The creators of “Greenleaf” have released a new series on the OWN platform. “Delilah” follows the story of a woman who left her “white-shoe law firm” to launch her own practice. Now, in doing so she’s being presented with career-making cases, including one that could threaten the childhood friendship she’s shared with Tamara Grayson, played by Jill Marie Jones.
Ahead of tonight’s episode of the series, we had a chance to speak to Jones about her character Tamara, Black women on screen, and friendship between Black women. See what she had to say below.
MadameNoire: Tell me about what drew you to the role of Tamara for this new series “Delilah.”
Jill Marie Jones: Listen, it’s very clear that I really do love playing strong, dynamic female characters. That’s a given. Tamara Roberts is definitely that. But also, I feel that with us as actresses, if the character we’re given is strong, she’s strong throughout. She’s strong at work. She’s strong at home with her dude. She’s strong with her kids. She’s just strong in every aspect in life. And that’s just not really how it works. We’re not one dimensional.
So Tamara, she’s definitely someone you wouldn’t want to go up against in court. She handles her business at work. But also too, she’s vulnerable. She loves hard and she’s a ride or die friend. She’s loyal. So I just loved that I can have a beautiful arc of a character and not just something that’s linear.
I’m also the type of actor who likes to jump into the deep end. I love complex characters. The writing was just amazing.
MadameNoire: Can you speak to the importance of Black women seeing images of themselves that are not just one-dimensional? We’re often presented as the picture of strength.
Jill Marie Jones: I think it’s very important. Representation is very important to see yourself on the screen. And I had the amazing and blessed opportunity to be on another show [“Girlfriends] where at the time, we kind of felt like we were in a bubble. We didn’t realize what we were contributing to the culture. We had no idea until later. And I’m just so proud to have women that are not so young anymore come up and say that they grew up watching me. It’s really cool to know that you were a part of shaping someone’s world. And this show, hopefully will have young, Black girls, young women in general who want to become lawyers because they watched “Delilah.”
There’s also this angry, Black female narrative that kind of goes along with the strong woman as well. We’re not one dimensional. It’s important to show the full arc of a woman’s life. There’s many colors that make up who we are. We’re not just one.
MadameNoire: I heard you say that Oprah was at your table read. How much of a role does Oprah play in the show and your day-to-day work?
Jill Marie Jones: Because of COVID, we had a limited situation. We shoot in the beautiful city that is Charlotte, North Carolina. But she’s definitely involved, very involved. It’s crazy, I didn’t think I could respect that woman any more than I already did. And you know this woman is busy. The queen is busy. Let’s be very clear. But she was very involved, to the point of going down to hair, makeup and wardrobe. She wanted to see and check off all these boxes. Everything went through her. Normally, that doesn’t happen especially when you have a producer that is as large as she is.
She wasn’t in Charlotte but she was on our table read. We knew that she might be joining and it was incredible. I do my Zooms on my iPad so sometimes I can’t see everybody. So I could hear her. I couldn’t see her, which was great for me. I probably would have messed up my entire table read because I was fangirling quite a bit.
Afterwards, she spoke to me. She said, ‘Jill Marie’ in her Oprah voice and I literally almost lost it. She was definitely hands on.
MadameNoire: “Delilah” is about friendship. And so was “Girlfriends.” Now that the show is on Netflix, people have been re-watching and reevaluating Toni Childs through a 2020/2021 lens. There have been discussions about what type of friend she is. I don’t know if you have watched the show recently or what you remember…
Jill Marie Jones: Oh yeah girl, I watch “Girlfriends” every night before I go to bed! That would just be strange and weird. But I do remember.
MadameNoire: What did you make of Toni as a friend?
Jill Marie Jones: I think Toni is a good friend. I think she’s loyal. Anyone who really dug deep in terms of Toni’s journey, you would see that a lot of her actions come from an insecure space. I would say Toni was codependent. I would like to think in 2021, hopefully she’s evolved at this point in life. But I think that Toni was as great of a friend in how she knew how to be.
MadameNoire: And how does Tamara compare to Toni Childs?
Jill Marie Jones: Tamara is unapologetically herself. She always knows who she is. And she gives zero f’s as one says. She knows who she works for. She’s not disillusioned by the path that she’s walking and I really do love that about her.
MadameNoire: What are you looking forward to fans getting from this series?
Jill Marie Jones: One, I hope people feel seen. And I hope that they see all the love and the hard work that we put out into this show. You hope that it’s received in the same way. From what I’m seeing on social media, so far so good. In terms of friendship, Tamara and Delilah, they’ve never been here before. They’ve known each other since junior high school. So they’re in totally different chapter in their book. So, how do you navigate the waters and do you make it through? I would love for them to be on that ride.
I also love the Tamara and Casey dynamic, her love. They just have this very grown up relationship. It’s definitely #RelationshipGoals #BlackLove #BlackExcellence. This is me Jill speaking on the character that I play but I really love the couple. I really do. You see throughout the season, the way that they deal with thing, they have a very mature relationship because sometimes we don’t see our Black couples being able to problem solve in the way that I feel like Tamara and Casey do.
And then the case is our main story. It’s just so much for everybody.
And let’s be clear, the men on this show…you’re welcome! They’re not hard to look at and they’re super talented as well. Great humans. So I think there’s something for everyone. So just rock out with us.
I live tweet every Tuesday and it’s been fun to interact with our audience. Hopefully, they love it the way that we do because we’re really proud of it.
You can watch Delilah tonight on OWN at 9 PM ET.