuits.” When I do that, they’re probably thinking, “What the heck? What is she talking about? Why is she responding to this person? Why is she so angry?” So I try not to get angry, and I try to kind of not really pay attention to it and remain unfazed by it.
MN: And the people on social media who feel that they’re at liberty to speak on your personal life?
Over the years, I’ve really developed thick skin. With Instagram, you’ve got to take the good with the bad. There’s going to be 30,000 great comments, and there’s going to be 400 negative ones. And that’s okay, as long as the good outweighs the bad, you can’t really complain.
MN: I hate to bring up old stuff, but there was a very vicious comment that your old cast member Imani Showalter made about you during season one. It was so disheartening to see one woman tear another woman down in such a brutal way. Do you have any advice for women who find themselves in situations similar to the one that you were in a few years back where they’re being attacked or made to believe that they’re worthless?
The world is a very judgmental place. We show ourselves with our actions and the things that we say out of our mouths. That way, we give people an opportunity to judge us by what we show them—not what they’ve heard about us. That’s pretty much how I live my life. I know that people have heard things about me, but it’s my responsibility to prove all of those people wrong.
MN: Instagram was in a frenzy last week when you shared a photo of a bedroom with clothing and other items scattered all over it, and Orlando was also in the photo. You included a caption that said something like, “Well, I’m not the only crazy person here.” What were you trying to communicate with that post?
It was really petty and still lighthearted. It wasn’t meant to be malicious, it was just meant to be like funny. Like, “Oh, see, everybody does it,” and it was just reflective of the crazy, passionate love that we have for one another. I feel like as long as we’re not violent and not hurting each other, then that’s okay.
MN: Finally, what’s next for you? We know that you have Mint Swim and Fine Ass Girls. What else are you working on?
Well, definitely my acting. I’m in the process of talking about some skincare stuff so that might be my latest project.
We may have just been set up for the most epic season finale ever. In this episode of “Power,” Ghost and Angela finally see one another for who they truly are, Tasha sets her escape plan in motion and we’re forced to say goodbye to a beloved character.
In this wild episode of “Power,” Kanan sets his plans for revenge against Ghost in motion, Shawn picks a side, and the Lobos drug cartel suffers a devastating blow.
In this climactic episode of “Power,” rats are exposed, alliances are formed and assassination attempts are thwarted.
In this week’s explosive episode of “Power,” that could’ve easily been the season finale, Angela and Tasha come face to face, Holly reveals to Tommy that she has been working as an informant and Angela attempts to break things off with Ghost.
Check out our recap for Episode 206: “Why Her?” on the following pages and weigh in.
We’re only halfway through Power‘s sophomore season and executive producer of the series, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, is already firing off subliminal messages about season three. Thursday, the Queens-born rapper took to Instagram with a photo snapped from the “Power” writers’ room and apparently, one of the cast members will be serving hard time behind bars next season.
In the writing room POWER SEASON 3 jailhouse flick, little 50 know it’s about to get crazy.#EFFENVODKA #FRIGO #SMSAUDIO
Just 24 hours after the season premiere last month, Starz confirmed that they would be renewing the series for a third season.
“I am thrilled to learn that season three of ‘Power’ has been officially ordered by Starz. It is an honor to work with Chris Albrecht, Carmi Zlotnik, Ken Segna and the whole Starz team,” said “Power” creator Courtney Kemp Agboh. “Their support has been steadfast from the beginning, and I look forward to a bright future together.”
Besides the prison tidbit and the fact that it is slated to premiere in June of 2016, not much is known about the new season. But we still have quite a bit to look forward to, as we have four more episodes until the season finale next month.
In the meantime, enjoy this sneak preview from this week’s upcoming episode.
Also, if you’ve missed an episode from this season and are short on time, check out our “Power” recaps, which we’re sure will catch you up to speed before Saturday night.
It’s no wonder cast members are calling season two “the season of consequences.” In this climatic episode, Holly’s prying pays off, James is faced with the reality that things will never be the same at home and Angela learns who Ghost is.
Exposed motives and fatal secrets prove that trust is nothing but an illusion to the members of this once tight-knit circle. In Episode 204, Ghost learns that the past always has a way of catching up with you.
An impromptu trip to Miami proves that Tasha is not the only obstacle standing in the way of Ghost and Angela’s “dream.” Check out our Episode 3 recap to find out why the high school lovers are delusional to think that they’ll ever be like “any other couple.
“Like we’re any other couple”
Ghost and Angela thoroughly enjoyed their time in Miami, but as we know, all good things must come to an end. For a while, they’re able to pretend that they’re just “any other couple,” but after a few days, the reality of what awaits back in New York sets in. Angela is not and may never be Mrs. St. Patrick; and to make matters worse, she may have to choose between James and her job.