Tracey Edmonds knows a good project. The 52-year-old producer and businesswoman has been behind a few of your favorite classic films and series, including Soul Food (the movie and show), Hav Plenty, College Hill, Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is, and Jumping the Broom, among many other projects. She believes she has a winner in her new BET series, Games People Play, and after getting a look at it, and the players involved, we think so, too.
“I used to tell people, I love working on shows that I would watch,” she told us over the phone. “I really feel like television viewers are hungry for the next really juicy, soapy, nighttime drama to watch, and that’s what we have here.”
The show, which stars Lauren London, Sarunas Jackson, Parker McKenna Posey and Jackie Long, follows, as Edmonds puts it, a high-profile couple going through some major dysfunction privately and publicly. We also meet the people around them who are associated with their drama, and very soon into the show, are witnesses to a murder investigation everyone gets caught up in. Sans the very interesting murder mystery angle, Edmonds liked that she could relate to the story.
“This story is all about the L.A. high-life and that all that glitters is not gold,” she said of the series, which premieres on Tuesday night at 10/9c. “I’m an L.A. girl and I’ve been through enough in my own personal story. Definitely, all that glitters is not gold in LA and in these high-profile power-couple relationships where people have to smile when they’re in public and then go home and deal with challenges and struggles. And really, we’re exploring that with this show. We have three really dynamic characters and we’re seeing the world of this L.A. high-life through their eyes.”
Those characters include Vanessa King, played by Lauren London, the wife of basketball star Marcus King, played by Jackson. There’s also Nia, played by Karen Obilom, a struggling, talented journalist stuck doing salacious stories. And there’s Laila, played by Parker McKenna Posey, who is a floundering actress trying to get ahead by any means necessary.
“We’ve got really strong female characters, which is something that really appealed to me,” she shared. “And I think there’s going to be something about all three characters that audiences can relate to.”
Being able to relate to the characters in the stories she comes across is how Edmonds decides whether or not she wants to be on board with any film or show, and it wasn’t hard for her to be drawn to the women in this particular story.
“My taste is pretty diverse and I kind of do projects of all genres, but the projects that I most connect with are the ones where I have a personal connection with the story,” she said. “So whether it be Soul Food, I came from a really close African-American family where my grandmother was the matriarch and we’d gather at her house for Thanksgivings and stuff, so that story I really connected to. In this story is a story as well that I really connect to. Being a professional woman in Los Angeles and having to navigate my personal life with my career and family trying to balance it all, there’s a lot in all of the characters that I connect with.”
One of the actresses playing a character she loves is London. As BET announced that the actress was going to lead their new nighttime soap, tragedy struck soon after with the loss of her longtime partner, Nipsey Hussle.
Days before the rapper’s untimely death, Edmonds had the chance to spend time with him and London as the cast and crew completed filming of Season 1.
“It was such an unexpected tragedy and the timing of everything was just crazy,” she said. “Literally, Thursday, a few days before, we saw him with Lauren. That was our last day of production, and he came to spend time with all of us on set. I just keep telling everyone, I was so blown away by the love the two of them had. It was beautiful for me to see a young couple like that, and to see Black love like that.”
“He was so proud of Lauren, so he was there with her on her last day of work,” she continued. “He was telling me how proud he was of her and how proud he was of her work on the show and he was so excited about the show and everything. They had their arms around each other and were just so proud of each other and were just such a solid, beautiful couple. To see the tragedy happen just a few days later, it just blew me away. Nipsey was a beautiful, amazing spirit and he was a beacon in the community. The legacy he leaves behind in terms of all the community enrichment he did and community empowerment, he’s going to be missed by so many people.”
Edmonds says that London is on her mind “24/7” these days, and while the actress grieves, she’s helping to get the word out about Games People Play, and the great work the star, and the rest of the cast have done in it, on her behalf. She’s confident that it’s a series people will not only find to be a guilty pleasure, but will see some of themselves in as she did.
“There’s a little bit of me in the character of Vanessa, there’s a little bit of me in the character, Nia, so I really connect with these female empowerment stories,” she said. “I love flawed characters also because no one is perfect, so it’s nice to have these women and characters who appear one way in the public but are secretly facing a lot, whether it’s internal challenges or challenges at home. So I think it’s really fun to explore flawed characters and see how they deal with their challenges.”
If that’s not enough, it’s delightfully messy.
“In our story, there are a lot of secrets going on, a lot of lies, a lot of things people aren’t revealing and telling,” Edmonds said. “There’s a lot of stuff you’re uncovering in each episode.”
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