Whoever amongst us is without sin, let him cast the first stone. It’s the perfect scripture for a church where family dynamics, power and money all come to a climax in Bounce TV’s Saints and Sinners. If you missed any of the jaw dropping season head over to their website right now and get your binge on. The breakout show chronicling the lives of the church members at Greater Life Baptist in Atlanta, GA has become the unexpected hit drama of 2016 and the conclusion you won’t believe including who killed Pastor Johnson, airs this Sunday, April 24 at 9p ET/8p CT.
The reason viewers love shows like Scandal, Empire, and Orange Is the New Black, is because they uncover a swarthier side of politics, business, prison. Saints and Sinners does that and more, exposing who’s holier than thou when it comes to the church.
Church and preachers kids all know but can never utter that church folk are messy. Saints and Sinners explores the underside of the Black church by exposing infidelity, theft, homosexuality , and even murder as its members vie for power of the congregation and the community.
Actor Vanessa Bell Calloway who plays church matriarch Lady Ella and is most well known for her role as Eddie Murphy’s first lady to be in Coming to America, spoke with me exclusively prior to the season finale to discuss why audiences can’t get enough of Saints and Sinners, it’s shifting alliances and incredible cast.
Lauren Brown: You’ve had an amazing and accomplished career in Hollywood what prompted you to say yes to this particular project?
Vanessa Bell Calloway: It’s an opportunity to play a strong woman, an ambitious woman in Lady Ella. Not only is she is the First lady of Greater Hope Baptist Church, the church is her legacy so you see that she stands strong and isn’t subservient to anyone.
LB: Tell me about your castmates, it’s a veritable who’s who of Black talent.
VBC:There really isn’t one person I can say I like working with most. Richard Lawson, Christian Keyes, Keith Robinson. Jasmine Burke is our newcomer, but one I am so madly in love with. Gloria Reuben and I are long time friends and this is the first time we’ve gotten to work together.
LB: Well you do plant quite the kiss on Gloria Ruben’s character, Mayor Clayborn, I guess this explains why…
LB: Why Bounce TV for Saints and Sinners, how has the relationship been?
VBC: This is a major opportunity for Bounce to launch their own original programming, make sure it was good and they already had a built in church following. Whats happening on our show isn’t at all unfamiliar to people who’ve grown up in or around the church and its hierarchy.
LB: Many households don’t actually get Bounce TV because it’s not available to most cable subscribers, how are you all combating that?
VBC: If anyone missed the last episode or doesn’t have Bounce TV where they live, it’s ok you can get the app and watch it on your phone.
LB: And what role is social media playing in the show?
VBC: It’s critical. We all tweet the show, but it’s necessary to build the audience, interact with them and just further the reach. I tell people, they may not like social media, but it’s a career tool and it’s what you have to do to succeed in our profession right now. This Sunday’s finale is going to be huge on social media and we’re all really excited about it.
LB: One thing I loved about the show was you all had these incredible guest stars Kelly Price, Detrich Haddon, Mara Hall, another personal favorite, David Banner, what did it mean to have the music/musician element added?
VBC:It’s so nice to see new people coming up in the show and also having the opportunity to launch unknown talent to a wider audience.
LB: You all are coming in third on Sundays, a hugely competitive night for television, let alone dramas what does that tell you about current television audience attitudes especially african american viewers?
VBC: The really good thing about TV right now are there are so many venues for programs. There are more Black female leads, you see Viola and Kerry. And what we’re realizing is if you make it, viewers will come.
We watch all these networks, we have so many channels and because of it so many shows. But when people find a show they like, like our show, they stay faithful and follow us. What is tells me is, Surprise! People like written content, folks want drama and to be entertained. Folks like mess!